General Motors GM,
will trim two of its smallest vehicles from the lineup after the 2022 model year, according to a new report. GM Authority was first with the news that both the Buick Encore and Chevy Trax will be canceled at the end of their current production run.
Neither development is shocking. But they reflect a growing trend — the end of affordable small cars in the US market.
Both face competition in their own showrooms
The Trax is Chevy’s smallest and least expensive SUV, and it’s known for… well… not much. Our reviewer explains, “The 2022 Chevrolet Trax is a reasonably priced subcompact SUV/crossover with generally good outward vision. If this sounds like faint praise, it is.”
With a starting price of just $21,400 and available all-wheel-drive, the Trax is affordable transportation under warranty that sticks to the road even in foul weather. But it lacks the polish of more refined competition like the Hyundai HYMTF,
Kona and Honda HMC,
It’s not even the best subcompact SUV on Chevy lots. The newer Trailblazer takes that honor easily — and its starting price is only $200 more than the Trax.
The Trax may briefly be the least-expensive Chevy. The company recently announced plans to cancel its Spark subcompact car – the least expensive new vehicle in America this year — with a starting price of $13,600. At the time, a spokesperson pointed us to the Trax as Chevy’s best option for bargain hunters. It’s now unclear which of the two will disappear from Chevy showrooms first.
The Buick Encore is essentially a Trax with sound-deadening materials, more upscale cabin appointments, and a more refined suspension. Its $24,600 asking price makes it the least-expensive Buick product. But, like the Trax, it faces competition in its own showroom. The similarly-named Buick Encore GX is more appealing in almost every way and not terribly much more expensive at $25,800.
Smaller vehicles are disappearing
Few are likely to mourn the loss of either vehicle. But their loss adds to a trend few are celebrating. The average new car price in America continues to grow, and manufacturers are trimming the least-expensive options from their lineups.
The average new car in America sold for $46,085 in February. That’s a slight decrease from the month before, but still about $5,000 more than one year before. Many factors have contributed to the rise.
Some were decisions automakers made — a global shortage of microchips left automakers unable to build as many cars as they’d like. They used the chips they could get to build more expensive models that brought them higher margins.
But car shoppers shaped the trend, too. Americans have been buying more luxury cars than ever before and avoiding affordable small models like the Trax and Encore.
Is the entry-level vehicle dying? Perhaps not. Ford F,
last year introduced a new bargain model to its own lineup, with an unusual twist. It’s a truck. The Ford Maverick, with a starting price just under $20,000, won KBB’s Best New Model award with its practical nature and great value. Ford sold every Maverick it could build. The trucks are now back-ordered into next year, even as competitors cut the lower end of their lineups.
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Perhaps there’s a lesson for other automakers in the Maverick’s success.
For now, all we can say is that Chevy is eliminating its least expensive car, and its cheapest SUV and Buick counterpart may not be far behind. Under ordinary circumstances, we’d advise buyers that it’s often possible to talk a dealership into a deep discount on a discontinued car. But, in today’s sales climate, that may not be true.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.