2009 Fall Auto Guide
Great deals ahead on 'orphan' models

Late summer through the fall is always the best time of year for car bargain-hunters. That's the time when dealers put discontinued models on sell-out mode to clear their decks for the upcoming model year.

This year should present a veritable feast.

With Chrysler and General Motors in and out of bankruptcy court, and rival Ford selling off Volvo, there are more "orphan" models than ever, and even entire orphan brands.

After all, GM is selling Saturn and Hummer and closing the Pontiac brand. It looks like Saturn and Hummer will stay in business, but it puts a question mark on the future of those brands, and that's likely to be reflected in slower sales, and in discounts on their products.

Most of these orphans still deserve a good home. In many cases -- like the Hummer H3, which is based on the same platform as the Chevy TrailBlazer -- they have a lot in common mechanically with products and brands that continue in business.

Some lame ducks, like the Hyundai Entourage minivan, are fine for what they are, but they're in product segments that are out of favor with car buyers, so they're not worth the trouble and expense for the automakers to renew.

Some are simply due for phaseout in the normal course of business. For example, the Mercedes-Benz CLK was simply up for renewal. Instead of replacing it with a new CLK, Mercedes-Benz decided to upgrade its replacement to the bigger and more expensive E-Class.

Here are 9 automotive orphans that are worth a look while supplies last:

1. Honda S2000

Sporty convertible
Starting price: $35,705
Orphan cause: Discontinued

Honda won't replace the Honda S2000 convertible when 2009 models run out. That could take a long time. Honda sold fewer than 100 in June, 67 percent below a year ago. That seems to be OK with Honda, since it's not advertising any discounts. Enthusiasts like the Honda S2000, but it's pricey, and it has to be revved high to get the best performance.

2. Hummer H3

Midsize SUV
Starting price: $34,170
Orphan cause: GM is selling Hummer

GM has an agreement to sell Hummer to China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd., a heavy-equipment manufacturer. GM says Hummer manufacturing will stay in America. The H3 shares a platform with the Chevy TrailBlazer. It's Hummer's best-selling model, but Hummer sales are down more than 60 percent this year overall. GM currently is offering almost $8,000 cash off the H3.


3. Hyundai Entourage

Starting price: $24,745
Orphan cause: Discontinued

Hyundai is offering up to $4,000 off its Entourage minivan, which is being discontinued once existing stocks are sold. In a sinking market, the minivan segment is down more than most, and the exterior styling of the Entourage is bland, even by minivan standards. Like most cars from Korean brands, it has a lot of features for the money, like a five-speed automatic transmission.


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