Two small cars cut from the GM range, is this the end of affordable compacts?

General Motors GM,
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will drop two of its smaller vehicles from the lineup after the 2022 model year, according to a new report. GM Authority was first to announce that the Buick Encore and Chevy Trax will be canceled at the end of their current production runs.

Neither of these developments 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 cheapest 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 that sounds like low praise, it is.

With a starting price of just $21,400 and available all-wheel drive, the Trax is an affordable, warranty-backed ride that sticks to the road even in bad weather. But it lacks the polish of more refined competition like the Hyundai HYMTF,
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Kona and Honda HMC,
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HR-V.

The Chevy Trax is one of Chevy’s best options for bargain hunters.

Chevy

It’s not even the best subcompact SUV on the Chevy lots. The new Trailblazer easily takes that honor—and its starting price is just $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 cheapest new vehicle in America this year – with a starting price of $13,600. At the time, a spokesperson told us the Trax was 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 asking price of $24,600 makes it the least expensive Buick product. But, like the Trax, it faces competition in its own showroom. The Buick Encore GX of the same name is more attractive in almost every way and not terribly much more expensive at $25,800.

Small vehicles are disappearing

Few are likely to mourn the loss of either vehicle. But their loss adds to a trend few celebrate. The average price of new cars in the United States continues to rise, and manufacturers are removing the cheapest options from their lineups.

The average new car in America sold for $46,085 in February. That’s a slight decrease from the previous month, but still about $5,000 more than a year ago. Many factors contributed to the rise.

Some decisions have been made by automakers – a worldwide shortage of microchips has prevented automakers from building as many cars as they would like. They used whatever chips they could get to build more expensive models that brought them higher margins.

But car buyers also shaped the trend. Americans are buying more luxury cars than ever and are avoiding small, affordable models like the Trax and Encore.

An exception

Is the entry-level vehicle dying? Maybe not. Ford F,
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last year introduced a new bargain model to its own range, with an unusual twist. It’s a truck. The Ford Maverick, with a starting price of just under $20,000, won KBB’s Best New Model award thanks to its practical nature and excellent value for money. Ford sold every Maverick it could build. The trucks are now out of stock for next year, even as competitors cut the lower end of their lineups.

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There may be a lesson for other automakers in the Maverick’s success.

For now, all we can say is that Chevy is eliminating its cheapest car, and its cheapest SUV and Buick counterpart may not be far behind. Under ordinary circumstances, we advise buyers that it is often possible to convince a dealer to get a significant discount on a discontinued car. But, in today’s sales climate, that may not be true.

This story originally took place on KBB.com.

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