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25 Luxury Cars That Were Built For The Junkyard

Cameron EittreimOctober 22, 2021

The luxury car segment has evolved tremendously over the past few decades. Gone are the days where driving an enormous Cadillac was a sign of class. Nowadays, there are many luxury car brands on the market. Whether you want ultimate luxury or just leather-wrapped seating, there is something for you. But there have also been many missteps in the luxury car segment.

Cars like the Infiniti J30 and the Acura Vigor were early inclinations of cars consumers didn’t like. Automakers are constantly on a mission to decide what drivers are looking for, even if it’s incorrect. The luxury car market is also constantly evolving and depreciating, which means that car models can change rapidly. We looked back at some 25 of the most disappointing luxury cars to hit the automotive industry.

Acura Vigor
Photo Credit: Carscoops

25: Acura Vigor

The Acura brand was an important move for Honda and one of the first Japanese luxury brands. But for a flagship sedan, the Vigor didn’t cut the mustard. While the dimensions were okay for the segment, the five-cylinder engine was a bit of a misstep. The competition coming from Lexus was fierce, and buyers connected more to the smaller Acura Legend (via Motor Trend).

Acura Vigor
Photo Credit: Carscoops

Acura is a brand that has never had a centralized focus, and the Vigor was evidence of that. With small car offerings like the Integra and the RSX, Acura didn’t have a serious demeanor like the other luxury brands. When it came to a full-sized flagship sedan, Acura also never had a model that could compete directly with Lexus.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

24: Acura Legend

Don’t get us wrong, the Legend was a cool ride. In fact, the Legend was so cool that even rapper Ludacris owns one to this day. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the Legend was competing against much better luxury car offerings. The Legend was based on the lowly Honda Accord early on, and that reputation never changed (via Motor Biscuit).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Buyers were keen to Honda’s badge engineering efforts, and it didn’t help the brand out. The competing Lexus models were engineered specifically for that brand, and the quality was high. The Legend managed to gain a sort of following in the aftermarket community, but that still didn’t help the car gain any ground in the market.

Photo Credit: Acura

23: Acura RL

For years, the Acura RL soldiered on as the full-size sedan offering for the brand. The problem with the RL was that it didn’t offer V8 power or the refinement of competing models. In fact, to the outsider looking in the RL was nothing more than a jazzed-up Accord. Likewise, the poor sales numbers and reputation reflected this fact (via Car & Driver).

Photo Credit: Acura

Acura would gradually improve the design of the RL, but it was never enough to boost sales. Finally, in 2012, the ax fell for the RL and the model was discontinued altogether. The Acura brand has experimented with many sedans, but nothing has seemed to click with customers.

Photo Credit: Honda Motor Corp

22: Acura SLX

When the SUV segment exploded in the late 1990s, a lot of automakers were caught off guard. Honda was one of them, and the company needed a luxury UTE quickly. Instead of going to the drawing board, Honda decided to badge engineer an Isuzu Trooper. The resulting product was the Acura SLX and it was beyond underwhelming (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Honda Motor Corp

The sales of the SLX were so low that you’ll seldom encounter one on the road anymore. Given the bad reputation of the Isuzu Rodeo and competing products from Lexus and Lincoln, the SLX didn’t stand a chance. There were far better options on the market for the price and consumers went the other way.

Photo Credit: Nissan

21: Infiniti J30

The Infiniti J30 is a classic example of a luxury car brand that really didn’t cut it. The Infiniti brand has never been a success for Nissan, and the early models were even worse. There were a few things drivers didn’t like about the J30. The exterior design got a lot of flack for the overtly rounded corners and deck lid (via The Truth About Cars).

Photo Credit: Zomb Drive

The performance wasn’t especially impressive and interior quality was shoddy at best. The interior proportions were also uncomfortable when you thought about what the car offered. To many potential consumers, the J30 looked like the Nissan Altima was already on the market at the time.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

20: Hyundai Equus

If there is one thing about Hyundai, the company will try to sell a car. There have been many awkward Hyundai models on the market, but the Equus takes the cake. The company was attempting to sell a top-of-the-line luxury sedan under the Hyundai banner. For the price, the Equus was the nicest and most luxurious sedan drivers could get (via Car Magazine).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

But between reliability issues and expensive maintenance, the car couldn’t survive. Potential buyers weren’t willing to invest that kind of money into what was essentially a Hyundai. As with most luxury car brands, there is a certain amount of prestige that buyers look for. A luxury car denotes a statement, and a Hyundai doesn’t exhibit that kind of reputation.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

19: Hyundai XG350

When you think about Hyundai and luxury, the greatest Hyundai luxury car was the XG350. Between the awkward exterior design and poor powertrain options, this Hyundai confused buyers. The XG350 was marketed as a premium luxury car, but the end result didn’t quite add up to that (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The exterior appointments were all cheaply made, and there were used luxury car options that were a lot better. Hyundai would slowly refine the XG350 as time went on, but it wasn’t enough to persuade buyers. The fact that it had a Hyundai badge meant it wasn’t going to make it in the luxury car segment.

Photo Credit: Kia

18: Kia Amanti

Another confusing offering from Korea was the Kia Amanti. This was an immense luxury sedan from Kia, meant to compete with other premium sedans on the market. Take a closer look at the exterior styling, and you might mistake the Amanti for a Jaguar S-Type. Many consumers criticized Kia for copying the design of the Jaguar S-Type at the time (via New Car Test Drive).

Photo Credit: Kia

The Kia Amanti did have some unique aspects, which were evident once you got behind the wheel. Kia sourced upmarket interior materials that made driving the Amanti feel a bit more upscale. But the reliability was questionable, and the fact that it was a Kia turned a lot of potential car buyers off.

Photo Credit: Lincoln

17: Lincoln Zephyr

By 2006, the only semi-popular model the Lincoln brand had was the Navigator SUV. Ford seemed to shake things up and introduce a new modern sedan. The previous Lincoln LS sedan had been a flop, and the new for 2006 Ford Fusion seemed to provide a perfect platform. The Zephyr was praised by the automotive press for an affordable price tag and stylish appearance (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Lincoln

In reality, though, the reliability issues crept up on owners as time went on. The Zephyr had many safety and other recalls that affected the car. Not to mention that it was a Lincoln, which negatively affected the resale value of the car. All-in-all, the Zephyr is one luxury car worth avoiding.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

16: Lincoln LS

When Ford purchased the Jaguar Automotive Group, the company also purchased a lot of usable technology. So when Lincoln introduced a new sedan, Ford pulled parts from the Jaguar side of things. The problem is that the LS was uncertain, and consumers soon found that Jaguar sourced parts weren’t the way to go (via The Truth About Cars).

Photo Credit: Lincoln

There was a V8 version of the LS, which was praised early on for its performance. But with performance also comes reliability, and the LS was anything but. The Lincoln LS could have been a winning combination of style and luxury, but it wasn’t. Lincoln hasn’t been able to produce a successful sedan model yet.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

15: Lincoln Mark VIII

There was a time when personal luxury coupes occupied one of the most popular segments of the automotive industry. The final generation of the Mark VIII was a mere shadow of what the model was once symbolic of being. A cheap design with flimsy interior materials was only part of the problem with the Mark VIII (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The DOHC V8 engine was also uncertain as was the air ride suspension. These cars were notorious for head gasket failure and transmission failures. The Lincoln lineup of cars was already lacking around this period and the Mark VIII was discontinued in 1998. There are very few of these models still on the market these days.

Infiniti M30
Photo Credit: Car Domain

14: Infiniti M30

The Infiniti M30 was one of the initial models sold by Infiniti in the United States. The coupe and convertible trio were notable for reserved styling and performance. There were a few luxury convertibles on the market at the time. The M30 had many reliability issues from the jump, and the quality wasn’t as refined as Lexus (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The M30 was probably one of the least recognizable Infiniti cars on the road. Infiniti had a tough time initially competing against the Lexus models. The lack of power and refinement held the M30 back, and nowadays you’ll seldom encounter one on the road. Likewise, Infiniti has tinkered with the M30 nameplate a few times after.

Photo Credit: Automobile

13: Infiniti M45

Designed at the Nissan Technical Center (NTC) in Atsugi, Japan. The Infiniti M45 was a short-lived performance sedan. Positioned as the flagship for the Infiniti line, the M45 was a full-sized sedan with a V8 engine. The performance was satisfactory enough for the automotive press to praise the model, but the reliability was questionable at best (via Spanner Head).

Photo Credit: Infiniti

The styling of the M45 was also quite polarizing in a segment where sedate is the key demographic. With the M45 only lasting from 2000-2004, the model was a rarity. There is a solid following for the M45 among enthusiasts who appreciate Nissan engineering. But when it came to competing with the likes of Lexus and BMW, the M45 couldn’t do it.

Photo Credit: Infiniti

12: Infiniti M35x

The final incarnation of the M series sedan was the M35x, and it was a more sedate-appearing sedan model than before. Infiniti did away with the harsh styling of the previous M-Series generations. The problem was that buyers weren’t even considering the Infiniti M by this point in time. The sedan had become a relic of the past and sales numbers were abysmal (via KSport USA).

Photo Credit: Infiniti

Likewise, the Infiniti M35x still suffered from the same reliability issues as previous models. Infiniti hadn’t been able to cement the M35x as a serious competitor against Lexus. The M35x was a decent sedan in many ways, but it was released at the wrong time. There were much better options on the market, including Infiniti’s own G35 models.

Photo Credit: BAT

11: Infiniti Q45 (First Generation)

The Q45 was a full-sized luxury sedan sold in America. The initial model of the Q45 had some questionable styling effects that Nissan had hoped would set it apart. There was also a noticeable lack of wood grain inside the interior, which set the car apart from other luxury models. Instead, the Q45 was designed with an emphasis on touch surfaces, and you could tell (via New Car Test Drive).

Photo Credit: BAT

The Q45 had questionable reliability when it came to the V8 engine, and the transmission also had some issues. The lack of refinement and quality made the Q45 a short-lived model for Infiniti. In a market where quality is everything, the Q45 but couldn’t compete with the likes of Lexus and BMW. Infiniti would continue to evaluate and innovate in this segment.

Photo Credit: Stance Nation

10: Infiniti Q45 Second Generation

The second generation of the Q45 was an improvement over the original model. Gone was the extreme styling reminiscent of the first-generation car. The designers at Infiniti went for a more subdued appearance, but the problem was that styling trends were changing. While the Q45 retained a seemingly boxy shape, most competitors, including Lexus, had moved on (via Journal of Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Stance Nation

The V8 was still the main selling point of the Q45, as it offered a lot of power. But luxury car buyers want more out of a vehicle, and the Q45 really didn’t offer it. At the time, the Q45 was the most expensive Infiniti on the road, and that isn’t saying much. The second generation of the Q45 sedan fell short in too many aspects compared to what else was on the market.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

9: Infiniti Q45 Third Generation

The third and final generation of the Infiniti Q45 was also a bit of a letdown. The styling was commonplace for a sedan in this price range. A fully-loaded Infiniti Q45 could easily top $60,000.00 with all the options. A comparable Lexus LS400 offered more luxury and performance for around the same price tag. Another drawback with the Infiniti Q45 was the lack of advertising and visibility (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

There were only about 1152 of these sold, and part of that was a lack of advertising by Nissan. The brand was more focused on the G35 sedan and coupe at the time. Had Infiniti invested a bit more in advertising for the Q45, the model might have improved against the competition. The final incarnation of the Q45 is by far one of the least recognizable Infiniti models on the road.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

8: Infiniti G20 First Generation

The original Infiniti G20 was a compact sedan marketed to young professionals. The car was meant to compete with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, but it failed miserably. The size of the G20 was the first drawback, the car was not that much larger than a Nissan Sentra. The interior quality was lacking in any real luxury appointments, which was another disappointment for consumers (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The styling at the time was dreary, and the performance of the four-cylinder engine was lethargic at best. Infiniti attempted to market the G20 as a luxury sedan, but in reality, was far from it. The automotive press ridiculed the G20 for its small stature and lack of amenities. The reputation of Infiniti never truly recovered from the early mishaps of the G20 sedan.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

7: Infiniti G20 Second Generation

The second generation of the Infiniti G20 was released in 1999 after a hiatus. The car was redesigned but still appeared similar to the previous model. The styling was meant to be more sedate and was in line with the Infiniti design language at the time. The only engine choice was still a four-cylinder engine, and there were better options on the market (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

For all intents and purposes, the Infiniti G20 was a lackluster effort by Infiniti to sell a compact sport sedan. Consumers were more interested with competing models than anything Infiniti had to offer. The competition for a compact sedan was raging at the time. Infiniti would have success later on with the G35 sedan and coupe.

Photo Credit: Lexus

6: Lexus HS

What happens when you try to sell a Toyota Prius as a Lexus model? You get the Lexus HS. The car was a disaster for Lexus for many reasons. Consumers weren’t keen on the styling for one reason. The performance wasn’t in line with what you’d expect from a car in this price range either. The luxury features were also a bit lacking when you compare the car to other models in the same price range (via Motor Junkie).

Photo Credit: Lexus

The folks at Lexus had hoped the HS would be a winning combination of luxury and economy. In reality, the car was just something that no one actually wanted. Hybrid car buyers are already picky, and the Lexus HS didn’t fill that void that buyers were looking for. Instead, the HS ended up being a fairly short-lived model for the brand.

Photo Credit: Mecum

5: Maserati Bi-Turbo

The Maserati Bi-Turbo was another failed attempt at a luxury car brand to create an affordable offering. The first thing you notice about the Bi-Turbo is that it was short and stubby. The car didn’t do much in terms of performance, and buyers couldn’t get over the sights. Another thing that the Bi-Turbo did wrong was the interior volume (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Maserati

For a car in this price range, interior space was at a minimum, and that’s never a good thing. The Bi-Turbo could have been a winner for Maserati, but instead, it was a dud. The maintenance issues and lack of refinement caused the car to fail. These days, the Bi-Turbo has become a collector’s item due to its novelty appeal.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

4: Cadillac Allante

The Cadillac Allante was probably one of the worst failures for GM in its history. The sport coupe was supposed to compete with the likes of BMW and instead failed to draw an audience. The performance was subpar when you compared it to other models on the market. The styling was also a significant departure from what Cadillac shoppers were used to (via Every Auto).

Photo Credit: Hemmings

The Allante wouldn’t last long on the market before GM pulled the plug. Traditional Cadillac buyers weren’t looking for a convertible like the Allante. GM had to try and position the car to sell to a younger demographic, and that didn’t work either. The Allante was lacking in almost every aspect that you could think of.

Photo Credit: GM

3: Cadillac Catera

In the latter part of the 1990s decade, Cadillac was in a steep decline. Competition from other luxury car automakers had made the brand prehistoric to consumers. The top brass at Cadillac believed a compact luxury car would be the way to entice consumers. Thus, the Catera was born out of a necessity for a small car offering (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: GM

The problem with the Catera was that it was simply a rebadged European model. The reliability was scarce at best, and the styling was lackluster. Competing against the likes of BMW and Lexus, the Catera, but couldn’t cut the mustard. The car was universally panned by the automotive press for its lackluster styling and lack of performance.

Cadillac Cimarron
Photo Credit: Auto Wise

2: Cadillac Cimarron

The Cimarron is one of the worst Cadillac models ever made. For some reason, the car was based on the Chevy Cavalier compact car. The car didn’t enthuse consumers, which was obviously a bargain basement offering. Cadillac could have done better, but the Cimarron didn’t offer much luxury (via The Drive).

Photo Credit: Motor Biscuit

The Cimarron would go on with various revisions for almost a decade, but the car never managed to become a success for Cadillac. GM believed consumers would overlook the fact that the car was a rebadged Cavalier, but that never happened. The evidence that it was nothing more than a Cavalier was enough to ruin the reputation of the car.

Cadillac XLR
Photo Credit: GM

1: Cadillac XLR

The Cadillac XLR was an attempt at Cadillac to sell a high-performance sports car. Based on the Corvette, the XLR was everything you’d want out of a high-performance coupe. The XLR had the same 4.4 L 443 HP V8 engine, which was more than adequate enough. But the styling was a drawback for most car shoppers, as it appeared to be more of a stretched-out CTS (via Road and Track).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Sales for the XLR were low, and there was a lack of advertising for the model. There were also many issues with the electronics in the vehicle. Cadillac has a history of failing with sport coupes, and the XLR was the latest failure. There were much better sport coupes on the market than the XLR at the time of its release.

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