It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a perfect time to reflect on everything that happened (and didn’t), to remember that which we’ve lost, and celebrate that which we’ve gained. Combining all of the above with a spirit of curiosity led me to check out all the cars that meet their untimely (or timely) ends in the ‘22-’23 model years––inevitably providing fodder for yet another list of the best and worst of the bunch.
There are at least 26 models across the US auto industry that are confirmed to call the 2022 or 2023 model year their last. In this two-part series, we’ll reflect on the legacy that each leaves behind, considering factors such as how long they’ve been around, what their performance specs were like, and whether they have the “it” factor which endears special models to the masses. The result is a list-style review of all models enjoying their final hurrah, from the cars we’ll sorely miss to the ones we won’t.
The Science of the List
Here at AutoInfluence, we love using facts and figures to talk about cars, so I couldn’t sort this list out using my gut feeling alone! Thus I was compelled to evaluate each of this year’s outgoing models for a number of factors:
- How long they’ve been around
- How many were made
- What their specs are (power, torque, efficiency, MSRP) in their final year
- The views on their most popular YouTube video (a general popularity / cultural significance indicator)
- Whether they’re being replaced or not (true/false)
- Whether they have the “it” factor (true/false, subjective)
The values were transformed to a linear 0-10 scale (so the longest-lived gets a 10, the shortest-lived gets 0, and any car exactly halfway between them gets a 5 in that criteria––intuitive, right?), and then weighted by criteria. This is so that really important factors count for more points than others.
For this evaluation, the most important criteria are the length of the production run and the views on their most popular YouTube video, my way of measuring familiarity and popularity. The least important are cost and sales totals, which I believe have little to do with how people feel about a car. The replacement and “it” factors have values of true and false––like bonus points, a car either gets them or it doesn’t. These get the lowest weighting to limit their influence on the results.
The total scores range from 63 all the way down to a miserable 8 out of a possible 100, showing that the class of ‘22-’23 really has it all!
Smell Ya Later, Flunkies
Nearly one-third of the outgoing models are forgettable at best and long overdue to depart at worst, scoring fewer than one-sixth as many points as #1 (see Part 2). The market simply isn’t going to miss these bland, boring vehicles whose existence doesn’t really make sense. Hence, Part 1 of this list kicks off with what is practically a celebration. The science says we just don’t care about the eight lowest-ranking “last hurrah” models. Whether you shrug at or cheer for their departure, I doubt you’re going to miss:
#26: Nissan Rogue Sport – 8.2/100
Sold abroad as the Qashqai, the Rogue Sport’s name is as imaginative as its purpose. It’s an SUV for people who don’t want something as big as a crossover because, for some reason, economy sedans are still on the blacklist, even when gas is $5/gallon. The “Sport” in the name must have been purposefully ironic, right? Right? Far from missing it when it’s gone, I wonder how many of you even knew it was here?
#25: Buick Encore – 10.9/100
Oh my goodness, FINALLY. After three years of sharing market space with the modestly larger Encore GX, the most boring car on the market is on its way out. Not premium enough to be luxury, not big or efficient enough to be practical, not enough color options to be interesting––no wonder the most popular video about this thing has fewer than 400,000 views, less than half as many as the second-least-influential model on this list. It isn’t bad; my 92-year-old grandfather adores his Encore (love you, Pepére!)! Yeah, the end of this show is long overdue.
#24: Acura ILX – 11.8/100
I have literally nothing to say about this car. Totally average in nearly every way; it one-ups the Encore only by being a Honda product. The fact is, in a world where the Civic exists, an ILX is simply a vanity piece, and now it’s being replaced by the Integra, aka the Automatic Civic Si. It’s been a good car. That’s all.
#23: Ram ProMaster City – 11.9/100
I imagine many would omit the utility van segment from their scope, but I did not, for reasons I’ll decline to explain. The Ram ProMaster City has been a fine contractor/field technician van for eight years after being adopted from the Fiat lineup. But it didn’t sell that well, it’s kind of ugly, and whether it belongs or not, normal people just don’t care about it. So, bye, I guess?
#22: Chevy Spark – 12.0/100
I am arguably committing an injustice by ranking the Spark so low. It holds an important honor as the cheapest new car on the market, with the only MSRP below $15,000. It’s been efficient, practically proportioned, and totally adequate for solo urban commuters for over a decade, and it comes in, like, 27 different colors to give it “personality.” Frankly, tears should be shed as the market loses one of the last true economy cars keeping Henry Ford’s dream alive, but we (I) have our (my) priorities all wrong, and so we (I) don’t care.
#21 (tie): Ford Transit Connect – 14.4/100
The Transit’s littler, uglier brother is on its way out, giving up most of the compact utility van market in the process. As uninteresting as its Ram counterpart, its score is salvaged by a two-decade existence (it falls to #24 if one discounts its first years spent outside of the US market). There’ll be an electric replacement soon enough, reducing the significance of its parting; time for this one to unplug.
#21 (tie): Honda Insight – 14.4/100
The original Insight was an iconic early-00s hypermiling hybrid, a decade ahead of its time (and the competition). The modern Insight is a hybrid Civic. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just profoundly less interesting than its legacy, and frankly, many people probably have no idea that it exists (or, if they do, why it’s special). This, of course, is why we’re getting a Civic Hybrid next year. What an insightful decision, Honda.
#19: Ford EcoSport – 16.5/100
I must have made a mistake. Any evaluation which results in ranking the Ford EcoSport greater than dead last is fundamentally flawed. This miserable blob of steel is neither economical nor sporty and is only propped up this high on the list by a Ford India YT video with 50M views.
This is a Buick Encore without the redeeming qualities of looking almost classy and having merely unimpressive fuel economy (I get better than 25 MPG with a 13-year-old V6 Lexus). In a loaded market with no bad choices, the EcoSport is a bad choice, and 861,495 people have made a mistake. I am angry at it for existing and angry at it for forcing its way onto my list. Goodbye, and good riddance.
The Almost-Forgettable Middle Class
Next up are eight cars that are too good or interesting to be dismissed out of hand but not enough to be sorry about their departure––they are the middle-class B-list in every way. Underappreciated and often targeted at niche market segments that have apparently been filled by something else, we start to get to models we can pity for their failure or modestly applaud for their success. Most eyes will be dry, but hearts may be heavy as we say goodbye to:
#18: Hyundai Ioniq – 18.1/100
No, not the Ioniq 5 or any other number. Just…Ioniq. Good freakin’ luck finding YouTube content about this car instead of the concept it inspired. Did you know this car existed? I’m not sure it really registered with me as being separate from the hybrid Elantra (it’s actually noticeably shorter and 10% more efficient). By far the most conservative fuel sipper of this departing class at 55+ MPG, we’re losing an amazing hybrid to be replaced by a full EV lineup. Based on current EV prices and lithium supply chain capacities, I’m…really not sure that’s a win.
#17: Kia Stinger – 19.5/100
The Stinger quietly lost the last of its venom early this year. It’s a shame. I love the idea of the Stinger, a car with great looks that’s nearly “affordable luxury performance,” but apparently, fewer than 100,000 people loved it enough to pull the trigger in a five-year run. 368 hp and 376 lb-ft are serious performance numbers! The EV SUV gods have spoken, though, and its relatively low popularity suggests we won’t collectively miss it. But I will.
#16: Infiniti Q60 – 20.1/100
I have to admit that the Q60 is, in my opinion, the most beautiful “normal” car on the road today. It’d at least make my shortlist. Its pricing also makes it a great value proposition for a luxury V6 coupe, but that’s about all it’s got going for it. The Q60 rates quite similarly to the Stinger in all categories of this evaluation––the more well-known Stinger is slightly shorter-lived and less efficient, dropping it down a spot. Ultimately, the Q60 hasn’t been compelling enough to make us sorry to see it go––yet I’ll love to watch it leave.
#15: Mercedes-Benz A-Class – 21.0/100
The A-Class ranks this high because although it’s been short-lived and sports little in the way of real performance, a video about its production facility has over 80M views on YouTube, so it rates as being relatively popular, which makes sense! This entry-level Benz should be popular for living up to the luxury standards of its prestigious marque at relatively affordable prices. However, survived by the very similar (and more entry-level) CLA, we’re unlikely to lament its absence.
#14: Dodge Charger – 24.5/100
Demonstrating the “middle class” category perfectly is the Charger at #14. The Charger is way too cool to discard. Dodge knows it’s supposed to be a fun car, giving the paint colors names like Hellraisin and White Knuckle, and used this platform to introduce us to one of the industry’s most iconic modern engines: the Hellcat. This family-sized muscle car is a major nostalgia trip, which is awesome, but it’s so out of date that it’s no longer relevant in any but Hellcat form. At least it’s a popular cop car.
#13: Toyota Avalon – 24.8/100
At the other end of the sedan “fun” spectrum sits the Avalon. Toyota had the gall to make a TRD Sport version (ha!) in this final generation, perhaps in an ill-fated bid to spike its popularity. After nearly 30 years, the flagship Toyota sedan is moving on, and it’s only the familiarity bred by that long run that powers it to #13 here. Long as it was, the Crown name that replaces it has been in use since 1955, so the “understated luxury” torch should be in safe hands.
#12: Hyundai Accent – 26.8/100
Here at #12 stands the Accent, arguably in the Chevy Spark’s spot––except the Accent isn’t just cheap, it’s good, and has been for 28 years. Starting under $20k, looking better than it has any right to, and as well-equipped as any Hyundai/Kia product, it earns a Car and Driver Editors’ Choice badge and a 9/10 rating in 2022, its final model year. The second-best seller on this list (over 4 million units, nearly 25% of which were sold in the USA) leaves another gaping hole in the economy car segment, surely to be replaced by an EV for twice the price. Sigh.
#11: Chrysler 300 – 28.3/100
A few points ahead of its platform-mate thanks to an inexplicably more powerful YouTube presence, the Chrysler 300 is the straight man to Dodge’s goofball. It’s shaped like a fedora and calls to mind the type of Untouchables gangster who would wear one, a type of luxurious modern muscle that we haven’t seen from anything else in this price range. But it’s overstayed its time and needs either a major refresh or retirement; Stellantis’ brand overhaul dictates the latter. It’s really for the best.
Losers in the Game of Automotive Thrones
Whew. Good time for a breather before we head into Part 2? After reviewing the 16 most-disposable characters on Season 2022’s “death list,” there are honestly not too many shockers. For me, the Spark, Accent, and Avalon are all surprising, but everything else is a predictable outcome of the times. Electrification and tightening regulations are going to put a lot of engine blocks on the chopping block. But at what cost? Is electrification really worth losing two of the cheapest new cars on the market, as well as some of today’s most efficient hybrid sedans? Boring as they may be, I’d say it’s not wrong to lament the loss of these cars. Except the EcoSport, come on now.