6. Lexus HS 250h — 20,875 sold between 2009 and 2012
If your target is a happy medium, you'll often end up with mediocrity. Such is the case with the Lexus HS 250h, which tried to bridge the gap between luxury sedans and hybrid pods. It fulfilled the promise of neither, and buyers responded by siding with either a Prius or CT 200h.
The HS 250h's size and Camry Hybrid powertrain kept it from achieving Prius-like fuel economy numbers. Besides that, the rear seats didn't fold and costly options easily pushed the price too high. Having a name that sounded like an inner-city public high school probably didn't help, either. In any case, Lexus killed the HS 250h after only three years.
5. Cadillac XLR — 13,302 sold between 2003 and 2011
Typical Cadillac buyers like luxury. Typical Corvette buyers like performance. When the Cadillac XLR debuted in 2003, it represented something they both could despise.
Built on the outgoing C5 Corvette platform, the Cadillac XLR used a weaker V8 engine, had a softer suspension and sported a folding hardtop roof. For all that trouble, Cadillac charged $75,000 for the angular roadster, which was about $20,000 more than a fully loaded 'Vette.
Besides the backward less-for-more proposition, the ill-conceived and poorly executed XLR suffered from disappointing handling and an interior design and build quality that was far below that of European rivals. The XLR officially went out of production in 2009, but it took GM until 2011 to sell off the remaining stock.
4. Acura ZDX — 5,828 sold since 2009*
At the press launch, one editor mused that ZDX stands for "zero demand expected." Prophetic words, indeed.
Much like BMW's X6, the Acura ZDX is built on an existing and rational platform: in this case, the MDX. In an attempt to add "sportiness," Acura stylists sliced the rear section to give it an aggressive tapered hatch. Though this made the ZDX's appearance edgier, utility took an unrecoverable hit.
Rear-seat headroom was reduced to childlike dimensions and cargo space dropped to carry-on luggage only. Consumers identified these shortcomings and monthly sales are currently in double-digits. Somehow, the ZDX remains in production.
3. Lexus LS 600h L — 2,055 sold since October 2007*
The only thing that's green about this car is the fortune you'll spend for one.
The Lexus LS 600h L is no eco-friendly car, despite its hybrid badging. The 5.0-liter V8, supplemented by two electric motors makes 438 horsepower. That's a gain of 78 hp over a standard AWD LS 460 L. More power and it's a hybrid? Hold on, it only gets an EPA-estimated 2 mpg better than the LS 460. Two. Take into account the $30,000 hybrid premium and it'll take you 109 years to recoup the costs in fuel savings (at $4.00/gallon averaging 15,000 miles annually).
Even if you were immortal and had unlimited funds, the LS 600hL is still hard to justify. The hybrid battery and components for the standard rear refrigerator and climate control reduce trunk capacity to 13 cubic feet, compared to the regular LS's 18 cubes. With the all-electric Tesla and large diesel luxury sleds making it to market, why would you ever consider the LS 600h L?
2. Mitsubishi iMiEV — 1,420 sold since November 2011*
Electric cars have come a long way in just a few years, with admirable interiors, impressive performance and decent range on a single quick charge. The Mitsubishi iMiEV is not one of those cars. This odd-looking pod (podditty?) can muster only 62 miles per charge, takes 14.7 seconds to hit 60 mph and has an interior that rivals some golf carts.
Yes, the iMiEV is relatively affordable, but the Nissan Leaf is $325 less (before rebates and incentives) and offers more range. Buyers notice, too, as the Leaf outsells the Mitsubishi 23 to one.
In gas-powered terms the i MiEV is a $23,000 car with a 60-mile range and a fuel tank that requires 7 hours to fill. In the end, we rank it one step above public transportation.
1. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet — 1,078 sold since May 2012*
Finally, an answer to the question, "Wait.... what?"
Is there really a section of the population that wants a convertible SUV? If there is, would they want it to look like an overfed Juke? Of course there isn't, and that's why the Murano CrossCabriolet gets the not-so-coveted top failure spot.
And even if it were a sales success, the CrossCabriolet would still be an awful car. The lack of a roof allows the entire body to flex like the Tacoma Narrows bridge. That, in turn contributes to the car's poor handling. Then there are the giant doors that make entry and egress difficult in tight spaces. Did we mention it's a convertible utility vehicle?
*Sales figures as of April 2013