Spannerhead Dot


September 21, 2011 by Matt

Ford Crown Victoria Honda Element Chevrolet Chevy HHR Tails Rear Taillights

Today, Left Lane compiled a selective list of 13 cars axed for the 2012 model year. From the perspective of tracking trends and shifting automotive preferences over time, it’s almost as interesting as a new cars list. It’s fascinating to consider what caught on, what didn’t, what’s “out” and what’s “in” when it comes to car offerings. Some points of interest:

  • Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS and STS, Ford Crown Vic and Lincoln Town Car. Like the American station wagon and “personal car” (large 2-door coupe), the big American luxoboat seems to be going the way of the dodo. The contextual difference between the cars is their manufacturers’ vision of what’s next: Buick and Cadillac are trending smaller and more European (although Buick still clings to dynamically-inferior FWD), Ford is experiencing success with other models and has little incentive to replace the Crown Vic directly, and Lincoln is utterly rudderless and in desperate need of a focused company vision if it’s to survive—something the demise of the Town Car without any “way forward” illustrates.
  • Honda Element. In my mind, this one was a bit underrated. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a looker, but it wasn’t the Quasimodo everyone seems to think it was. Its biggest problem seemed to be lack of definition: The Left Lane article references the Nissan XTerra, a much more purposeful expression of the “utilitian, rugged SUV” idiom. Perhaps if the Element had been more truck-like and rough and tumble like the XTerra, or less SUV-ish like a Subaru Forester, it would have found a more dedicated audience; who knows.
  • Chevrolet HHR. Every time I saw an HHR, I was struck with how shamelessly it ripped off the PT Cruiser. However, most reviews concluded that Chevy had created the clearly superior car, not the most difficult task when you have a specific target to surpass. That said, it’s interesting to see certain companies canning their retro models, while others are updated (VW Beetle) and new ones are introduced (Fiat 500). Looking back, Chevy must have concluded that the need for a response to the PT Cruiser was gone, and that two retro-themed cars (the HHR and the Camaro) in their model line was one too many. Of the two, I’m glad they decided to keep the Camaro.

Filed under: Car Industry, News


  1. Shawn says:

    The saddest losses of 2012 for me are the BMW 328i xDrive Touring and the Volvo V50 wagon. Both were sharp looking compact European wagons that seemingly should fill a niche in the U.S. market. I was interested in purchasing either of these earlier in the year until I found out the local dealerships basically refused to stock either of them. “Nobody buys those” one uninterested salesman flat out told me.

    • Matt says:

      It’s really unfortunate small European wagons haven’t caught on in the US. In Europe, they’re a dime a dozen. Still, I agree with you it’s a shame they’re ceasing to be offered here. Maybe BMW will sell the upcoming F30 Touring in the States?

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