By on April 1, 2020

Try as we might, there’s just no way to know everything about the contemporary offerings of all car manufacturers, even if consideration is limited in scope to North America. Invariably, our mental encyclopedia is missing a few pages. That means sometimes, we should consider the unknowns of our automotive knowledge.

Allow me to explain.

Today’s QOTD was prompted by something I asked on Twitter three weeks ago. Specifically, I queried the informed citizens of Car Twitter on the automobiles they’d have to check via Google to be sure they were still in production. Start searching the recesses of your mind for the things you really don’t know, while we talk about the first example that came to mind for me.

2016 Fiat 500L, Image: Fiat Chrysler AutomobilesAsking myself the question I’d just invented, the Twinkie-shaped (and colored) Fiat 500L was the first car to come to mind. I assumed it had been in production since 2012 or so, and that it was past due for a major refresh or a cancellation in North America. Everybody who wanted one (that’s very few people) bought one shortly after introduction. I recalled the factory for the 500L used to make Yugos — and had a workforce that liked to go on strike. And when was the last time you saw one? Here in the Midwest, they’re fairly rare. Discontinued model, right?

Turns out I was half right, given I didn’t look this up until writing this piece. I got the introduction date correct, 2012, but I was wrong about the cancellation assumption. The 500L continues production in Serbia, though the factory was just idled (like so many other things) due to COVID-19. The TTAC article linked here also informed me of the North American death of another car I would’ve assumed was still on offer: the regular 500.

It’s a simple question, but not something one usually considers — unless there’s a critical mass of boredom, or perhaps a pandemic keeping everyone at home 24/7. Are you willing to admit what you don’t know?

[Images: FCA]

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26 Comments on “QOTD: Questioning the Expiration Date of Automotive Product?...”

  • avatar

    Any car from Infiniti, Acura or Lexus

    I know about their crossovers/SUVs, but I draw a complete blank on their cars and I used to know the entire product line of each

  • avatar

    I have to agree with Infiniti and go with their entire lineup. Since they seem to have lost their identity with that pointless naming scheme, it’s more work than it’s worth to remember what model is what and when it was redesigned and what the latest model is and so on. That old Japanese BMW spark they used to have is long gone.

    My addition has to be the Jeep Compass. When it came out, it seemed lost in the shuffle – the Patriot and Liberty were also around the same size and dollar amount and it just seemed to be there…and not taken as a real Jeep. Not sure if I can still see it as a real Jeep given all of the attention the Wrangler and Gladiator gets and I still have this “oh yeah they still make those” reactions when I see one.

  • avatar

    I’m also clueless about Infiniti and Acura. Their car lines seem irrelevant.

    I’m not sure if the VW Bug, the new one, is still being produced.

    Nor the Flex. Or the Tata Nano.

    Is the new Explorer a sales flop or is Hyundai eating Ford’s lunch?

    There are a few things I’m mildly curious about, but not enough to pursue.

    • 0 avatar

      The recent Acura commercials that play up their heritage (from 25-30 years ago!!!) by showing the Integra Type-R and NSX, then cutting to their modern lineup just infuriate me. There is literally no lineage from those iconic cars to today’s Acura lineup of stale sedans and mommy mobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      VW stopped producing the Beetle last year; MY2019 was the final model year. That’s not to say it couldn’t come back as an EV with a RWD electric drivetrain, but knowing Volkswagen, that’ll only be after two decades of teaser concepts (as with the Microbus).

      I agree that Acura has no relevance other than the MDX and RDX, which in no way harken back to its past. The exterior of the TLX is well-styled, especially in A-Spec guise, but the awkward dual-screen cabin turns me off.

      • 0 avatar

        A local VW dealer has several “new” 2019 Beetles left, and hilariously is barely discounting them, trying to play them as “collectibles” LOL

      • 0 avatar

        I like the MDX. It’s a very good crossover, which people should buy instead of a high trim Highlander or any RX.

        • 0 avatar

          The Acura NSX raised the bar and made supercar makers make their cars actually usable and comfortable, along with reliable.
          The Integra Type-R was a “we dare you to drive this” attitude-loaded SOB with no frills, no fluff, and had the wailing banshee of an engine.
          The RSX Type-S was one of the best of a dying class – the last of the true screaming VTEC engines.
          The MDX, while nice, just cannot compare to what Acura was when looking at the family tree. It would be like Nissan ending the GT-R’s production, and then 20 years from now, showing it in a lineage commercial alongside a Rogue. “Yup folks, this is how far we’ve come!” (Sigh…)

  • avatar

    I was surprised to discover that the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans are still being produced.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The Nissan Frontier comes to mind. It’s even getting a new engine; a 3.8-liter V6 that will replace the 4.0-liter V6 and presumably go into the redesigned model.

    The Lexus GS is one of those products that’s been under constant threat of discontinuation, and we know it’s coming, but it hasn’t happened yet. They sell *just* enough of them to justify keeping it around. Really, the GS has a much nicer cabin than that of my 2016 535Xi M Sport, but the GS also has higher residual values and would’ve cost me more, which is why I didn’t buy one.

    Oh, and the Toyota Sequoia. Seriously? Who even buys those? Toyota reliability or not, you’ve got to admit that the domestics (and Nissan) have had plenty of time to build better SUVs in the intervening 14 years between when it was introduced and now. That said, the Sequoia is a weird “tweener” length between a SWB SUV and a LWB one.

    But the one that really blurs is the domestic truck category. I’m not sure whether or not GM and FCA have phased out their old trucks and fully begun making the new ones yet.

    The only reason I’m able to keep up with most product discontinuations is that I write for CarGurus, and we do an article on every car, every year.

  • avatar

    Granted I live in Florida and I “know” they still make them but I can’t remember the last time I saw a nonWRX trim Impreza.

  • avatar

    In the SoCal area I see mostly Ford Transit and FCA Ducato vans. Next is Sprinter and Savannah/Express.
    I recall reading that VW announced several times the final production of the New Beetle. When it finally happened very few people noticed.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Acura RLX- I’m surprised it’s still around, there’s even a hybrid version. I saw one some months ago but at around $50k there are plenty of other premium sedans that are a better value.

  • avatar

    I KNOW the Jeep Patriot was discontinued after the 2017 model year, but I see so many in San Diego, including a couple brand-new looking models with dealer sheets still on the window, that I still wonder if there’s a factory somewhere still cranking out a few.

    The simple answer is there was a glut of unsold Patriots when production ceased, and they’re still working off the remainder. But how did dealers stay in business with so much inventory on the lot? Did FCA actually lease them, and they’re now returning?

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