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5 Cars That Won't Drive Into 2014

Stocks in this article: TM GM F HMC

The entire Suzuki brand

Suzuki sold a paltry 5,950 cars during its last year in the U.S., which isn't that much of a surprise considering it only sent 20,000 vehicles off its lots in 2012.

We're witnessing the great unraveling of Japanese automakers' rise to dominance in the late '70s and much of the '80s. The downfall began when former GM holding Isuzu pulled out of the U.S. market in 2009, abandoning the Trooper and Rodeo models that got Americans interested in the small SUV and undoing one of the last links to GM's multi-automaker Geo brand.

Suzuki had a similar history here, but with somewhat more disastrous results. Back in 1988, Consumer Reports accused the popular but top-heavy Suzuki Samurai of being rollover prone. During the 1990s, the Suzuki Sidekick and its improved center of gravity won hearts as GM's Geo and Chevrolet Tracker and helped usher in the small SUV market that would eventually give us the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Unfortunately, Suzuki's U.S. branch was $346 million in debt at the end of 2012. Half of that is owed solely to its Japanese parent company. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and vowed to pull Suzuki automobiles out of the U.S. market and sell only motorcycles, ATVs and outboard boat engines.

The shame is that Suzukis weren't bad little cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2013 Suzuki Kizashi its highest rating on a tough new crash test that measures a vehicle's reaction to being hit at 40 miles per hour on the outside of its front bumper. The Toyota Camry outright failed that test, but sold 29,000 vehicles in the U.S. in November 2012. Only 500 Kizashis were sold here during that same span. So long, Suzuki.

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