Special Report

Cars Americans Don't Want to Buy


U.S. auto sales last year were the highest on record, with nearly 17.5 million cars and light trucks sold. Car manufacturers were not the only ones to enjoy the higher sales but dealerships did as well, as they have watched some cars fly off their lots. Some models, however, were a much more difficult sell.

Dealerships selling cars in relatively low demand did much worse than dealerships selling the cars in high demand. Sales of Volkswagen and Fiat, for example, declined in 2015, while Subaru and Honda each had record sales years. Further, not all brands of a specific manufacturer were as successful, and while some models sold within days of arriving at the dealership, others spent months without being sold. Such difficulty in selling a model can force sellers to provide discounts in order to clear inventory. The average Honda Insight sold in 2015 spent 231.7 days on the lot before being sold — the longest of any model reviewed.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming explained that the average amount of time a car spends on the lot before being sold, also known as days to turn, is an adequate, although not perfect, measure of demand. “Supply has a lot to do with these numbers. Obviously, if a manufacturer overproduces some of these models they’ll stick around for longer, and that average days to turn will climb.” But this is not perfect science, and some vehicles still spend months and months without being sold because they are simply no longer in demand.

Click here to see the cars American’s don’t want to buy.

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Not surprisingly, almost all of the models with the longest days to turn last year were, with one exception, extremely poor performers in 2015. Even as total U.S. auto sales rose by 5.7% last year, sales of 14 of the 15 models on this list — the Mitsubishi Mirage was the exception — declined. Sales of all 14 fell by at least 10%, with sales of 12 dropping by more than 20%.

Sales of two models — the Dodge Avenger and the Honda Insight — fell by more than half, likely because they have been discontinued. In general, demand for some of these models is low because they are outdated or discontinued, which also tends to lengthen time on the lot for these models. “They’re older models,” explained Fleming. “[The dealers] are of just selling out the remaining inventory.” Other cars on this list, such as the Honda Crosstour and Buick LaCrosse have not received a major facelift in more than half a decade.

To determine America’s slowest-selling cars, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed days to turn figures provided by Kelley Blue Book, vehicle research and valuation site. This figure measures the average number of days a particular model spent on dealers’ lots following its arrival until it was sold in 2015. Additionally, Kelley Blue Book provided figures on U.S. sales by model for 2013, 2014, and 2015. We also reviewed monthly sales releases published by auto manufacturers. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) figures, come from the manufacturers’ websites.

These are the cars Americans don’t want to buy.

15. LaCrosse
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 132.3
> 2014-2015 sales change: -18.3%
> Starting MSRP: $31,065

While many models were sold within a month of arriving at the dealership lot in 2015, a Buick LaCrosse spent an average of 132.3 days on the lot. The Buick LaCrosse nameplate is now more than a decade old, and the model has been sold in its second generation since 2010. The relatively old age of the current generation likely drives up the time the car spends on the lot before being sold. This will likely change shortly, however, as Buick is set to introduce this summer a new, fully updated version for the 2017 model year.

14. Equus
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 132.6
> 2014-2015 sales change: -31.7%
> Starting MSRP: $61,500

Hyundai Equus is the South Korean automaker’s top-end luxury sedan, with an MSRP of $61,500. In a move similar to those of other car companies, Hyundai announced in November of last year the spinoff of its luxury car brand Genesis. The Equus will be replaced by the upcoming Genesis G90.

13. GTR
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 133.6
> 2014-2015 sales change: -23.1%
> Starting MSRP: $101,770

While many of the cars with high days to turn suffer from flagging demand, this may not be the case with the Nissan GTR. The GTR is a high-end luxury sports car with a starting MSRP of $101,770, and just over 1,100 units were sold last year. The model’s price and small target demographic likely leads to a slower turnaround and the relatively high days to turn.

12. Azera
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 135.3
> 2014-2015 sales change: -23.4%
> Starting MSRP: $34,100

As is the case with many of the vehicles with high days to turn, the Hyundai Azera has not had a facelift in quite some time. The current generation of the sedan has not been redesigned since its 2012 model year. As often is the case with older models, sales of the Azera have lagged, down from 11,221 sold in the United States in 2013 to just 5,539 sold last year.

11. Mirage
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 137.0
> 2014-2015 sales change: +28.8%
> Starting MSRP: $12,995

High days to turn typically signals a lack of demand for a particular model. In the case of every other model with high days to turn, annual sales have declined significantly. In the case of the Mitsubishi Mirage, however, sales actually increased by nearly 30% from 2014 to 2015. According to Fleming, the likely explanation for this discrepancy is that Mitsubishi opted to skip the 2016 model year, meaning cars are likely to sit on lots longer as the year progresses.

10. 500
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 138.0
> 2014-2015 sales change: -25.6%
> Starting MSRP: $17,900

Chrysler’s Fiat brand has seen better days. The brand is struggling with declining sales even as the auto industry as a whole continues to report record sales. Year-to-date, Fiat U.S. sales dropped by more than 50% from the same time last year. Sales of the Fiat 500, the brand’s flagship car, fell by 25.6% from 2014 to 2015. Sales of the model have continued to fall this year, dropping by 50% year to date through the first three months of the year.

9. Q60
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 140.8
> 2014-2015 sales change: -49.0%
> Starting MSRP: $40,950

In the 2014 model year, the Q60 replaced the G37 as part of Infiniti’s comprehensive rebranding scheme. However, for some time following the Q60’s introduction, Infiniti both kept the G37 on the market and lowered its price. Selling the older G37 alongside the newer Q60 — essentially the same car — may have hurt sales of the latter. Over the 12-months ending in October 2014, the G37 outsold the Q60 by 7,212 units. Sales of the Q60 have steadily declined since its 2013 debut, and on average, a car took about 141 days to sell in 2015.

8. CTS
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 141.3
> 2014-2015 sales change: -37.4%
> Starting MSRP: $45,560

The third generation of the Cadillac CTS made its debut in 2014. Despite receiving generally positive reviews, sales of the luxury sedan declined by 37.4% from 2014 to 2015. Cadillac CTS models sit on the lot for an average of 141 days before selling, far longer than is typical.

7. Sonic
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 142.0
> 2014-2015 sales change: -30.7%
> Starting MSRP: $14,345

The Chevrolet Sonic was introduced as a replacement for the Aveo, a subcompact car that was discontinued in 2011. Though the Sonic improved upon many of its predecessor’s shortcomings, dealerships are having a hard time selling them. Sales dropped from 93,518 units in 2014 to 64,775 in 2015, part of wider trend of waning interest in small cars among American motorists. GM announced plans last year to reduce production of the Sonic by 20% as a result of declining sales.

6. Crosstour
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 145.0
> 2014-2015 sales change: -22.9%
> Starting MSRP: $27,530

The Honda Crosstour spent an average of 145 days on the lot before being sold, more than all but five other cars. Like many of the vehicles that spend a long time on the lot without being sold, the Crosstour is a relatively old design. The first Crosstour model debuted for the 2012 model year, but the model’s design is technically older. It is essentially the same vehicle as the Accord Crosstour, which had debuted two years prior. Sales of the Crosstour declined by 22.9% from 2014 to 2015.

5. 500L
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 145.0
> 2014-2015 sales change: -36.7%
> Starting MSRP: $19,345

Both the Fiat 500 and 500L models are among the slowest selling cars in America. Sales of the Fiat 500L are down 58% year-to-date and take an average of 145 days to complete. While the recently introduced 500X was quick to attract buyers, Fiat remains the worst performing brand in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ lineup.

4. ATS
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 153.3
> 2014-2015 sales change: -10.1%
> Starting MSRP: $33,215

Cadillac’s ATS is a relatively recent addition to its lineup, having been introduced for the 2013 model year. Sales of the ATS, a smaller and cheaper version of the CTS, declined by 10.1% from 2014 to 2015. While this was less of a decline than the CTS’s sales decline of 37.4%, the ATS spent nearly two weeks longer on the lot before being sold than its counterpart.

3. Avenger
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 194.4
> 2014-2015 sales change: -97.5%
> Starting MSRP: N/A

Since the Avenger was discontinued in 2014, dealerships have had a difficult time selling off the remaining inventory. Avengers sold in 2015 spent an average of 194 days on the lot, a longer time than all but two other model vehicles. The slow pace of Avenger sales was likely attributable to the vehicle’s discontinuation.

2. ELR
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 208.6
> 2014-2015 sales change: -21.8%
> Starting MSRP: $57,500

The ELR is one of three Cadillacs to make the list of the cars that spent the most time on dealer lots before being sold in 2015. It is also one of only two to take more than 200 days on average to sell. Cadillac skipped the 2015 model year, which may have contributed to the high days on lot for the ELR.

1. Insight
> Make:
> Avg. days to turn: 231.7
> 2014-2015 sales change: -63.2%
> Starting MSRP: $18,725

Taking an average of 232 days to sell, the Honda Insight may be the least wanted car in America. According to Honda, the Insight was the most affordable hybrid available in the U.S. market in 2014. Nevertheless, disappointing sales led Honda to discontinue the Insight that same year. Over the 12 months ending in March, just 21 Honda Insights have been sold.

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