That glossy luxury car that drives around your area may ignite an ounce of envy. The elegant lines and unique design of these pricey rides begs for attention, and most of us will happily entertain the idea. However, the harsh reality behind these fancy cars can become a total bombshell to the unfortunate owner that has discovered that they’re driving around a lemon. The title of “luxury” seems like it would imply that you’re going to have excellent reliability with this vehicle for the foreseeable future. But the cold, hard truth is that luxury car dealerships are no better than any others; they’re after buyers’ money and getting you to believe in their product is a part of their job.
With that said, many enthusiasts and the everyday people even seem to notice the serious decline in dependability of our cars. Modern-day manufacturing has made it easier to cut corners, including decreasing the amount of money spent on labor. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Unfortunately for the majority of car buyers, they’re ignorant to this labor exploitation – or simply don’t seem to care – which causes most to skip the process of scrutinizing a car’s mechanical worth. Some car manufacturers have built their name off of reliability and desirable luxury features, but most of these fancy upgrades are being served up with third-world labor, which translates to poor construction (for the most part).
We have a tendency to encourage luxury vehicle ownership, in our society. But, these polished pieces of scrap metal are probably the last thing anyone would want.
20 Mercedes-Benz GLE
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class was completely outdated for its time. Instead of repairing that image, the manufacturer slapped a new name on it (GLE) and decided to give it a slightly different look.
However, the GLE was in desperate need of a facelift, and considering that the M-Class was no stranger to mechanical qualms, it really could have done with a little redesign on the engine as well.
The GLE is also plagued with a number of annoyances including uncomfortable seats, defective navigation, the blind spot assistance only works while maintaining certain speeds, and even the eco function is temperamental. While it’s not a bad SUV, the GLE is far from meeting the standards of a luxury vehicle.
19 Buick Envision
It’s not like Buick has ever been a luxury leader. The bar was set pretty low for the Envision. There are so many kinks in this crossover that owners simply can’t overlook. The cabin noise, for instance, is abnormally loud bordering on uncomfortable. When you’re cruising in your luxury vehicle, you expect at least mediocre-quality suspension to give somewhat of a cushion while driving. Nope.
While not enough data has been collected on the Envision to make conclusive statements, there has been a mass of owners that have reported repeated errors with navigation, the instrument cluster, Bluetooth, backup cameras and sensors, and many more. Plus, the jiggly ride and constant rattling noises just make the Envision appear cheesy.
18 Infiniti QX70
Considering it’s over a decade old, it should only be expected that Infiniti’s QX70 would be a basket case. The ancient SUV is one of the few models that has lasted so long. The QX70 pales in comparison – when speaking of appearance – to the younger QX30.
An expired style isn’t its only downfall, consumers have revealed that the battery drains rapidly, the RPM increases while braking, engine idles high after cleaning the throttle body, and the timing chain rattles.
Since the battery troubles seem to occur before even hitting the 10k mile mark, it would seem that this is treated as a high priority. Surprisingly, Infiniti dealerships have been reported to avoid troubleshooting the mysterious issue, preferring instead to send customers on their merry way with a new battery – many of which will return.
17 Cadillac ATS
There are mixed feelings involved with the ATS. On the one hand, it’s a beautiful luxury vehicle with tons of potential. On the other, it has a lot of baggage that makes it very difficult to feel decadent about. The decision to eliminate the ATS from the Cadillac family had a lot to do with sales (or lack thereof). One of the many hiccups with the ATS is its weak electronics. Though most complaints surround these technological mishaps, the real worry is involved with the numerous safety recalls including a shaky transmission, engine failure, and exhaust problems. Some drivers have reported that the exhaust from nearby cars will enter the cab of the ATS. Obviously, this is anything but a luxury experience and all at the expense of passenger safety.
16 Lincoln MKT
Though the Ford-owned luxury manufacturer has built its name off of its eye-catching cars, the tides have changed for the Lincoln MKT. With an aged V-6 that’s commonly referred to as “lackluster,” the MKT also has stiffer suspension than a sedan that costs half the price.
Shortly after purchasing one of these scrap metal chariots, owners realize their mistake; it rides more like a Ford Flex than it does any luxury vehicle.
Although there aren’t as many severe mechanical problems afflicting the MKT, it’s clear that there are a number of cosmetic issues that it suffers from including cheaply made interior trim and components. The navigation system – like most luxury cars – is prone to freezing up consistently, the air conditioner fan is defective, and the interior trim has been known to fall apart if not handled gingerly.
15 Mercedes-Benz CLA
It’s all too common for anyone with the means to scoop up their own Mercedes-Benz in hopes to gain a certain image. At least that can only be assumed, since the CLA has quickly become one of the least reliable cars in Mercedes-Benz’s lineup. Everything from interior trim falling apart, to the engine failing mere months after pulling off of the lot. In a few worst-case scenarios, owners have been without their brand-new CLA for months at a time, and Mercedes-Benz customer service isn’t interested in answering to these desperate new owners. According to Consumer Reports, upon release in the US, the CLA was said to be 140% worse than the average car in terms of reliability. The cramped cab and limited visibility make it uncomfortable, but the CLA is highly unsafe and a guaranteed headache.
14 Jaguar S-Type
It’s not an accident that the Jaguar brand has experienced some increased difficulty selling their vehicles in the past decade or so. As a product of Ford Motors, the 2005 S-Type performed above average in sales, but its overall reliability couldn’t even touch that number.
Current and previous owners are aware of the overwhelmingly common transmission failure that the S-Type experiences.
They’re also no strangers to engine misfires, coolant leaks, engine overheating, and even less intimidating issues like window regulator failure. It’s all recipe for a major migraine. The S-Type remained one of the most popular cars in 2005, in spite of it having factory recalls only a few short months after its release.
13 Land Rover LR3
Land Rover owners in general receive a lot of criticism and judgment. Envy accounts for a good amount of the ill-minded comments that are directed toward Land Rovers, but experienced mechanics and well-versed car enthusiasts are aware of just how unreliable and cheap these SUVs truly are. Owners were most dismayed by the squeaking brakes, the loss of traction control in winter environments, and speedy wear on the tires. The problems don’t stop there either, the electrical components also have had an incredible amount of complications. The 2005 was considered to be the worst year of the LR3, but many owners reported similar issues with the 2008. It seems that hardly any of these models were safe, yet they were bought by the masses for a base price of $40k.
12 Volvo XC90
However beautiful this SUV may come off, Volvo’s top-of-the-line family vehicle has a few kinks that just can’t be ignored. Most of the issues are centered around the electrical components, which have shown up as early as a few miles down the road from the dealership (shortly after purchase).
XC-90 owners have experienced problems with nearly every single component, even the sounds that notify the driver when doors are open randomly don't work.
Cruise control, navigation, and other features usable while driving will sporadically stop working without warning as well. Worst of all, the angry new owners of unreliable XC-90s are usually even further aggravated once they discover that it could take weeks to repair many of these factory faults. This car is only good for an owner that enjoys spending plenty of time and money at the service department.
11 Mercedes-Benz SLC
It’s not expected that something as severe as engine damage should be a concern shortly after purchasing a new luxury car. However, the SLC should be handled with care if you’d like to avoid becoming entrenched in even more debt than the car has already created. SLC owners have found themselves victims of unending expenses, many times leading to a terrible experience with the dealerships. The most common reported flaws tend to be manufacturer faults such as overheating radiators from degrading plastic components, oil leakage that leads to intermixing fluids (which destroys an engine), power window failure, ABS failure, lack of power and rough motor idling – just to name a few. All of these reports are referring to brand-spanking-new 2018 models, which means that the more years (and miles) these beauties acquire, the more problems will likely reveal themselves beneath the hood.
10 Mazda CX-9
There are a few unexpected facets of the Mazda CX-9. For one thing, almost no one is aware that this SUV is actually classified as a luxury vehicle. Secondly, it’s almost equally surprising to find out that the CX-9 offers low reliability since Mazda, along with many other Japanese carmakers, often offer some of the best cars on the market with great longevity and few problems.
The things that trouble this SUV are no joke. Some of these little flaws include transmission slippage and hard shifts.
If drivers aren’t careful to keep the sunroof drain free of debris, water could leak through and damage body control module. Without vigilant care and attention, the CX-9 will experience a number of problems which seem to create a domino-effect of its own.
9 Jaguar F-Pace
There’s nothing quite as boring as a luxury car that looks like it’s been slapped together in a hot second, and the F-Pace wears that look with pride. While it does deserve some credit for the nicely styled grille, all of the warm feelings about the F-Pace seem to dissipate once they have you in their grips. Though it may be plain-looking, all of those high-end design elements rattle and squeak from the factory. Jaguar counteracted this defect by creating a kit that eliminates all unwanted noises. Otherwise, drivers have claimed that their shiny, new F-Pace has had complications with differential fluid leaks, touchscreen infotainment, sunroof leaks, and more severe problems such as computer failure. Jaguar is attempting to make the company relevant once again, but low-quality vehicles won’t expedite that process.
8 Maserati Ghibli
For very little reason other than that it’s a renowned brand, people – with considerable wealth, anyway – continue to purchase one of the worst luxury vehicles on the planet, the Ghibli. Maserati doesn’t have the best track record to begin with. Its reliability is a bit shaky, according to critics.
The Ghibli has been reported to have numbers of problems. Known for its supposed style, the technology and mechanics can’t even compete with luxury cars that cost less.
Its incredible weight is outright obnoxious and its stiff suspension isn’t very forgiving. Though these may seem like minor flaws, it’s considerably worse when you take into consideration that a base Ghibli will cost at least $75k.
7 Jaguar XF
Even if it’s modestly priced, the Jaguar is in no position to excuse itself from its mechanical faults. The XF is one of the worst models of all of them. Even though only 20% of XFs have had major faults, half of these weren’t drivable – which is kind of a big deal. Of the lucky few that could drive their defective XF, they typically didn’t see it for weeks while being repaired even though most of the issues were menial.
The electronics are an entirely different set of problems that require a more complicated process to repair. Most of the reports have involved navigation, pixellating and/or faulty instrument clusters, climate control, the heated rear window, external lights, as well as the reverse camera. The XF will save you money upfront, but the long-term the cost of repairs is exponential.
6 BMW 5 Series
Everything about the BMW 5 Series has an allure that invites you in. Ironically, everything about a 5 Series experiences some sort of defect, even the interior trim. The alloy wheels have been reported to become blistered easily (although, blistering could be a debatable point), the interior trim is cheaply-made and falls apart quickly, and worst of all, the trusty diesel engine experiences everything from gearbox and clutch malfunctions to downright engine failure. Of course, all of these mechanical issues don’t come alone, there’s even a luxury infotainment system that experiences a number of technical difficulties. All of this chaos can be attained at a base cost of about $55,000.
5 Mercedes-Benz E-Class W212
With a reliability score of 46.1%, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has rung in 2018 with a downgraded model. Even though the previous E-Class had plenty of problems to spare, the electrical and mechanical faults of the 2018 E-Class outdo its predecessors. Among the common issues, the faulty ABS sensor is considered to be one of the cheapest to repair.
Arguably the most annoying fault is the car’s tendency for the body to rattle. There’s been no confirmed cause, but it’s theorized that the engine mounts could be to blame.
The E-Class is a bit of an attention hog as well; if your brand-new car hasn’t been test-driven many times, it may have a stiff transmission. It requires constant attention to stay in good shape. Mercedes-Benz was fairly sloppy with the E-Class’s engineering, but it’s only more evident to those that have experienced defect after defect.
4 Tesla Model X
It may have caught a lot of car-buyers’ eyes, but the Tesla Model X is nothing to rave about. In spite of the large amount of support that the Model X receives, there are quite a few kinks that haven’t been worked out. For one thing, the scary dilemma of having unreliable brakes seems to take precedence as one of the most important flaws to mention. The all-wheel-drive system consistently experiences errors, the interior trim may be appealing but it’s cheap and short-lived, and the Tesla Model X has even been labeled as one of the most unreliable vehicles of 2017.
3 Infiniti Q50
Most of Infiniti’s vehicles are very up and down in terms of safety and reliability. Even though this vehicle may be highly rated this year, it could be a rolling deathtrap the next. Taking a look at the inside of a Q50, you’ll notice that there’s cheap plastic used on parts of the interior trim, such as the door panels. Infiniti’s habit of cutting corners is highly visible in many aspects of the car, and makes the Q50 seem a lot more like a Nissan. Although, when the battery needs to be replaced every 4k miles and it shuts down amid driving, you know that the cheap design extends into the mechanics of the car as well. Though, when several customers have said that when they try to take their 2017 Q50 to the dealership, they're given the runaround.
2 Acura TLX
Even we can’t deny that the Acura TLX is a sharp-looking car. The TLX design engineers must have had an impeccable eye for detail because the lines on this design are sleek and precise. As you might suspect, it’s pretty rare to find a Japanese car that has severe technical setbacks.
Our firm admiration for the styling of the TLX ends there because several owners have struggled with no start issues within the two-year mark (and under 50k miles).
The TLX is also a bit of an energy vampire, known for draining one battery every couple of years. The newer models aren’t much different in this respect since many new owners have already replaced their batteries. Transmission slippage can be expected from this car as well, although, only time will tell how the longevity of these parts will actually be.
1 Cadillac Escalade
If you haven’t heard about the Escalade’s serious issues by now, then it’s safe to say you’re completely out-of-the-loop. It’s well-known that the Escalade is currently considered the absolute worst and least reliable luxury SUV on the market, and Cadillac has been defending that title for the last couple of years. The Escalade looks gorgeous and has plenty of space and its price is within range of competitors, so what makes it unappealing for car buyers?
Well, to start, the Escalade offers an unforgivably stiff ride with sloppy handling. Nearly all of the electronic components are bound to break; anything, from anti-theft failure to a defective fuel pump – which prevents it from starting – has been reported on the 2017 & ‘18 Escalade. Cadillac will have to get their electronics together if this legendary SUV wants to survive the modern-day luxury market.
Sources: Consumer Reports, AutoGuide