Larry Printz: Unlucky at love: The 10 least popular cars in America

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 18, 2019

One of the more traumatic moments every child faces in school is being chosen last for a team in gym class.

Itís similar with automobiles. For every F-150, Camry or CR-V, thereís a vehicle like the Fiat 124 Spider piling up like cordwood in August. While Fiat had grand hopes for this car to burnish its image in America, dealers have a 461-day supply, seven-and-a-half times more than the 60-day norm.

Then again, Americans dislike Fiat. Retailers have a 250-day supply of vehicles, making Fiat the least popular brand in America selling the least popular car in America. Itís like being chosen last for the dodgeball. Contrast this with Subaru, with a 42-day supply, or Mercedes-Benz with a 48-day supply.

At the beginning of February, 4,015,500 unsold vehicles remained in dealer inventory, an 88-day supply. Of those, these are the 10 least popular vehicles in America, ones that were invited to a party that no oneís attending. (The list doesnít include the Chevrolet Blazer and Honda Ridgeline, two new models reaching showrooms for the first time, and thus have high inventories.)

Fiat 124 Spider: 461-day supply

Based on the Mazda Miata, the 124 Spider uses an exclusive Fiat turbocharged engine, more relaxed suspension tuning and a richer interior than its Japanese identical cousin. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the Miata wins. And the 124 Spiderís more relaxed driving feel isnít what buyers expect from a two-seat roadster.

Dodge Viper: 425-day supply

Given production ended in 2017, itís surprising that thereís a 425-day supply of Vipers ($99,800). Credit the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat ($58,995) and Charger SRT Hellcat ($65,545), along with the 808-horsepower Challenger SRT Demon ($83,295), which offer more power and practicality for less money.

Dodge Dart: 358-day supply

If you want to know how unpopular the Dodge Dart was, consider this: Production ended in 2016. Three years later, thereís 358-day supply languishing on dealer lots. Astonishingly unpopular, it shows that no one looks to Dodge for a small, economical sedan that looks like a bland Dodge Neon.

Fiat 500L: 329-day supply

To those buyers who consider European design and manufacturing superior to the rest of the world, I offer up the slow Fiat 500L as proof you are mistaken. With lumpy looks only a pope could love, the 500L is proof of former CEO Sergio Marchionneís contempt for his customers. He actually thought they would buy one.

Chevrolet Corvette: 232-day supply

Itís hard to find a more superb sports car than the Chevrolet Corvette, but younger people have neither the money nor the desire to buy it, whereas older people who can relate to it canít justify the cost. Then thereís the arrival of the rumored mid-engine Corvette, which promises more performance and a better driving experience.

Jeep Patriot: 217-day supply

Launched in 2007, this bargain-basement Jeep survived until 2016, when it was mercifully put out to pasture. Clearly built to a price, its best attribute was fooling consumers that it was a Jeep when in fact it was a Dodge Caliber in disguise. A poser at best, itís hardly surprising that so many await unsuspecting buyers three years later.

Acura RLX: 210-day supply

Hondaís hasnít had any luck peddling its sophisticated flagship sedans since it started favoring alphanumeric names over proper ones like the Legend and Integra. The RLX remains a solid sedan in search of an identity, proof that automakers still fail to understand the power of a popular model name.

Chevrolet Spark: 208-day supply

While itís not true that this Lilliputian hatchback comes in an R.I.P. trim level, it is still a hard sell. Credit its barren interior, miniscule size, meager performance and unremarkable fuel economy. Its best feature is that, at 143.1 inches long, itís among the shortest cars you can buy, making parallel parking a snap.

Buick Envision: 201-day supply

If the Envision seems unremarkable, it is notable for its distinction as the first Chinese-built vehicle sold in America. Is this what Americans hold against this handsome, if unremarkable crossover? No. More likely itís the price, which ranges from $31,995 to $43,600 for the 2019 model, a drop of about $2,000 from previously. Clearly, GM never envisioned this turn of events.

 

Buick Regal: 182-day supply

Based on the European-market Opel Insignia, the Regal lacks the athleticism youíd expect given its European genetics. Add the superannuated name and itís little wonder that the Regal holds little appeal with younger buyers, while this premium sedanís older clientele is moving to crossovers that make getting in and out easier.

 

Fiat 500X: 180-day supply

In an era when the popularity of crossover SUVs grows unabated, the 500X, a vehicle brimming with Italian brio, remains an also-ran despite its stylish demeanor. The issue arises from its window sticker, which gets fairly spendy once you pile on the optional goodies. It proves how few Americans desire owning a Fiat of any kind.