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Rust in peace: These cars aren't returning for 2021

By Larry Printz
Tribune News Service

It's that time of year again: Halloween. It's a holiday that's centuries old, having started as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It's a day when people thought that ghostly spirits returned to earth. After being conquered by the Romans, who co-opted the ancient Celt tradition as All Saints' Day, or Alholowmesse in Middle English, Samhain endured as All-Hallows Eve, and eventually, Halloween.

All these centuries later, October is the time when automakers kill off unpopular cars, when their time as new models on this earth pass, never to return.

So, let's remember the departed before they go on to rust in peace.

Acura RLX: A perfectly anonymous car with an equally anonymous name, the RLX is a stark reminder of how far Acura's product development and marketing has fallen from the excellence established by the Legend.

Chevrolet Impala

Alfa Romeo 4C: Now that America has become a nation of SUV-loving truck drivers, where dreary practicality triumphs over sheer fun, pure sports cars like the fun-to-drive 4C are sadly overlooked also-rans.

BMW i8: You'd think a gas-electric hybrid as attractive as the BMW i8, with handling to match, would succeed. But $147,500 for a car powered by the Mini's three-cylinder engine? Really?

Buick Regal: In the pantheon of cool Buick names like Invicta and Electra, this Opel import with the blue-hair name was doomed from the start, although its remarkably unremarkable personality didn't help.

Cadillac CT6: With a name only a lifeless marketer would love, this flagship sedan was sabotaged by tepid styling that lacked the Escalade's unmitigated swagger, and a cabin far too cheap for its station.

Chevrolet Impala: While car buyers think nothing of buying an enormous SUV, they think twice about buying a large car, even one as good as the Impala. That said, a more inspired design would have helped.

Chevrolet Sonic: With exorbitant gasoline prices now a distant memory, this funky and fun little hatchback lost its raison d'etre. Its platform lives on, however, in the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore.

Dodge Grand Caravan

Dodge Grand Caravan: Cheap to buy and very practical, the end has come for this minivan after 35 years as Dodge focuses on performance-oriented products. Its replacement, the Chrysler Voyager, is now on sale.

Dodge Journey: Outclassed in every respect except for its low price and archaic Ultradrive four-speed automatic transmission, this sad relic of the DaimlerChrysler era is thankfully seeing its journey come to an end.

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion: Ford may blame lack of buyer interest with killing the Fusion, the absence of any meaningful update for years has much more to do with it. A sad, self-inflicted end to a well-respected and popular car.

Honda Civic Coupe: While the whole sport compact scene grew out of cars like the Civic Coupe, its time has come and gone, as buyers are unwilling to put up with an iota of inconvenience in the name of fashion.

Honda Fit: Its beauty was its utility, which was far larger than its size suggested thanks to the flexibility of its seating system. And it was unexpectedly fun to drive, something rarely said of cheap utilitarian cars.

Hyundai Elantra GT: Styled and engineered in Europe, the five-door Elantra hatchback never enjoyed the popularity it deserved, despite U.S. car buyers buying hatchbacks by the millions, as long they are on an SUV.

Jaguar XE: Like the X-Type before it, this entry-level British sports sedan never possessed the requisite grace, pace and space needed to steal buyers away from the BMW 3-Series.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake: If you thought that the idea of a Jaguar station wagon seemed a bit off, you're not alone, even though this was a fabulously fun-to-drive alternative to the overwhelming overabundance of SUVs.

Lexus GS: Always the middle child, never as popular as the Lexus LS or ES sedans, Toyota President Akio Toyoda wanted to kill the GS in 2011. Executives saved the car, but sales never improved. Now, Akio gets his wish.

Lincoln Continental: Developed using a front-wheel drive Ford Fusion platform to save money, and lacking the requisite aura of the concept car that foreshadowed it, the Continental's fate was sealed from the start.

Lincoln MKZ: This gussied-up Ford Fusion with a crummy name was bound to exit once the Fusion did. Aside from seniors who liked nabbing a Lincoln at a low price, the MKZ was never special enough.

Mercedes-Benz SL: Mercedes-Benz has killed the two-seat SL-Class, but online reports speculate that the renowned roadster could return as a 2+2 for 2022, built by Mercedes-AMG.

Mercedes-Benz SLC: With buyers ignoring everything except SUVs, this cut-rate convertible is circling the block for the last time, still in need of the upscale elan, space, and build quality that its larger siblings possess.

Toyota Yaris: Americans hate subcompacts, especially when gas prices are low. So even though this disguised rendition of the Mazda2 is fun to drive, downsized cars are DOA.