The nominations for TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles 2008 are in. All of last year’s winners [still in production] garnered repeat nominations. In total, there are 121 automobiles that TTAC’s Best and Brightest consider to be the Worst and Dullest. Our capable writing staff (and the rest of them) now has the difficult task of separating the merely bad from the inexcusably execrable. While we wait on their verdict, here’s a summary of what we have so far, and why.
In spite of the love heaped on hybrids by the “me-too” media, Hollywood hollowheads, auto execs looking for handouts and politicians going for green (of one sort or another), the gas – electric genre took it on the chin. The discussion on the Toyota Prius’ whitebreadiatitude almost came to cyber-blows (don’t ask). Meanwhile, commentators nominated several vehicles’ hybrid version (GMT-900s, Vue, Malibu, Aura, Aspen and Durango). So what’s wrong with these fuel misers?
On the GMT-900s (including the ever-popular Cadillac Escalade Hybrid), psarhjinian says, “A Venn diagram with environmentalists in one circle and full-size BOF truck buyers in another wouldn’t be a Venn diagram. It’d be two separate circles. On two different pages. Probably in two different books. Possibly not even in the same building.”
Jaje feels Chrysler missed the same boat with their Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango two-mode gas – electric models: “Chrysler again late to the game answered a question nobody ever cared about.”
Kurt B thinks the Vue Hybrid goes overboard on trying for the green image. “How many HYBRID stickers and badges can you put on one vehicle??? Owners should be supplied with a hair dryer, fishing wire and a can of WD-40.”
And GM’s lackadaisical attempt with the Malibu and Aura Hybrids struck Stevelovescars as just plain wrong. “They are a weak effort and the new 6-speed auto/4-cylinder engine delivers nearly identical mileage for less money. I bet they could sell you little “hybrid” badges to glue on the fenders of the base Malibu for $200 and it would make a bigger difference in attracting green-minded buyers to their showrooms.”
Hybrid anti-hype aside, commentators nominated vehicles for a variety of reasons. Some felt that bad marketing was reason enough for a vehicle to earn its date with infamy. The VW Routan (“Stick a VW badge on a Voyager and call it “German Engineering”? Oh please!” – Giltibo) and Jeep Compass (“a so-so small CUV that has NO place in a Jeep showroom” – Red Stapler) lead that particular pack.
Others felt that abject blandness justified a place on the list. In this, the Toyota Corolla was the pabulum poster child: “Most boring car I have ever driven. Looked at one for my fiance and she said the same thing (and she generally has no opinion about cars.” – shabatski.
No question: TTAC’s Best and Brightest go their own way in matters automotive. Four of Car and Driver’s 10Best were nominated for TTAC’s Ten Worst. These were the BMW 3-series (“The bigger is better theory has bloated the once nimble 3 series into former 5 series territory” – JTParts), the Honda Accord (“Japanese re-incarnation of the Ford Taurus. Overweight, too large, poor dash materials and bad styling.” – wolffman), the Honda Fit (“in typical Honda fashion, the outgoing model had better fuel economy… Even in the same Honda showroom you can get a Civic with more power and better fuel economy for the same price as a Fit.” – njoneer), and the Porsche Boxster (“Have crank will travel. Feel comfortable on the camskin while you wait for the tow truck to arrive.” – Bubba Gump).
You have to wonder what criteria C/D uses to select their “Best” when an informed group of gearheads thinks 40 percent of them actually belong among the “Worst.” Or, in C/D’s case, not. Anyway, the non-hits keep happening…
Seth L took Acura to task for the aesthetics of their latest offerings: “The new TL and TSX are ugly, bloated, and worse then their predecessors in most ways.” Steve Lang waxed eloquent about the car everyone loves to hate: “The Sebring though is just a hideous creature made out of 1700 Tonka toys. If it were any more plastic, it would be made in Hollywood.” And y2kdcar’s progeny wondered what was going in BMW’s styling studios: “I pointed [an X6] out to my 12-year-old son, who immediately dissed it for being as ugly as the Pontiac Aztek and asked why a company would design something so hideous. I didn’t have a good answer for him.”
Historically, the previous year’s winners have been the front runners in the nominations process. So will the Chevrolet Aveo, HUMMER H2, Saab 9-7X, Chrysler Aspen and Jeep Compass make it a three-peat? Or has someone managed to come-up with something so abysmal it’ll usurp these perennial favorites? We’ll know soon. Voting to select TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles for 2008 commences on Friday.