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Canada’s 10 worst selling new cars in 2010

While top-selling new cars get great publicity, what about the cars that clunk around at the bottom of the sales charts?

Published November 30, 2010
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Automakers go hammer-and-tongs at each other every month to make the “best seller” lists, topped so far this year in Canada by 84,630 Ford F-150 pickups sold, and 48,805 Honda Civics.


Rarely mentioned, though, are the vehicles floundering at the bottom of the sales charts.


And I’m not talking about exotic sports cars (of the 1,330,658 new cars sold in Canada in the first 10 months of this year, did you know that only 59 of them have been Nissan GT-Rs?).


Nor am I referring to luxury brands (only 63 Bentleys sold ) or discontinued models that are still lingering around on dealer lots (only one Pontiac G8 has been sold).


Although there are still a few weeks left in the calendar year to make up for their dismal sales numbers, here are the 10 Worst Selling New Cars for 2010* to date:


10. Nissan Armada/329 sold


From the company that can’t tell you enough about its zero-emission, no-fuel Leaf electric vehicle, also comes the anti-Leaf: the $55,898 (all starting prices) full-size, truck-based, U.S.-made Nissan Armada SUV.


Now on the market for five years, the Armada has always been a slow showroom mover in Canada. GM has sold about four Chevy Tahoes for every Armada so far in 2010.


The big, traditional SUV offers decent acceleration from its V8, and plenty of room for its three rows of passengers. But the Armada’s appetite for fuel and Legoland interior has always limited its appeal.


9. Mitsubishi Galant/325 sold


Just to put the midsize $23,998 Galant’s woeful sales figures into perspective, Chrysler Canada has managed to sell ten times the number of its equally unappealing Sebring sedans so far in 2010, while the segment’s best-seller, the Ford Fusion, has sold 17,111 copies.


There are plenty of good reasons for the ninth-generation Galant’s lack of sales success. Built on a North American-specific platform since 2005 (which also supports the dead-SUV-walking Endeavor, see below, and Eclipse sports coupe), the Galant was born “old” with a down-market interior and inefficient power trains. Plus, Mitsubishi has done little to nothing to make the car competitive since.


8. Mitsubishi Endeavor/323 sold


Built off the same uncompetitive and aging “PS” platform as the $36,998 midsize Galant (see above), and entering its seventh model year, the Endeavor has never caught on in what has become a popular segment in Canada, led by best-sellers like the Ford Edge (14,234 sold so far in 2010).


For those 323 unlucky Canadians who bought one of the Mitsu crossovers this year, you get tight interior accommodations, a gutless V6 and an autobox with only four gears. Have fun.


7. Kia Borrego/271 sold


One of the few strikeouts from an automaker that seems to be hitting nothing but home runs lately, Kia introduced its traditional, body-on-frame $40,545 Borrego SUV in 2009, which was about a decade too late.


Sure, there’s room for seven. And it can tow. But as its woeful sales imply, the number of customers who are willing to put up with the Borrego’s heavy-duty fuel consumption, stiff ride and politically incorrect SUV image make it a niche player in a niche segment.


In fact, as of next January, the Borrego will stop being made for the Canadian market.


6. Volvo V50/230 sold


Why Volvo Canada has only been able to sell 230 copies of its well-executed, V50 compact wagon so far in 2010 is beyond me.


Firstly, with the demise of the mid-size V70 for 2011, the V50 is the last Volvo station wagon in the lineup. And although the $35,495 V50 T5 is limited to only power in its front wheels, it offers many of the attributes of a BMW 3 Series Touring or Audi A4 Avant, but for about $10k less.


5. Lexus GS/215 sold


In a midsize luxury sport segment that has seen BMW able to sell 1,724 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz move 3,310 of its E Class, the unpopular Lexus GS sedan is a non-player.


It’s not like the $54,650 GS is an “awful” or “bad” car, though. Far from it.


The Lexus is well built, and offers competitive luxury and safety kit. But it has been on sale since 2006. And with slow sales compared to its competitors, the V8 and rear-wheel-drive GS models have been dropped, leaving only the all-wheel-drive V6 GS 350 AWD version for 2011.


4. Cadillac DTS/197 sold


Unlike the V50, it’s no mystery why GM Canada has only moved fewer than 200 examples of its full-size DTS sedan.


First, the DTS is old: running on a platform from 1988. Second: its front-drive, 275 hp V8 drive train and waterbed driving characteristics are no match for other more powerful and modern “flagship” sedans.


But hey, at least compared to those $100,000 German luxobarges, at $56,540 the big Caddy is cheap. But then again, looking at its dreadful sales figures, obviously not cheap enough.


3. Suzuki Equator/152 sold


Did you know Suzuki sold a mid-size pickup truck? Apparently, based on the few sold in Canada so far in 2010, the answer would be an emphatic, “No!”


Just as the Japanese brand was moving away from partnerships (bye-bye, rebadged GM cars like the Verona sedan and XL-7 crossover) the $34,995 Equator arrived just last year as a rebadged Nissan Frontier (which Nissan Canada managed to sell 1,849 copies of so far this year).


2. Cadillac STS/40 sold


Soon to be replaced by a new XTS sedan for 2012, I can understand if you thought Caddy’s $61,135 STS mid-size luxury sedan had already been put out to pasture.


The STS is only slightly larger on the inside, but comes with a hefty price premium over the more successful CTS.


And like Lexus’ lack of success with its GS midsize, GM Canada is trimming back the STS lineup. Last year’s optional V8 has been deep-sixed, leaving only the slightly less powerful 302 hp V6.


Not that any Canadians are likely to notice anyway…


1. Acura RL/33 sold


Acura’s $63,900 RL luxury sedan keeps on popping up on my Top 10 lists, but for all the wrong reasons.


Back in February, I pegged its current 2008 exterior makeover as one of my Top 10 Worst Redesigns, citing its incongruous “Knights of the Round Table grille” that was slapped onto its otherwise conservative proportions.


A few months later, I tagged Acura’s flagship as one of my Top 10 Cars for Your Grandfather, writing, “Where other top-line sedans sport big V8s and roomy interiors, most of the RL’s customers are loyal Legend owners that aren’t bothered by the Acura’s relatively anemic 300 hp 3.7-litre V6.”


I promise, if Honda Canada listens to the market, does the humane thing and kills off the RL sooner rather than later, to never put it on a Top 10 list ever again.


Maybe…


*Source: Automotive News Data Centre and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada. Based on retails sales in Canada between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2010.

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