In the classic 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s character is forced to live one day—the titular Groundhog Day—over and over again. After much soul searching, Murray’s character eventually learns not to be a pompous jerk, gets the girl, and even falls in love with the town of Punxsutawney.
But Groundhog Day captures the idea that there are cars out there that have been unchanged for years, still being built by hardworking men and women who aren’t restricted to a lukewarm bowl of borscht and the whims of the Politburo. (Bear with me here.) For as much as Bill Murray’s day ultimately remains the same throughout the movie, so are the cars that have hardly seen a redesign or replacement since their debuts, year in and year out—utterly stagnant. Does Groundhog Day still hold up? Probably. Will these cars be replaced anytime soon? Who knows. But for now, here’s a celebration of automotive deja vu.
The Toyota Corolla was once the best-selling car in the world. Still is, in some markets. Doesn’t mean that it’s been the same staid, lumpy-sided design since 2006—or that its sales fell by 12.6 percent from last year. Perhaps consumers are on to the extended-play ruse? Or perhaps the Corolla is now outclassed by legions of compact cars that were designed far after the fifth season of American Idol? Consumers have forgotten about the Corolla as quickly as they’ve forgotten who Taylor Hicks was.
Despite being virtually unchanged since its introduction, the Impala continues to sell remarkably well. Maybe there’s something to be said for stability. The Impala is pure Americana: cruise-liner suspension, seats thick enough to smuggle hashish, enough trunk space to serve as a rent-controlled studio in Chelsea or the Meatpacking District, a chassis designed during the Reagan era, and bodywork that’s only just as old. Chevy is going through a design and engineering Renaissance of sorts right now, but as soon as they ditch the 6-year old blue-hair, and the anticipated next-generation Impala can’t show up soon enough.
Honda’s weird truck/car thing is the equivalent of a little kid wearing big boy pants. I’m a real truck too, guys! That is, until the F-150 and Ram bullies shove it off the swing set, and even the Toyota Tacoma gives it a wedgie for good measure. To be fair, a car-based trucklet is perfect for suburban families who find the whole idea of off-roading anathema to their Dockers Slim-Fits. But the advent of a Sport appearance package— with few changes otherwise since 2005—really reinforce the playground-wannabe mindset. Hey, I used to be that kid too. Then I discovered cologne, and swearing.
Nissan wowed the truck world with the introduction of the full-size Titan in 2004. Since then, the truck has been a staple in Nissan’s lineup…the kind you can’t remove no matter how hard you try. Never a real sales success compared to the domestic trucks, the Titan has soldiered on largely unchanged for the better part of a decade now. Granted, trucks tend to have a longer life cycle than cars. But with only a few minor changes to its exterior appearance since it first bowed eight years ago, the Titan is the living definition of stale.
The Entire Suzuki Lineup (Except Kizashi)
Suzuki took a beating in sales for January—not a single one of their cars saw an increase in popularity. To add Suzuki to this list is like twisting the knife, but there is no mercy in automotive journalism. Case in point: the SX4 has been with us since 2006. The Equator has been reliving every year exactly the same since 2009, but its Nissan Frontier underpinnings are 5 years older than that. And the Grand Vitara has experienced 2,558 consecutive, unchanging days with us. Not even Bill Murray has that energy.
Main image source: Chris Piascik