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Say Farewell As These Models Drive Off into the Sunset

But some just might return.

by on Dec.23, 2013

The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is leaving almost as quickly as it arrived. The little-purchased Nissan is getting cut from the maker's lineup.

As the year draws to a close you’ll likely see more than a few lists of the famous names who have moved on, as they say, to a “better place.” But what about those automotive models that have also moved on to the junkyard in the sky?

There are more models on the market than ever these days, manufacturers racing to fill every possible “white space” before the competition does. But that means, more than occasionally, that the industry comes up with some clunkers, like the misbegotten Acura ZDX hatchback and the Nissan Murano CrossTour. The latter, a cross between an SUV and convertible, will live on – at least for now – though the Acura will likely soon be not only gone but forgotten.

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For those who may be sad to see the offerings on this list vanish, don’t give up hope. Occasionally, products that met an early demise will make a return. The Chevrolet Camaro not only experienced reincarnation, but has dominated its long-time foe the Ford Mustang since its return. The Acura NSX should be back in production form by early in 2015. And while Honda will pull the plug on the Ridgeline pickup at the end of the 2014 model-year, look for an all-new version to return to the line-up by 2016, the maker says.

The Volkwagen Routan has many things in common with the Chrysler group minivans except one: it's no longer being made.

Here are some of the more notable departures of this past year:

The Acura ZDX was the Japanese luxury maker’s attempt to enter a newly emerging segment that included the likes of the BMW X6 and 5-Series GT, as well as the Audi A7. But the Audi hatchback proved awkward in appearance and offered little in the way of added flexibility or functionality.

Parent Honda built its own version of the concept yet, oddly, the Accord Crosstour shared almost nothing with its upscale sibling except an ungainly appearance. Analysts have been waiting for Honda to pull the plug on the hatchback and that could yet happen, though the maker has somehow convinced itself the Crosstour will do better by no longer including the word “Accord” in its name.

The Cadillac Escalade EXT was another attempt to fill a new segment – one that very few buyers seemed interested in: a luxury vehicle blending the front half of a full-size sport-utility vehicle and the rear of a short-bed pickup. It wasn’t alone, however.

The Chevrolet Avalanche tried the same trick in the mainstream segment and even tried to boast a “revolutionary” concept in which the back of the passenger compartment could fold down – sort of like a fold-down seat in a station wagon — to create a longer cargo bed. Initial interest was strong for both General Motors models then faded fast. But GM wasn’t the only one who saw a mirage rather than an emerging market segment. Ford briefly tried the same trick, only to pull the plug on its Explorer Sport Trac model in 2010.

Once considered one of the "cuter" cars on the market, it wasn't adorable enough to make Volvo's roster for 2014.

While Nissan continues to hang on hoping for a miracle to boost demand for the Murano Crosstour, it is giving up on its Altima Coupe. The two-door never made it onto the market’s collective radar screen. But Nissan shouldn’t be faulted for trying. Coupes dominated the midsize market for decades but have been sliding perilously in recent years. Fewer and fewer makers now offer them, especially with the rise of the coupe-like sedan segment pioneered by the Mercedes-Benz CLS. But two-door fans shouldn’t despair. Cadillac is expected to show a coupe version of the CTS at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

The Toyota Matrix is one of the rare models the Japanese maker has abandoned in recent years and its departure might come as a surprise to those who found the crossover a sporty and flexible alternative to the Corolla with which it shared a platform. That chassis also was shared with the now-forgotten Pontiac Vibe lost along with the Pontiac brand itself following GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.

The double surprise is that the Matrix competed in what many believe will be among the fastest-growing market segments through the course of the next decade. So, don’t be surprise if it makes a return.

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The Volkswagen Routan suffered its ignominious fate for a variety of reasons. There’s the general decline of the minivan market, which has seen sales plunge by nearly two-thirds since the early 1990s peak. There’s the general malaise that the Volkswagen brand itself has suffered from. But add the fact that VW never really seemed very committed to this model – which was little more than a warmed-over version of the Chrysler Town & Country. Worse, it didn’t even offer as much flexibility as the Detroit model, lacking the creative Stow-n-Go seating of the domestic model.

Rounding out the automotive obituary list are two Volvo Coupes, the C30 and C70. The smaller of the two did have at least one useful purpose: its futuristically distinctive – some would call it peculiar – design gave lie to the long-running image of Volvo as a brand that could only produce boringly boxy station wagons. But the hip, young buyers the Swedish maker aimed for never materialized.

(Click Here to get an update on the fate of Saab.)

As for the C70, the hardtop two-door convertible didn’t find its audience either. Like the C30, a high price tag certainly didn’t help.

But Volvo fans rejoice. Here’s another example of how products and body styles can rise, almost phoenix-like from the ashes. The maker recently launched its new V60 line and, to the surprise of many, it meant the return of the wagon to the Volvo line-up, albeit in a much more stylish form than before. Adding to the appeal – or so the Swedes are hoping – is the S60 R-Design, powered by a 329-horsepower version of Volvo’s 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Could the wagon actually become not just sexy but even sporty? Volvo certainly is hoping so.

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