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30 SUV Flops Nobody Wants In Their Driveway

Vukasin Herbez February 10, 2020

SUVs are the dominant car segment nowadays. Most car companies are discontinuing sedans and concentrating solely on SUVs and trucks since it seems like only those vehicles bring profits. For almost two decades, SUV models have been on the constant rise and it looks like car buyers can’t get enough of them.

However, despite the fact that every SUV car companies introduce is a sales hit, some have failed miserably, becoming flops the moment they debuted. While producing SUVs pays off big time, car manufacturers need to offer a bit more than big wagon bodies to attract more customers. Keep reading to learn about the 30 SUVs that failed and became the laughingstock of the automotive industry.

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30. Daihatsu Rocky

The initial success of the Suzuki Samurai in the states inspired Daihatsu to offer a similar compact SUV on American soil. But even though the Rocky was a great little offroad SUV, it failed to sell as well as the company hoped it would. Yes, it was small and capable, but it lacked the power of the Jeep Wrangler.

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The main reason is that the market had slowly moved towards bigger, more luxurious models. And sadly, the Rocky was simply not enough.

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29. Land Rover Freelander SE3

Popular and common in Europe and America, the Land Rover Freelander was kind of a failure. They offered it in 2003 with modern styling and features as well as dependable off-road mechanics. So, what was wrong with the Freelander SE3?

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First, it was expensive, underpowered, and offered limited space. Second, it didn’t perform as well as the Jeep Wrangler, for example. And that is what sealed its fate. So, in 2005, Land Rover discontinued the Freelander, at least for the U.S. market.

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28. Jeep Commando

The Commando is a forgotten Jeep model they produced between 1966 and 1973. It was an upscale version of those pure off-road models that featured removable hardtops and a small truck bed behind the front seats. Also, the Commando was a practical model that drivers could use for cruising as well as carrying smaller items.

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But best of all, they could take it offroad. Drivers had a wide selection of engines, from small inline-four and six cylinders to V6 and V8 engines. AMC produced most of the engines because they owned the Jeep brand at the time. Also, Buick produced a 225 V6 called the Dauntless V6.

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27. Acura SLX

It looks like Acura didn’t have much luck with the first SUV models they produced in the ‘90s. Back in the day, Acura concentrated on taking other company’s models and re-badging them with minimal differences from the original. And that is exactly what the SLX was. Acura took the design and most of the technology from the Isuzu Trooper.

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The Trooper was a capable off-road SUV, but in the late ‘90s, it failed to pass the crash and stability tests. Because of that, it affected the Acura brand. Unfortunately, few buyers ever purchased the SLX. Acura only sold it between 1996 and 2000.

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26. Honda Passport

In the early ‘90s, Honda needed an SUV to follow the current trends. But since they didn’t have anything to offer, they were forced to use other models and re-badge them as their own. Therefore, the Passport was the first Honda SUV.

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But in reality, it was an Isuzu Rodeo with an “H” on the grille and a higher price. Despite being an adequate model for the times, it wasn’t particularly interesting. Also, it lacked in refinement and features. That’s what made sales so disappointing for the Passport.

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25. Suzuki Samurai

The Samurai sold well in the states from 1985 to 1989. But then a harsh Consumer Reports article brutally interrupted its career. It stated that the Samurai was a small death trap on wheels. The article explained that this little SUV was prone to roll-overs that had been the cause of many accidents, including some with fatal outcomes.

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Suzuki sued Consumer Reports claiming that this wasn’t true, and the case dragged on for 10 years. Eventually, they settled out of court. Although some independent reporters proved the little Samurai was a bit unstable, it was not as catastrophically lethal as Consumer Reports claimed. Unfortunately, the damage was done and they withdrew the Samurai from the U.S. market, even though they continued to sell it to the rest of the world. Today, you can find the Samurai here and there, and the controversy about its stability could add value at some point.

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24. Mahindra Thar

Mahindra based this Indian-built old-school off-roader on the old Jeeps, mostly the CJ-5 generation. This alone means it was born to be extremely capable off-road and on difficult terrain. However, it looks like this is not the case.

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Although the Thar has all the right ingredients, it fails to deliver an off-road performance. The reason is that the Mahindra has problems with quality and its components. Also, it comes with low engine power and outdated mechanics. If you plan to take it offroad, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

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23. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Until Ferrari makes an SUV, the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the closest thing you’ve got. With a 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 engine from Ferrari’s turbo V8, this is a prime example of Italian charm with brutal power in the SUV class.

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Anybody who knows something about cars will immediately recognize this car as nothing more than a hot hatch with all-wheel drive. Alfa Romeo doesn’t even try to hide its nature, so there are no press photos of the Stelvio in the dirt.

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22. Dodge Raider

Dodge was always big in the SUV and truck market, offering various models over the years. The Ramcharger SUVs and Ram trucks were popular, well-received cars. That is why it is strange that the company decided to clone the Mitsubishi Pajero as the Dodge Raider in 1987.

Photo Credit: Car Specs Guru

They produced the Dodge Raider in Japan and imported it to America as a Dodge. The only real difference between the Raider and the Pajero is the badges. It was also available in a shorter, three-door version with a 3.0 V6 engine. The Dodge Raider handled and drove like the Pajero, but sales weren’t great. So, in 1989, they discontinued the model and not many people remember it.

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21. Nissan Patrol

Today, most U.S. customers recognize the Nissan Patrol as the Armada. It’s a large, heavy luxury SUV often in a two-wheel-drive configuration. But long ago, the Patrol was a serious offroad vehicle Missan intended for heavy-duty use with the mechanics to cope with the toughest terrains.

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Although they designed it as a competitor to the FJ 40 Land Cruiser, the Patrol has evolved since the early ‘80s into a modern SUV with global appeal. Nissan redesigned its chassis and engines as well as the interior and introduced the third generation of the Patrol in 1980. It was a boxy SUV but with lots of interior room, tough mechanical components, and undeniable offroad capabilities.

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20. Saab 9-4X

The Saab 9-4X was a compact luxury crossover SUV they built on a Cadillac SRX base as a competitor in the premium field. SAAB presented the 9-4X in 2011 just before GM closed the company.

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The short production run means SAAB only built around 800 9-4Xs. That makes this SUV one of the rarest models SAAB ever made and an extremely rare sight on the roads. Most people don’t even know SAAB offered this model.

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19. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

If you think the industry has invented all the car classes it possibly could, you’re wrong. There’s always room for more concepts. One of those was Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. If you’re not familiar with this car, that’s because Nissan only offered it for sale from 2011 to 2014. Also, they limited production to small numbers.

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Nissan realized SUVs were getting more luxurious and people were seeking a more personalized product. The company decided to go a step further and present a convertible SUV. It would have the advantages of an SUV in terms of ride height, comfort, and usability with the luxury and open-air feel of a convertible. Despite the almost bespoke nature of this car and dependable Nissan technology, the CrossCabriolet flopped.

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18. Chrysler Aspen

The Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango were practically identical models with only exterior differences. However, while the Durango was quite popular, the Aspen was discontinued after just three years on the market. The problem was that Chrysler pushed the Aspen towards higher segments of the market. That meant it had to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln.

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Unfortunately, Chrysler wasn’t able to lure those customers away, so it sold poorly. Today, those big SUVs with eight seats are perfect secondhand luxury models.

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17. Suzuki XL7

Suzuki is another company that left the American market due to poor sales. One of the reasons was that it failed to position itself in the SUV market. Suzuki had much success in the ’90s with the Sidekick/Vitara models, but the follow-up versions weren’t so successful.

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When Suzuki presented it in 2007, the XL7 was a bigger, more spacious model, yet it failed to attract enough car buyers. Due to its strange design and lack of interesting features, the XL7 wasn’t popular, so they discontinued it a few years later.

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16. Lincoln Aviator

The idea behind the Lincoln Aviator was a good one, but when Ford became too greedy, it ruined the whole deal. The Aviator was Lincoln’s luxury version of the popular Explorer. The Ford marketing strategists thought that if the buyers were willing to pay extra on luxury versions of the Explorer, they would be willing to pay even more for a proper Lincoln product.

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However, it turned out that they were wrong. The Aviator sold poorly, so they withdrew it from the market.

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15. Isuzu VehiCross

Behind this strange name was an even stranger vehicle Isuzu only sold in a three-door specification with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and automatic transmission. Isuzu designed the VehiCross to be a modern, even futuristic off-roader, giving it the best all-terrain technology and components.

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But, in 1997 when the VehiCross debuted, the market didn’t react the way the company expected. Most consumers thought the vehicle was strange-looking and even ugly. The VehiCross came in crossover form, but it was a capable, high-quality off-roader. Unfortunately, U.S. sales were slow, so in 2001, the company killed the VehiCross.

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14. GMC Envoy XUV

The GMC Envoy is a fairly popular model and through the years, it sold well, even on some export markets. However, the XUV version GM introduced in 2004 was a different case. Somebody at GM thought it would be a great idea to combine an SUV with a pickup truck. Soon, they presented the XUV with its removable roof panel and opening tailgate.

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While the XUV was more practical, it was more expensive and heavier. Therefore, most car buyers didn’t get the idea. GM discontinued it just after one year in production.

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13. Mazda Navajo

The original Ford Explorer from the early ’90s was tremendously influential and a popular model despite its questionable stability.

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Back then Ford had an interest in Mazda. The marketing managers thought they could direct some sales to Mazda by introducing the Navajo, a three-door Explorer with a Mazda badge on the grille. But for some reason, the Navajo wasn’t all that successful, so it’s largely forgotten today.

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12. Isuzu Axiom

In the early 2000s, many crossover SUVs started emerging on the market. Most car companies offered these models, but after a while, the classic SUV form proved to be dominant with consumers. Isuzu was struggling to find its place in the market, so they played the crossover SUV card with the Axiom introduced in 2002.

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Despite being a solid model with lots of usable features, the Axiom failed to capture the imagination of the crossover SUV-buying public. After just three years on the market, Isuzu discontinued the model in 2004.

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11. Suzuki X-90

How about a two-seater, two-door SUV with compact dimensions and a removable T-Top? Does that sound insane? That’s exactly what the Suzuki X-90 was when it was debuted in 1995. Powered by a 95 HP 1.6-liter four-cylinder, the X-90 came in rear-wheel drive as standard. Or, buyers could opt for the all-wheel-drive model with limited interior and trunk space.

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Suzuki officially sold the car in America and even managed to sell 7,000 of them. However, neither the buyers nor the motoring press understood what Suzuki wanted to say with this model. After all, it wasn’t an off-roader and it wasn’t a roadster, either.

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10. Kia Borrego

Kia presented the Borrego in 2009, but the timing proved to be the reason for the poor reception. The Borrego was a full-size luxury SUV with V6 and V8 power they introduced just as the recession began.

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Despite being less expensive than similar models from its competitors, the Borrego wasn’t that good or even economical. The market and motoring journalists were harsh when evaluating this car. So in just one year, the Borrego was history.

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9. Pontiac Torrent

Introduced in 2006, the Torrent was one of the last attempts to make Pontiac profitable and save it from its demise. The car was the twin brother to the Chevrolet Equinox and wasn’t that bad. However, with little money for styling improvements and a dull interior, the Torrent didn’t appeal to customers.

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Pontiac needed a game-changing model, but unfortunately, the Torrent wasn’t exciting or fresh either. Sadly, Pontiac discontinued it Torrent along with the rest of the Pontiac lineup in 2010.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

8. Acura ZDX

Honda’s luxury division, Acura, is famous for its elegant cars, powerful engines, and quality. But did you know the company is also famous for the strange and ugly model they called the ZDX? Acura offered it for just three years as its attempt to present the combinations of a sedan, a crossover and an SUV. It ended up being neither of the three.

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Despite the smart technical layout, decent power, and interior features, car buyers simply didn’t like the ZDX. By the time they discontinued it, Acura had managed to sell just 7,200 of them.

Photo Credit: Auto Week

7. Plymouth Trailduster

In the late ’70s, Plymouth decided to try its luck in the off-road market with the Trailduster, a two-door, all-wheel-drive vehicle that was identical to the Dodge Ramcharger. The idea was viable, and the Trailduster was an attractive truck. Basically, it was identical to the Ramcharger but came with different trim and details.

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To promote the product in that market, Plymouth even offered an all-wheel drive at a lower price with more equipment than Dodge. But, sales were sluggish, so after a couple of years, they discontinued the Trailduster although the Ramcharger stayed on the market.

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6. Dodge Nitro

There was a time, not too long ago, when consumers considered most Dodge products to be of poor quality. Consumers criticized the interior and materials as well as the lack of space. One of the best examples is the 2007 to 2012 Dodge Nitro. When Dodge presented it, the Nitro looked like the right car for the moment.

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But sadly, it wasn’t. The interior was cramped, small and uncomfortable. The interior materials consisted of plastic and cloth, which was below the standards of the class. The power and the performance were also bad compared to the other models in its class. Unfortunately, despite looking fast and tough, the Nitro was none of those things.

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5. Jeep Compass

Jeep had a unique position in the SUV market. It was the brand with a whole model range consisting of SUVs and similar vehicles. However, that’s why the Compass was even more disappointing. With a front end that looked like an old Grand Cherokee, the Compass had outdated engines as well as a poor fit and finish.

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Most drivers are glad that Jeep is finally back on track with its current models. But they are also happy they don’t have to see the Compass anymore.

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4. Nissan Juke

The Nissan Juke proved to be quite popular among younger drivers. Nissan envisioned it as a car for those customers who needed a compact, urban, crossover with decent handling. However, the main problem was the design. The Nissan Juke looked like a squished rubber ball with four wheels and four doors. Some motoring journalists even called it a “pile of melted plastic.”

Photo Credit: Auto Car

Just look at it and you’ll have to agree on this one. Even if the Juke was a decent driving car, it was still so ugly, most drivers would be embarrassed to be seen in one. So, that is why most car fans are glad it is gone.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

3. Fiat 500X

The Fiat 500 is a cute little car, especially if you have the Abarth version. The 500L is bigger and a bit more practical, but it’s not particularly nice or dynamic to drive. Sadly, the 500X is even worse. It looks like a compact SUV, but it doesn’t have anything going on. Although it is a two-wheel-drive vehicle, it’s sluggish and odd-looking.

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For those reasons, it isn’t a surprise that the 500X is a flop. It’s a terrible value for the money and doesn’t offer any real advantages over other cars. Also, it is no surprise that Fiat has withdrawn the 500X from the U.S. market, as well.

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2. Mercedes EQC

If you don’t know about this car, it is because you haven’t seen it on the road yet. The chances are high that you probably never will. This is the latest electric SUV from Mercedes and an immediate sales flop.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

Although it is well-designed and equipped as well as quite a capable car, this Mercedes is nothing like the rest of the SUV lineup. It’s also expensive, which is why they only sold it in the single digits. You can expect the company to discontinue this car soon.

Photo Credit: Auto Week

1. Ford Flex

Although the Flex didn’t sell as well as Ford hoped it would, it’s still a great crossover-station wagon model. It features retro styling and an enormous interior space with nice features. Ford included powerful engines and even an optional all-wheel-drive system.

The Flex has a recognizable boxy shape and loads of usable space. Buyers get an excellent option list and a two-tone exterior. It was a capable vehicle and usable, thanks to the wagon-like body. It’s a shame that the market didn’t recognize how good it really was.

Photo Credit: The Car Connection

These are 20 serious SUV flops nobody wants to park in their driveway. Have you ever owned one of these disappointments? Although promising, these vehicles didn’t have what it takes to steal the hearts of American drivers.

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