We all make mistakes, especially when we’re buying cars. There’s a lot of pressure riding on a car sale, for both the salesman and the buyer. You want to make sure that you get something within your price point that meets your standards but you have a little devil on your shoulder that continues to prod you toward the more expensive options that just don’t fit into the budget.
Additional expenses aside, there are some cars that just happen to be a hard sell—usually with good reason—and salesmen will intentionally prey on those who are less than knowledgeable to get rid of that hard-to-sell inventory. So, while you’re attempting to find that perfect car that speaks to you and your family, that drives smoothly, has plush seating, great fuel efficiency, and has a long life ahead of it, you may want to ignore the pushy salesman.
There’s one aspect of every car that many of us tend to forget to factor in when we’re making one of the biggest financial decisions of our lives: resale value. Even if your car knocks everything out of the park, a rapidly-depreciating asset is still going to be costly in the long run, especially if you’re getting a loan. Your potential car shouldn’t qualify for you if it doesn’t at least have good resale value, especially if it has poor dependability. These two factors tend to go hand-in-hand more often than not, though. So, they’re easily the most important things to keep in mind when checking out cars.
25 2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
The Hyundai Genesis is one of those cars that can either be a very comfortable option or a total nightmare. To clarify, the luxury sedan is the one you want; it has a nice interior with plush seats and excellent gas mileage. On the other hand, the Genesis coupe is meant to be a bit sportier, but when you find yourself caught up in a mess of mechanical issues, the last thing you’ll feel like you’re driving is a peppy sports coupe. While bulletproof dependability tends to be a characteristic of Hyundai, the 2014 Genesis coupe broke the mold with its excess of issues. We can understand why anyone would want a Hyundai, especially one that has taken on the brunt of the initial depreciation, but if you’re going to buy used, then you shouldn’t go for this coupe.
24 2013-2016 Ford C-Max Energi
The C-Max Energi is anything but what it portrays itself to be. Ford pitches the car as a hybrid station wagon, which should be a pretty appealing ride in today’s market. However, the lack of sales for the C-Max Energi speak more about its true usability. The wannabe wagon has far less space than any real wagon should, which left many of the practical buyers put off by its underwhelming cargo storage. For being a hybrid, the C-Max Energi is also not that efficient. It’s one of the biggest posers in Ford’s lineup; it wants to be like an Outback, but it's really a Prius with a nicer cab. The icing on the cake is C-Max’s lack of dependability, which is more of a bad side effect if you were an unlucky soul that actually bought one of these.
23 Mitsubishi Outlander
The Outlander has a few quirks that have really soiled its reputation, but the first thing you notice when you look at this car is its overall lack of style. The Outlander is an uninspiring SUV that’s struggling to keep up with 21st-century designs. We have to give Mitsubishi props for building an extremely safe car, and if that’s your primary concern when choosing a vehicle, then it’s completely understandable why you’d select the Outlander. However, if you consider being stranded on the side of the road a possible safety issue, then the engine may be a dealbreaker. Not only is it straight-up boring, but the Outlander’s engine has terrible reliability. The base model Outlander is hardly equipped with what a modern-day driver considers ‘the essentials.’ Unfortunately, you won’t even have the luxury of satellite radio while you’re waiting on that tow truck.
22 2014-2015 Fiat 500
The Fiat corporation has carried a bad rep for quite some time now, especially regarding their reliability (or lack thereof). The 500 is one of their worst tiny creations, though. For one thing, it’s pretty unrealistic for anyone who has friends because it’s a ‘four-seater’ (not even a five—come on, Fiat) but that rear row is so cramped that we’re not sure it’s even sufficient. Attempting to sell this tiny box is difficult enough in a country like the US that has a preference toward bigger vehicles. If you check out resale values on the 500, that will probably kill any ideas you have about investing in one, though.
21 2013-2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
If you ever come to the conclusion that you’re ready for a product of Chrysler, then you may want to perform some extensive research first. In spite of the fact that it’s one of the most popular family vehicles on the market right now, the Dodge Grand Caravan is not the best minivan to strap your toddlers into. The safety ratings on the Grand Caravan were so low that it should be a cause for some concern for any parents considering it. The in-your-face cheap upholstery and plastic pieces are not just an eyesore, they also say a lot about how the car was put together. Chrysler has always been known for cutting corners on their vehicles, but the Grand Caravan will make you uncomfortable and unsafe.
20 2015 Buick Encore
Over the last decade or so, Buick’s overall reliability has seen an exponential decrease. However, Buick hasn’t let go of that luxury feel that they’ve always attempted to deliver to their consumers in many of their options. But the Encore is a bit of a fraud when it comes to its luxury offerings, which includes the coveted Wi-Fi hotspot option. Even though the Encore is rightfully named for its comfort, the SUV hardly feels luxurious once you’re stuck with it. It experiences far more reliability issues than a new vehicle should. Even if the fuel mileage will save you a pretty penny, all of that money is easily swallowed up by the Encore’s hefty repair bills.
19 2013 Subaru Forester
The Forester is the black sheep of the Subaru family. That being said, Foresters (in general) are not the best option if you’re looking to buy a compact SUV. The all-wheel-drive and peppy engine continues to be a hot selling point for this versatile and stylish little vehicle. However, the reliability is so negative that you’re going to lose more than your fair share on this investment. The 2013 model year, in particular, is one of the worst Foresters ever made.
18 2014-2016 Dodge Dart
Unlike the original Dart that grew to become a fairly popular car in Dodge’s lineup, the modern-day Dart was not one for the books. It was a slow seller because it was an overpriced commuter, essentially. However, that only hits the tip of the iceberg for the Dart because it’s failed to live up to Dodge’s reliability reputation. Not only is the engine something to worry about, but so are all of the ‘high-tech’ features that are supposed to make up for the Dart’s hiccups. However, its touchscreen is a bit sluggish and the software is temperamental; you’re lucky if your car will connect to Bluetooth. Dodge discontinued the Dart after a short four years, for obvious reasons. So, when you’re tempted to scoop up that used one that’s been hanging out on the web for more than 30 days, question that too-good-to-be-true price.
17 2014-2016 Jeep Cherokee
It’s funny because you can call the latest iterations of the Cherokee failures, but as any knowing Cherokee owner (previous or present) will tell you: they’re mid-sized boxes of problems. Even a barely-used 2016 model is prone to be plagued with problems. Contrary to the Cherokee’s encouraged utility uses, it has a total lack of much-needed cargo space for the true outdoorsman, sports fanatic, or the busy family. But the dependability of the Cherokee seems to be the primary factor that has held the model back for all of these years. Chrysler (apparently) has no interest in improving the reliability of one of their most popular SUVs, yet this could have an enormous effect on their sales. That being said, we don’t recommend investing in one of these rapidly-depreciating cars.
16 2013 & 2015 Ford Focus Electric
Now, don’t get us wrong, the Focus isn’t a terrible car, but it usually falls under the stereotype of being the ugly duckling of the Ford family. Its electric-powered evil twin has taken the cake for the least-appealing of all, though. While the Focus has a nice interior and decent handling for its price point, the space needed for the battery had a negative impact on the interior. As far as cargo goes, this isn’t the best option for anyone who has children or a lot of friends. It’s pretty tight inside of the cab as well, even less than the gas-powered Focus. You’re better off buying a Prius, which has optimized its space and also has a better resale value.
15 2013-2014 Ford Explorer
The Explorer attempts to attract a new string of consumers who like it for its compact personality. And, for a few generations, this worked out well for the Explorer. Then, Ford decided to cut some corners in its production, thus leaving you with one of the least-reliable crossover SUVs in the past few years. Even if it has a third row, you’re essentially looking at a five-seater with some spare children seating in the back. The only thing that the third row is good for is taking up much-needed cargo space. The Explorer’s efficiency seems like its saving grace, but if you factor in the low ratings, then the Explorer quickly becomes a hard sell.
14 2013 Volkswagen CC
Everything about the Volkswagen CC was well-received at the beginning, and understandably so; its good looks and turbocharged engine should make it a knockout. However, that CC name carries a bit of a stigma in the used-car market nowadays. Once the novelty of the shiny newness wears off, owners come to realize that it’s not everything it was cracked up to be. All of the CCs are pretty bad, but the 2013 model is the foulest one of all. It’s reliability rapidly worsens the longer you have the car; it’s more like owning a ticking time-bomb than a speedy VW. It’s also highly uncomfortable, especially in the rear seat space. The CC is one of the worst cars you could ever take for a road trip, or own at all.
13 2014 Kia Sedona
The Sedona isn’t the worst minivan in the world, but its drab looks could kill quite a few sales. It’s too soon to call the Sedona’s early-2000s look ‘vintage,’ so we’re just going to assume that the design team left this one on the backburner for a few too many model years. Not only has the Sedona seen few updates to its overall look, but the quality of the interior is sub-par, at best. Nothing really came to save the day for the Sedona, as even its fuel mileage is below-average. Needless to say, Kia took the back seat with its flagship minivan, allowing competitors to pave the way.
12 Nissan Pathfinder
The Pathfinder seems like that heavenly SUV that perfectly balances space with fuel economy. However, it has a pretty unforgiving issue: no reliability. The past six years haven’t been good to the Pathfinder, but the 2013 and 2014 models were the worst of them all. If Nissan had spent more time working out the kinks in its engine, rather than focusing all of its resources on the styling of the Pathfinder, then they would have a pretty valuable vehicle on their hands. Even its big brother, the Armada, has had quite a few technical issues in the 2014 model, but the Pathfinder is far worse off in ratings. Despite being one of the most appealing brands on the market, you may want to steer clear of Nissan in general, but especially the Pathfinder.
11 2013 & 2014 Dodge Avenger
Similar to the Dart, the Avenger is one of those Dodge vehicles that everyone overlooks. It has one of the most forgettable faces and also seriously ‘blah’ handling. Not to mention, the engine is practically worthless. You’ll be lucky to get half of what you pay for one of these after you’ve taken it onto the road for only 20,000 miles. It doesn’t have much more space than a 1990s Corolla but has half the fuel efficiency of one, keeping it in a pretty unattractive position for consumers. It’s the same story with every Avenger, but the newest models haven’t improved much, if at all.
10 Land Rover LR2
There must be some sort of a misunderstanding at Land Rover’s headquarters because when they designed the LR2, they didn’t just build it to be a great off-roader, they made sure that that’s all it was good at. However, when people tend to take their cars off-road, it’s usually in a semi-remote location, which makes reliability one of the primary necessities. Unfortunately, Land Rover was so busy making a cool, off-road SUV that they failed to maintain the necessary attributes of a good vehicle. Not only is the LR2 scary to take far from a main road, it’s also an uncomfortable ride with handling and suspension that is far below expectations. Even the fuel economy is horrible for its class. The only good thing that Land Rover can honestly say about the LR2 is its dashing good looks.
9 Smart Fortwo
The Smart Fortwo should probably be avoided at all costs, no matter the model year. But especially if you’re looking at a used gas engine model, as they’ve completely ended that line in 2018 and are no longer going to be supporting the gas-powered model, which makes it a tremendously expensive vehicle to fix (that is, if you can find a mechanic who can work on these). Since they’re not particularly common in the US, they’re an especially bad investment for those that reside in the Land of the Free because the Fortwo will be anything but free at the repair shop. And, since it’s a product of Mercedes-Benz (yet French-made) the Smart cars are over-engineered in some ways but are not very reliable overall.
8 Volvo XC70
Despite receiving acclaim for being one of the ‘best’ car manufacturers, Volvo has a dirty little secret about the XC70. The glamour of the rain-sensing windshield wipers and other high-tech features of Volvo’s XC70 is easily gleaned over by longtime owners. Yes, it’s not the worst vehicle on this list, but the XC70 is much less reliable than many of its competitors and it’s a very noticeable difference. Even the handling begins to feel as if it’s struggling to keep up and the acceleration is laggy to begin with and only worsens over time. You can get a lot more sportiness for your money by going another route.
7 2013 Chevrolet Impala
The past few decades have been a slow decline for the Impala up until the most recent generation. But the 2013 model takes the brunt of the criticism with its excess of issues. At the peak of the Impala’s decline, this one had the worst handling that many describe as being mushy. While the Impala maintained many of its signature flair, including the front bench seat, it seems that consumers weren’t dazzled by its quirky personality. The interior just comes off as cheap and that impression doesn’t change much once you get behind the wheel.
6 2013 Jeep Compass
Nothing great should ever be expected from the entry-level vehicles that show up on a Chrysler lot. The Jeep Compass is a classic example of what cost-cutting looks like for these inexpensive SUVs. Everything—from the suspension to the trim and the upholstery to the engine—has a lackluster feel. There’s nothing drawing consumers to this car except for its low price. And once you take a seat on the seats, it even feels like you’re in a cheap car. You can only imagine how well these cheap parts must hold up, so if you thought that the value of the Compass wasn’t great from the start, then you don’t even want to know how well a used model will hold its value. Spoiler: it doesn’t.
5 Tesla Model X
Despite the perfect score that it received from Consumer Reports for ‘owner satisfaction’, the Model X is considered to be one of the least reliable vehicles of 2017 according to (you guessed it!) Consumer Reports. With a cult following, it’s no surprise that Tesla’s SUV would garner firm support from electric car enthusiasts. However, it’s also possible that some have blind love for the Model X. It’s been known to have reliability issues—as have all of Tesla's models—along with some rather annoying technical difficulties. Even the doors have a tendency to break every now and again. It may be state-of-the-art and efficient, but you won’t feel very ahead of the time if you’re constantly paying for repairs. And say goodbye to any penny that you may have saved in gas costs, they’re going straight to a mechanic just to keep the Model X rolling down the road.
4 Mercedes-Benz SLC
Everyone continues to Mercedes-Benz because everyone believes that luxury equals reliability until they invest in one themselves and have to learn the hard way. In truth, Mercedes-Benz builds cars with relatively complex designs (that require you to take them to a professional mechanic versus working on it at home) for no real reason other than to keep a flow of money coming their way. Since Mercedes-Benz has a computer for just about every part of the car (which is practically guaranteed to break), you can only imagine how much more expensive this must be on their $50,000 SLC coupe. It’s impractical in every sense of the word and loses its value at lightning speed.
3 Lincoln MKT
It’s unclear what exactly Lincoln engineers were attempting to execute with this car, but whatever it was went terribly wrong. The front end looks like a blown-up version of an early-2000s Pontiac (which isn’t a compliment) and the body shape looks like it’s an imitation of cheaper SUVs. Everything, both inside and out, is outdated, even when the MKT was brand-new. Lincoln has almost completely fallen off of the face of the earth with its poor ability at keeping up with the Joneses, and we’re not just talking about looks, either. Even the gas mileage sits at a sad 24 mpg for the EcoBoost V6 engine. That says a lot about Ford’s so-called luxury brand; it’s anything but.
2 Cadillac ATS
Speaking of US-manufactured luxury names, the ATS is another of the models that has missed the mark in many categories. One of the biggest complaints about the ATS—and what kills its sales—is its total lack of luxury. Yes, even if Cadillac is known as a luxury car manufacturer, the ATS doesn’t even come toe-to-toe with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and you can forget about having any sort of impressive power hidden beneath the hood. To make matters worse, the entire instrument cluster looks outdated by several decades, and the touch elements aren’t exactly a favorite of consumers. But it’s not the most terrible car in terms of reliability—it’s even got a few vehicles from Germany beaten there—the ATS isn’t a great buy, at least not the recent models.
1 Buick Envision
Crossover SUVs, in general, seem to be the least reliable of all family vehicles. Their engines tend to be undersized for their weight, which can lead to premature wear. Of course, that only works out in favor of the manufacturer. The Envision is probably the worst financial mistake that anyone could make. The last thing you’ll feel is luxurious when you’re noisily clambering down the road in one of these. Its suspension feels a bit loose and the cabin isn’t a fun place to be unless you enjoy road noises. We’re pretty sure we could find a better car to buy (or a couple) for $50,000.
Sources: Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, and Wikipedia.