Over the past two years, manufacturers have trimmed their lineups and sent more cars than ever to the automotive graveyard. Even entire brands have exited the U.S. market or gotten axed – from Isuzu in late 2008 to Saturn and Pontiac earlier this year. But even with the industry crumbling around them, there are a few models that have managed to survive despite the odds.
Even through financial woes and discontinuation rumors, these little cars that could have risen from the dead to stagger on in dealer showrooms. But just because they won’t die doesn’t mean you should give them a shot. Read on to see which zombie cars are a good value…and which ones are better left for dead.
Chrysler PT Cruiser
When it was launched in 2000, Chrysler’s retro-styled PT Cruiser quickly developed a cult following with its funky look and utilitarian design. Because of its popularity, Chrysler decided not to mess with a good thing. The only major change for several years was the addition of a convertible model in 2005.
Unfortunately, leaving the PT Cruiser alone gave competitors time to catch up. Now, the car that helped launch the current crop of stylish small wagons is out-performed by rivals like the Mini Clubman and Chevrolet HHR. Amidst financial troubles, Chrysler discontinued the convertible in 2007 and announced the discontinuation of the traditional PT Cruiser in early 2009.
However, despite all that, the PT Cruiser staggered on for another year. After Italian automaker Fiat purchased Chrysler in mid-2009, it gave the PT Cruiser one more chance to prove itself. Of course, that didn't mean the PT Cruiser would stick around for long. Chrysler just announced that it's killing the PT Cruiser.
Good Buy? Probably not. IntelliChoice gave the 2010 model a “Poor” value rating because of its high five-year cost of ownership as compared to its competitors. That means even manufacturer incentives probably won’t offset the extra money you’ll spend over time.
Introduced as a 1986 model, the Taurus sedan is one of Ford’s oldest nameplates. Though its sales remained strong for nearly a decade, they eventually declined as Honda and Toyota introduced stronger competitors in the midsize sedan segment. Ford discontinued the Taurus in 2007 and replaced it with the larger Ford Five Hundred. However, due to the Five Hundred’s disappointing sales, the Taurus didn’t stay dead for long.
The very next year, Ford discontinued the Five Hundred and introduced the 2008 Taurus sedan and Taurus X wagon. For 2010, the Taurus continues on in full force with a ground-up redesign. While the last Ford Taurus was a sturdy but forgettable car, the new model is anything but. Reviewers are almost universally impressed with its taut good looks, stylish and comfortable cabin, and near-luxury road manners. Kelley Blue Book has even named it the “Best Redesigned Vehicle” for 2010.
Good Buy? Yes. Rest assured that a new Taurus is a good value over time. The 2010 Taurus won our Best Family Sedan for the Money Award, and IntelliChoice gave the 2010 base model an "Above Average" value rating for its five-year cost of ownership
Saab 9-3 and 9-5
Saab has come back from the dead more times than Elvis. After nearly being shut down sveral times by GM as sales to other companies fell through, Saab was bought by Spyker and will be soldiering on.
While Saab-under-Spyker will eventually be building their own cars from the ground up, for the time being, they are still selling models designed when Saab was owned by GM. While Saab purists may eagerly anticipate a return to the sharp dynamics and quirky design the brand is known for, the current Saab models tend to lose points with reviewers and buyers for not living up to the brand's heritage.
Good Buy? Yes and no. Over the long term, these Saabs are a mixed bag when it comes to value. Of the two, you’ll be safer choosing the 9-5; the 2009 model received an “Excellent” value rating from IntelliChoice for its five-year cost of ownership. However, the 9-3 won’t provide the same value -- IntelliChoice gave the 2010 9-3 an "Average" value rating.
Since its introduction in the early 1990s, the Viper has become an American icon. Even if it’s not the most luxurious vehicle, this car is beloved for its mind-numbing power and flashy looks.
However, it seemed that even the Viper’s iconic status couldn’t save it when Chrysler, Dodge’s parent company, filed for bankruptcy in early 2009. Even after Italian automaker Fiat purchased Chrysler, reports were unclear on whether the Viper would remain, be given the axe or sold to another automaker. Fiat, which already owns a portion of both Ferrari and Maserati, was believed to be uninterested in the Viper line. The last Viper recently rolled off the production line.
Good Buy? Maybe. Vipers offer great performance and are prized by enthusiasts. However, IntelliChoice gave the 2010 coupe models “Below Average” value ratings. But, are you really going to buy a sports car like the Dodge Viper for its value? We didn't think so.