There are a lot of cars out there that everybody knows, loves, and regularly buys. Vehicles like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Volkswagen Jetta are some good examples. But there are many other cars available in today’s market that are equally great when it comes to price and performance, but are models that almost nobody buys.
While automotive critics sing these cars praises, they suffer from low recognition among buyers. They tend to get overlooked for one reason or another – left to sit idle on sales lots. That’s a shame, because consumers have even more choice than they often realize. Here is a list of 20 great cars that you’re not buying, but maybe you should.
20. Mazda 5
There are plenty of minivans that are more well-known, such as the Honda Odyssey and Dodge Grand Caravan. Yet the Mazda 5 is a minivan that gets little love from the car buying public. Despite getting solid reviews from automotive critics, the Mazda 5 has poor sales figures. Only about 10,000 Mazda 5 units are sold each year in North America. That’s about 10 percent of the volume of the Dodge Grand Caravan. But why?
Most analysts chalk it up to the fact that the Mazda 5 is smaller than most other standard minivans. That said, the Mazda 5 isn’t that much smaller than the competition. Sure the Mazda 5’s third-row chairs are a little cramped, but it’s not really that bad – especially if it’s just small children riding in the back. On the positive side, the Mazda 5’s smaller dimensions make it easier to park and maneuver on city streets.
Critics who have test driven the Mazda 5 claim it’s far more nimble and fun to drive than the regular-sized vans. If these facts aren’t enough to convince you of the Mazda 5’s worth, consider that the vehicle has a starting price of only $22,000, making it by far the most affordable minivan on the market today.
[Note: The Mazda 5 was discontinued after this article was written.]
19. Cadillac CTS
We know that everyone immediately thinks of their grandfather when a Cadillac is mentioned. But the Cadillac CTS is worth considering the next time you’re car shopping. It’s not a typical Cadillac, and we don’t say that lightly. Of course this car is still a Cadillac, which means it’s a full-sized sedan. But it can be considered a sporty sedan, which is impressive for a Cadillac.
It’s still lightweight at less than 4,000 pounds and has lots of features worth mentioning, such as an electrically-assisted steering wheel that makes driving really fun. Add that to a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that pumps out 420 horsepower and you’ve got a Cadillac that doesn’t feel old or stuffy.
This car is also available in more affordable models that have slightly weaker engines. But we recommend getting the CTS model that has some torque under the hood. After all, Cadillac made this car with performance in mind. Yet despite impressing automotive experts and car aficionados everywhere, only about 30,000 CTS models a year are sold. That’s too bad, as this is a Cadillac worth driving.
18. Hyundai Genesis Sedan
Hyundai has had some very successful models over the years, but not the Genesis sedan. Launched in the U.S. in 2009 to take on the luxury sedan market, the Genesis was meant to help Hyundai “shatter premium automobile paradigms,” according to the automaker’s marketing materials. Yet today, only about 20,000 Hyundai Genesis sedans are sold worldwide each year.
The lackluster sales have surprised many automotive industry executives and analysts, many of whom consider the Genesis to be a strong competitor to the Lexus brand, and the foremost Korean luxury sedan on the market today. Yet the buying public hasn’t been similarly impressed. They have has relegated the Genesis to the back of the car lot in terms of sales.
Currently, the Hyundai Genesis sedan sells only around 1,500 units each month, which is less than half the 4,000 units sold each month for the competitor BMW 5-Series. Yet the Hyundai Genesis is much more affordable to buy than a comparable BMW.
17. Porsche Cayman
The Cayman is among the most inexpensive cars that Porsche manufactures, so it’s a bit surprising that fewer than 100 units of the car are sold each month. In fact, less than 1,000 Porsche Cayman’s were sold in all of 2015. Since 2012, the Cayman has been the worst-selling Porsche. What gives?
Perhaps it’s the fact that the Cayman is smaller and less powerful than the classic Porsche 911 model? Yet reviewers say the public is missing out on the Cayman, since it’s a car that is rewarding to drive thanks to nimble handling and superior steering. In fact, the Cayman has long been a favorite of Automobile Magazine, whose editors sing its praises every chance they get.
However, the Cayman remains in the shadow of the vaunted Porsche 911. The 911 is, after all, synonymous with the Porsche badge for many drivers. Customers who are ready to buy a Porsche want the quintessential, traditional Porsche 911. They are unlikely to settle for a Cayman just because it’s more affordable. People also shy away from any discussion of a weaker engine in a Porsche. We guess that if they have the money to buy a Porsche, people want to splash out on a top-of-the-line model.
16. Suzuki Kizashi
Having a difficult to pronounce name does not help the Suzuki Kizashi. Still, this mid-sized sedan has a lot to be attracted to. It’s a decent family car that has an attractive design and is fun to drive. Yes, it’s practical, but it also has some enjoyable elements, including an optional all-wheel drive version that is helpful in winter driving conditions.
Unfortunately, the Kizashi sells at a slower pace than the super expensive Corvette sports car. Only about 6,000 of these Suzuki’s sell each year. A big part of the problem, according to the sales team at Suzuki, is lack of name brand awareness. Apparently consumers aren’t that aware that the Kizashi even exists. Could it be the difficult to pronounce name? We think so.
Suzuki also has a relatively weak dealership network in North America, with only about 250 automotive showrooms. By contrast, Toyota has more than 1,200 dealerships in the U.S. and Canada. Another problem facing the Kizashi is the fact that the car straddles several automotive segments: It’s a bit bigger than a compact car, not quite big enough to be a competitive midsized sedan. But if you can find a Kizashi, they are apparently worth taking for a test drive.
15. Volvo S60
Volvo is another automotive manufacturer that has had great success with certain models, yet struggled with others. One of the models that Volvo has the most problems pushing out the door is the S60. This Volvo sedan has long been a hit with auto experts, who rave about the fabulous interior, smooth but powerful engine, and superior steering and handling. Whether riding the highways or running to a suburban grocery store, the S60 has proven itself to be versatile and fun to drive.
Still, the S60 only sells about 25,000 units a year, which is considered a major disappointment by the Volvo brass back in Sweden. The main problem appears to be that the S60 isn’t viewed by the public as a sports sedan, despite boasting two powerful turbocharged engines. Also, a lot of buyers have apparently been turned off by the S60 because it is front- or all-wheel drive, and they prefer rear-wheel-drive cars such as the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The Volvo brand does not have quite the cachet of a Lexus or a Mercedes emblem. Yet critics say these complaints are unwarranted, and that the S60 deserves to sit alongside the best sedans produced in Japan and Germany.
14. Kia Rio
Don’t knock the Kia Rio. Critics love this tight and tiny car. Among subcompacts, the Rio has one of the most powerful engines, and it handles like a Ferrari. The Kia Rio also has a stylish design and is much more spacious than other vehicles in its class. If all that weren’t enough, the Rio hatchback has nearly 50 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded down, which is a lot for any subcompact car.
Sadly though, car buyers have passed over the Rio, leaving the car with a very poor sales record. In 2016, it took most Kia dealers more than four months to sell a single Rio. That is painfully slow and nearly a month longer than average for the subcompact class. Kia has tried to kick start sales by offering a number of incentives on the Rio but it doesn’t seem to have helped. All this despite the fact that the Kia Rio is listed on the U.S. News Best Price report.
13. Jeep Renegade
Jeeps aren’t for everyone, but if you’re in the market for one, you could do worse than to select a Renegade. Praised for being a versatile and capable SUV, the Renegade is definitely worth a look. It has excellent off-road capabilities, as you would expect from any Jeep. It’s pretty good when driven in the city too. Add in upscale materials, roomy seats, and beautiful styling, and one would assume that the Renegade would be a hit, right?
Not the case sadly.
When the Renegade first hit the market in early 2015, the vehicle flew out of dealer lots. But sales have slowed steadily each month in 2016. Today, the Renegade’s sales pale in comparison to competitors such as the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Buick Encore. Analysts blame the problems on the fact that the Renegade is a subcompact SUV, when most people in the market for an SUV want to go big – really big. In fact, full-sized models are the bestselling among SUVs of all brands.
12. Audi Allroad
You might be surprised to see an Audi on this list, but the Audi Allroad has been a bit of a sales stinker for the company in recent years. Consumers don’t seem to know what to make of this Audi station wagon. A vehicle that drives like a car but has more cargo space than a sedan, the Audi Allroad is outfitted with both standard all-wheel drive and a luxury interior, making this vehicle a critical darling.
Nevertheless, the Allroad has been stuck sitting on dealer lots. Only about 15,000 units of the vehicle sell a year, and it often takes Audi dealers up to five months to sell a single Allroad. That gives this wagon the slowest turnover rate in its class. Price may be the issue, as the Allroad’s starting price is among the highest of its class at nearly $50,000. Plus, people just don’t seem to know where the Allroad fits within the Audi brand.
11. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-Class is shaping up to be a misfire for Mercedes-Benz. The car isn’t as popular or selling as well as its rivals, such as the BMW 5-Series or Audi A6. Critics claim this is a crime, given the luxurious cabin materials, ample seating, and massive cargo space offered by the E-Class.
The E-Class wagon has even more room at 57.4 cubic feet when you fold down the rear seats. The engine is considered excellent and among the best on the market today — a fuel-efficient turbodiesel four-cylinder that produces 577-horsepower is truly remarkable. But the public just isn’t buying it.
The E-Class is one of the slowest selling of any luxury midsized car – selling only about 12,000 units a year. Mercedes is offering incentives that are 64 percent higher than the current norm for a luxury car in this class in hopes of attracting buyers. You could be one of them.
10. Ford Flex
To be honest, the Ford Flex is not the sexiest car in the world. A cross between an SUV and a minivan, the Ford Flex looks a little odd. Critics have described the appearance as “boxy.” Nevertheless, this vehicle has received much critical praise for being an extremely efficient and practical people mover. It is also good for moving cargo and goods.
The Ford Flex has been praised for being good on gas and good for the environment. Its 3.5 liter Ecoboost engine has been cited as being very beneficial for the environment, and producing a best in class 365 horsepower. Yet despite having all these things going for it, fewer than 20,000 Ford Flex vehicles were sold in 2015. By comparison, Ford sold more than 250,000 Explorers that year.
9. Buick Regal
Yes, it’s a Buick. But the Regal is a critically lauded sporty sedan that automotive journalists and industry insiders consider the top of the heap. Available in all-wheel drive and with a stick shift, the Buick Regal is considered extra fun to drive. Its design elements, particularly the interior, have been highly praised as sleek and sexy. This car is also viewed as affordable at a starting price of about $30,000.
The base price includes many impressive add-ons, notably a leather interior, a Wi-Fi hotspot and OnStar driver assist. But despite the glowing reviews and impressive features, the Buick Regal sedan sold only 19,500 units in 2015 – making it one of the lowest selling Buicks on the market. Perhaps it’s just the Buick name, but trust us when we say that this is not your grandfather’s Buick. An “old man car” it ain’t.
8. Nissan Juke
Maybe it’s the name of this vehicle that is hurting its sales? After all, the Nissan Juke is a pretty lame moniker. It could also be the fact that this cross between an SUV and a sedan is just too strange looking to be attractive to buyers. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that the Juke’s sales continue to underperform.
In 2015, Nissan managed to sell fewer than 30,000 Juke’s worldwide – a fraction of the company’s target for the vehicle, which was designed and marketed to compete against the Mini Cooper. Spoiler alert: the Mini Cooper is winning. Every variant of the Mini Cooper outsold the Juke last year – and by a wide margin.
According to automotive critics though, it should be the Juke coming out on top. They love the car’s handling and performance, especially the vehicle’s ability to navigate turns and handle winding roads. The Nissan Juke is a vehicle that deserves some love.
7. BMW 2 Series
You probably assume that all BMW models sell well. After all, BMW is a marquee brand in the luxury car space. Yet the German automaker’s 2 Series of cars continues to undersell around the world. In 2015, only 13,000 models of the 2 Series, a sporty two door coupe, sold globally. The larger 4 Series BMW sold more than five times as many units last year. What gives?
Executives at BMW claim that people opt for the larger 4 Series, since it’s more of a family vehicle that can comfortably accommodate more passengers. That’s a shame, since the 2 Series is a great car — particularly the super sporty M-235i model, which Car and Driver named one of its “10 Best Cars of 2016.”
They heaped love on the car’s steering, handling, braking and overall performance, saying the M-235i performs as one would expect a BMW to perform. Weirdly though, BMW sold 100,000 trucks in the U.S. alone last year but fewer than 2,000 of the BMW 2 Series cars.
6. Scion FR-S
Toyota’s sub-brand Scion never really captured the public imagination. Sales of vehicles sold under the Scion label have been dismal, which is why Toyota has announced that it is canceling the Scion brand after 2016. However, some of the models produced by Scion will live on under the Toyota brand, including the critically acclaimed FR-S.
A rear-wheel sports car, the FR-S has won over critics with its power, performance, and price point. With a starting price of $27,000, reviewers say the FR-S is a sports car worth getting into. Two hundred horsepower, great fuel economy, and plenty of impressive features such as a back-up camera and touchscreen infotainment system make the FR-S a great deal. Hopefully sales will pick-up again once this car is known as the “Toyota FR-S.”
5. Volkswagen CC
Maybe it’s because the CC is a new model and has yet to catch on with the public, but 2015 sales of this VW car were abysmal. While the better known Volkswagen Jetta and Passat models continue to sell well, the CC, a sleek four door sedan, sold only 6,000 units worldwide last year.
Designed to be a sexier, hipper version of the well known Passat, the CC comes with options for either a four or six-cylinder engine, as well as a six speed dual clutch or a six speed manual transmission. Critics love this vehicle, but the public has barely noticed.
For their part, Volkswagen blamed the poor sales of the CC on its pricing. At $12,000 more than the Passat, most car buyers opted to stick with the more affordable and better known Passat, which sold about 80,000 units last year.
4. Subaru BRZ
Subaru has had great success with its all-wheel drive SUV hybrid vehicles. Models such as the Impreza, Outback, and Forester are bestsellers and leaders in the global market. Of course it helps that most of these models have starting prices under $25,000.
However, Subaru’s attempts to replicate their success with straight-up cars has proven to be less than stellar. Take the Subaru BRZ, for example. A two-door sports car that boasts a racing interior, the BRZ comes with leather trimmed upholstery, optional six speed manual transmission, push start ignition, Blue Tooth and a premium Infotainment system that includes Sirius satellite radio. It too has a starting price of $25,000.
Critics love this sports car, with some claiming it is the best vehicle produced under the Subaru brand. Sadly, car buyers have barely noticed it. In 2015, it sold just over 5,000 units globally.
3. Chevrolet SS
Chevrolet has been working hard over the past decade to improve the reputation of its brand and the performance of its cars. Automotive reviewers say the company has made big strides on both fronts. Case in point, the Chevrolet SS, which is a sporty four door sedan that has been called fun to drive and a car that offers great performance.
One reviewer called the Chevrolet SS, “a Corvette with four doors.” Meant to replace the Pontiac G8, the Chevy SS provides 415 horsepower and an available six speed stick shift. It can go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds. Many critics call this car a “sleeper” that people need to know about. Despite talking this car up, fewer than 3,000 Chevrolet SS vehicles were sold in 2015. To help boost sales, Chevy is now offering $10,000 cash back incentives on the SS model.
2. Nissan GT-R
Nissan has called the GT-R its flagship car. The carmaker may want to pick another model for that lauded designation given that the GT-R sold only 1,100 units in 2015. That’s a paltry number, bordering on embarrassing. Yet the head honchos at Nissan are sticking by this sports car, and critics agree that they should.
With a peppy twin-turbocharged V6 engine, a six speed transmission and 20 inch wheels, the GT-R has become a critical darling. Able to hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, many reviewers have referred to the GT-R as a “missile.” So what accounts for the abysmal sales? It may be the price. Starting at $110,000, it’s out of most people’s price range. But if you have the means, you may want to consider picking one up.
1. Dodge Viper
Say it ain’t so! The Dodge Viper is an iconic and gorgeous looking sports car. It’s the car you had plastered on your bedroom wall as a teenager. It’s a car people fantasize about. It’s a car everyone has an instant image of when the name is mentioned. Yet despite its revered status, fewer than 1,000 Dodge Vipers were sold in 2015.
To be precise, a total of just 676 Dodge Vipers sold last year. That is a pitiful number given the vehicle’s legendary status. Especially since automotive reviewers claim that the Viper has only improved with age.
Current models continue the Viper’s tradition of providing its owners with power and sex appeal, while adding state-of-the-art technology and features such as a V10 engine that helped the Dodge Viper set speed records at 13 test tracks, leather everything, and a 8.4 inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Despite being super impressive in every way, the Viper was thoroughly outsold by the competing Mercedes-AMG GT. So much so, that executives at Dodge have mused publicly about ceasing production on the Viper altogther. Why are sales so bad? It’s gotta be the starting price of $120,000. Please, tell us it’s the price!