5 funky cars we can't get in the U.S.

CNNMoney.com


Thanks to changing tastes, these stylish cars, trucks and vans won't be for sale in the U.S. any time soon.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

The sharp-looking Alfa-Romeo Guilietta is the right size for Europe's narrow roads. Vehicle occupants also tend to be, well, narrower in Europe than in the U.S.

So for a vehicle like this to really succeed in the U.S. it would need to be a bit wider and roomier and, Also, hatchback cars like the Guilietta just aren't very popular in the U.S. so it would need a seperate a trunk. That would also mean making it longer.

Fiat's partner, Chrysler Group, did just that and is selling a version of this car, called the Dodge Dart, in American showrooms. We'll know soon how successful that transformation was with American audiences.



Holden Ute SS

Big auto companies always dream of the elusive "global car." They could save big money by building one version of a car that they can sell all over the world with only trifling changes. And sometimes it happens -- as with Ford's new Focus compact car and Escape SUV.

But more often the peculiarities of certain markets mean that, to compete there you've got to cater to the local tastes.

Take Australia, for instance, which is like the "Land that Time Forgot" for cars. Thanks to relatively mild weather, many popular models there seem like updated versions of rear-wheel-drive cars we've hardly seen in the U.S. since the '70s.

Case in point, the Ute SS from GM's Holden division. Look familiar? Squint and you'll see a Chevrolet El Camino, the old car-with-a-truck-bed last sold in the 1980s.

There was some thought given to selling the Ute in the U.S. as a Pontiac, but that idea died along with the Pontiac division.



Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger compact pick-up just recently went out of production here in the United States. New, more fuel-efficient versions of the full-sized Ford F-150 have made the old Ranger unnecessary, Ford spokespeople say.

But the Ranger name lives on overseas on a fun-looking truck bigger than the Ranger we knew here but not quite as big as the F-150.

It's ideally suited to foreign markets, says Ford, where roads -- and whatever passes for roads -- are narrower than here. It can also be sold with small fuel-efficient diesel engines that, because of strict U.S. air quality standards, couldn't economically be marketed here.



Chevrolet TrailBlazer

You can still see plenty of TrailBlazer's driving around on American roads, but these old-school truck-based SUVs haven't been sold here since the 2009 model year. Americans have moved on to car-based crossover SUVs like the Chevy Traverse.

But there are still places where roads are rough and people want the ruggedness of a truck frame. So GM unveiled a new version of the TrailBlazer at the Dubai Motor Show last year. While the TrailBlazer looks nicer than the bulbous Traverse, there are no plans to bring this thirstier vehicle back to the states.




Toyota Alphard

Toyota sells a very good minivan here in the United States called the Sienna. Back home in Japan, Toyota sells this very funky looking number with the unfortunate -- to American ears -- name of Alphard. (It sounds like something third-graders would call each other right before a fist fight.)

While it looks cooler than the Sienna, it's also slightly smaller, which would make it less competitive among America's very un-mini minivans.

Toyota also makes a youth-oriented version with more aggressive styling called the Vellfire.

That's right... As in "Van" and "Hellfire." That may be more minivan coolness than Americans are prepared for.

View Comments (2175)