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2012 auto sales: The losers

Poor show

While auto sales are up 14% so far for 2012, not everyone is celebrating. Some high-profile models from big-name manufacturers — Honda, General Motors (GM), Mercedes-Benz — have taken a dive, while more specialized concepts have found themselves appealing to an ever-smaller coterie of buyers.

Failure has consequences. Some of the cars on this list are headed for the scrap heap, and one is already there. But with the help of’s capable statisticians, I have tried to eliminate the most obvious fatalities. So Lincoln Town Car, Toyota Matrix, and Mitsubishi Eclipse — you will have to look elsewhere for your obituaries.

With that said, here are the 10 models with the biggest sales drops in 2012.

10. BMW 5 series GT

Down 32%

The porky (nearly 2 ½ tons) and pricey (up to $90,000) GT has never had many fans, but after another record year, BMW hardly notices. Die-hards may be waiting for the facelift coming later in 2013.

9. Volvo S80

Down 32%

Not particularly successful when fresh and now six years old, the S80 has been further hurt by Volvo’s changing mission under its Chinese ownership.

8. Mazda 5

Down 35%

In a category all its own, this mini-minivan suffered from a lack of marketing and advertising support. Though redesigned and well reviewed, it remains invisible to most shoppers.

7. Mercedes-Benz R-class

Down 35%

A 2011 mid-cycle refresh did little to boost the appeal of this unfortunate marriage of minivan utility and station wagon styling. In March, Mercedes announced the R would be discontinued at model year’s end.

6. Buick Regal

Down 38%

It should have been a contender. Reintroduced to the U.S after a successful run in China, the stately Regal has been hurt by its high price, poor packaging, and below-average reliability — as well as cannibalization by other Buicks.

5. Nissan Cube

Down 50%

What happens when the cute wears off? The Cube was trendy when it arrived here in 2009 but looks less so three years later. Buyers have noticed.

4. Acura ZDX

Down 51%

An unpopular body style from a brand that has lost its zing, the ZDX threatened to vanish completely from sight in November when only 37 were sold. The 2013 model year will be its last.

3. Honda Insight

Down 63%

Honda’s bargain-basement hybrid, last redesigned in 2009, has always proved too spartan for America’s taste, and this year it faced stronger competition from five different Toyota Prius models.

2. Honda CR-Z

Down 63%

Honda’s hybrid sports car, introduced in 2011, was deemed neither sporty nor particularly economical — even compared to other Hondas — and slipped deeper into its very narrow niche.

1. Porsche Cayman

Down 66%

Cayman aficionados sat out 2012 while they waited for the introduction of the all-new 2014 model. They’ll need to have accumulated some assets at the same time. To park a fully optioned S model in their garages, they will be laying out more than $100,000.