Every year, we are greeted with new and exciting cars to ogle, question, revere, and, at times, deride. The arrival of fresh metal, however, brings with it the retirement of models automakers deemed either to be under-performing or as having simply run their course. The departure of various models can be a mixed bag. Some discontinuations, like the revered Honda S2000 (2000–2009), are met with disappointment. Others, such as the Cadillac Cimarron (1982–1988), leave us wondering how a car like that could have lasted 7 years in the first place. The transition from 2015 to 2016 is no different; some of these cars we’ll miss, others we won’t.
It’s a sad time for small box-shaped wagons. Just a couple years after the end of Nissan’s Cube (1998–2014) and Honda’s Element (2003–2011), it’s now time for the Scion xB (2004–2015) to drive out into the sunset. Unfortunately for fans of sharp edges, the Kia Soul now essentially has a monopoly on the small box market—the end of an era. Of course, we’re disappointed to see the xB go—it fit a ton of personality into that inexpensive little square. And though the xB might not have been the most popular wagon out there, it was one of the original Scions, premiering in 2003 alongside the xA (2004–2006). It was Toyota’s initial attempt at capturing a younger audience with the Scion marque, and for a time it was successful. But now as Scion brings in new models (namely the iA and iM) in an effort to stay relevant and appealing to that young market, it’s time to put the older xB, as well as Scion’s iQ (2012–2015), out to pasture.
For the past fifteen years, anybody who was looking for a Jeep Wrangler but didn’t actually want to buy a Wrangler could always turn to the Nissan Xterra (2000–2015)…but beginning next year, this will no longer be the case (at least in the new car market). Nissan is discontinuing the Xterra after years of declining sales, leaving the segment apparently bereft of any sort of replacement. The Xterra hasn’t really held up in these days of crossovers and greatly-improved fuel economy, and its handling was never spectacular. But it will surely be missed. Perhaps the Wrangler wouldn’t hold up as well these days either, though, if not for its substantial legacy.
Like a disproportionate share of the vehicles on this list, Toyota’s Venza (2009-2016) was pretty much a station wagon, offering more cargo and passenger capacity and better visibility than a sedan in a vehicle that drove and handled like a car and could be had with all-wheel drive (AWD). Unfortunately, after debuting with a look and an interior critics praised, the Venza fell behind the times, and the 2015 version lacks modern safety features and has an interior our reviewer said looks, feels, and sounds cheap. With Subaru’s Outback offering a better take on the wagon with AWD, we won’t miss the Venza, and Toyota doesn’t seem too troubled either, using the departure of the Venza as an opportunity to pitch its Highlander and RAV4.
Jaguar’s XK-Series (1997-2015) debuted as the most luxurious models in Jaguar’s lineup. Offering three different versions of a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 ranging from 385 to 550 hp in cars ranging from about $85K to almost $140K, the XK-Series was always aimed at a relatively narrow market segment. And since the arrival of Jaguar’s F-Type for the 2014 model year, that market segment has had a cheaper option offering a wider horsepower range and better mileage from the same manufacturer. We hate to see any great driver’s car disappear, particularly one that’s connected to some of Jaguar’s most classic models, but the F-Type ensures Jaguar fans can still acquire an amazing car that looks, sounds, and drives like a champ. And next year the Jaguar XE comes Stateside, which should enable a wider segment of the market to consider buying a Jag.
Ultimately, the fate of a vehicle’s production rests in the hands of the almighty dollar. Poor sales can be attributed to bad design, poor performance, suspect reliability, or sometimes just a general lack of interest from the buying public. Like the Venza, the Honda Crosstour (2010–2015) seemed like a strong candidate to crack into a valuable market—on paper, at least. Subaru has reaped continuous success in the wagon-meets-crossover category for over 15 years, thanks to its Outback. With a strong V6 engine, available all-wheel-drive, and popular Honda reliability, the Crosstour seemed ready to steal some of that market share. Honda even tied it to its most acclaimed model, too, naming it the Accord Crosstour for the inaugural 2010 and 2011 model years. As it turns out, however, Subaru’s hold on that segment was (and is) simply too hard to crack, no matter how formidable the interloper. Having lasted six years, the Honda Crosstour’s seige on Subaru finally ends with the 2015 model year.
Introduced in 1997, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class (1998–2015) was one of the first luxury SUVs on the market—a market that arguably just hit a new peak of glut with the introduction of the Bentley Bentayga and rumors of SUV models from the likes of Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce. The M-Class was always a decent luxury vehicle, if never a fantastic one, and it figures that Mercedes is now apparently trying to change up the game by phasing the M-Class into the new GLE-Class…or perhaps just trying to be more consistent about its nomenclature. Either way, we’re probably not missing too much without a 2016 ML350 or even a ML63 AMG—buyers can always check out the GLE350 or GLE63 AMG, or head over to a different brand.
2015 has the dubious honor of being both the first and last production year for the Infiniti Q40. Really just a rebadging of the enthusiast-favorite G37 sedan (2008–2013), the Q40 was the Infiniti’s entry into new nomenclature. After 2015, however, the Q40 will be no more. Sort of. You see, in the past 3 years, Infiniti’s naming scheme has become so convoluted, we actually struggled to determine which cars were new, which cars were old, and which cars were actually heading off the market. The Q40 won’t be around, but the Q50 will be, as will the Q60. As best we can tell (and it’s a struggle at this point), the Q60 replaces the G-series coupe and convertible, while the Q50 is the future of the G-series sedan. But, to make things even more complicated, the Q50 has been available since 2014…so the Q50 and Q60 existed at the same time, despite being built to replace one model. Like the G-series before it, the Q40, Q50, and Q60 were/are all great cars, but it seems like the Japanese market has it right: Q-series cars are just called Skylines over there.
MINI performed an interesting experiment with its MINI Cooper Coupe (2012–2015), bringing a little less practicality to a lineup that already appealed to a relatively niche market. Yes, the Cooper Coupe was one of the most distinctive sport coupes out there, but the Coupe’s almost complete absence of practical features did not connect with MINI’s fans. One can only imagine that MINI realized the redundancy and confusion in having both the Cooper Coupe and the 2-Door regular 4-seat MINI Cooper. Whatever the reason for its poor performance, the Cooper Coupe just has not been moving enough units to justify another run. It’s been a long time coming, but 2015 will finally be the end of the 2-seater MINI Coopers, as the MINI Roadster (2012–2015) will also not see 2016. Not to mention how MINI missed a huge marketing opportunity right from the start by not just calling it the MINI ‘Couper’.
It’s hard to be upset about seeing the this one go. The Land Rover LR2 (2008–2015) will not be returning to dealer lots next year, but its spot in Land Rover’s lineup will be replaced by the newly debuted Discovery Sport. Not to say the Land Rover LR2 wasn’t a great option for a relatively inexpensive upscale SUV, but, with only room for one inexpensive SUV in Land Rover’s lineup, the Discovery Sport should be a worthy replacement. Land Rover will shift its smaller, cheaper model away from the traditional, angular look of a small SUV to the more sleek, futuristic styling cues Land Rover is taking from its Range Rover Evoque and spreading throughout its lineup. But don’t let the change of guard discourage you from seeking out the LR2 for yourself. The release of the Discovery Sport just means that dealers will want to move the LR2 off the showroom floor as fast as possible, which could mean some pretty good deals on an already (somewhat) affordable luxury SUV.
The Volkswagen TDIs (1989–2015)…where to begin? While current TDI owners must be thoroughly (and understandably) frustrated at this point with the virtually nonstop negative press their vehicles have been receiving—not to mention Volkswagen’s failure so far to provide any kind of meaningful fix—the VW models carrying cheating emissions software seem like pretty obvious candidates for models we’re not exactly unhappy to see go as 2016 dawns—they should never have rolled off the assembly line to begin with, actually. As VW sales plummet and the company’s near future looks increasingly grim, we’re at least glad to know that the problem was caught and new culprit cars presumably won’t find their way onto the roads from here on out.
How do you feel about manufacturers letting these cars go?
–Chase Hammond, John Harrington, Matt Smith, and Steve Halloran
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