The Ion was the first new compact Saturn to have a completely new design. For 2003, it was shared with other vehicles in the GM portfolio. The ION was not an original car the first Saturn models had been, and this was a disappointment for some loyalists. The ION was also lethargic when it came to the performance (via Forbes).
The interior was cheaply made, and none of the unique safety features were present in the car. As time went on, GM would try to refresh the ION, but it wasn’t enough. The car couldn’t get over the hurdles of the lackluster design.
The PT Cruiser was a massive hit for Chrysler when it first hit the market as all retro-themed cars were at that time. But when it got down to the nitty-gritty, the PT Cruiser was not the most appealing car on the road. The mechanics of the PT were cheap at best, and the design of the car was outdated, to say the least (via Forbes).
The interesting thing about the PT Cruiser is that the car sold well. But as time went on, consumers were leery of the product, and Chrysler eventually discontinued it. There were some interesting models, such as the GT and the convertible.
The Lincoln LS took almost all its mechanicals from the Jaguar X-Type. Everything down to the power plant was designed by Jaguar, and that was not a good thing. Jaguar reliability at the time was lackluster at best and the LS was critically panned (via Forbes).
While it did have V8 power, it didn’t utilize it well. The performance of the LS and lack of reliability just didn’t justify the high price tag. There are few cars worth forgetting as much as the Lincoln LS.
By the mid-2000s, Kia had built up a decent reputation with consumers. It was a cheap car brand but offered decent value for the price. The Rio Cinco was an attempt to attract young buyers who wanted a station wagon. Sadly, the Rio Cinco was cramped in the interior and didn’t offer a lot of value (via Forbes).
Its performance was lethargic at best. The Rio Cinco would be sold for a couple of years until the car was redesigned. There weren’t many sold and you’ll seldom see them on the road anymore.
The problem with the Sport Trac was that it was the prior generation Explorer. But Explorer moved on to a new generation the same year. So consumers who wanted the truck bed option were forced to get an outdated model (via Forbes).
The Explorer Sport Trac did have some nice attributes, but it wasn’t enough to keep it on the market. Sales were lackluster and Ford eventually pulled it from the market. Years later, the brand was revisited for a short period but Ford again killed it off.
The Diamante was another letdown for the automaker that never resonated with consumers. It was a big sedan but the ride quality was lacking, and when it came to performance, it wasn’t there (via Forbes).
The Diamante didn’t have much going for it. The price was high and the features were limited. There were much better options on the market at the time and the Diamante didn’t have a place to fit in.
The Hyundai XG350 was a groundbreaking car for the company. It was the first luxury car Hyundai attempted to sell in the U.S. Before the XG, the brand had never been even close to being called a luxury car maker. The XG350 had some nice touches, but the car was nothing more than a Lexus clone (via Forbes).
The problem with being a Lexus clone is that the build quality wasn’t as good. Reliability was shoddy at best. The XG350 was never a success for the Hyundai brand, and nowadays the car isn’t even recognizable.
The Volvo V4 was an attempt to create a smaller and sportier wagon model. The problem is that most people didn’t want a station wagon, no matter how hard Volvo tried to market it. So the V40 never sold well. There were also many issues related to the reliability of the wagon (via Forbes).
The V40 couldn’t compete with the larger Volvo wagon. The result was a car that never lived up to the hype. The V40 was discontinued a few years after it was released after never quite catching on with consumers.
The Galant was the mainstay family sedan in the Mitsubishi lineup for many years. From the outside looking in, the sedan was boring. There wasn’t much to like about the exterior styling and performance was mediocre at best (via Forbes).
The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord from this generation were much better cars. Their exterior designs were better. As time went on, Mitsubishi continued to improve the look and feel of the car, but it never did bolster sales.
The Saab 9-5 is one of the most controversial cars of the 2000s. The car hit the market at a time when GM purchased the Saab brand. What used to be excellent engineering and driving characteristics was anything but that. The 9-5 just didn’t live up to the hype and its reliability was downright horrible (via Forbes).
Even today, the car is often billed as an unreliable ride, and not one that you want to purchase used. The Saab brand went dramatically downhill in terms of quality after the GM purchase, and it never did recover. There were much better options if you wanted a Swedish ride, and the demise of Saab was a sad one.
The Escort was always an integral part of the Ford lineup. But by the 2000s, the market for compact cars was quite crowded. The ZX2 had a barebones design with cheap interior materials and lackluster build quality. This was not a sports car in any sense even though Ford tried to bill it as excitement (via Forbes).
The ZX2 would trudge on for a few more years, but this is one Ford that should be wiped from history. The car made no sense, and there wasn’t enough there to justify even purchasing one of these.
The Cabrio was one of the last convertible models sold by Volkswagen. The car had a lot of potential but the reliability was lacking. The design of the car was also quite dated when you compared it to other models on the road. The Cabrio was meant to be a fun-to-drive car but it was anything but that (via Forbes).
For years, the Cabrio was sold as part of the Volkswagen lineup, but by the 2000s it was time for a change. Volkswagen switched things up, and the Cabrio was removed from the lineup shortly thereafter.
The Aerio was a notable subcompact released by Suzuki. It had a lot of potential because it was modern and offered a fair amount of standard features. But the cheap design wasn’t compelling enough to sell the car and sales were low (via Forbes).
The Aerio got a nice refresh in 2005 but it still wasn’t enough to boost sales. The Aerio was unreliable, and many consumers were upset with the cheap build quality. There were some decent attributes about the Aerio, but it wasn’t the right car for drivers in the end.
The Mirage was one of the most paltry compact cars ever sold. The 2001 model was extremely stripped-down, especially compared to other models on the market. The Mirage was unlike the rest of the Mitsubishi lineup, including the popular Lancer (via Forbes).
Calling it a basic car is an understatement overall. It had a cheap plastic interior and lack of options, and the car was extremely unsafe. Mitsubishi is known for its performance, but the Mirage was far from anything exciting.
The Santa Fe was the first SUV with a Hyundai badge and for the most part, it was well-received. But the build quality of the Santa Fe was far from perfect, and the first models were full of problems. The bright spot was that Hyundai offers one of the best warranties in the automotive business (via Forbes).
The Santa Fe was not as off-road capable as many other SUVs from this period. The styling was also debatable, and it could be said Hyundai was aiming for a feminine look. The Santa Fe has managed to stay on the market to this day. Hyundai gradually improved the model as years went on.
The Aztek was the first SUV with a Pontiac badge and was heavily marketed by GM. There was product placement in a few well-known TV shows and extensive advertising. The problem with the Aztek is that it was universally panned for excessive body cladding and its performance was lackluster at best (via Forbes).
The shape of the Aztek was also confusing, although there were many useful outdoor features like a built-in tent. In recent years, the Aztek has gained a cult-like following after it was featured in the hit TV show, “Breaking Bad”.
The Suzuki brand was quite limited by 2001. The company wanted to jump onto the SUV craze and decided to launch a stretched version of the Suzuki Vitara SUV. The XL-7 was the first compact SUV with seven-passenger seating and this proved popular (via Forbes).
The XL-7 was a modest success for Suzuki, and there was a version of the model sold until Suzuki exited the American market. The problem is that the XL-7 was nothing more than a stretched Vitara and wasn’t refined. There were much better SUV options on the market at the time.
Nissan tried to jump onto the highly profitable minivan run of the late 1990s. The problem is that no one could approach Chrysler’s dominance during this era. The Quest was a lot smaller in size than Chrysler minivans and its performance was even worse (via Forbes).
To say the Quest was a crowning achievement for the company would be a lie. Nissan cars from this era were just coming into their own. The company would experience a resurgence a few years later, but it wouldn’t be due to this car. The Quest never stood a chance against the Chrysler minivans.
The Sentra has always been a runner-up to the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic. It’s not necessarily that the car was bad, but it just wasn’t as good. The 2000 Nissan Sentra was about the most bread-and-butter compact car you could get. Performance was lackluster at best and the interior was cramped (via Forbes).
The car would get some attitude in a slightly refreshed model a few years later. This generation of the Sentra has mostly been relegated to junkyards at this point. There were better compact cars released in this era. The Sentra wasn’t up to snuff when it came to the compact car segment.
Daewoo is a Korean automaker that had an interesting run in the United States. The automaker had a unique advertising structure here in the U.S. where college students were used to promoting the cars. Although this was a unique strategy, Daewoo sales in the U.S. were minuscule at best (via Forbes).
The Nubira was a mid-range car that offered decent standard features for the price. But its cheap design and lackluster reliability meant many consumers turned their backs on the car.
The Lanos was the smaller model of the brand and an entry-level offering for new customers. Daewoo was not selling the most advanced or luxurious cars on the road. Around this time, there were quite a few subcompacts on the market and the Lanos didn’t offer anything new (via Forbes).
The Lanos was also not the most reliable car on the road and word got out quickly. The few consumers who purchased a Daewoo were not impressed with its quality. The brand was in trouble and sales were not going to be improved anytime soon.
The Kia brand you see today is nothing close to what it was two decades ago. Kia started out in the U.S. market very lean. The Spectra was one of the first new models introduced to the brand after the Sportage and the Sephia. The Spectra offered great gas mileage and a unique design (via Forbes).
But as with all first model runs, the Spectra had many quality issues from the gate. The car was underpowered and the exterior was not the best looking. The Kia dealership network was also quite small at this time.
Although it’s not the most common car around, the Sportage was one of the first mainstream compact SUVs. But the Toyota RAV4 often overshadowed the Sportage and the Honda CR-V. That’s not to say the Kia Sportage was a bad vehicle, but Kia didn’t have the type of dealership network that big automakers had at the time (via Forbes).
When it came down to it, the first generation of the Sportage was a very basic vehicle. There was a removable top, and there were some unique attributes to the thing. It just wasn’t enough to propel the Sportage into the same popularity as the other compact SUV models.
By the time 2000 rolled around, the Sephia was tired. It was the first car launched by the Kia Motors Company in the U.S., and that was back in 1994. The car hadn’t changed all that much since then. On top of that, the Sephia was a lot smaller and underpowered than the other compact cars on the market (via Forbes).
The 2000 Sephia had some of the worst sales in the model’s history and Kia was moving on. The Spectra was the replacement, and the subcompact Rio was also going to hit the market. There was no room for the outdated compact car to be in the lineup and Kia moved on.
The Saturn brand was a unique offering in the automotive industry when it first hit the market. General Motors invested billions of dollars in the development of the brand and the unique cars sold. The Saturn models were unique to this brand and not shared with any other GM models (via Forbes).
By the time the L-Series rolled around, the Saturn models were dated. There were better compact offerings that had come to the market. Everything that made the Saturn brand unique at the start was not there anymore. You could say the L-Series spelled the end for Saturn.