7 Great Cars Nobody is Buying
Just because a car is a best seller doesn't necessarily make the best pick for everyone. We analyzed auto industry sales results for the first third of 2016 looked at models that represent just a tiny fraction of their sales segments. And despite weak sales, some of these are terrific vehicles worthy of serious consideration.
If you're in the market, or even if you know someone who is, check out some of these lesser-known models that represent less than 3 percent market share against the competition.
There's more good news. On many of these vehicles, big discounts may be available since these manufacturers are doing their best to boost sales.
Chevrolet SS Information
A perennial underachiever, the Mazda6 is the midsize sedan most critics gravitate toward if we wanted a four-door in the $25,000 to $30,000 price range. It's still the best looking midsize sedan and the Mazda6 offers near sports car-level handling plus excellent fuel economy. Infotainment updates inside have kept it current with the times, although we still wish it had a little more sound deadening.
Through the end of April, Mazda delivered just 14,212 examples of its midsizer, representing a mere 1.9 percent of the segment. To put that in perspective, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda each sell that many Camrys, Altimas, and Accords every two weeks.
Buy the Mazda6 instead of the Honda Accord: Both the Honda and the Mazda are polished handlers, and while the Accord is really good, the Mazda still outshines it on a curvy road. Bonus: The Mazda is rated at 1 mpg better on the highway (38 vs 37 mpg).
Mazda Mazda6 Information
It's the car almost everyone loves to hate: The Ford Flex. Decidedly dated, having hit the market back in 2008 (but updated for 2013), the three-row Flex remains an especially efficient way to haul around a big family.
Strip away its angular body and the Flex is basically a Ford Explorer that sits a little lower to the ground. Since nobody is taking Explorers off-road (intentionally) anyway, the Flex offers sharper handling, a lower price tag, and available all-wheel drive.
Representing just 1.5 percent of the massive midsize crossover and SUV market, the Flex apparently barely registers with consumers. Just 8,428 have been sold through the first third of 2016.
Buy the Ford Flex instead of the Ford Explorer: As we just said, they're essentially the same thing underneath. Ford routinely offers big discounts on the already less expensive Flex, so it's a much better value.
Ford Flex Information
Talk about an under-appreciated icon. The Australian-built Chevy SS has found just 1,131 buyers so far this year, representing a mere 0.6 percent of the big sedan market in the U.S.
That's a crying shame since the SS is basically a four-door Camaro. OK, that's not entirely accurate anymore—the 2016 Camaro rides on the newer Alpha platform, while the SS uses the older Zeta platform shared with the previous Camaro. That doesn't mean this sedan is any less awesome. At about $47,000, the SS uses a 6.2-liter V8 cribbed and can sprint to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds while carrying five passengers in comfort. There's evan an available manual transmission.
The SS is the car enthusiasts have begged for, but we don't seem to want to buy. We'll miss it when it's gone.
Buy the Chevrolet SS instead of the BMW M5: Nothing against the M5. It's great, as it should be for about $100,000 by the time you add any options. The SS is half that price and way more than half as good. Buy this future classic and keep the change.
Chevrolet SS Information
The Legacy is a midsizer that's essentially devoid of faults: It handles well, gets competitive fuel economy, offers plenty of stretch-out room in its upscale interior, and even comes standard with all-wheel-drive.
Even as the rest of the Subaru lineup goes positively bonkers—its Lafayette, Indiana, assembly plant is running at full capacity—buyers are only barely starting to take notice of the Legacy. Just 2.7 percent of the midsize segment's sales went to the Legacy, although it is gaining share against rivals.
Buy the Subaru Legacy instead of the Toyota Camry: Subaru used to build Camrys under contract for Toyota (which owns a sliver of Subaru), but the two cars have never been related. The Camry is fine, but the Legacy offers standard AWD and actually gets better mpg in the four-cylinder model (26/36 city/highway versus 25/35).
Subaru Legacy Information
Hyundai's been successfully elevating its brand status for years, but still offers value for money across the lineup. The solid and sensible cars Azera is a perfect example of Hyundai doing things right.
Then again,the same can be said for sister brand Kia, which sells the largely identical Kia Cadenza. Slightly more Cadenzas find buyers every month than Azeras, which comes as a slight surprise to us. Still, the Azera accounts for a mere 1 percent of the big sedan market, meaning it is essentially invisible.
It may look like a big Sonata, but the Azera is almost a high-end luxury car inside, built to fight against Toyota Avalon but also stretch to challenge the Lexus ES350.
Buy the Hyundai Azera instead of the Chevrolet Impala: The Impala is the undisputed sales leader in the big sedan class, and for good reason. It is a terrific sedan. But with less than one Azera sold for every 40 Impalas, it may pay to stand out a bit – and be easier on your bank account, too.
Hyundai Azera Information
Buick sounds as American as apple pie, but dig into its lineup and you'll find that almost all of its cars were designed and engineered elsewhere. That includes the midsize Regal, which benefits from its German pedigree.
Positioned slightly upmarket of the Cam-ccords that populate every parking lot in America, the Regal line was created by parent company General Motors' Opel division in Germany as the Insignia.
There's a Regal for everyone, from the more comfort-oriented base models to the rip-roaring, corner-carving Regal GS. Still, Regal only accounts for 0.9 percent of the midsize sedan market so far this year.
Buy the Buick Regal instead of the Nissan Altima: As snappy as the Regal GS is, the base model may make the most sense. At about $28,000, it undercuts the range-topping Nissan Altima 2.5SL and manages to include more features in a nicer interior. It's one of the better automotive values available today.
Buick Regal Information
In the market for a funky hatchback with all-wheel-drive and a turbo engine? The Mini Paceman might be worth a look. Through the first four months of 2016, Mini's dealership network has delivered just 39 examples of the puffed-up Paceman, representing a mere 0.00002 percent of the small SUV/crossover segment.
It may look like a standard Mini Cooper with a plump body, but the Paceman is actually based on the Mini Countryman. That means it offers all-wheel-drive and a roomier interior. The Paceman's back seat isn't that easy to climb into, but for the right type of buyer that just makes it a better deal.
Buy the Mini Paceman instead of the Nissan Juke: Nissan sells a lot of Jukes, but if rear seat access isn't a priority, the Paceman is more polished inside and out. Plus you can get an All4 with a manual transmission; AWD Jukes are stuck with CVTs.