When it comes to Honda, most people think of a very reliable brand. And it is very reliable, for the most part. What the cognoscenti love about this brand, and most Japanese brands, is that these cars are very modular under the hood, and can be build up to a big degree. It’s not just Honda that falls under the reliable title, but Toyota and Nissan combine with Honda to make the JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) so dependable.
Even so, the mighty do fall sometimes. And when they fall, they fall hard. Amidst all the good and the great cars that Honda makes are these 20 bad cars that no one should drive because they lack plenty of performance and have many other niggling issues as well. The slight doubts that they inject into what would otherwise be one of the world's best brands typically come from issues in design and manufacturing, as well as engineering choices that leave buyers completely confused.
Honda cars have been making the top-10 lists just about everywhere when it comes to reliability. It is Japan's second-largest automobile company and also owns 100% of the Genesis marque and 32.8% of Kia Motors. It is the eighth-largest automobile manufacturer in the world as well, so it’s not as if these 20 disasters of a car managed to shake the company's standing.
But these cars were not up to the kind of quality one expects from Honda, and proved to be disappointments for the people who trusted the Honda brand and bought these cars.
20 2007 Honda "That’s"
The Honda That’s was known as a Kei-car, the smallest Japanese car category, and was basically designed to exploit and comply with local taxes and insurance regulations. This city car had a rectangular design and a very high ceiling.
The body of this five-door mini-hatchback was built on its cousin Honda Life.
Plus, it also borrowed its engine from the Honda Life that had a fairly successful run in the Japanese market. It carried a 0.66-liter three-cylinder engine under its hood that was mated to a three-speed automatic transmission and came with the option of a turbocharger and an all-wheel drive as well. However, the performance of this small car was never on par with its rivals and Honda eventually had to take it off their K-car’s lineup.
19 1998 Honda Capa
The Honda Capa lived a short life of four years from 1998 till 2002. It used a 1.5-liter SOHC inline-four unit as its heart that was tied to a CVT or a four-speed automatic transmission. This Honda D-Series engine could cough up a modest 98 horsepower. The Capa was armed with Honda’s full-time four-wheel-drive system and Brake Assist feature. This mini MPV was best suited for small nuclear families who used it strictly for in-city everyday driving. But its uninviting design and packaging proved highly unfortunate for Honda. Also, buyers had plenty of options to choose from on the market at that time and ultimately switched to other brands.
18 2002 Honda Civic Si
The Honda Civic Si is a full-featured sport compact variant of the Honda Civic (Si stands for “Sports Injected”). The Si has had a successful run since its first launch in 1984 and is in its tenth generation with the debut of its 2017 iteration.
However, its seventh generation 2002 model is dubbed as the worst of the batch.
This Euro-designed Si was a hatchback that used a K-Series engine rated at 160 horsepower and 132 ft-lb of torque. It weighed around 150 lb more than the outgoing model and was slow in acceleration. This Si performed underwhelmingly against its rivals and was just about as bad as bad can get.
17 1991 Acura NSX Automatic
The Acura NSX’s aerodynamic design and cabin styling were inspired by fighter planes. That sounds great and makes sense, as the NS-X name stands for New, Sportscar eXperimental. The 1991 NSX carried a 3.0-liter, all-aluminum V6 powerhouse mounted in a mid-engine location.
In 1991, it also became the first mass-produced car in the world to wear an all-aluminum body.
The overall package of this classic beauty looked stunning except that it had issues with the clutch and transmission. For an initial few years the NSX fared well with the buyers but after that, the sales figures went plummeting down. Finally, in 2005 it was curtains for this first generation NSX.
16 2013 Honda Fit EV
The Honda Fit EV is a concept electric car that debuted in the world car bazaar in 2010. Unlike its name, the car didn’t fit the needs of its prospective buyers. The Honda Fit EV was a lease-only car and the buyers had to shell out $389 per month for three years if they wanted to drive it. Plus, the EV had limited availability in select few cities. At the same time, Nissan Leaf was leasing more than two thousand EV in a month. Dethroning the Nissan Leaf and becoming the leader in the segment was like a dream that never came true and so the Fit EV bid adieu in a blink of an eye.
15 1996 Acura SLX
The SLX was an advanced and re-badged version of Isuzu Trooper that Acura sold exclusively in the domestic market from 1996 till 1999. The SUV carried a massive 3.5-liter DOHC V6 mill under its hood but even that failed to attract and hold buyers. The mid-size SUV was marred with poor sales from the moment itwas launched. The SUV had issues with the muffler, shock absorbers, and a rear door that was difficult to lock and unlock. Plus, it is quite underpowered for an off-roader. Unfortunately, negative media coverage stating that the SUV has a tendency to roll over at high speeds and in turns made things even worse. It left domestic shores in 1999.
14 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid
The Honda Accord Hybrid hit the streets in 2005 and was available through the 2007 model years. The car was dubbed as a remarkable feat of engineering but it's reputation soon diminished. The Hybrid used a 3.0-liter SOHC i-VTEC V6 engine and a 144V electric motor to give a combined output of 271 horsepower and 332 ft-lb worth of torque. It was exceptional at first, but it failed to deliver a better fuel economy unlike other ones in the market. Plus, the new technology came at a steeper price and buyers were not ready to shell out more to buy a car that offered lower fuel economy than other options.
13 1992 Acura Vigor
In the domestic market, the Acura Vigor was measured as the swankier avatar of the Honda Accord. This premium sedan lived through three happy generations that ran from 1981 to 1995.
However, when the Acura Vigor arrived in the domestic market in 1991, it faced a very unique challenge.
The car was ideal for an average height human but could not fit in tall people. Because of its low seats, buyers who were 6’2” or more found it difficult to get in and out of the Vigor. Plus, issues with the electrical system and lack of features inside the cabin added to its woes, so it was a failure in the domestic market.
12 2011 Honda CR-Z
The Honda CR-Z was pompously positioned by Honda as a sports-hybrid coupe in the car bazaar; and was sold between 2010 and 2016. It was a joyful ride for two people and became an overnight success. The CR-Z was the fourth most-sold hybrid for the first two months after its debut in August 2010. But many drivers discovered too late that the CR-Z was too slothful for its steep price tag. It had a distressingly low ride height that usually resulted in missing dangerous and potentially fatal blind spots for the drivers. With this example, Honda was unable to marry a true level of performance with a hybrid powertrain.
11 1990 Honda Prelude Si 4WS
This two-door sport coupe reigned supreme between 1983 and 1987, and overall had a fairly successful 23-year production run across five generations from 1978 till 2001. The Honda Prelude Si 4WS was equipped with world’s first four-wheel steering system plus a host of innovative features quite ahead of its time.
It also featured the model's iconic pop-up headlights.
However, the third generation models spanning between 1988 and 1991 somehow saw a decline in the sales of the car. In spite of being a car that outperformed every other car on the slalom in 1987, the 1990 Prelude didn’t fare well in the market.
10 1993 Honda Civic del Sol
The Honda Civic del Sol arrived in the market to take on Mazda MX-5 Miata head-on. Instead, it ended up making the Miata's maker, Mazda, much merrier. The meaning of del Sol is “of the sun” in the Spanish language. In comparison to its rivals, this two-seater lacked sporty looks and was booed for a leaking Targa top. The car had strong bones and sizable power but it still failed to make a dent in the Miata’s market share, in large part due to its front-wheel drive layout. Perhaps the del Sol tried too hard to win the hearts of its prospective buyers. In 1997, Honda put a halt on the production of del Sol and no one really missed it!
9 2003 Honda Avancier
The first generation Honda Avanciar was a five-door, mid-size station wagon built on the Accord platform, like a few other cars in Honda’s lineup. It hit the streets in 1999 and lived through 2003 model year.
Armed with 2.3-liter, inline-four VTEC engine tied to a four-speed automatic, this wagon thrashed out a healthy 148 horsepower.
However, this long, drawn-out Accord lacked aesthetic quality and its size was too large, making it difficult to maneuver and park. Honda also had an option of a hard-hitting 3.0-liter VTEC V6 powerplant to convince buyers but it was considered too bulky for the Avancier. Thus, Honda ceased its production by 2003.
8 1994 Honda Passport
The Honda Passport debuted in the flourishing SUV marketplace to lock horns with the leading Ford Explorer in 1993. It is also dubbed as Honda’s first ticket in the domestic SUV arena. Till now, Honda was not convinced about the concept of SUVs in the car bazaar. So they rebadged the Isuzu Rodeo, instead of creating their own brand new product, and added a few hundred bucks to the sticker price to get on the bandwagon. Sadly, they couldn’t even cash in on the success of Isuzu Rodeo. In spite of hiding a robust V6 mill under its belly, the Honda Passport left the auto bazaar in less than a decade.
7 2005 Honda Element
The Honda Element was a boxy-looking compact SUV from Honda’s stable. This characteristic design was strategic for Honda to create a new space in the crossover SUV segment of the domestic market. The interior and the four seats were tailored to increase cargo space in the car. The Element was tall and its back seats could be lounged, folded or even removed to create a massive flatbed on the rear. But the car was prone to catching fire due to an electrical short circuit. To maintain its goodwill in the car bazaar, Honda decided to end its production in 2011 after a nine-year production run.
6 2010 Honda Insight
The Honda Insight is a hybrid-electric model that was launched way back in 1999. The first generation was a two-door liftback that went into production until 2006. It is still rated as one of the most fuel-conscious vehicles in the hybrid turf. Its second-generation model was launched in 2010 after a gap of almost four years.
Sadly, it looked very similar to the Toyota Prius that had made a solid mark in the hybrid segment already.
This dismal knock-off Prius didn’t go well with the buyers, who found that it couldn’t even come close to beating the better Prius’s fuel economy, either.
5 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour
As the name suggests, the Honda Accord Crosstour was a mid-size crossover that was introduced for the domestic market in 2010. Buyers were fascinated with crossovers in this era as the form was suited best to their needs and desires.
It was pegged against established giants like the Subaru Outback and Toyota Venza who literally dominated the crossover SUV segment.
The car was overall a great package but even so, the Crosstour’s sales figures nose-dived in just one year of production. Honda gave it a mid-life facelift in 2013 to revive sales, to no avail. The way the del Sol failed to put a dent on the sales of Mazda Miata, the Crosstour perished in the similar fashion against the Subaru Outback and Toyota Venza.
4 1989 Honda Concerto
The Concerto was a by-product of Honda and Austin Rover Group. It was also dubbed as Rover 400 or 200 as it borrowed its chassis from this Rover Series of small family cars. It was available from 1988 to 1994 in basically two body types, a five-door sedan or a five-door hatchback. This C-segment Honda offering came with four engine-displacement choices – a 1.4-liter, a 1.5-liter, a 1.6-liter, and a 1.8-liter; all were inline-four designs. However, these units needed more upkeep than their Rover colleagues. Plus, issues with the functioning of ABS and its proneness to rust marred its sales gradually, before it became an outcast by 1994.
3 1995 Honda Odyssey
Also dubbed as “Oddy”, this was Honda’s first offering in the minivan bazaar. It was an ever-evolving minivan market that was first defined by Chrysler in the mid-80s, and the foundation was laid so strong that they still ruled the segment.
The 1995 Odyssey looked like an Accord that was stretched horizontally and vertically and somehow given the shape of a minivan.
Perhaps, that’s how a layman would describe its appearance. It was massively underpowered in comparison with the Chrysler minivans that hid heavy-duty V6 mills under their bellies. Honda took three years to realize this and came back with a stronger second-generation version to take on Chrysler in 1999.
2 1997 Acura CL 2.2
The Acura CL was the first Acura that was indigenously developed. It hit the markets in 1997 and was a mid-size coupe that was offered in three engine configurations – a 2.2-liter inline-four, a 2.3-liter inline-four, and a 3.0-liter V6. The CL 2.2 was packed with all the necessary gadgets and features that one could ask for in that era. However, the warning lights and the power band functioned erratically. It was also considered heavier, slower, and more costly than its precursor, the Acura Legend. Sooner or later, people realized that the CL 2.2 offered weak performance and that there were far better options available to be explored.
1 2004 Honda Edix
The Honda Edix or Honda FR-V is a multipurpose vehicle—an MPV—that debuted in 2004 in the auto bazaar. It was one of the only two players that offered a six-seat configuration in a compact minivan body, with two rows of seats that can accommodate three people in each row.
Plus, the five-door hatch offered 32 different seating arrangements that offered a plenty of space inside the cabin.
The Edix would have been a perfect choice for nuclear families that lived in jam-packed cities and also ventured out on weekends trips, and everything was fine about the car except its uncharacteristic design that didn’t appeal the prospective buyers.