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40 Cars That Went Down As The Worst Vehicles In Auto History

Cameron EittreimJuly 21, 2021

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28: GM EV1 (1997)

Believe it or not, General Motors was ahead of the curve when it came to electric cars, and then their program just vanished. The EV1 was one of the first mass-produced electric cars that gained a mainstream following. Unfortunately, GM deemed the program to be a threat to the sales of their full-size SUV models and canceled the program altogether. They trashed practically every EV1 ever manufactured instead of selling the cars at the end of leases.

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The EV1 is probably one of the most evident stories of greed in the automotive industry. Consumers were hungry for a functional electric car, and the EV1 was as close to perfect as you could have gotten back then. Sadly, the GM EV1 never managed to see the new millennium and even spawned the hit documentary film.

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27: Plymouth Prowler (1997)

The 1990s were a time of innovation at Chrysler like never before and the company was striking hit after hit with consumers. The Plymouth brand was sort of a sore spot because it didn’t have a brand identity like Dodge and Chrysler did, which meant a halo car was needed. Inspired by a Chip Foose design, the Prowler looked like every bit the retro hot rod. The only problem was that Chrysler forgot to give it power and stuck a standard-issue 3.5L V6 under the hood.

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Needless to say, consumers weren’t impressed and the Prowler became more of a showroom piece than anything. Sales were low and Plymouth was eventually discontinued in 2001, at which point the Prowler became a Chrysler for a few more stagnant years. Had Chrysler incorporated a V8 powerplant, the Prowler could have been a smash hit.

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26: Ford Excursion (2000)

Ford never had a direct competitor for the Chevrolet Suburban and consumers were hungry for something that was a tad bit larger than an Expedition. The interesting thing about the Excursion was that it featured the same Triton V10 as the Super Duty pickup truck. The design of the Excursion was fairly basic and the price tag was extremely high, which drove a lot of consumers away.

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Gas mileage was also horrible and the Excursion was released right on the heels of the 2008 economic recession. Interestingly enough, the Excursion has become highly sought after on the used car market, with consumers flocking toward the diesel version of the truck. A used Excursion can potentially set you back quite a bit of money for a clean example.

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25: Jaguar X-Type (2001)

The Jaguar X-Type is a fun-to-drive and well-designed car if you can find one that still runs. The X-Type was a notorious failure for Ford, as the company owned the Jaguar brand. The problem with the X-Type was that it wasn’t a Jaguar at all, instead, the platform was used in many other Ford vehicles. Reliability on the X-Type was downright awful, and consumers would spend more time in the shop than on the road.

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Repair costs for the X-Type were also very high, which didn’t sit well with a lot of consumers. You couldn’t buy a brand new X-Type without coming back to the dealership time and time again. There was a limited-edition V8 model of the X-Type but this too had a lot of reliability issues. The value of the car on the used market is barely anything and parts are expensive.

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24: Pontiac Aztek (2001)

GM has been at the forefront of a lot of segments in the auto industry. The company was attempting to embrace future crossovers with the Pontiac Aztek, but what happened was the car was shunned. From a design standpoint, the Aztek is known as one of the ugliest cars ever made.

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From the awkward shape to the abundance of body cladding, the Aztek is ugly and underpowered to boot. The Aztek was a monumental failure for GM and cost the company millions of dollars. Seemingly odd enough, though, the Aztek found a second life as a collector’s item after the hit show “Breaking Bad” went viral.

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23: BMW 7-Series (2002)

There was a huge amount of suspense before the release of the new 7-Series model because it was going to be the first modern incarnation of the car. With abundant technology, the 2002 7-Series seemed to do everything right until you owned one. From the gate, this generation of the 7-Series was plagued by electrical and reliability problems.

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Consumers were quite upset to say the least as the repairs could cost thousands of dollars. The 7-Series from this era cost BMW a lot of money, the car was notoriously unreliable and there was a bit of a consumer backlash. BMWs are known for expensive repairs but this was far worse compared to any BMW model before it.

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22: Hummer H2 (2003)

Bigger was better in the 2000s and everyone wanted a blinged-out SUV. What’s more blinged-out than a giant Hummer H2? Well, nothing, and that’s why the initial sales of the SUV were very strong. But GM also faced a large amount of backlash for the carbon footprint that the company was making with the H2.

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Then 2008 rolled around and Hummer lost millions of dollars, these SUVs were just sitting on the lots. GM eventually went bankrupt and closed the Hummer brand altogether until 2020 where the brand was renounced. Surprisingly enough, the H2 has held its value reasonably well on the used car market.

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21: Chevy SSR (2004)

Another interesting Chevy model was the SSR, which was sort of a modern take on the El Camino. The engine was an LS V8 that provided ample performance, but the design of the car was impractical. More of a showroom queen than an actual roadster, the SSR didn’t have very much room in its interior.

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The price tag was also very high and the truck bed was utterly useless, which would have been its only selling point. The rounded-off front fascia was also a bit difficult to look at, which made the car very awkward. The SSR wasn’t the hit that GM had hoped for and it was shelved after a few years.

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20: Chevrolet Aveo (2005)

After the Chevy Metro was canned in 2001, the brand needed a small car and the Aveo was the next best option. It was a Daewoo model sold around the world and GM decided to import it to America. The build quality was lackluster at best and the car got largely unfavorable reviews from the automotive press.

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When stacked up to compete against the likes of Hyundai and Kia, the Aveo just didn’t add up. Consumes could get a better value from the other two brands with more standard features and safety options for the price. The Aveotrudge d on for almost a decade until it was finally discontinued in favor of the Chevy Sonic.

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19: Jeep Compass (2007)

The Jeep brand is one of the hottest automotive nameplates in the world right now but the 2000s were a rough patch. The brand wasn’t selling as it should and the models were becoming outdated, so Jeep did the unthinkable. The brand took the Dodge Caliber compact and slapped a Jeep badge on it, calling it the Compass.

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The ugly little car didn’t have any off-road chops whatsoever and was the furthest thing from a Jeep. Consumers weren’t stupid and the evidence that this was a Caliber was fairly obvious. The car didn’t sell well at all, eventually being redesigned into an actual crossover. The first general of the Compass is a clear laughingstock of the auto industry.

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18: Dodge Caliber (2007)

The replacement for the Dodge Neon was positioned as a value-oriented compact, but the reality was far different. The Caliber was notoriously cheaply made with a rattling interior and the looks that only a mother could love. The car didn’t resonate with consumers at all and the outgoing Neon was a better car in many aspects.

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The Caliber was sold for quite a while until the Dodge Dart came onto the scene, Its design was easily forgettable. Nowadays you’ll still see the Caliber around but prices are almost minuscule. Even for basic transportation, the Caliber is a car you might want to avoid.

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17: Chrysler Sebring (2007)

The Chrysler Sebring Convertible was a strong seller for Chrysler for several years. The Sebring sedan, on the other hand, was not. A car often relegated to rental car lots, the Sebring was about as barebones as you could get. The design was cheaply made with lots of hard plastics and an underpowered engine.

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Wrap this in a semi-upscale design and you have what amounts to one of the worst-designed cars on the road. The 2.7L V6 is largely considered the worst engine Chrysler has ever made with reliability issues and lawsuits pending to this day. This incarnation of the Sebring sedan was as bad as you could get and it’s no wonder it didn’t sell.

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16: Chrysler Sebring Convertible (2007)

The next generation of the Sebring convertible was just as bad, featuring the same cheap interior as the sedan. Reliability was almost nonexistent with these cars, often suffering from transmission failures and worse.

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The brand itself suffered tremendously from the redesign as the Sebring convertibles that came before were much more refined. The Sebring Convertible redesign is highly regarded as one of the downfalls of Chrysler in the 2000s. The convertible went from being a sort of upscale luxury model to a forgotten relic you’d find on an Avis lot.

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15: Chrysler Aspen (2009)

Who releases a full-sized outdated SUV model at the height of an economic recession? Chrysler does. The Aspen had to be the worst-planned SUV model of all time, coming out amid a recession. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Aspen was a carbon clone of the outdated and poorly constructed Dodge Durango SUV.

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Nothing about the Aspen made it remotely feasible for an SUV driver who wanted something modern. The high price tag and lack of features made Aspen one of the poorest-selling models in Chrysler history.

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14: Lexus HS 250h (2010)

Lexus is usually a company that hits home runs with their vehicle designs and sales, but that wasn’t the case with the 250h. A hybrid Lexus was a good idea, but when it looks like a Toyota Corolla that probably won’t fly. The 250h was a poorly designed model that took a lot of its design roots from the humble Toyota model.

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The size of the 250h made it smaller in size than the Lexus IS while the price was almost the same. Most consumers didn’t see the use in buying a car like this and quickly decided to bail on the 250h, after which the car was quietly discontinued.

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13: Dodge Dart (2012)

The Dodge Dart had a lot of fanfare and preparation put into the design of the car. Chrysler reportedly spent a billion dollars on the design to have a hit car that would resonate with consumers. The result was sales that were far beyond expectations and the Dart went down as an epic failure.

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Chrysler failed to anticipate the consumer shift toward crossover vehicles, and that made the Dart and the 200 bombs from the start. After this, Chrysler directed its attention toward crossover vehicles and the Dart and 200 became a memory.

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12: Chrysler 200 (2012)

Released alongside the Dodge Dart, the Chrysler 200 was meant to be a next-generation car. The result, however, was a decent car that consumers just didn’t like for several reasons. The Chrysler 200 was just a car that was released at the wrong time, and the company spent over a billion dollars on its development alongside the Dart.

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The 200 failed to pick up where the Sebring left off and consumers weren’t interested in a Chrysler sedan. Had the design been released a couple of years prior, Chrysler might have had something, but no one bought into the hype.

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11: Honda Crosstour (2013)

The Crosstour is probably one of the worst Honda models of all time. The design of the car was an early entry in the crossover movement, but the final design had a lot of flaws. The car had numerous blind spots, some of which were detrimental to the safety of the vehicle.

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On top of that, the price tag was much higher than your standard run-of-the-mill Accord, and a lot of buyers couldn’t justify the added cost. The crossover design of the car didn’t look appealing to most consumers, striking a mix of wannabe wagon and hatchback.

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10: Lincoln MKS (2013)

Lincoln has had a tough time trying to peddle these sedans to consumers, and the MKS was an example of this. The redesigned MKS had the usual high amount of hype behind it, but the final design was a mere shadow of the Ford Fusion. The interior was cheaply made and the car was lacking in the power department.

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The MKS was not a strong seller for Lincoln at all as consumers just went toward other makes and models. The car would trudge on for a few years but never amounted to the success that the company had hoped for.

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9: Mitsubishi Mirage (2013)

When Mitsubishi decided to resurrect the Mirage there was a lot of fanfare behind it. However, the final product was sad to say the least, and about as barebones as you could get. The design was cheaply made and reminiscent of a 1990s hatchback instead of a 2013 model.

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The performance of the Mirage was also painfully slow, far below what you’d expect out of a car that was released in this decade. Mitsubishi updated the exterior of the Mirage a few times but for the most part, the car has been a dud for the company.

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8: Mercedes Benz CLA-Class (2013)

The CLA-Class had a specific purpose to be an entry-level Mercedes Benz model. The price tag was right but the design and the features weren’t, which is why consumers didn’t gravitate toward it. The dashboard design was about as confusing as you could get and performance was underwhelming.

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Pretty much the only reason that any drivers purchased a CLA-Class was to flaunt the Mercedes Benz logo. The actual fit and finish of the vehicle are far below what you’d expect out of a car from Mercedes. For the most part, the CLA-Class was a tremendous failure for the Mercedes brand in general.

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi

7: Mitsubishi Outlander (2014)

The Outlander is one SUV model that drivers knew was on the market but never really considered. Its design was far below the other SUV models on the market and its powertrain was outdated. In 2014 the company decided to do a redesign of the model and it fared poorly with the public perception of the company.

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The styling looked like something out of a cyborg movie and the reliability was questionable at best. Mitsubishi’s small dealership network made finding repairs for the Outlander a pain, and the price tag was quite high for what you got.

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6: Nissan Versa (2014)

Nissan needed a compact car to compete with Honda and other automakers. The Versa was billed as the answer to this problem, but the car had a lot of drawbacks. Like the Mitsubishi Mirage, the Versa was very cheaply designed and this contributed greatly to its downfall.

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The Versa just didn’t resonate with consumers as the design was poorly executed. The performance was lackluster at best and the reliability of the Nissan CVT transmission is questionable. Consumers just didn’t gravitate toward the Versa and Nissan had a very tough time selling these to the public.

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5: Chevy Spark (2014)

Throughout the past 40 years, Chevy has always had some sort of a subcompact on the market. The Spark was probably the worst received of these with a design that consumers balked at. The Spark was smaller than almost anything else on the market and the underpowered engine didn’t help.

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If you lived anywhere but an urban setting, the Spark just wasn’t a feasible design. The underpowered engine wasn’t very effective at highway speeds and you felt undersized in traffic in a crowd of SUVs and trucks.

2011 Scion tC - 2012 Scion tC
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4: Scion TC (2014)

The first Scion TC was lightning in a bottle and consumers gravitated toward it well. The redesigned model, on the other hand, was lacking in about every facet. At this point, Scion was just trying to grasp at straws and stay somewhat relevant. The TC just didn’t do that and the car was about as universally panned as you could get.

Photo Credit: Scion

Eventually, the Scion brand was phased out by Toyota shortly after this and the TC became a thing of the past. The car just didn’t connect with consumers the way that the original model had connected almost a decade before.

Photo Credit: Scion

3: Scion iQ (2015)

The final car to wear a Scion badge was about as sad as the brand’s decline into obscurity. When Scion originally hit the scene, the brand was a smash hit, selling. But somewhere along with the line, things got skewed and the brand lost its focus. That period in the mid-2000s shaped the brand’s sad future.

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The Scion brand we had at the end of 2015 was a mere shadow of that image. There was no more trendy advertising and there were no more unique cars. Instead, we got a Smart For-Two with a Scion badge slapped onto it.

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2: Mazda 5 (2015)

The Mazda 5 never stood a chance to be a sales success. It was smaller than almost any other minivan on the market, and that market was shrinking. Mazda had never sold a lot of minivans and the 5 was just a victim of this. The small dimensions of the car were no match for Americans.

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A fair amount of these models went to rental car lots, and then the model was quietly discontinued in favor of crossovers. The Mazda 5 had a lot of unique potential but it just didn’t fit into the larger scope of the Mazda lineup.

Photo Credit: Nissan

1: Nissan Juke (2015)

You must give the Nissan Juke credit for being a unique-looking SUV. The Juke had an underpowered engine which was the first thing that consumers disliked about it. Then you had the fact that the front fascia of the thing looked more like a bug than an actual car. The Juke had some potential but consumers just didn’t receive it the right way.

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The Juke will undeniably go down as one of the most recent failures for the Nissan brand. The thing had a lot of promise if the market had been there for it. Sadly, consumers just weren’t digging its radical styling and the lack of power.

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