It's the time of year when automakers are forced to acknowledge what's not selling as discontinued models disappear from company websites and dealership lots. With few exceptions, a canceled car is a slow-selling car. Here are a few on the chopping block:
Audi TT RS: Audi's performance division conjured a 360-horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine and a sweet-shifting 6-speed manual to create the RS. The result was powerful and nimble enough to transform the humble TT into a legitimate Porsche rival.
Cadillac Escalade EXT: Outward appearances suggest that the EXT rode on four standard tires, but what really carried this reskinned Chevrolet Avalanche was the Escalade name. The business case was just as tenuous as that of the failed Lincoln Blackwood, yet with an 11-year run the Escalade EXT disproved the notion that a luxury pickup is a sales-proof oxymoron.
m Chevrolet Avalanche: Many will remember the Avalanche by its distinctive "midgate" between the bed and the cabin. Its place in history is more significant: The Avalanche was a harbinger of today's trucks that place as much emphasis on moving people as they do on hauling cargo. The Avalanche was undone by the gentrification of conventional pickups, including Chevy's own Silverado.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06, ZR1: The new 2014 Corvette Stingray has sent the high-performance variants on sabbatical.
Ford Mustang Boss 302: The Boss' fate was sealed before it even went on sale: Ford promised to sell this rowdy special-edition Mustang for just two years.
Suzuki: Perpetually besieged Suzuki gave up on the U.S. market in late 2012, just as it was finding its feet. The newest of its models — the SX4 subcompact and the Kizashi midsize sedan — were genuinely good cars. Its Grand Vitara SUV and Equator pickup, not so much.
Toyota Matrix: When General Motors shuttered the Pontiac brand in 2009, Toyota lost the mechanical twin (the Pontiac Vibe) that gave the Matrix scale and the experimental joint manufacturing plant where both cars were built. Rather than call it quits, Toyota relocated the tooling to Cambridge, Ontario, and gave the Matrix another four years of life.
Volvo C30: The plucky hatchback was a departure from conventional high-volume segments. With its 5-cylinder engine and all-glass rear hatch, the C30 packed loads of charisma into a package that was too small for most luxury buyers.