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Top-ranked cars out of production
By Jim Mateja
Tribune auto columnist

While several automakers are still celebrating the results of the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study released a week ago, perhaps they should temper their glee.

A high ranking in the Power study, it appears, is akin to being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated when it comes to future expectations.

The survey included responses from about 48,000 owners of 2001 model cars after three years of ownership.

Buick, Lincoln and Cadillac finished in the top five, ahead of such Japanese notables as Honda, Acura and Toyota.

So there was cause for the domestic automakers to cheer.

But looking at some of the names of individual cars that scored well gives cause for extending sympathies.

For example:

The Chevrolet Prizm finished second in the compact car category behind the Toyota Corolla. Prizm, based on the Corolla platform, hasn't been sold since 2002.

The Cadillac Eldorado finished third behind the Lexus LS430 and Infiniti Q45 among luxury cars, but the Eldorado disappeared after the 2002 model year as well.

The Buick Century and Regal finished No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, behind the Toyota Avalon in the midsize premium segment, but Century and Regal are replaced by the LaCrosse for '05.

The Chevy Malibu topped the entry-level midsize segment. Yet that's the last-generation Malibu replaced by a new generation for 2004, so the award winner is no longer sold.

And the Chrysler Concorde placed first in the full-size sedan segment. But after a handful of '04s were built, production ceased so Chrysler could convert from the front-wheel-drive sedan to the rear-wheel-drive 300.

So winning isn't everything.

Surviving is.

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