The Dodge is a legendary carmaker of yore. This is the brand that gave us the RAM trucks, the Challenger, the Charger, and the Viper. And who can ever forget the Dodge Demon, right? But for all the great cars that Dodge has made, it has also made a few failures. And the thing about a car is that it isn’t always bad – sometimes, it's just mispositioned, or launched at the wrong time.
Bad marketing or bad products aside, these are 10 ten cars Dodge disappointed its buyers and the auto bazaar with.
10 1978 Dodge Challenger
Gasp, we did it, didn’t we? We started this list with a bang, and listed the Dodge Challenger at number ten. Why? The 1978 Dodge Challenger, sadly, wasn’t a Challenger. Instead, it challenged the Challenger nameplate by being a rebranded Mitsubishi Galant Lambda in disguise, with a 2.6-liter four-cylinder engine sputtering out 105 horsepower.
If this sounds disappointing, imagine the utter loss the base car buyers found themselves at with the 2.0-liter engine coughing out only 77 stunted horses. The car was a typical passenger car, and it was okay otherwise – but did they have to call it the Challenger?
9 2012 Dodge Caliber
So we can excuse a late 70s car that was bad simply because it was born in the malaise era, so brought on like a symptom with the oil embargo as the underlying disease. But what about 2012? We always believe that when engines are made by a bunch of car companies together, it ruins both the engine and the car.
Case in point: the World Gasoline Engine so built by Dodge (Chrysler), Mitsubishi and Hyundai. It ruined the already bad Caliber even more. The interior was already gloomy and reeked of cheap plastic – and the 2.0-liter engine further killed all the joy about this car. Completely lacking in caliber.
8 2013 Dodge Dart
The next year seemed to be no better for Dodge and they seemingly missed the market pulse again by launching a car that no one wanted. The Dart was a compact car, and brought around the time Fiat and Chrysler were merging. Perhaps the designer of this car knew they was about to be out of a job, and so they decided to ruin the car.
Cheap canvas seats (who puts canvas in a car?) and a compact design when no one wanted compact cars was bad enough. Add to that a six-speed transmission that kept missing the point, and it all made the Dart an abject failure. Plus if you were tall, the bucket seats were placed to torment you till you got out, and sold the car for good.
7 1981 Dodge Aries
To say that the Aries (and its sibling, the Plymouth Reliant) saved Chrysler from going under would be true. Based on the now reviled K-platform, the Dodge Aries was simply a dullard of a car. But from 1974 to a decade after, most automobile companies jetted out one bad car after another (think Ford Pinto) and people still bought them in droves.
The Dodge Aries came cheap, looked cheap and drove cheap as well but sold like hotcakes. That said, there was nothing reliable or problem-free about this car. It wheezed on highways, sputtered on country roads and jerked on city lanes till it finally broke down, and made the owner cry.
6 2016 Dodge Journey
Perhaps renaming the Journey into Odyssey would be better, because it is an odious, tedious and odyssey-like car. Much like a Herculean task, getting the Journey to power up with its base 174-horsepower-engine is nigh well impossible – unless you are a demi-god. It brims with tech, all old tech, that works fine but then so does your grandpa’s boom box but you don’t listen to music on it, do you?
The car feels dodgy for a Dodge and has lower-than-average reliability ratings. It's just an outdated car that did not deserve to be carried over to 2016.
5 1976 Dodge Aspen
We are back to the malaise era, in which so many cars were bad, people forgot what a good car looked and ran like. The Dodge Aspen sounds like a beautiful car. Seeing a brand new one at the showroom confirmed its beauty until you suddenly noticed rusty spots on it. Yep, the Aspen and its sibling, the Plymouth Volare were such abject rust buckets, they started rusting at the dealers while waiting for owners who would never buy them.
The body problems apart, the Aspen and the Volare also had electric issues and a host of other problems that all pointed to one thing: they were badly built and put together even worse.
4 1978 Dodge Omni
The malaise era continues with the 1978 dodge Omni, although at the time it sold really well. Chrysler by now was in bankruptcy protection, being bailed out by the government who had a soft corner for Detroit Three. The Omni was Dodge’s savior but honestly, we have no respect for this kind of a savior.
It may have been awarded at its launch, and also brought Dodge back from the brink, and even sold in droves; but it was a bad car. The build quality was cheap, the steering bordering on the unsafe and the safety record is best left untouched. Even then, from 1977 to 1990 – three million Omni was sold to save Dodge, but who saved the drivers?
3 1955 Dodge La Femme
The La Femme did not just offend the women of its time, it continues to offend till today. Made from Adam’s rib, this feminine car was a chip off the Dodge Royal Lancer but done up with as much pink as possible. More than women, this would have appealed to the Pink Panther. The pink-white-paint was barf-worthy enough but then they added pink tapestry seats, which tended to wear out pretty quickly.
Freebies included a rain cape, a rain hat, and an umbrella. Maybe they thought women were made of pink sugar and would melt. And finally, a pink purse with pink makeup. Women know better!
2 1957 Dodge Royal
The Dodge Royal and many other cars of its time, like the Ford Edsel ones, were these incredibly ornate rides that looked far better than they actually were. The styling logjam was brought on by Chrysler, with the Dodge Royal being one of these cars. Sadly, they only looked good. Everything else about them was a disaster.
A little rain and consumers would see water leakage in not just the trunk but anywhere and everywhere on the inside. The assembly line quality control seemed non-existent with cars being sold with missing nuts and bolts – so much so that it would rattle while being driven. Dodge was hit hard by unreliability reports because of the Royal.
1 2007-2012 Dodge Nitro
It may have lagged in the market for five years, but the Nitro was by far the biggest unmitigated disaster on wheels made by Dodge. Launched at a time when crossover vehicles weren’t the need of the hour, the Nitro would still have made it if it had been a good car. Which it wasn’t. The hiccupy-engine was slow to respond while the interiors were cramped as if they had been hit by a shrink ray.
The build quality was not just cheap but terrible and driving the Nitro felt so appalling, many preferred to walk. Sometimes a good name is just that, a name, with no matter to support it.