Discontinued Cars in 2021 Run Gamut from Good to Grim

Jack R. Nerad | Aug 26, 2020

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.

1. Acura RLX

2020 Acura RLX

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.

2. Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Spyder Blue On Track

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.

3. BMW i8

2020 BMW i8 Convertible Orange Front Top View

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.

4. Buick Regal

2020 Buick Regal

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.

5. Cadillac CT6

2020 Cadillac CT6

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.

6. Chevrolet Impala

2020 Chevrolet Impala Red Front View

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.

7. Chevrolet Sonic

2020 Chevrolet Sonic

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.

8. Dodge Grand Caravan

2020 Dodge Grand Caravan Gray Front View

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.

9. Dodge Journey

2020 Dodge Journey Crossroad Red Front Quarter View

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. 

10. Ford Fusion

2020 Ford Fusion

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.

11. Honda Civic Coupe

2020 Honda Civic Coupe Blue Front Quarter View

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.

12. Honda Civic Si

2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan Red On Track

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.

13. Honda Fit

2020 Honda Fit Sport Orange Front Quarter View

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.

14. Kia Optima

2020 Kia Optima SX White Front Quarter View

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.

15. Lexus GS

2020 Lexus GS

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.

16. Lincoln Continental

2020 Lincoln Continental Silver Blue Front View

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.

17. Lincoln MKZ

2020 Lincoln MKZ White Front Quarter View

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.

18. Mercedes-Benz SL

2020 Mercedes-Benz SL Grand Edition Black Front View

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.

19. Mercedes-Benz SLC

2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Yellow Top Down Front View

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.

20. Toyota Yaris

2020 Toyota Yaris

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.

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