The 20 Most Disappointing SUVs Of The Last Three Decades

If you think about it, the SUV is probably what you want and what you need in a car. You may want a car with more height and greater capability. On the other hand, you may also need more passenger capacity and a lot more space for your stuff.

It's no wonder that SUVs, along with pickup trucks, continue to dominate the market in the U.S. and several other parts of the world. In fact, according to Edmunds, SUVs are expected to account for as much as half of the market share in the U.S. for 2019. That also means it would double its market share in the country since 2008.

Meanwhile, during an interview with Quartz, LMC Automotive leader of the global vehicle forecasting Jeff Schuster also declared, "SUVs are the growth engine behind the global auto market and we think there is little chance of this trend reversing." Moreover, Schuster also noted that SUVs would most likely account for 40 percent of the global market by 2025. He further explained, "And from now until then, SUVs will account for nearly half of all new vehicles and redesigns."

To respond to this shift in market dynamics, many automakers have decreased the production of sedans in favor of developing more SUV models. Hence, you now see more compact, midsize and large SUV models available in the market.

The truth is SUVs are a practical choice for any car buyer. It doesn't matter if you're single or starting a family. Meanwhile, these cars are also great for driving around the city or going on regular road trips.

As awesome as SUVs can be, however, it is also worth noting that there are some models which have been quite disappointing over the years. And in case you are exploring the used car market, here are models that you should think about avoiding altogether:

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20 1996 Land Rover Discovery

via bringatrailer.com

The Land Rover Discovery is a midsize SUV with a pretty long history. In fact, records state that the Discovery Series 1 began production way back in 1989. Unfortunately, things did not always go smoothly for this SUV. In fact, the 1996 Discovery was particularly problematic.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were as many as four recalls on this car along with one investigation. Meanwhile, there are also 94 complaints on the car, some of which pertain to the car’s service brakes. One of the complaints stated, “Service brakes, hydraulic. Under normal braking abs is activated when applying brakes and causes brakes to vibrate/pulse and make it extremely difficult to stop requiring pumping of the brake pedal.”

19 1997 Jeep Wrangler

via cargurus.com

According to Jeep, the very first Wrangler came off the assembly line back in 1987. The Wrangler was meant to replace Jeep’s CJ series.

Unfortunately, this SUV would run into some serious problems just 10 years later with its 1997 model. In fact, according to records from the NHTSA, the 1997 Wrangler received as many as seven recalls and 449 complaints. Of these, as many as 119 referred to the car’s engine. In fact, one stated, “Jeep suddenly lost power on highways while going 55 mph +, causing a near accident while trying to coast through lanes of traffic to the median. After 10-15 minutes, I restarted the Jeep and it ran fine, but usually about 20-50 miles, it will occur again. Very hazardous.”

18 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe

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The Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV that has been around since the 1990s. It’s often recognized as a practical choice for large families and big groups since it can accommodate seven to eight people.

If you’re in the market for a used Tahoe, however, you may want to consider foregoing the 1999 model. According to the NHTSA, the 1999 Tahoe has been the subject of three recalls and five investigations. Moreover, there are also 568 complaints on this SUV. Of these, as many as 238 pertain to “service brakes, hydraulics.” One complaint stated, “The contact was approaching a traffic stop at 5 mph and applied the brakes. A loud noise then emitted as the vehicle began to lunge forward unexpectedly.”

17 2001 Ford Expedition

via common-knowledge.co

Just like the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Ford Expedition is another full-size SUV that has been in the market for years. Unfortunately, the 2001 model stands out for all the wrong reasons. In fact, according to the NHTSA, the 2001 Expedition has been the subject of 10 recalls and six investigations. Even worse, there are also as many as 600 complaints made against this SUV.

Of the complaints, 129 pertains to the engine and engine cooling while 121 refers to the Expedition’s electrical system. Meanwhile, there are also 101 logged complaints regarding vehicle speed control. As you can see, owning a 2001 Expedition would mean spending on repairs constantly.

16 2002 Ford Explorer

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The Ford Explorer is a midsize SUV that was reportedly introduced back in 1990. According to Motor Trend, the Explorer was meant to replace the Bronco II in Ford’s lineup.

Unfortunately, just a decade later, the Explorer would run into problems with its 2002 model. In fact, according to the NHTSA, there are as many as 14 recalls on the 2002 Explorer. Even worse, as many as 3,587 complaints had also been received regarding this SUV.

Of the complaints, a whopping 1,571 pertain to the powertrain. Most of these claimed they experience a sudden transmission failure while on the road with the vehicle.

15 2002 Toyota RAV4

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Today, when you’re looking for a compact SUV, one of the most recommended models is the Toyota RAV4. This SUV gives a pretty decent performance. It also has a relatively cheap price tag compared to other similar SUV models.

Despite good reviews today, it’s still worth noting that there are certain RAV4 year models that have been quite problematic. Case in point is the 2002 RAV4 that has ended up with 545 complaints, according to the NHTSA. Of these complaints, it seems the majority refers to the car’s power train. One complaint stated, “Car went into neutral while negotiating an intersection on several occasions [sic].”

14 2006 Lincoln Navigator

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The Lincoln Navigator is a full-size luxury SUV that was first produced back in 1998. According to Auto Evolution, five generations of the Navigator have made it to the market since then.

Of its year models, it seems the 2006 Navigator received relatively more complaints. According to the NHTSA, 13 of the 56 complaints are pertaining to the engine and engine cooling. In addition, there are also eight more complaints regarding the engine alone. Meanwhile, the 2006 Navigator has also been the subject of three recalls. Such recalls were made because of the car’s tire, park pawl guide plate, and wiper motor grease.

13 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

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The Hyundai Santa Fe is a three-row SUV that was first introduced in 2001, according to Motor Trend. Over the years, this SUV model has proven to have pretty good staying power in the market. However, it doesn’t mean that the car has not had its share of criticism.

Case in point is the 2007 Santa Fe that has been the subject of 616 complaints, according to the NHTSA. Of the complaints, a whopping 113 pertained to the 2007 Santa Fe’s fuel/propulsion system. Meanwhile, 79 referred to the electrical system while 64 pertained to the car’s electronic stability control. There are also 32 complaints regarding the engine and 16 regarding the engine and engine cooling.

12 2007 Chevrolet Suburban

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According to Popular Mechanics, then Chevrolet Suburban holds the record for the longest-running nameplate in production. Chevrolet has been rolling out the Suburban since 1935.

Over the years, the Suburban has also had its share of issues. Most recently, the 2007 Suburban was subject to two investigations, two recalls, and 408 complaints. The investigations conducted focused on “non-crash engine compartment fires.” Regarding this, the NHTSA stated, “According to GM, a short circuit on the printed circuit board for the windshield washer fluid heater module may overheat the control-circuit ground wire. This may cause other electrical features to malfunction, create an odor or cause smoke and in rare cases, it may cause a fire.”

11 2007 Honda CR-V

via automobilesreview.com

The Honda CR-V is another compact SUV model that has already been in the market for years.

And while the general impression of this SUV is pretty decent, it must be noted that its 2007 model proved to be quite problematic. According to the NHTSA, the 2007 CR-V ended up becoming the subject of eight recalls and 783 complaints. Of the complaints, 262 were made regarding the airbags, 241 pertained to the electrical system while 225 were made regarding the car’s latches, locks or linkages. Of the electrical system complaints, one stated, “While driving 40 mph and approaching a stop, the vehicle lost power without warning. The failure occurred intermittently.”

10 2007 Audi Q7

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Overall, the Audi Q7 has always had a solid reputation for being a remarkable and reliable SUV. Hence, you may find it surprising that this model made it to our list of most disappointing SUVs.

Well, the 2007 Q7 made it to the list because it has been the subject of three recalls, according to the NHTSA. Of these recalls, the most notable is a fuel leak issue on the vehicle. According to the owner notification letter, “On certain vehicles, the fuel pump flange may develop fine cracks or fissures, which could result in a fuel leak. Leaking fuel, in the presence of an ignition source, could lead to a fire causing injury and/or damage to property.”

9 2008 Ford Escape

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According to Auto Evolution, the Ford Escape was first produced way back in 2000. Since then, we have seen five generations of this SUV model on the road.

Of its year models, the 2008 Escape has proven to be most problematic. In fact, according to the NHTSA, this car has been the subject of as many as 2,043 complaints. Not to mention, six recalls were made on this SUV as well.

Of the complaints, most were made regarding the car’s steering. One complaint stated, “Steering wheel vibrates, chatters, and moves on its own accord while the vehicle is stationary with the steering wheel left in a neutral position (no force applied left or right).”

8 2008 Buick Enclave

via topspeed.com

The Buick Enclave is a midsize luxury SUV that was first produced back in 2007, according to Money Inc. Unfortunately, this model ran into some trouble soon after. In fact, the 2008 Enclave became the subject of five recalls, one investigation, and 468 complaints, according to the NHTSA.

Similar to the 2007 Chevy Suburban, investigation on the 2008 Enclave was also done regarding “non-crash engine compartment fires.” As stated in the report, “A short circuit on the printed circuit board for the windshield washer fluid heater module may overheat the control-circuit ground wire. This may cause other electrical features to malfunction, create an odor or cause smoke and in rare cases, it may cause a fire.”

7 2009 Dodge Journey

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The Dodge Journey is a midsize SUV that has been around since 2009, according to NADA Guides. Unfortunately, the car’s debut did not go as well as planned. In fact, the 2009 Journey became the subject of eight recalls, two investigations, and 1,480 complaints, according to the NHTSA.

Of the complaints, 755 pertained to the car’s electrical system. According to one complaint, “While driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle slowed down, and the brake lights illuminated. The contact stopped the vehicle and noticed smoke outside the front passenger side. The vehicle shut off and the instrument panel blacked out; however, the windshield wipers did not stop.”

6 2013 Ford Flex

via motortrend.com

According to Fortune, the Ford Flex was first introduced back in 2008 as a seven-passenger SUV. In the beginning, Ford was optimistic about the Flex’s ability to gain strong sales. Unfortunately, it only 38,717 units during its first full year. Several years later, the 2013 Flex was also plagued with problems.

In fact, the 2013 Flex became the subject of five recalls and 365 complaints according to the NHTSA. In 2013, a recall was ordered because the car’s “the fuel delivery module may develop a crack, allowing fuel to leak.” The following year, another recall was done due to “loss of electric steering power assist.” Meanwhile, in 2016, a recall was also issued because of a “fuel pump malfunction.”

5 2013 Nissan Rogue

via zeiglermaserati.com

The Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover SUV that first entered production back in 2007, according to The News Wheel. Overall, the Rogue has done pretty well in the market. However, it is also worth noting that its 2013 model was quite disappointing.

This is because the 2013 Rogue became the subject of one major recall, according to the NHTSA. The recall was initiated due to an electrical short issue. According to the notification letter sent to owners, “A mixture of snow/water and salt carried onto the driver side floor area can seep into the carpet near the harness connector area and eventually cause an electric short to occur. This short may lead to connector damage, possibly causing a fire.”

4 2015 Subaru Forester

via momentcar.com

The Subaru Forester is a compact SUV model that has been around since 1997. Overall, the Forester is known for great reliability and practicality. However, it must still be noted that its 2015 model has been particularly problematic.

In fact, according to the NHTSA, the 2015 Forester has been the subject of two recalls and 216 complaints. Of the complaints, 60 were made regarding the engine. One complaint stated, “Driving at highway speeds when the engine suddenly loses power and the car begins to rapidly decelerate. Engine RPMs climb, but no power is available. Have to race to the shoulder to get out of traffics way, where eventually the car will start and drive normally.”

3 Tesla Model X

via theweek.com.uk

It’s safe to say that much was expected from the Model X, Tesla’s very first SUV model. This electric SUV was expected to change the game and even conquer the SUV market. Well, in some ways, it did. However, reviews of the Model X soon proved to be more negative than favorable.

In fact, according to the Cheat Sheet, there are three major problems that continue to persist in this vehicle. The first major issue concerns the car’s falcon wing doors. According to Consumer Reports, one owner reported that the said doors “failed to close, then later didn't sense an overhang and bonked into it, leaving a ding in the door.” Meanwhile, problems have also been reported regarding the Model X’s rear seating, fit and finish.

2 2016 Hyundai Tucson

via autoweek.com

The Hyundai Tucson is a compact SUV that has been around since 2005. According to NADA Guides, the automaker Hyundai had designed the Tucson based on its Elantra sedan.

Unfortunately, not all reviews of this SUV are good, especially when you consider the 2006 Tucson. According to the NHTSA, this model has been the subject of four recalls and 466 complaints. Of these, 341 were made regarding the SUV’s power train. One of the complaints stated, “while driving at unknown speeds, the accelerator pedal was applied and the vehicle hesitated, shuttered, and failed to move. There were no warning indicators illuminated.”

1 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

via autoguide.com

It’s safe to say that the Alfa Romeo Stelvio came with great expectations. As Alfa Romeo once stated, the “Stelvio is here to rewrite the history of the SUV category, with an emotional new twist.” Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.

For starters, the Stelvio has proven to be quite a headache to own. In fact, according to Auto Evolution, this SUV ended up getting recalled four times in just four months last year. One of the recalls was issued due to a possible water leak issue in the body control modules. Meanwhile, another recall was made because the liftgate could open while the car was running under three miles per hour.

Reference: Edmunds, Quartz, NHTSA, Auto Evolution, Motor Trend & Popular Mechanics

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