Gone but Not Forgotten: The Trucks and SUVs that Left us in 2011
While 2011 saw the birth many great new trucks and SUVs like the re-engined Ford F-150 and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, many also bit the dust this past year.
Chevrolet HHR - With the Chevy Cruze replacing the Cobalt last year, it was only a matter of time before the Cobalt-based HHR went out of production as well. Not as derided as the Cobalt, the HHR was essentially the hatchback version of the Cobalt. With a retro design inspired by early Suburbans and an available panel wagon and hot-hatch SS version, the HHR was actually a neat little car. Will it be greatly missed? Probably not; the Cruze is twice the car the HHR ever was. Now if only Chevy would bring the Cruze hatch to our shores...
Dodge Nitro - The Dodge Nitro left us with very little fanfare. The rebadged and less-capable Dodge version of the Jeep Liberty is probably most famously known as the vehicle Fiat head Sergio Marchionne described as "the most significant hole in our product portfolio." With it gone, Chrysler was able to increase production of the hot-selling Wrangler. We'd say that's a fair trade.
Ford Ranger - A recent addition to this list, the very last Ford Ranger rolled off the production line just this month - a white Ranger Sport destined for bug killing duties at Orkin. The Ford Ranger was the last true compact pickup for sale in the United States, and while the nameplate may live on overseas, here the Ranger will be greatly missed.
Honda Element - The Element was Honda's take on rival Toyota's Scion xB. By all accounts, the Element was a much more versatile beast, and proved popular with the outdoorsy crowd. Honda did its best to increase its appeal to all, introducing a sporty version and even a dog-friendly version, but ultimately the Element's sales compared to Honda's other SUVs didn't justify its continued production.
Mazda Tribute/Mercury Mariner - The Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner were two badge-engineered versions of the Escape that were often forgotten. The Mariner died with Mercury back in January, while the Tribute gets replaced by the (very good) Mazda-engineered CX-5.
Mitsubishi Endeavor - File this one under, "They still made this?" The Endeavor was all-new for 2003 and mostly unchanged since then. Rumor has it Mitsubishi will have a replacement for it in a few years, but by all accounts the death knell for the Endeavor sounded long ago.
Ram Dakota - Sadly, with the death of the Ram Dakota another small pickup leaves our marketplace, leaving just the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon to fly the American flag in the midsize pickup arena. The Ram Dakota started life as a Dodge in the early 1990s and was fairly successful up until the middle of the last decade. Since then, it languished mostly unchanged, save for it leaving the Dodge brand for Ram. Not all is loss though; Ram is reportedly readying a Fiat-based Dakota replacement in the coming years.
Saab - If any brand on this list had a long, painful death it was Saab. The events leading up to Saab's long and drawn out demise have been covered extensively on these pages, so we won't bore you with the details. We will however, miss the plucky Swedes and the 9-3, 9-4X, and 9-5 which were great examples of Saab making do with the poor cards it was dealt.