Discontinued Cars in 2021 Run Gamut from Good to Grim
This story was originally released on 12/22/2020, with the latest update coming on 1/27/2021. Here are the new set of vehicles added to the list:
Continue to check back for the most up to date information.
In the car world, as in human life, two things are inevitable — death and taxes. You are certainly aware of all the taxes you pay on your car. From the sales tax due as you drive it off the lot to the gasoline taxes and road use taxes you pay as you drive, they are always cropping up. Death isn't quite as apparent, because most people's cars don't die so much as they fade away like General MacArthur's old soldier, but car models die just like people do. And their life expectancy is much lower than the average person's.
The Chevrolet Suburban has been running strong for 85 years now, but most models have enjoyed much shorter lifespans because at some point, when the market turns against them, they are forced to breathe their last. Some die only to be reborn, like the Ford Bronco, and some go to their grave with no hope of resurrection.
What follows is a list of discontinued cars in 2021, models that are meeting their ends – for now.
The Acura RLX is a high-tech luxury sedan that seemed to never find its stride in the United States. It offers a willing 3.5-liter V-6 engine with the consumer's choice of front or all-wheel-drive. And it isn't just a mundane all-wheel-drive setup either but Acura's vaunted Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD). Beyond that, the front-drive RLX offers 4-wheel steering, an absolute rarity, and a boon to its overall handling. The Sport Hybrid version of the vehicle throws three electric motors into the already complicated stew. Despite all this technology the RLX failed to resonate in the shrinking luxury-sedan portion of the market.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
Just because a vehicle is delightful doesn't mean it will find a market large enough to sustain its sale. That is the case with the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider that is unlike anything else on the American market. Its mid-engine configuration is only seen on exotic supercars these days, not on tiny cars powered by 1.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines. With 237 horsepower on tap and a monocoque chassis laced with carbon fiber, the 4C Spider could do some pretty amazing things. But it won't continue to do them in the United States, and whether or not it will be revived or replaced with a new model is an open question.
The BMW i8 seemed to be such a good idea at the time. Filled with carbon fiber, its highly styled body is one of the most radical ever produced this side of million-dollar exotics. Now the 2020 i8 Ultimate Sophisto Edition has been announced as the final chapter in the story of a special model that became the world's most successful plug-in-hybrid sports car. The coupe and convertible that are the i8's terminal models feature a combined 369 horsepower, all-wheel drive, a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell, and an aluminum chassis.
BMW M8 Coupe and Convertible
Coupes and convertibles are harder to sell when everyone seems to want an SUV. Thus, it appears that the BMW M8 Coupe and M8 Convertible might have been one-hit wonders, high-performance and high-dollar versions of a couple of high-end cars that landed in the U.S. market with a thud. Yanked from the 2021 lineup, the cars face an uncertain future after that. The M8 Gran Coupe, which is actually a 4-door sedan, continues. The standard 8 Series Coupe and Convertible also remain available.
The Buick Regal was a longtime midsize staple in the brand's lineup. The most recent versions of the car — available in Sportback hatch and TourX wagon body styles — were engineered by Opel when it was owned by General Motors. The sale of Opel to PSA Groupe, plus the collapse in demand for passenger cars in the United States, conspired to end the Regal’s run. Most have a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel or all-wheel drive, but the performance-oriented Regal GS came with a robust 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6.
The Cadillac CT6, a sizable and luxurious sedan, the kind of car that Cadillac had sold successfully for decades, just didn't build a following despite great reasons for doing so. The lower trims are powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the Platinum and V-Series models have Cadillac's impressive 4.2-liter "Blackwing" twin-turbo V-8. In the CT6-V the engine delivers 550 horsepower. All of the final CT6 models have all-wheel-drive, and Cadillac's Super Cruise semi-autonomous driver assistance technology is standard on Premium Luxury and Platinum models.
The Impala name has been gracing big Chevy coupes and sedans since 1958. The current Impala delivered what many of its predecessors did — a lot of car for the money — but that formula doesn't work as well in this crossover SUV era as it did in the Sixties and Seventies. A good-looking sedan, the Chevrolet Impala offers plenty of interior room and better-than-average acceleration. The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine offers less than 200 horsepower, so the wiser choice is the 3.6-liter V-6 offering 305 horsepower. Modern amenities include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Chevrolet Sonic is a small car offered in sedan and hatchback versions, and it ranks highly in J.D. Power quality and appeal studies. Its lone engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder that whirs out 138 horsepower, and versatility is the car's hallmark, the hatchback accommodating up to 47.7 cubic feet of cargo. The sedan is a diminutive take on a full-size car with a trunk that is bigger than many luxury sedans at 14.9 cubic feet. The Sonic will live on in other markets, but it won't be available in America as a 2021.
Dodge Grand Caravan
The Dodge Caravan is credited as being the first minivan, a front-drive box on a car chassis. The vehicle was responsible for many innovations, including a driver's side passenger door (really) and the famous Stow-N-Go seats. In 2017, after five generations of Dodge minivans, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced the all-new Chrysler Pacifica. As a budget play, FCA kept the old Dodge Grand Caravan around too. But even budget buyers have their standards, so as 2021 dawns the Grand Caravan is finally going to the last roundup.
The Dodge Journey is like one of those rare species that scientists believe is extinct only to discover families of them living contentedly on a deserted island somewhere. It's the only crossover SUV to be dropped this year, heading off into that big wheel in the sky because so many others like it are so much better. A midsize SUV that seats up to seven, it lost its all-wheel-drive system and V-6 engine for 2020, leaving it as a front-driver with a wheezy 172-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and an old-school 4-speed automatic transmission.
To inject some excitement into its lineup, Fiat partnered with Mazda to build the retro-themed 124 Spider. Built in Japan, the Fiat 124 Spider had an Italy-sourced turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and tuning that made it feel a little softer and more upscale than the Mazda MX-5 Miata on which it was based. Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t result in success, and the “Fiata” is history once dealership stock is sold out.
A quirky multi-purpose vehicle that is perfect for Europeans but not Americans, the funky Fiat 500L departs U.S. shores after remaining dealer stock is gone. Roomy inside like an SUV, and in some trim levels even reflecting crossover-style design details, the 500L lacked an all-wheel-drive option. Plus, its appearance made it an acquired taste, and its safety ratings made it a tough sell for families seeking something different to drive. The see-through windshield pillars were pretty cool, though.
Ford F-150 Raptor
Ford’s Baja-style performance truck isn’t gone for good. But it is on hiatus while the company rolls out the most popular versions of the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150. To tide truck buyers over, a new F-150 Tremor model tries to plug the hole in the lineup until Ford releases the next-generation Raptor. It’s going to need to be pretty magnificent to unseat the new Ram 1500 TRX from its perch as the truck to beat.
A reasonably well-regarded midsize sedan, the Ford Fusion departs as Ford focuses on its SUVs and trucks. A number of engine choices are available in the Fusion, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, and all-wheel drive is optional. The car is also loaded with safety and infotainment technologies and can be dressed everything from basic transportation to pseudo-luxury trim levels. Rumors claim the name may return in a couple of years, affixed to a Subaru Outback-style wagon.
Honda Civic Coupe
If you remember a time when two-door cars like the sleek Honda Civic Coupe were highly prized, you might be looking at this with a pair of reading glasses. The Civic Coupe was popular with all kinds of drivers based on its low purchase price, low cost of ownership, and high fun-to-drive factor. Of course, the car looked cool too. But these days four-door cars also offer great styling, and cars with only two doors are regarded as inconvenient because, well, they are. So, the Civic Coupe will hit the end of the line in 2021 while the other Civic models soldier on.
Honda Civic Si
Honda is pairing down its extremely popular Civic line of compact cars, and the performance-oriented Civic Si is one of the models that is hitting the editing-room floor for the 2021 model year. But Honda performance fans can't get too upset because it is very likely the Civic Si will return in even better form in 2022, when the Civic is due for a redesign. The current Civic Si has a 205-horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and comes only with a manual transmission, which limits its appeal from the get-go.
The Honda Fit is a likable little hatchback featuring a 130-horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine backed with either a continuously variable automatic transmission or the increasingly rare 6-speed manual transmission. The Fit is about as versatile as a subcompact SUV, it has an available 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Honda Sensing safety tech is standard on upper trim levels. Honda is dropping the Fit in favor of the similar Honda HR-V crossover, which comes with many of the Fit’s benefits in an SUV-ish wrapper.
Hyundai Elantra GT
Hyundai has discontinued the hatchback version of the Elantra for the 2021 model year. Called the Elantra GT, the car is based on a European-market hatch rather than the sedan most people purchase. And though it offers incredible value, appealing design, and rousing performance in N Line specification, it never really caught on as an alternative to other 5-door models like the Honda Civic, Mazda3, or Volkswagen Golf and GTI. The 2021 Hyundai Elantra sedan is completely redesigned for the new model year.
The Jaguar XE was designed and engineered to compete with the best compact sport sedans from Germany, and from a driving dynamics standpoint it succeeded. But a small back seat and finicky infotainment did the car no favors. Now, despite a freshening for the 2020 model year, the car is disappearing from the U.S. market. In its place, a similarly updated and lower-priced 2021 Jaguar XF will be available, offering more interior room and greater value.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Station wagons are a tough sell in America. Compared to SUVs, enthusiast drivers love them for their lower centers of gravity and superior driving dynamics. But that wasn’t enough to rescue the Jaguar XF Sportbrake from an early departure after just a couple of years on the market. Remaining midsize luxury wagons include the Audi A6 Avant, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Volvo V90.
You may have heard: people don’t buy cars anymore. And full-size cars like the Kia Cadenza often don’t provide much in the way of added passenger space, cargo room, or performance than the less expensive midsize cars above which they are slotted in a car company’s lineup. The other problem with the Cadenza is a price that’s several thousand dollars higher than the more appealing, more practical, and more popular Kia Stinger. Not surprisingly, it’s gone after 2020.
The Kia K900 is a large and legit luxury car. Decorated in chrome and designed to waft about in effortless understated style, it finds almost no buyers in the U.S. market, where people seeking a vehicle like this are also seeking an emblem that flaunts their success and wealth. Parking a Kia on your McMansion’s curved driveway or in one of your four garage bays doesn’t do that. Even if it’s big. And shiny. And decadently plush.
The Kia Optima made quite a name for itself as a high-quality midsize sedan, garnering plaudits in several J.D. Power Initial Quality Studies recently, so it came as a bit of surprise to learn the Optima was disappearing after the 2020 model year. But Kia will continue to compete in the midsize sedan segment for 2021 with an all-new entry called K5. Since the 2021 Kia K5 has a sportier demeanor than the rather mild-mannered Optima, company execs figured a new name would emphasize the change. The K5 will have a performance model with styling features reminiscent of the Kia Stinger.
The Lexus GS is a midsize luxury sedan with a long history that is now confronted by a buyer base that doesn't care very much about sedans. If you still want a traditional four-door car, there is a lot to like about the 2020 version of the GS 350, which has a 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. And though the GS was never considered a sports sedan, the performance-tuned GS F has a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 engine ready to give it serious go. In the future, Lexus sedan customers will still be able to choose the ES, IS, and LS.
Bearing a name near and dear to Ford, this current rendition of the Lincoln Continental never lived up to its heritage. With some interesting styling details, the sedan offered some distinction, but it never approached the critical acclaim that accompanied historical versions of the car. Launched with high expectations in the 2017 model year, and equipped with a comfy and nicely designed interior, the Continental dies in America but will live on in China for at least 12 more months.
The MKZ is Lincoln's other luxury sedan, and it too is on the chopping block. Unlike the Continental, the MKZ name had no heritage or panache at all, nor did it create any during the model's 15-year run. It offers the choice of a 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, or a hybrid powertrain available at no extra cost. All-wheel drive is also available. The Lincoln MKZ was based on the also cancelled Ford Fusion.
Did you know Mazda sold a diesel-powered CX-5 in the U.S.? It did, for the 2019 model year. And dealers are still trying to sell the few that remain in stock. A 2020 Mazda CX-5 diesel never came, and now the planned Mazda Mazda6 diesel is officially canceled. SkyActiv-D, we barely knew ye.
The hint that the Mercedes-Benz SL is vanishing should send shivers up and down the spines of car lovers everywhere. The rumor is true. But the good news is the SL is more than likely to return to the market in just a year, although it might not be in the pure two-seater form that has won it so much praise for decades. The 2020 SL 550 features a 449-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 engine plus a 9-speed automatic transmission, and it delivers regal top-down touring. AMG versions through the years have taken the model to even higher levels.
Preceded in death by the SLK, the Mercedes-Benz SLC is an attractively styled two-seat convertible featuring a retractable hardtop. Though it never gained the stature of its big brother, the SL, it attracted its share of fans over the years. Unfortunately, though it was an affordable sports car from Mercedes-Benz, it never attracted enough of them to justify survival. The current SLC 300 has a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the high-performance AMG SLC 43 has a 385-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6. For collectors in the audience, both versions come in Final Edition trims.
Not really a Toyota in the purest sense, the 2020 Toyota Yaris is essentially the same car that is sold as the Mazda Mazda2 in other markets around the world and is built in a Mazda-run factory in Mexico. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Toyota Yaris is a likable enough car — certainly more likable than the Toyota-designed and built Yaris models that preceded it. But with gasoline prices low the subcompact car market has taken a hit, and Toyota decided it was time to pull the plug on the model that it wasn't manufacturing in the first place.