The cars that won't live to see 2021

As SUVs continue to gain steam in America, 2021 sees a wave of sedans, convertibles and subcompacts that won't make the cut.

Antuan Goodwin Reviews Editor / Cars
Antuan Goodwin gained his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and electrification to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable.
Expertise Reviewing cars and car technology since 2008 focusing on electrification, driver assistance and infotainment Credentials
  • North American Car, Truck and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) Awards Juror
Antuan Goodwin
9 min read
2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
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2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

This year, we say "arrivederci" to the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Alfa Romeo

2020 is coming to a close and we can all look forward to a bright new year -- unless you're a hardcore fan of one of these cars, that is. This year, we see a continuation of a trend that started last year: SUVs continue to steamroll the American automobile industry, squeezing out the weakest sedans, wagons and convertibles as sales in those segments plummet. Many of this year's canceled models are due to be replaced by either more sales-friendly crossovers or, in some cases, new dedicated electric vehicles. 

However, the squeeze is made more severe by the COVID-19 pandemic putting even more of a crunch on slow-selling cars. In some cases, automakers are simply trimming the fat, purging their lineups of unpopular models with no plans for replacement. For others -- like Fiat, which is down to just a single model in its 2021 lineup -- the future is a touch more uncertain.

2018 Acura RLX puts the focus on aesthetics, safety

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The largest of Acura's sedans, the RLX traces its roots all the way back to the Legend -- one of the very first models to wear the Acura badge. But in 2021, the legend comes to a close with the RLX's discontinuation. The sedan's sales have been less than stellar thanks to customer focus shifting to SUVs across the industry in the US. 

The good news is that the updated Acura TLX is sort of stepping into its fallen sibling's shoes next year. Acura's smaller sedan has grown so much for 2021 that it's within millimeters of the outgoing RLX's wheelbase and overall length. The new model looks amazing and should be quite the performer -- especially in forthcoming Type S guise -- giving fans of Acura sedans something to look forward to.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 33 Stradale Tributo marks the end of the sports car

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After a 17-year run, the Italian answer to Porsche's Boxster is ending production. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider boasts a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a screaming turbocharged engine mounted amidships and performance that had to be experienced to be understood. The Spider's demise should come as no surprise to anyone who noticed that the 4C Coupe disappeared from Alfa's US lineup last year. 

There aren't many mid-engine sports coupes left for under six-figures -- just the Porsche 718s, the C8 Corvette and (just barely) the Lotus Evora. We're definitely sad to see this one go. 

BMW says goodbye to the i8 with Ultimate Sophisto edition

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BMW's i8 is a technological marvel. Even now -- 11 years after we saw the first concept car and six years after the production model's launch -- the i8 one of the most futuristic designs on the road. However, the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 often finds itself left out of the conversation around electrified performance with full-electric cars like the Tesla Model S Plaid, Porsche Taycan and the upcoming Audi E-Tron GT leading the way. 

And so the i8's run comes to a close. But we expect it -- or something that looks a lot like it -- to return to BMW's lineup as a pure electric car in a few years.

2020 Cadillac CT6 Platinum and CT6-V: Sharp styled, potent performer

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The writing's been on the wall for the Cadillac CT6 for some time now with US production ending back in January. This also means saying goodbye to the woefully short-lived CT6-V with its awesome 4.2-liter twin-turbo Blackwing V8, making 550 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. Bummer. 

Like many automakers, Cadillac is shifting focus to faster-selling SUVs, including the upcoming full-electric Lyriq. Buyers looking for Caddy sedan will still have their choice of the smaller CT4, CT5 and the new kinder, gentler CT4-V and CT5-V.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: Performance looks good in a drop-top

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Big ole asterisk here. Chevrolet is technically only stopping Camaro SS and ZL1 sales in California and Washington due to use of brake pads containing copper, which don't meet new state regulations. 

The performance trim levels will still be available in the rest of the country and, in 2022, the Camaro SS and ZL1 will return to California dealerships with a new brake compound that complies with the most recent law.

The 2019 Chevrolet Impala is tech- and value-packed

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Another victim of General Motors' great sedan purge, the Chevrolet Impala ends production this year, leaving the Chevy Malibu as the only sedan wearing the bowtie badge. For now.

This isn't the first time the Impala has bitten the dust. The name has recognition and history which are like gold to automotive marketing and product teams. However, it's highly unlikely that the sedan will return this time.

The Chevrolet Sonic is tech-packed and peppy

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Available as a sedan and as a hatchback, both variants of the Chevrolet Sonic kick the bucket this year. On one hand, this subcompact niche is perhaps better filled in Chevy's lineup by the Trailblazer SUV. On the other hand, Chevrolet needed to clear room on its upcoming Bolt EUV electric crossover, which should start rolling off the line sometime next year.

2012 Ram Cargo Van revealed

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Honestly, we were surprised the Dodge Grand Caravan made it this far. Despite basically inventing the modern idea of a minivan, the OG has for years paled in comparison to newer models like Toyota's Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. And in 2016, the Grand Caravan was essentially replaced by the new Chrysler Pacifica as FCA's flagship family van. 

An "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude has kept the Grand Caravan's production costs low -- it hasn't been significantly updated since, wow, 2008?! -- and fleet and rental sales likely kept it cruising along in the background all this time, but now it's time for a well-earned retirement.

2020 Dodge Journey: Seating for 7 on the cheap

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As the only SUV on this list, you may wonder why Dodge is discontinuing the Journey if everyone loves crossovers so much? Well, it's because everyone hates the Dodge Journey

A shell of what was already a fairly milquetoast crossover based on the long-dead Avenger sedan, the Journey's V6 and all-wheel-drive variants have already been phased out. The final leg of its, ahem, journey is powered solely by a 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-banger with a 30-year-old, four-speed automatic transmission. We can only hope its eventual replacement, which is rumored to be based on Alfa Romeo's Stelvio, is a lot more exciting.

2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth: A louder, but slightly softer Miata

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Fiat's riff on the Mazda Miata never quite grabbed us like the Japanese original, despite sharing nearly identical underpinnings. The 124 Spider added its own Italian flair to the design and Fiat outfitted its roadster with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. The suspension was retuned for a more grand touring feel, resulting in a much more relaxed and casual take on Mazda's fun-loving little sports car. 

Long live the roadster. Just, you know, the Mazda version.

2018 Fiat 500L facelift proves some ugly ducklings become ugly swans

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Fiat's 2021 portfolio is looking sparse. Last year, the 500 left the lineup and now, along with the aforementioned Spider, the 500L has been discontinued. That leaves just the 500X crossover as Fiat's sole banner bearer in the US. Yikes. 

The automaker has refocused on its recently redesigned full-electric 500e in Europe, but that model likely won't make it onto America's roads anytime soon -- "electric subcompact hatchback" is a disastrous Venn diagram for our SUV and truck-heavy highways -- leaving Fiat's fate in the States looking dubious.

The 2020 Ford Fusion is still a contender

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The second-gen Ford Fusion sedan dates back to 2013 and has seen a few facelifts and updates over the years to keep it reasonably fresh. For now, it's time to say goodbye to Ford's midsize sedan as production shuts down, perhaps to make way for a new Outback-class crossover that revives the name in a few years. 

The 2.7-liter, twin-turbocharged Sport model was already discontinued back in 2019 leaving the Fusion Energi PHEV as the most interesting variant on sale. The plug-in hybrid variant managed to outlast its fiercest foe -- the Chevrolet Volt, which got the axe last year -- but with just 26 miles of plug-in range, Ford's electric future lies with vehicles like the 200- to 300-mile Mustang Mach-E.

The 2020 Ford Mustang GT350 and GT350R Heritage Editions are killer throwbacks

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The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R, formerly the best production Mustangs that money could buy, ends production this year to make way for the next best production Mustang that money can buy -- and we aren't talking about the Mach-E. While we're sad to hear the GT350's 526-hp flat-plane V8 roaring over the horizon, we're excited about Ford's focus shifting to the 760-hp, supercharged GT500, not to mention the new Mach 1.

2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe has the right moves

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The new Honda Civic is set to arrive in 2021, but the two-door Coupe will not be joining its sedan and hatchback brothers in this 11th generation. Why? Well, it doesn't sell as well as the other variants. The Civic sedan already blends coupe-like styling with a more accessible back seat, leaving the two-door model in a tight spot in an already shrinking niche, even among buyers of the sportier Si trim level

The Honda Fit is the subcompact hatchback to beat

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The Honda Fit is an excellent subcompact hatch with a ridiculous attention to detail when it comes to maximizing space for people and cargo in such a small footprint. Unfortunately, there's just no room in the US market for it. And so, despite it bringing us so much joy, Honda is Marie Kondo-ing the Fit out of its 2021 lineup, pointing buyers instead at the HR-V. Fortunately, Honda Fit production will continue in other parts of the world, where it's known as the Jazz.

2020 Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line is an under-the-radar hustler

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There's just no room in Hyundai's US lineup for two compact hatchbacks and so, the Elantra GT -- the five-door variant of the automaker's Elantra -- quietly bows out for 2021. Hyundai recently updated the GT just two years ago, so the hatchback will continue to be sold in European and Asian markets. 

The Elantra GT's departure frees space at dealerships for the subcompact Venue and Kona SUVs, which most buyers were leaning towards anyway. However, the GT leaves liftback lovers in good hands with the Veloster and the hot hatch Veloster N to choose from. 

2020 Jaguar XE is sleek and fun to drive

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Jaguar's XE was fine. The entry-level luxury sedan's sporty performance and aesthetic got our attention, but not-great tech and reliability concerns meant that its sales were only ever a shadow of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 with which it meant to compete. 

Jag is battening down the hatches and tightening up its lineup. The XE is out, leaving the slightly larger XF and the recently redesigned F-Type as the brand's only non-SUVs.

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake: Baby got back

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The Jaguar XF Sportbrake's fate was sealed perhaps even before it was even introduced. These days only the best of the best wagons survive, and even then, most are high-end enthusiast models -- the Mercedes-AMG E63 S, the Audi RS6 Avant and Porsche's Panamera Sport Turismo, for example. The rest have either vanished or morphed into tall pseudo-crossovers in order to survive. 

The XF Sportbrake was a good performer, but facing the same challenges as the XE sedan, was never great and so doesn't make the cut for 2021.

2020 Lexus GS F: Love it, flaws and all

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The term "underrated" gets tossed around a lot these days, but we think the Lexus GS F is truly an underappreciated ride. That's mostly because sport luxury buyers tend not to think of Lexus when cross-shopping their BMW M5s and Mercedes-AMG E63s. No, the GS F was never as sharp or hardcore as the German competition, but its blend of legendary Lexus build quality, generous performance and quiet luxury were not to be overlooked either. 

A little less fancy-pants than the flagship LS, but not quite as "try hard" as the RC or IS, the Lexus GS and GS F fills a sweet spot in the automaker's lineup before quietly bowing out of 2021.

2020 Lincoln Continental Coach Door Edition brings elegance back

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There's much to like about the Lincoln Continental. The rear-drive luxury sedan is handsomely styled, features excellent and comfortable performance and features a solid suite of cabin and safety features. There were even a few examples built with rear coach doors and extra luxurious interiors. 

But as good as it is, the Continental is no Navigator. Luxury buyers simply prefer to drive (and be driven) in the more spacious and imposing Navigator SUV. And so, Lincoln is doubling down on the full-size SUV and putting the Conti to pasture in 2021.

Lincoln redesigns MKZ for younger drivers (pictures)

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Essentially the Lincoln version of the discontinued Ford Fusion, there's not much to say about the Lincoln MKZ that hasn't already been said above. The premium branded model never sold as well as the Ford, making it an even better candidate for 2021's chopping block. 

In its wake, the sedan formerly known as the Zephyr leaves a Lincoln lineup composed completely of SUVs, including the Corsair, Nautilus, Aviator and Navigator.

The Mercedes-Benz SLC goes out in style

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Luxury manufacturer Mercedes-Benz offers more convertible options than most. However, the 2021 cancellation of the slow-selling SLC-Class leaves buyers with one fewer choice. 

Automakers have by and large gotten out of the roadster game. Sure, there's the BMW Z4, Porsche Boxster and Mazda Miata left to choose from, but these days drop-top two-seaters are few and far between, and most Mercedes buyers would rather step up for something slick like the AMG GT.

2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback: Mazda2, is that you?

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If you want to get technical, the Toyota Yaris has been absent from the US market for some time now. The car that's been on sale for the last few years is a rebadged, rebranded version of the Mazda2 sold elsewhere. That explains why the Yaris suddenly got good in 2016, when the switch happened. 

Too bad sales for new subcompacts in the US have all but totally dried up. The Yaris' cancellation, along with the fact that we're not getting the super hot Yaris GR that replaces it, is the worst news ever.