The SUV segment is one competitive and dynamic auto market. It caters to quite a demanding clientele while every new year sees new models and players getting involved and further driving up the competition. There is a lot of balancing to do with price, luxury, power, performance, space and fuel efficiency all being factors to be considered by the car makers and buyers. Safety ratings and features are also a major consideration.
Constant innovation has seen SUVs of all kinds from crossovers to medium-sized, three-rows to two-rows. In the midst of all these there have been some memorable SUVs which have become market leaders, having managed to balance just about everything the demanding modern customer requires. However, there are quite a number of SUVs that don't quite make the mark. Most seem to favor working one thing - that being looks - and miss out on the diverse utility an SUV is supposed to provide.
Surprisingly, there are a number of these vehicles whose sales are hardly affected by their failings. Given that you are most likely to pick a car based on its looks, low prices and discounts, you could easily pick a bad SUV if you are not careful.
Here are 25 attractive SUVs you should not be driving if you want to get value for your money, because they are bad.
24 Mercedes-Benz GLC
The Mercedes-Benz GLC replaced the GLK with considerable improvements, especially in terms of comfort and the features available. However, it still falls short of the ideal SUV, especially when you consider its price.
The GLC is a rather soft vehicle without any ruggedness, making it unsuitable for off-roading regardless of what Mercedes says. The focus on tech also hampers ease of use with the interface.
The lack of a satellite radio is a little annoying, as is the number of reliability issues that have placed it among the worst cars of its year. Such issues include a poor break system and power controls. The suspension is also unreliable and the front wheels tend to develop a crabbing problem especially at slower speeds.
The Jaguar F-Pace seems to be following the reputation of its Land Rover siblings in being a luxury car you should not plan on using for long, despite what its generous five year or 60,000 miles warranty may insinuate.
While it has catchy looks and a number of features, it still lacks many of those found in the Range Rover, and its cumbersome touchscreen is quite outdated when compared to the competition.
You also have to struggle with the heavier off the road work since this car lacks undercarriage cameras as well as skid plates for rugged surfaces. With an average of 20 mpg, it is far too thirsty for daily use. Add these to reliability issues ranging from a faulty AC system, drivetrain problems and noisy exhaust and you have another luxury car to avoid.
23 Volvo XC90
Unlike most brands on this list, Volvo does not have a history of reliability issues- which only makes this model even more disappointing. Its attractive looks and a promising debut powertrain have failed to consistently deliver. The looks remain, but you are left to deal with slow acceleration, poor handling (especially on uneven roads) which compromises its off-road capability, massive issues with the braking system, and problems with the electrical circuitry.
The model is quite expensive; even the base trim seems overpriced when you compare the features you are getting versus the cost of ownership. A complex touchscreen control system does not help matters and you will be better off skipping this SUV- at least until the issues are fixed in its later models.
22 Infiniti QX60
The Infiniti QX60 is basically a rebranded JX35, but with a more powerful engine. It maintains all of its brother's other quirks and cons. Strenuous ergonomics, poor steering and cramped third-row seats are just a start to the several issues you will have to deal with.
The interior is bland and marked by the antiquated dashboard. The QX60 strives to offer luxury on the cheap but fails, since you will have to pad it up with a number of accessories while still lacking features like smartphone integration. In terms of reliability, the Infinity QX60 fails completely, with a number of issues coming from the drivetrain and the transmission system.
21 Chevrolet Suburban
The Chevrolet Suburban was created to cater for towing and high capacity needs. Even with a new redesign in 2015, the vehicle still misses out on a number of most modern SUV user needs. Parking it is always a struggle even with a backup camera and parking sensors as standard, and even at that you will have to deal below average safety ratings coupled with a slow to respond transmission, the longer distance needed for braking than competitors, and very poor reliability ratings.
Some of the main issues owners have complained about (yes, there are more) include poor fitting and finishing which has resulted in problems with the paint and trim, power equipment troubles, faulty navigation and weather stripping. Add this to the fact that this behemoth isn't even any fun to drive and you have an SUV you will be better off passing on.
20 Toyota Sequoia
The Toyota Sequoia is the one SUV Toyota spent time targeting the American market with. In doing so, they took inspiration from several places, including the Land Cruiser and Tundra models. Unfortunately, this left the car trying to be many things at once while only delivering in one aspect: space.
It is not solid enough for rugged duties and it has a massive thirst for fuel with doing only 13 mpg in the city. It also drives poorly and can be difficult to maneuver in when turning.
It is one of the models that has been hit with frequent recalls every year. Thousands have already been recalled for various issues this year alone. Issues include poor body integrity (especially in the seats) a malfunctioning vehicle diagnostic system, poorly attached wheels, and airbag problems.
19 BMW X5
The BMW X5 was a late entrant in the luxury SUV market, but that only served it best as it was able to build on the mistakes from those ahead of it. If only its reliability was as good, it would be the perfect car. Unfortunately this is not the case.
It has issues with climate control systems and a defective fuel system which undermines the fuel efficiency. Electrical issues also stem from its high tech focus and it has costly repairs for the suspension and the axles. There are also a number of interior issues that begin to emerge from interior parts, especially regarding trim quality with a tendency of them peeling after some time. Tire wire can easily mess up the xDrive 4X4 system. The X5 is also known to have a number of leak issues.
18 Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet models have a history of unreliability issues and this is where the Chevrolet Traverse again fails, along with its slow speeds and much of its technology features being restricted to top trims.
It was hit by a recall regarding the quality of the welding and alignment of the third-row seats, it has issues with transmission, wiper motor, faulty fuel gauge with inaccurate readings, malfunctioning airbag deployment mechanism and faulty brakes especially for parking. Suspension problems and malfunctioning climate stability systems round out the major defaults with this SUV. A major recall issue was the occurrence of fire under the hood due to an overheated washer module. Despite the recall, the issue has not been entirely solved and you will need to replace the entire washer module if it happens.
17 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
This is another SUV that easily bewitches with its looks but simply doesn't deliver when it comes to performance. Sure, it packs a punch with its engine and the ride is a smooth one, but you will have to be wary of several aspects.
The interior, while taking a minimalist approach, has many quirks, including positioning of the control buttons in the driver’s cabin. The screen lighting is faint and prevents view, especially in low lighting conditions. There is also the issue of the many reliability problems which are inherent both to the parent company Fiat and previous Alfa Romeo models. Already, the Stelvio which was introduced in 2018 has a problem with the braking and several hundred have been recalled due to the braking system being affected by contaminated fluid.
16 Lincoln MKX
This is another car whose saving grace is its affordability but that can easily turn into a great inconvenience or burn a huge hole in your pockets through repair costs. It has one of the worst fuel efficiency ratings in its segment - especially when driving in the city - and you also have to deal with a number of reliability issues with the drivetrain and the engine.
The common issue with the drivetrain is the leaking of transmission fluid from the axle area. You may also have to work on the issues with the engine which mostly include the engine shutting down while you are driving (especially in the 2016 model) and there have also been reports of coolant leaking into the engine. There are also known issues with the headliner and the foam seal sandwiched between the dash and the windshield.
15 Mazda CX-9
The Mazda CX-9 is the main reason why the popular automaker, who usually ranks in the top positions for reliability ratings, dropped down to number 12. Before even talking about its dependability failings, there's the poor handling issue and below average off-road capability thanks to a lack of rugged features.
If you enjoy Apple CarPlay or Android Auto you will not find such features on this model. How it brakes and steers on uneven roads does not help, nor does its shoddy capability on snow.
The major reliability issues start from the body integrity, a faulty breaking issue and unreliable electronic systems. Like the Volvo above, it is a car from a brand that has not been riddled with reliability issues, so there may be a significant change in the future, but for now this is one SUV to avoid.
14 GMC Yukon XL
The Yukon XL’s main selling point is that the load and towing capacity does contribute to the cumbersome riding experience you get with this SUV. It is a struggle riding in the city and parking - which is further worsened by the longer braking distance - and its handling is average at best.
You also get a slow transmission response, and with a higher loading floor, packing up can be quite a challenge. All that is before you start experiencing reliability issues with the electrical circuit. Most notably, the AC gets faulty perennially. You also have transmission problems which are a common issue, along with a breaking dashboard and door locks, antenna and electrical compass issues and lighting. A bad safety rating does not help matters, nor does the average fuel efficiency.
13 Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder is one of the longest running models in the midsize SUV segment, yet save for a couple of features and accessories it does not make over three decades of experience count. Instead it has perennially disappointed over the years with over 100 recalls, and the latest editions are no better.
Its performance, handling, and off-road capability (and the fuel inefficiency) compare poorly against its competitors at the same or cheaper prices. A bland interior, cramped driver cabin and a noisy drive mean you will not have comfort on your ride either. The common reliability issues include problems with the drivetrain, airbag failure, faulty brakes and power circuits. All that means you will be spending much time (and money) in the shop than actually enjoying the use of your vehicle.
12 Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade sells itself as a big SUV with all the luxury and the looks to match, until you get in a few miles. If you are willing to overlook the 10 mpg fuel efficiency when driving around the city - and the expensive servicing for simple items like headlights - you will not be able to stand the frequent visits to the shop.
Common and persistent problems include body components breaking off, issues with the fit and trim and the chrome on the wheels, and faulty transmission system. The power system and the audio are also not that reliable. You also will encounter surprises with what your warranty actually covers versus what you cover from your own pocket.
11 Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai was among the crossover pioneers at the time of its launch. It offered the performance of a 4x4 SUV with the convenience of a family hatchback. While it was so popular at the start, customers are now feeling the full effect of nagging issues which unfortunately the automaker has not been acknowledging.
While it continues to offer a comfortable ride, it suffers from contentious issues of engine problems, suspension issues, issues with the infotainment and electrical components, paint and gearbox malfunctions.
The main culprit is the engine which has a range of issues from a faulty engine control unit that results in the engine surging or revving, strange noises emanating from the engine and periodic engine failures that require a whole new engine to be fitted. The turbo is also known to have problems resulting in a noisy and at times smoky drive and requiring an expensive replacement.
10 Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Cherokee is a good performer off the road, especially when you get the higher trims with a more powerful engine, but that’s just about the only positive thing about it. Otherwise, it is a poorer version of the original Jeep Cherokee and its low dependability scores mean you will be in for a rough and costly maintenance schedule.
The interior is underwhelming and the fuel consumption is average, and the base engine may struggle to go past the 20 miles a gallon mark. You will also have to deal with poorer safety measures compared to the competitors.
Regular issues and parts that will require replacements include the brake switch, transmission systems, leaks, drivetrain parts and you should also be ready for stalling, problems with ignition and surprise mechanical failures while on a journey.
9 Land Rover Discovery Sport
Like its sibling, the Range Rover, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a car filled with many luxury attributes that match well with its off-road capability and numerous options to match your specific needs.
On paper this looks like an SUV you should get, but in reality, purchasing this car is going down a path of disappointment. Poor performance across all reliability scores point to nagging problems, which as most users point out, begin after a short period of ownership. Break problems are a common issue and it gets worse when it gets to emergency handling. Fuel leaks, below average headlights, a lagging infotainment system and a host of other electrical circuitry make this SUV one of the worst in the luxury segment.
8 Jeep Renegade
The Jeep Renegade tries to avoid the myriad problems that have faced its siblings but it still does not hit the mark. Sure, it drives well and has the off-road capability of all Jeeps and even has average fuel consumption. However, you will have to also deal with average safety ratings and features, poor electrical wiring and infotainment components which are faulty and freeze often.
There are also problems with the transmission and the roof pillars compromise visibility. It has had six recalls and still the persistent issues remain, while new ones like noisy brakes, stalling while driving and engine surging or hard shifts are emerging. You also have to deal with a troublesome AC system and, because of its entry price, there is a lot of luxury you will forego.
7 Jeep Patriot
The only good thing about the Jeep Patriot is its low price, and that is only good if you like a slow, bare-boned car which will prove to be expensive once you decide to spruce it up, even by average standards. In trying to hit the lower market segment, the automaker adopts a miserly approach, filling the Jeep with the very bare minimums not just in terms of luxury, but also in its performance where the 2.0 four cylinder only offers noise abundance with but less off the line power.
Less cargo space than competitors means you cannot rely on it for ferrying items either. When it comes to safety ratings and reliability tests it again dips below average.
Having not had a significant remake over the years, the Jeep Patriot feels old and labored, taking 9.7 seconds to do the 0-60 mph sprint. It feels like a car from another era but without the classics’ muscle.
6 GMC Acadia
This is really a bad SUV with little saving grace but for its looks. It is narrower than most compact SUVs, features you are used to coming as standard are only available in the higher-end trims, it has an average engine, less cargo space and a range of reliability issues.
That this was the worst performing vehicle ever from GMC says something about its reliability.
Issues like blanks screens, a navigation system that was prone to crashing, major issues with the transmission, a malfunctioning climate system, and a poor drivetrain have plagued this SUV throughout the years. Even the rear view camera is problematic and does not help with visibility. Considering how much you will have to spend to get a comfortable ride - and how much you will be spending on repairs - this SUV is not just worth it.
5 Dodge Journey
Here is another budget car whose price as low as just $15,000 does not make it a bargain when compared to the experience it offers. Worse, you will have to buy a whole range of features - almost all $1,000 and above - which really makes the base price feel like a con.
The minivan feel is just about the only attractive thing about the Dodge Journey. For its front crash testing it got a poor rating, while a four-star rating by the NHTSA means it gets below average for safety. You will also suffer from the poor transmission with both the four-speed and the six-speed options with their low power and slow acceleration. Its dated interior feel means you will also be lacking in most of the modern offerings most people expect in a current SUV.
4 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Its sales will have you believe that this is a must-have SUV - until you see the reliability ratings by its owners and their complaints. Owning a Range Rover is a labor of love; its looks and luxurious interior appear wonderful until you get a few miles in, then the issues start.
From an outdated electronics system, a faulty and highly unreliable drivetrain, a freezing navigation, gas leaks, coolant leaks, foul smells, creaking parts, a freezing infotainment system creaking parts, to just about any imaginable problem, the maintenance costs are high and the service from most dealerships poor. There are several great options you can have with better driving experience, and at the cost of the Range Rover you can spruce them up to reflect your luxury needs.
3 Jeep Compass
The Jeep Compass easily slots into all worst car ever lists and save for the Wrangler, it is the worst Jeep ever made. It has had over 30 recalls since its launch in 2007 with that year’s model being the one fraught with most issues. With little modifications ever since, most of the problems have been carried over.
A weak underpowered engine means it is always sluggish and has a slow acceleration. It is a heavy fuel consumer and has a noisy transmission, a clumsy driving position, faulty brakes and cramped up rear sits.
Reliability is the bigger threat here, with issues ranging from problems with the Uconnect Infotainment system, CVT overheating, grinding brakes, problems with the tie rods and control arms etc. Basically, it's an SUV you will want to stay away from.
2 Fiat 500X
The Fiat 500X is a vehicle styled and furnished by modern standards but it fails in the one area you would expect SUVs to perform: going off-road. A 1.4-liter standard engine is weak for the demands of off-road riding with only 160 horsepower. Even the 2.4-liter engine in the upper trim can still make for an uncomfortable ride.
The transmission is also noisy and lacks the smooth shifting movement. Most of the features you would see as attractive are only available if you opt for the Trekking top trim, with the base Pop model lacking even Bluetooth connectivity. Previous models also lacked the infotainment system and rearview cameras. The 2018 model has them at all trims. While it does well in safety tests, it also has a history of unreliability.
1 Jeep Wrangler
Adventure enthusiasts and old-fashioned SUV adherents may scream the praises of the Jeep Wrangler and its off-road capability, but this is truly one SUV you should keep away from. Its bold and rugged nature does not compensate for the simple elements of luxury, a massive thirst for fuel with only 17 miles per gallon, slow acceleration, poor safety features and poor crash tests, a noisy and stiff ride, lack of cargo space, cramped up rear seats, a slow steering that requires regular adjusting depending on the surface you are riding on, average OEM accessories you will have to replace them, longer breaking distances, leaking top which also inhibits rear visibility, you won’t have side mirrors and pretty much everything else.
You will spend quite a fortune in just upgrading your Jeep Wrangler to a comfortable vehicle it is not worth it at all.
Sources: www.motor1.com, www.consumerreports.org, www.cheatsheet.com, www.car-buying-strategies.com