Gone are the days when having the worst cars meant spontaneous internal combustion or wearing away of the paint with rain. Now, things are judged more subtly and rigorously; the bar keeps being set higher and higher each year.
Some of the cars were easy to put on the list. Unless you happen to be highly conscious and aware of every single one of your thoughts, you undeniably look at the exterior of the car first. That first impression has the power to tip the balance and bring a car here. But we tried to make sure that wasn't the only factor taken into account. If anything, some of these cars have good looks—but that's about it.
It's not the brand name either. The market isn't that gullible. If a prestigious manufacturer produces a car that has no market value, it won't gain a foothold in the market, regardless of how many times the car’s logo appears on the car. The executives have their own reasons for bringing a car into the market—after all, they know what they're doing. But sometimes, the make or the model is just not what the public is looking for at the moment. A lot of things go into producing a good car and, conversely, a lot needs to go wrong with a car to make it on this list—although some made it here because of just one major fault.
In case you weren't that familiar with Maserati, I’ll fill you in. It’s an Italian vehicle manufacturer, with the goal of producing cars that embody and manifest luxury and style. More specifically, the Ghibli has been intermittently in production since the late 1960s, evolving into three generations so far; the 2017 Ghibli is from the third generation. The 2017 Ghibli is a luxury sedan, but just to begin with, the $70,000 tag is rather on the high-end of the price range. Not sure why one would choose this over some of the equally famous rivals in the same category. Though the car has got the looks—and a worthy engine—some trouble arises with accessing the car’s low-slung sporty body. And once you get to the interior, you'll see some cheap-looking gadgets here and there.
The 2016 Jeep Compass has received a lot of criticism in the form of low ratings through and through. It definitely had some qualities that made it attractive to potential buyers: low cost, comfortable cabin seats, above-average off-road prowess, and optional tailgate speakers, to name a few—nah, I think that sums it all up. The list of cons, on the other hand, is quite extensive. The engine is crude and sluggish, the transmission slow; the steering wheel is punishingly stiff—the ride itself feels like a chore; and the cabin... well, the cabin makes you feel like you’re a king… of plastic. For a Jeep, the cargo area was less than stellar. For whatever reason you may have bought this vehicle, the purchase should've been avoided unless—it was your dream car.
With a brand-new price of $50,000, this car was nothing to chase after it came out—and the verdict hasn’t changed till now. The MKS didn’t have a huge fanbase when it came out in 2008; only 12,982 units of the 2009 models were sold. Sales went up a year after the arrival of MKS and then started climbing down the ladder—roughly 10,000 of the 2014 MKS were sold. The MKS was heavily borrowed from the Ford Taurus, which itself wasn't impressive, so not surprisingly, the MKS followed suit, falling behind in the driving experience, the interior, the exterior, the engine, and the visibility from the cabin. A lot of luxury marques derive from their sibling, but none retain the underperforming features, unless, of course, that luxury marque is the Lincoln MKS. The parent company stopped producing the MKS in 2016.
When the year 2013 marked the first year of the fifth-generation Altima, fans were undoubtedly excited. It was to bring a new face to the Altima line, with the revamped exterior and the refreshed interior. Arguably, it did that, to some extent. While the newer versions have gotten better and better scores from various sites, with the 2017 Nissan Altima even winning the “Top Safety Pick” title from the Institute of Highway Safety, some of the 2013 Altima owners suffered a bit due to the transmission noise. As one of the reviewers said, you have to turn your windows up and the radio down to hear the rumbling noise emanating from the transmission. That, in addition to a generic interior, was a no-no for some of the car's potential buyers.
I know, I know... You're thinking, "This guy is crazy! A Toyota? He dares to put a Toyota on a list of worst cars? That can’t be true. Toyota is world-famous for reliability and production!" Yes, those are valid points. In fact, in 2016, Toyota was the fifth-largest company in the world by revenue. In 2016, it was also the largest automotive manufacturer and remains second now, right after VW. Toyota has done exceptionally well in the 4- to 5-seater sedan market. But when it comes to trucks, the Tacoma is a rudimentary vehicle. Sure, it can handle the off-road terrains like a boss, has good modern-connectivity features and safety features that saved owners from incurring a whiplash at least once, but the stiff ride and handling plus the loud cabin can’t be overlooked. Additionally, the first-year reliability of the Tacoma was nothing to boast about.
The subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage isn't a mirage at all. Once you experience it, your optical-illusion bubble will burst, and you'll truly see the car. You might have gotten it because you wanted to squeeze into frequently encountered congested parking lots—and I bet the 37 MPG fuel economy was icing on the cake—but at the end of the day, all those couldn’t hide the infirm three-cylinder engine (yikes, they really make that?). The interior looks capacious, but for some reason, you're left with feeling like you've been sitting in a 2-star motel all along—the interior looks cheap and feels cheap. I can’t exactly criticize the exterior of the Mirage because it's a compact car, after all. But Consumer Reports say your money can be better spent on another car instead of the Mirage 2017.
Let me quote the car's Wikipedia page before I even begin to mention things about this car: “[CEO] Marchionne explained the decision to end production on the vehicle [2017 Dodge Dart] and not offering a replacement for the United States or Canada: ‘I can tell you right now that both the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart, as great products as they were, were the least financially rewarding enterprises that we've carried out inside FCA in the last eight years,’ adding ‘I don't know one investment that was as bad as these two were.’"
There you have it. Not only the public but also the CEO knows why they had to discontinue the Dart. Simply, it looks hideous. Dodge is meant to create awesome 2-seater coupes, not this unsightly 4-seater sedan.
As you already know from reading the remarks of CEO Marchionne, the Chrysler 200 was also discontinued after the 2017 model. Production began with the 2011 model (in 2010), and if you look at the sales chart, you can see that sales plummeted in the calendar year 2016, dipping below the sales from the year 2011. By 2017, only 18,125 units had been sold, after which Chrysler ceased production. The 200 had a lot of problems with them, from the engine to driving to seating. The four-cylinder engine wasn’t forceful for a car like the 200, the ride was flimsy, and the seating claustrophobia-inducing. It only gets worse after this. The overall safety ratings were terrible, both in the general category and the subcategories. Unless you get a second-hand Chrysler 200 for free, you're better off with another vehicle.
With a price as low as $20,995 for the brand-new 2017 SUV, you might've been tempted to buy the Dodge Journey. It looks okay from the outside, but the interior is where it wreaks havoc. The cabin is small for a mid-size SUV and feels rather static and stale. If you make do with that, your kids won’t forgive you for them having to ride in the congested third-row seats. Don’t ride in that seat yourself, or you'll also be cursing and blaming yourself for the rest of your life. You can’t praise the engine either; at 16 MPG, the V-6 engine gives you one of the worst fuel economies from a truck. Consumer Reports also revealed that the Journey had below average reliability.
It’s kind of cool to know that the Land Rover is produced by the same company that produces Jaguar, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC. What’s even cooler is that Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC has been owned by India’s Tata Motors since 2008. What’s not cool is that the Discovery Sport hasn’t been doing too hot in the market. Consumer Reports seem to have a lot of difficulty with the engine of this car. The four-cylinder turbo engine and transmission seem to either respond too strongly or not at all, which can scare the crap out of the driver and become a source of an unpleasant drive. The only good thing about this car is its off-road prowess. The normal drive is uncouth and painful to the legs, as the cabin is only average.
The size of the Escalade reminds me of a Hummer, which, as you probably know by now, isn't a good thing. The 2017 Escalade is unnecessarily huge and heavy from the outside—it looks just way too bulky. And perhaps, because of that, or maybe from being built the way it naturally is, it drives rather poorly, with instances of microscopic—yet tangible—jolts with stopping. Worst yet, Consumer Reports didn't find the interior to be as spacious as the exterior claims. Go in the second row, and you'll find yourself in low seats; ride in the third-row seats, and you're bound to feel discomfort—hopefully you're not very tall, or that just becomes even worse. Just to give another piece of bad news, the reliability of the car isn’t good either.
I remember the Brits buying a couple of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Xs for some of their police departments. With the shark-derived nose and the decorations of the hood, the Lancer Evolution looked aggressive and rad—and all those features became more accentuated in the police livery and lights. But the volume-selling Lancer itself didn’t make the cut. The timid exterior tries to hide the what the interior holds, but if you look at the grille and the exhaust and feel the vibe of the general appearance, you can see hints of the unsightly exterior. And once you enter the cabin, you realize the exterior was the best part because then you'd be surrounded by cheap plastic, punishingly uncomfortable and unaccommodating seats, and the unforgiving noise of the powertrain.
The Fiat 500L, owned and operated by Fiat Chrysler, started being produced in 2012. And since then, things haven’t gone well for it. According to Consumer Reports, the quasi-wagon has some good things going for it. The engine hiding inside the hood provides the car with moderate success on the road, faring well in the handling department. That, combined with a roomy cabin, might have led you to buy the Fiat 500L. But there's more to the story. It has a stiff driving experience due to the odd driving position and the flat seats. That would've been forgivable, but it only gets worse. It scored very low in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small-overlap frontal test. Combine this with the lower reliability scores, and you've got a bad car.
Marketed as a “sport hybrid coupe,” this was meant to be a one-of-a-kind car. The funny-looking car is the result of a combination of a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain and sports car elements. Being the environment-friendly electric car this is, the CR-Z was available in multiple countries after its launch. Unfortunately, the mixture of a sports car and an electric powertrain doesn’t seem to go too well. Neither is it that fuel efficient; nor is it a sports car. The back just reminds you of a Prius, and the presence of a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission) makes one a bit uncomfortable about labeling the vehicle a “sports car.” And all that’s not even mentioning that it turned into an SUV instead of a sports car, as the cargo area is very limited. Good thing Honda ditched this for something else.
I’m as surprised as you are to see a Mercedes-Benz on the list. It’s not very often that you get to see a well-known, status-proving car on the list of cars to avoid. First, I'm a bit annoyed by the semi-fake base price of $31,500. Without the optional package—which can bring the price to as high as $48,000—it’s more of a rudimentary machine than a luxury car. The basic engine is cumbersome, in general, and unwieldy at its best. The handling is agile, but sitting in the congested cabin with the loud engine is tough and a torture. It hurts to say this, but with that base price, you're just paying for the Mercedes-Benz name, not the associated comfort or style.
Here's another mistake of Dodge. The Avenger was produced from 2007 to 2014, after which the parent company decided to discontinue it. I wish there was one reason for the discontinuation. Instead, you might want to grab a bucket of popcorn while we go through the list. First of all, a sedan should have more room than the Avenger has. Go into the car, and you'll realize how small the back seat is. Try putting some of the normal items in the trunk, and you'll be able to sympathize with the owners of the old Corolla. Then, you've got the bland, if not rudimentary, cabin; it lacks some of the common features found in other 2014 models. And if you were counting on the powertrain, you only have the engine to count on—the below-average four-speed automatic transmission sticks out like a sore thumb.
This one is a big deal—not kind of, but a legitimately big deal—to the extent that a lawsuit was filed by consumers against Ford Motor Company. Both Fiesta and Focus owners joined forces to take action after they found their vehicles consistently jerking and shuddering unintentionally. Some drivers reported a delay in acceleration and deceleration; some had even been the victim of unintended acceleration at red lights. Wow! Imagine having to suffer through that in addition to dealing with everyday things. It’s unfortunate if you were a part of this fiasco. Ford has tried to provide some monetary compensation to those who were affected by the madness of the PowerShift transmission, a six-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox. Needless to say, you shouldn't be buying a second-hand Fiesta or Focus anytime soon.
The Scion iQ is one of the divisions of Toyota created to captivate the younger customers, the millennials. Unlike what you'll see further down the list, this one has a 1.3-liter I-4 rated engine mated to a CVT, generating 94 HP and 89 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy isn't too bad, and it would be a decent ride to have in a congested city like Tokyo. But you can’t really drive this on a highway without fearing for your life due to the infirm engine. While Scion boasts of four seats, it's widely agreed that the rear seats don’t get utilized with two adults in the front. Overall, it's a good thing Toyota discontinued this marque—for the good of society and Toyota itself.
This one might raise your blood pressure a bit. Some states give you a tax refund as an incentive to get more people to buy electric cars—you save money, and so does the government indirectly by saving the environment preventatively. But Mitsubishi’s electric car makes the future of electric cars look bleak, to say the least. I won’t go chastising the exterior—because it’s a compact car. But the fact remains that it only goes around 62 miles on a full battery, whereas rivals in the same category can keep you running for 75 miles. The interior provides high-riding seats—almost like you’re in an SUV. Maybe that piqued your interest in this car, or maybe it was the extremely cheap price before the tax discount, but the truth is, if you're even just of average height, you'll have trouble in this car.
Although people would like to blame the Scion iQ for the inception of another laughable car from a not-so-laughable company, I think Aston Martin ought to get the full blame. Rebadging the Scion iQ, Aston Martin started producing the Cygnet. Designed to satisfy primarily the then-current Aston Martin customers, the Cygnet also managed to comply with the emission regulations of Europe. The latter was probably the highlight of the car, as neither the then-Aston Martin customers nor regular customers bothered with the car. You probably know they stopped producing the failure within two years after the release, but perhaps what you didn't know were the actual numbers. Of the 4,000 units expected a year, only 300 were sold through its entire history. This was one of the biggest failures in the history of car sales.
Sources: edmunds.com; thecarconnection.com