When it comes to keeping customers interested, the car industry needs to roll with the punches and always look to adapt or adjust to new trends.
In the United States, consumers generally prefer to get behind the wheel of large SUVs or trendy new crossovers, which has put a considerable strain on sedan sales, one that’s being felt even by the biggest of luxury automakers.
To put that lowered demand into perspective, USA Today looked at the numbers and figured out which models went on to sit still on dealership lots for months on end before finally being purchased by a stray buyer. There are 26 total nameplates involved, and we’re going to run through places 26-11 quickly before focusing our attention to the 10 vehicles that have generated the least amount of interest in recent years.
#26 through 11
26. BMW 6-Series (Avg days on lot: 130.3 / Sales 2017/18: 3,355/3,764)
25. Cadillac CTS (Avg days on lot: 130.3 / Sales 2017/18: 10,344/11,219)
24. GMC Canyon (Avg days on lot: 130.6 / Sales 2017/18: 32,106/33,492)
23. VW Golf SportWagon (Avg days on lot: 130.6 / Sales 2017/18: 26,700/14,123)
22. Fiat 500X (Avg days on lot: 130.7 / Sales 2017/18: 7,665/5,223)
21. Hyundai Santa Fe (Avg days on lot: 130.9 / Sales 2017/18: 105,415/94,016)
20. Buick Regal (Avg days on lot: 132.8 / Sales 2017/18: 11,559/14,118)
19. Cadillac XT5 (Avg days on lot: 133.0 / Sales 2017/18: 68,312/60,565)
18. Toyota Yaris iA (Avg days on lot: 133.4 / Sales 2017/18: 35,727/25,115)
17. Cadillac ATS (Avg days on lot: 135.2 / Sales 2017/18: 13,100/10,859)
16. Fiat 124 Spider (Avg days on lot: 137.0 / Sales 2017/18: 4,478/3,515)
15. Mini Cooper (Avg days on lot: 137.9 / Sales 2017/18: 30,710/26,119)
14. Audi A8 (Avg days on lot: 139.3 / Sales 2017/18: 3,127/1,599)
13. Volvo 90 Series (Avg days on lot: 139.7 / Sales 2017/18: 11,090/9,662)
12. Alfa Romeo Stelvio (Avg days on lot: 141.5 / Sales 2017/18: 2,721/12,043)
11. Buick LaCrosse (Avg days on lot: 143.4 / Sales 2017/18: 20,161/15,527)
As you can probably gauge for yourselves, there are multiple factors that cause cars to rot away on dealer lots, and it’s not always just because of new market trends. SUVs like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Cadillac XT5 made the cut despite putting up more than just decent sales numbers, whereas models like the old Audi A8 were undoubtedly harder to move because there was a brand new version on the horizon.
#10. Audi A7 Sportback
Average days on lot: 143.6
2018 sales: 3,852
2017 sales: 4,810
It’s easy to understand why people didn’t throw themselves at the first-generation A7 Sportback as it was nearing the end of its cycle. Sure, Audi kept updating it as far as available tech was concerned, but by the end, some of them ended up spending close to five months on dealers’ lots, which is indicative of very low demand. The fact that this was also a very expensive four-door coupe to begin with surely factored in as well.
#9 Fiat 500L
Average days on lot: 146.2
2018 sales: 1,413
2017 sales: 1,664
The Fiat 500L was actually one of the worst-selling cars of the year in 2018, moving fewer than 1,500 units throughout the U.S. If consumers are now generally focused on trendy and dynamic-looking crossovers at the $20,000-or-so-mark, we can understand why the quirky 500L doesn’t exactly fit that bill. Would you buy a 500L over a Toyota C-HR?
#8 Jaguar XJ
Average days on lot: 146.3
2018 sales: 1,579
2017 sales: 2,721
Luxury sedans aren’t exactly the most in demand cars at the moment, and the fact that the XJ is trailing its rivals from Mercedes, BMW and Audi in terms of on-board tech isn’t helping its case either. Sure, it looks good, and the badge still carries weight, but you know you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck with BMW’s latest 7-Series or Audi’s all-new A8.
#7 Chevrolet Impala
Average days on lot: 147.7
2018 sales: 56,556
2017 sales: 75,788
The fact that a nameplate like the Impala can spend that much time on in a dealership lot while also being the second best-selling model in its segment for two years in a row is just indicative of what’s happening with the large four-door sedan segment – as well as the sedan segment in general. Curiously enough, similar ailments plague the following model too.
#6 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Average days on lot: 156.1
2018 sales: 47,936
2017 sales: 53,304
We’re surprised to find the E-Class on this list, especially this high up. Merc’s four-door middle child has been its segment’s best seller in both 2017 and 2018, however, we can only assume that a rising interest in Mercedes-Benz crossover models is what led to the E-Class finding itself in such a position. Again, it’s not a decline in sales for the nameplate and in some ways, not even in interest – the E is just part of an overall declining segment.
#5 Chrysler 200
Average days on lot: 157.6
2018 sales: 18,457
2017 sales: 1,043
Dealer lot problems with the Chrysler 200 have been well documented, even after FCA officially pulled the plug on the compact sedan. Remember, this was the car that Sergio Marchionne himself dubbed a horrible investment, so it’s no surprise that at one point there was more than a six month supply available in dealerships.
#4 Fiat 500
Average days on lot: 160.3
2018 sales: 5,370
2017 sales: 12,685
Sales for the Fiat 500 fell abruptly from 2017 to 2018, mirroring the poor reliability score registered in the J.D. Power’s list of the 10 least dependable cars of 2017. The 500 topped that list and then went on to be third in 2018. Then there’s the whole crossover boom – hard to fight on multiple fronts when you’re a car with a singular purpose.
#3 Volvo 60 Series
Average days on lot: 177.9
2018 sales: 11,876
2017 sales: 16,825
An all-new generation of Volvo’s S60/V60 range was long overdue, as the previous model struggled to keep up with more established and more technologically-capable rivals like the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50 and so on. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anybody purchasing a previous-gen S60 last year, unless it was at a massive, out-of-this-world discount.
#2 Volkswagen Touareg
Average days on lot: 194.1
2018 sales: 2,022
2017 sales: 3,545
With VW ditching the old Touareg in the U.S. in favor of the three-row Atlas and redesigned Tiguan, it’s no wonder that any remaining cars became extraordinarily difficult to move. To be fair though, spending more than half a year gathering dust is by no means indicative of the car’s technical prowess – the 2nd-gen Touareg received positive reviews in the U.S. when it was first introduced to market.
#1 Mitsubishi Lancer
Average days on lot: 195.1
2018 sales: 3,351
2017 sales: 12,725
Mitsubishi shut down its Lancer operation in the U.S. in August of 2017 and it took the automaker over six months to clear out the final 3,351 units. Letting the Lancer go quietly into the night was a decision taken after it registered multiple years of declining sales.
What’ll it be?
If you could have any of the previously-mentioned cars at a good enough discount, which one would you choose over something more modern?