Domestically we buy over 17.2 Million vehicles every single year. That’s a lot of car manufacturers gunning for your business and trying to sell you what they think you should buy - but just because some car companies are more popular than others doesn’t mean they’re always reliable vehicles. Just look at Audi, BMW, and Ford. All household names when it comes to luxury, economy, and style, but each of these brands is notorious for having mechanical problems and issues year after year - yet we continue to buy them. That’s because popularity outweighs reliability, and in this day and age it's essential to drive a car that isn’t just a popular one, but one that raises your status among friends. We look for style over dependability, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing to everyone. But if you want to stand out from the rest, you need to find a car that works with you, not against you.
Popularity and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand, and when it comes to looking at vehicles that fit your lifestyle best, it’s not always a good idea to ask your friends what they’re driving. Instead, read this article and do some research on your own to find the perfect fit for you - after all, you’re going to be the one behind the wheel every day (4.3 years in your lifetime to be exact). So let’s get started, shall we? Here are 20 popular rides we wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. This list doesn't mean all these cars are terrible rides; it just means that we think you deserve better than what's popular right now.
22 Jeep Wrangler
Jeep has been a widely popular car since its humble beginnings 75 years ago, but that doesn’t always mean they make reliable cars (in fact, Jeep is often joked to stand for “Just Empty Every Pocket”). And when it comes to emptying your pockets for fixing up rides, no other jeep compares to the Jeep Wrangler.
Even though these off-roaders are seen everywhere these days, they are notorious for having starter problems, engine difficulties, and are major gas guzzlers.
So even though this favorite ride has sold over 2.3 Million Wranglers since its first model 20 years ago (1997), Jeep still has not addressed its most significant issues that have continued year after year.
21 Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mitsubishi Mirage is an odd ride to say the least, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a popular one (especially outside of the U.S.) First of all, we’ll get straight to the point: The only reason why someone would consider driving the Mitsubishi Mirage is for its inexpensive price (the base sedan is priced at $14,830).
While domestically Mitsubishi has sold over 66,000 Mirages since 2015, this vehicle is well known for coming up short in almost every category. Even though the Mitsubishi Mirage is a favorite car, we wouldn’t recommend purchasing one - or better yet, we hope that one day the Mirage will disappear (for Mitsubishi's sake).
20 Dodge Challenger
The Dodge Challenger is often described as the “modern day muscle” car. This description is spot on when it comes to muscle car handling, gas efficiency, and overall appearance, but does that work for today's drivers? The answer is a solid no.
Though we love the idea of bringing a classic into the 21st century, it’s essential for manufacturers to deliver what we love about muscle cars, and remove what drivers have struggled with year after year.
Dodge has sold over 450,000 domestically since its original production in 2008, but the Challenger often receives horrible reviews when it comes to reliability, handling, and overall safety. The Challenger is unquestionably a car we recommend ‘dodging’ next time you are car shopping.
19 Lexus LS
If you’re searching for an attention-grabbing car, then we don’t suggest looking into the Lexus LS. This widely known car may be popular to the public, but most reviews of the LS describe this car as “painfully boring” and “more snooze than sport.” While Lexus has sold over 580,000 LSs domestically since its original production in 1989, this widely popular car is well-known for having the same issues year after year, and that’s due to Lexus’s inability to take the next step towards the 21st-century driver. So some may recommend the Lexus LS, but we’re going to say spend your money elsewhere and get a vehicle that provides more bang for your buck.
18 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Cabriolet
Though Mercedes-Benz are known for luxury and speed (especially in their convertibles), that doesn’t mean they're great cars. The Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Cabriolet is one of the more popular German engineering luxury convertibles, but the Cabriolet is infamous for having expensive mechanical issues with a cheap feeling interior.
To quote The Drive: “Does the AMG badge, and experience, make this a worthwhile elite C-Class at $70,000 as tested? Debatable. It's a well-executed and coherent combination of luxury and athleticism—but I'd probably find a more interesting way to spend that chunk of coin.” Though Mercedes-Benz is in demand more than any year before, we would strongly recommend spending your coin on a better German convertible.
17 Ram 1500
Now, if you’ve ever been to a rural part of the United States, then you already understand the popularity of the Ram 1500 - but just because every home on the block has one parked outside their driveway doesn’t mean they are reliable rides.
The 1500 gets an astonishingly low 15 miles per gallon and even less if you upgrade to the V8 option.
Also, to the average driver, there’s not a huge difference between domestic trucks and most other trucks on the road. So if you’re going to spend over $50,000 on a truck you might as well go for one with more bells and whistles.
16 Acura ILX
The Acura ILX might possibly be Acura’s biggest letdown, and unarguably a car we would never recommend, especially compared to the competitors small luxury vehicles on the market. Even though the ILX is a popular ride (domestically has sold over 95,000 since its original manufacture in 2012), it has been widely ridiculed for being extraordinarily underwhelming and basic in interior technology.
Even Edmunds says “The notion of value begins to fade when you realize that the ILX falls well short of the standards set by its more expensive rivals. The ride quality is overly stiff, the interior lacks refinement, the engine is comparably weak and the infotainment system leaves much to be desired. For these reasons, we don't consider it worthy of competing against Audi, Mercedes or BMW. Instead, we think of the ILX as a slightly nicer Honda Civic." We feel if you’re going to spend this much on a small luxury vehicle, you might as well spend only slightly more and find a car that is genuinely worth your time.
15 Dodge Grand Caravan
When it comes to popular cars, none compare to the Dodge Grand Caravan. This vehicle has sold domestically over 6.5 Million since its original production in 1985, which not only makes it widely popular but notably overrated. So if a car is this popular, why is it on this list?
Well even though the Grand Caravan does have some power and is in the lowest price range, this car is critiqued with poor handling, uncomfortable back seats that feel cheap and under-padded, and one of the weakest technology packages when compared to its rivals. Even AutoTrader is quoted saying "The van [Dodge Grand Caravan] seems pedestrian next to top models from Nissan, Toyota, and Honda." So when it comes to cars that preach "you get what you pay for," the Dodge Grand Caravan is precisely that.
14 Dodge Journey
When it comes to Midsize Crossovers, often the ones that come to mind are the Dodge Journey, the Honda Pilot, and the Mazda CX-9, but out of those popular rides the only one we would never consider purchasing is the Dodge Journey. Why? Well even though this favorite ride has sold domestically over 760,000 vehicles since 2008, the Dodge Journey has been part of multiple recalls for cruise control problems and has one of the least impressive powertrains in its class.
Even Edmunds says "The Dodge Journey could very well be the car that time forgot. It debuted back in 2009 and has been pretty much the same vehicle since. While this longevity is admirable and speaks to the inherent goodness of the Journey's design concept, there's no denying that it's behind the times in quite a few areas. …The Journey will get you where you're going, and will do so for less money than many competitors. But overall we think you'll be happier with vehicles such as the Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia or new Volkswagen Tiguan." So if you’re looking for a vehicle that is affordable, the Dodge Journey may be right for you (but we think you deserve better).
13 Ford Focus
The word “popular” is positively a relative term. It can mean an entirely different thing if you’re discussing high school friends or comparing cars. In saying that, the Ford Focus is one of the most popular vehicles around, and everyone has seen one around town. But are they great cars?
The Ford Focus sold over 3.7 Million models since its original production in 1999, but not much has changed in body style and features over the last 18 years. Also, the Ford Focus is one of the more expensive rides in the compact car market, all while having an extremely cramped back seat. Overall, the Focus isn’t a terrible ride, but when it comes to making a major purchase like a car, we suggest something better.
12 Tesla Model X
When you think of Elon Musk, you think of new age technology, tech giant, and Tesla Motors. Even though Mr. Musk has been building a lot of hype around his vehicles, that doesn’t mean hype equals quality.
Tesla is one of the newest manufactures on this list, so the Model X's popularity may not be as high as Fords, but everyone has heard of these vehicles.
Since its production in 2015, Tesla has sold over 40,000 Model Xs domestically, but in saying that these vehicles are often thought of as being extraordinarily overpriced and underwhelming compared to its competitors. If the Tesla is the right car for you, then you’re probably not the average everyday driver.
11 Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade is the boss set of wheels you always see in music videos. With celebrities and rappers rocking Escalades, it's no wonder these vehicles have a considerable increase in popularity. Domestically, the Cadillac Escalade had sold over 480,000 since its original production 20 years ago. But are rappers reliable sources when it comes to reliable rides? The answer is likely not. The Escalade is notorious for having expensive mechanical issues and being more of a gas guzzler than its worth.
Even Edmunds has said "Unfortunately, the Escalade ride is a bit rough because of those truck-based underpinnings and massive wheels, so it isn't the most comfortable vehicle in the class. Some rival crossover SUVs are easier to live with and get better fuel economy to boot.” So even though these rides are a favorite among celebrities, they shouldn't be a favorite among average drivers. For the non-celebrity drivers, we suggest something a little more efficient.
10 Volvo XC90
When it comes to luxury midsize SUVs, the Volvo XC90 might be the first to come to mind - but, the XC90 has a history of struggling. This Volvo has a below average rating in reliability along with an extremely high price tag. Edmunds is quoted saying "All of this adds up to a respectable and desirable crossover, but there are a few drawbacks.
Our main issue: the XC90's powertrains. While Volvo's turbocharged (T5) and turbo-and-supercharged (T6) four-cylinder engines work fine in the brand's smaller vehicles, they seem less ideally suited for the big XC90.
Performance and fuel economy suffer as a result. The T8 hybrid fares better, but it's pricey. And we've found all XC90s can have a rather rough ride over bumpy roads when fitted with the bigger optional wheels. That's not something you expect, or want, in an SUV of this caliber. The XC90's flaws aren't fatal, though." So this Volvo might be a popular one, but we recommend checking out some other luxury crossovers.
9 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class (also known as the Mercedes G Wagon), is one of the most expensive rides on this list, but its popularity is due to the fact that these rides are a favorite among celebrities and seen in movies. But are they good vehicles? With such an industrial engine and stylish interior (and it’s MSRP price), it is obvious the market for these are limited. These cars are known for having substantial mechanical issues that are costly, and even if you haven’t lost all your money buying a G Wagon or fixing it up, they have an 11 miles per gallon city drive - making them costly everywhere they are driven. The G Wagon may be the ultimate status symbol among wealthy drivers, but we would argue just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean they’re making smart car decisions.
8 Jaguar F-Pace
The Jaguar F-Pace is unquestionably the new popular car around the neighborhood today. It has a speedy style, and it’s Jaguars first real attempt into the world of luxury compact vehicles - but just because it has a defined aspect doesn't mean it's a reliable ride.
While Jaguar has sold almost 30,000 since its original production in 2016, these vehicles have been coming back with significant issues and customer complaints.
We would like to think that a car brand that has been building pristine vehicles for over 95 years would have the new modern day driver figured out, but sadly it seems they are still working out those issues. If you’re looking into the Jaguar F-Pace, we recommend pacing yourself and checking out the Range Rover Evoque instead.
7 BMW 5 Series
BMW is a household name for speed and stylish automobiles, and they deserve it since they’ve been building luxury cars for over 102 years. But just because BMW is the qualified name of German engineering, doesn’t mean they always get it right. The BMW 5-Series is one of the more popular cars on this list (domestically selling over 1.2 Million 5-Series since original production in 1980), but when speaking with the experts, they describe this car is “underwhelming and overpriced.” So even though to most BMW stands for luxury and a beautifully made vehicle, we believe it stands for “Broke My Wallet.”
6 Volkswagen Passat
The Volkswagen Passat is a favorite car among all audiences young and old, but we still wouldn’t touch this ride given the chance. The Passat is one of the more overrated rides on this list. Why? Well since its original production 1990 they are over 1.3 Million Passats on the road.
Despite being overly-popular rides, the Passat is also known for having a much lower technology package when compared to its competitors and recognized for having expensive mechanical issues after 40,000 miles.
Don’t take our word? Edmunds says "If the idea of owning an affordable German sedan sounds appealing to you, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat delivers as expected. At the same time, it also provides the American car virtues of abundant cabin space and ample features for the money. But if you're also expecting Teutonic refinement and engagement as part of the deal, you'll likely be disappointed." So if you’re looking for a fantastic ride, we suggest spending a little more coin and getting a better vehicle for your dollar.
5 Ford Fiesta
Even though the Ford Fiesta has been around since 2010, this widely popular car is actually an everyday driver's nightmare. Fiestas are known for having a harsh highway noise and for being very unendurable vehicles to their drivers, which makes us wonder why a brand that has been mass producing cars for over 115 years would sell a car with so many obvious problems? In saying that, Ford had a high popularity in 2013 selling over 76,000 Fiestas domestically, but that number has decreased every year since (just over 46,000 in 2017), which might be a sign that the Ford Fiesta needs to go adiós.
4 Audi A4
When it comes to popularity, no car knows it better than Audi. That’s because Audi has been making cars for over 109 years and marketed them as the "everyday race car." In saying that, are they great cars? Not necessarily.
With over 800,000 A4s on the roads domestically, these cars have an extremely mixed driver review leaning towards unreliable and undependable.
AutoWeek is quoted saying "The A4 doesn't have quite the luxurious feel inside the C-Class does, and you can't have quite as much tail-out fun as with the 3-Series." So if you’re looking for a vehicle with torque, the Audi A4 may be right for you. If you’re looking for a car with more reliability, we recommend looking elsewhere.
3 Fiat 500L
When FIAT brought the 500L to the public, it was loved by most and seen as the perfect crossover in size - but is that really the case? We don’t think so. The FIAT 500L lacks engine, cargo space, and headspace, and if you’re going to spend time in your vehicle, we would argue all of those factors are significant issues. Consumer Reports says "What happens when the ultra-cute Fiat 500 is stretched more than 2 feet in length? OK, it takes on some adolescent-like gawkiness, which dilutes some of the cute factor. But more importantly, it becomes a much more practical car, with two more doors, a roomy rear seat, and decent cargo space." So if you don’t require a lot of space or speed, the FIAT 500L might be the perfect car for you - but we would argue why even look into a car if you don’t need space or speed.
2 Kia K900
When families are looking for a vehicle that is reliable and durable, often Kia is the first name tossed around the dinner table, but that doesn’t mean Kias work for everyone. The Kia K900 was originally designed as a family luxury vehicle, but that branding has been slowly crushed due to its thirsty gas mileage (an average of only 15 MPG). While the K900 may have some of the right stuff going for it, it absolutely missed its mark (and its audience) when final production started in 2014. The K900 isn’t Kia’s best work, and hopefully, in the years to come it will approve upon itself or retire.
1 Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen has been in the car making business for over 81 years. With that much history, one would assume that Volkswagen has the knowledge and understanding of its drivers - but the Tiguan proves just the opposite.
Even though Volkswagen has sold over 260,000 Tiguans domestically, this vehicle is notorious for having a poor fuel economy, an unimpressive engine, and a third-row seat that is somewhat laughable compared to its competitors.
Consumers Reports describes this vehicle by saying “For VW loyalists, the new Tiguan may be a bit too straightlaced, having traded sportiness and cheerful looks for more mainstream virtues." So if you were interested in a Volkswagen Tiguan, we recommend checking out the Subaru Ascent instead.
Sources: TheDrive.com, CarSalesBase.com, Cars.USNews.com, ValleyChevy.com, Motor1.com