There are some cars that everyone wants. Cars that almost all of us can agree look fantastic, or offer great reliability and handling, or are just the pinnacle of technology that is available right now. Those are the cars that we all love to drool over and admire as often as we can, even if we could never afford to actually own one for ourselves.
Then there are the cars which, well, aren’t quite as desirable. They are the cars that you don’t see out on the roads because they just don’t have that curb appeal. They happen to have a bad reputation, or have ended up killing people because of safety issues that are known on record. These are the cars that no one wants to buy, and for very good reasons too.
If you’ve ever owned one of the cars on this list, you might actually want to check your birth certificate or your passport to ensure that you are the legal citizen that you think you are. Because none of these cars belongs on an American road. In fact, every single one of them represents a vehicle that a true American would not touch with a ten-foot pole. And if you ever did touch it, maybe you’re just a schmoe who knows nothing at all about cars – in which case, allow us to educate you.
19 1996 Buick LeSabre
Don’t get us wrong – there is at least one category of Americans who do own this car. Thing is, we feel safe in including it in the list because they’ve likely owned it for decades, they aren’t planning on buying a new vehicle ever again, and they probably can’t even safely drive anymore. Because it's Grandma's favourite car. If you drive this car and you’re under the age of 70, it’s basically because you inherited it and can’t afford to make the change. It has nothing to offer in the modern age of driving – no features, crappy engine which can barely move the car, no comfort, no curb appeal. It’s an ugly, slow, brick of a car. It needs to go back to the 90s – where it wasn’t even a good choice of its time.
18 2003 BMW 745Li
Awful bodywork and huge reliability issues plagued this BMW model from the moment that it launched. That was 15 years ago, so there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to make the choice of buying this car ever again. You’ve had enough time to read the reports. You don’t have any excuses for even looking at a used car listing for this vehicle. It was a serious low point for the brand, and ushered in the weird rear end shape that continued for too long to be comfortable. You wouldn’t be able to drive this very far before you started seeing smoke coming out from the hood, and that in itself seems like a very good reason to avoid so much as touching one with the longest pole you could find.
17 2004 Chevy Cavalier
How can we sum this car up? Ugly design, poor handling, pretty much a death trap – that seems to do the trick. It was an extremely affordable car and one of the easiest to buy from GM for that reason, but there’s logic behind that. The price point was the only thing it had to offer. This car started getting ugly from the moment it went into production and every subsequent year made it uglier, culminating in 2005.
It was behind the times with no development at all for a long period, and the interior left a whole lot to be desired.
The engines couldn’t have propelled a pushbike to speed, and it literally held the title of “Highest rate of driver deaths” over the ten years it was available. This car will actually kill you.
16 Cadillac ATS
So few people bought this car that Cadillac actually had to lay off ATS workers at the factory in Lansing, Michigan. Let that sink in for a moment. They literally can’t sell the cars that they have already produced. Cadillac is in a bit of trouble, and this car is one of the big reasons why.
Statistics show that in 2015, each one spent an average of 138 days on a dealer’s lot before it was sold.
That’s a very long time for a car to just sit, mournfully waiting. When you consider that a fair amount of new cars are sold before they are even made, it’s a really big statistic to grapple with. The worst news is that it represented around 20% of the sales for Cadillac the year before – meaning everyone realised how awful it was and stopped buying.
15 Kia Cadenza
No one likes a large sedan anymore. That’s something we can all agree on. We like a midsize sedan, or else we’re going to go for an entry-level luxury brand vehicle. That’s borne out by the statistics, by the way, not just the personal preferences of a single person. This car spent more than four months sitting on dealer lots in 2015 before it was sold, and that’s after the 2014 sales didn’t manage to make 10,000 either. This is a car that quickly plummeted into what we can only hope is now obscurity. Americans just don’t like the Cadenza. Large sedans haven’t been in vogue for the entire decade, and car manufacturers need to realise that. Kia’s overall sales took a serious hit because of this car.
14 Fiat 500L
This model may be popular in Europe, but that doesn’t automatically make it a hit on the other side of the pond. The average car took five months to sell in the US, which is a significant amount of time for a recognised brand with a strong history. While it may not be exactly clear what it is about this model that doesn’t look attractive to Americans, it’s clear that we have good instincts.
For every 100 Fiat vehicles assessed in the JD Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study, there were 200 reported faults.
That’s two per car. It puts them higher than any other car manufacturer that was reviewed. That is not the kind of award that you want to win, and it certainly explains why sales have plummeted even further since the statistics were released.
13 Cadillac XTS
Why not just get a CT6? That’s the question that we would ask anyone who was even remotely interested in getting a Cadillac XTS. This is more or less a pointless model. Once the CT6 was unveiled and it was announced that it was intended as a replacement for the XTS, the death knoll had sounded. But here’s the thing: Cadillac told us that the CT6 was the new XTS, but then continued to sell the XTS. They announced a discontinuation date of 2019, which makes literally no sense at all. Why would you bother getting the old, useless model when you have already been told that its successor is available on the market right now? It would be like buying an iPhone 3 today.
12 Infiniti Q60
The problem with the Infiniti Q60 is that there are so many other similar cars from brands that are already popular in the US. Infiniti has a tough job of getting itself better established, and they’re having to compete against brands which have decades of history within the US market, such as BMW and Mercedes. When you go up against those manufacturers, you need to have a package that stands out and lures loyal customers away to try something new. Sadly, Infiniti just weren’t able to achieve it with this model. An embarrassingly low number of them sold in the US, and they spent an average of 158 days on car lots before the new cars were finally sold. Infiniti actually made more of these than anyone wanted to buy.
11 Cadillac ELR
Literally no one even knew Cadillac did an electric car, and it's an affront to the brand when you realise it. It was the brand’s first attempt at making an electric car, and by all rights should be the last. Who wants to buy a Cadillac, only to find out that it doesn’t make any kind of engine sound at all?
Who among us is buying a Cadillac if they are conscious about the environment, or are trying to save a bit of money on fuel bills?
There are other brands that you turn to for that. That Tesla, for example – the model S is around the same price point and it’s, well, made by Tesla. That should be argument enough to convince the average consumer to ignore the ELR. Not only that, they launched an electric car right as gas prices were going down!
10 Honda Insight
Honda had to discontinue this car because sales were so poor. That’s how bad things got. The statistics are absolutely horrendous: the average car waited 171 days on a car lot before being sold. That’s almost six months. The industry-wide average, by the way, is 71 days – and considering it’s an average, that means it includes the worst cars (which the Insight definitively is).
Less than 4,000 of them were sold in 2014. It’s little wonder that they were forced to pull the plug on production.
Part of the issue is that gas prices were falling at this time, meaning that hybrid or electric cars were less popular – and those who did buy wanted full electric, not a hybrid. This is an embarrassing chapter that Honda won’t want to dwell on.
9 Cadillac Cimarron
If you want a BMW, just buy a BMW. What is the point in buying a Cadillac that looks like one? Not only that, but it wasn’t even a Cadillac on the inside. It was a Chevrolet Cavalier. Cadillac tried to sell a Chevrolet dressed up as a BMW. Even writing those words down seems to defy reason or belief. Someone, somewhere in their marketing department thought that this was a really good idea. Not only that, but they produced a really ugly car. Sure, BMW may have been selling well, but they did so for reasons that appealed to their particular demographic. Abandoning your own demographic to try and compete further is a really stupid way to go. Thankfully, the buying public seemed to agree.
8 Mitsubishi Mirage
Here’s a car that won the coveted title of lowest-rated subcompact car of 2017. It certainly won’t be winning anything positive. Its reliability is on the average side, so nothing to write home about there. It delivers 37 mpg, which you might think is an appealing factor. Here’s the bad news: it’s the only one. The thing is, for the price, you could actually buy a used car which delivers even better mileage, and has a far superior engine to the weak three-cylinder that can’t accelerate faster than a pedestrian. The handling is also very clumsy, and the interior has been best described as drab and cheap. It’s like driving inside a kid’s toy car from the 80s. It may have been impressive to kids back then, but literally no one else, ever.
7 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
On paper, you would think that the cheapest all-electric car on the market would be extremely popular. In practice, though, it’s cheap because they cut every single corner that you could imagine them cutting.
It has the lowest consumer rating for an electric or hybrid compact, with hardly any development in either the interior or the performance. It’s slow and clumsy to drive, with stiff handling that no one would enjoy.
The inside is so bare and basic that you wonder if it’s actually been finished yet. If you’re using a standard 110-volt charger, you’ll need to wait 21 hours for the battery to be full. 21 hours. You can only drive it every other day. Are they serious about that? It can only get 59 miles on that, too.
6 Chrysler 200
Here’s the delightful candidate which picked up the title of lowest consumer rated mid-size sedan of 2017. What a thing for Chrysler to brag about. It has the lowest predicted reliability in its class, and the lowest road-test score, which makes it unsurprising that it also got the lowest overall score. The transmission is wholly uncooperative and will have you standing on the side of the highway Googling local mechanics before you know it. The car handles like it’s from the 80s, and the engine has about as much oomph as a dead cat. You can barely squeeze into the rear seat, and when you do, even non-claustrophobics will feel the walls closing in on them. You’d better be best friends with whoever squeezes in next to you – or, more likely, on you.
5 Toyota Tacoma
Completely primitive, stiff, and unreliable: ladies and gentlemen, we present the worst pickup out there. Sure, it’s a rough and tumble truck which is meant for off-roading – but that doesn’t excuse the poor and slow handling, the loud engine noise which deafens anyone in the cabin, and the awkward driving position. It hasn’t proven itself over the past couple of years since the new design was released, with many of the new models ending up needing all kinds of repairs. And while you do have the option to upgrade to blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alerts – upgrade, mind you – that isn’t enough to make up for even a tenth of the truck’s shortcomings. To say that there are better options is to make a huge understatement.
4 Dodge Journey
Low reliability, low safety rating, low value for money. Is there anything about the Dodge Journey that doesn’t make us feel low? This midsize SUV is the worst in its category. The interior feels cramped and confined, you can’t drive it around any kind of corner, and if you happen to crash the front into something then you’d better get used to not having legs anymore.
The third-row seat is very snug indeed, which means even families probably won’t want to give it a try.
You’ll see big discounts on this because it’s coming to the end of its run and sales are way down, but there’s a reason for it – the price is definitely too good to be true. Don’t be tempted to so much as rent one.
3 1971 Ford Pinto
Remember that famous memo about it being cheaper to let people burst into flames than fix the car? No? Well, let us refresh your memory. In rear-end collisions, the Pinto had a tendency to burst into flames. That meant a lot of people were suffering horrible fiery deaths, or at least getting very badly injured. Later on, a memo emerged that proved Ford knew about the safety issues, and they thought about it carefully. It would have cost $121 million to reinforce the rear end and solve the problem. On the other hand, the potential payout to burn victims would have been $50 million. With that in mind, they decided not to fix it. Once the memo leaked, this car was going nowhere fast.
2 2004 Chevrolet SSR
Hot rods are made, not born. That’s a rule that Chevrolet should have learned before they created this monstrosity of a car. They basically tried to create a pickup truck that looks as if it might be a hot rod, but obviously isn’t because it came off the assembly line looking like that. However, they went a little lazy on the development and just used the midsize SUV chassis and mechanicals from other GM cars. That resulted in a car that was heavy, underpowered, and unspeakably ugly. Without credibility, there is nothing a hot rod can do. Just to reiterate, there is no such thing as a factory hot rod. It can’t be done. It’s a contradiction in terms, and no real American would ever sully themselves by buying one.
1 2003 Hummer H2
A PR catastrophe that could not be undone, the H2 came out at the worst possible time for the manufacturer. 9/11 had just happened, and everyone was thinking long and hard about the consequences of the US thirst for oil. The H2 went against just about everything Americans wanted back then. It was overtly styled after military vehicles, making it too aggressive. It was huge, smacking of arrogance and the kind of self-centered thinking we were telling ourselves off for.
It was essentially a gas-guzzling tank, which meant even more oil was required.
A dealership in Southern California was torched during the backlash. To top it all off, GM happened to be repossessing and crushing electric vehicles at the time, as if they just wanted to spit in America’s face.