By on December 20, 2008

The votes are cast. The polls are closed. And there’s no question which vehicles our Best and Brightest consider the TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles 2008. The good news: there are only two new “winners” this year. The bad news: there are only two new “winners” this year. In fact, eight of last year’s Ten Worst are still in production. Even more depressing: half of this year’s winners  have “won” TTAC’s Ten Worst three years running. How long can these turkeys hang on? Pass the cranberry sauce and read on.

There was no doubt about the final ten. When all the nominees were lined up in order of the number of votes garnered, there was a huge gap between numbers 10 and 11. So how did they rank?  Here they are:

10. Chevy TrailBlazer / GMC Envoy / Isuzu Ascender / Saab 9-7X – What’s not to love about a refined straight six or a rip-snorting V8 in a family hauler? The miserable GMT-360 platform. No matter what iteration you pick, you get a jittery ride, third-world interior and panel gaps large enough to be seen from outer space. After years of insignificant redesigns, this rig’s corroded six brands, killed two and put three in the hospital. Die already, will ya? – sm

9. VW Routan – The Volkswagen Routan is a badge-engineered Dodge Caravan. Pros forge Monets, not Hello Kitty posters.- mm

8. HUMMER H2 – I secretly like the H2. It fits with my theory that all SUVs need to look like Patton could’ve used ‘em to invade Sicily. Problem is, the poster child for “Drill Baby, Drill!” is anything but. It’s a Chevy Tahoe in a fat suit. A body on frame anachronism that not even a G.I. Joe doll could love. – jl

7. HUMMER H3/H3T – The Edsel had a peculiar name and a “controversial” design. The wrong car for the wrong time, it was a failure from the word go. Sorry. Did I say Edsel? I meant HUMMER H3. – wcm

6. Dodge Nitro – Do you think the tropical-paradise-nuking French care that we put panties on a few prisoners’ heads? No, they abhor our conspicuous consumption and tough-guy dress-up routines. To show them we have a sense of humor, we should send them the Dodge Nitro: a slow, cramped, artless knockoff of a HUMMER H2. Either that or use the Nitro as artillery shells. - jl

5. Dodge Caliber – As the ad campaign put it, the Caliber is anything but cute. Specifically, it’s noisy, garish, heavy-footed, hard to see out of, gutless, inefficient and poorly built. By trying to tart-up a compact to look like something Americans loved (big utes), Chrysler destroyed nearly every benefit of the small-hatch form. - en

4. Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango – You can dress up an ancient, arthritic, gas-sucking, poorly-packaged Dodge Durango as a Chrysler Aspen, but you can’t take it anywhere. Saying that, you can give it an expensive two-mode gas – electric hybrid system and drive it to Congress to get a bailout. But then people who know cars will laugh. As they should.  rf

3. Chevrolet Aveo – The Aveo continues to offer a snap-crackle-pop interior, mediocre gas mileage, roly-poly handling and gutless onramp terror. With GM touting for bailout bucks, the fact that this sad excuse for an economy car comes from Korea is painfully poignant. And just plain painful. – en

2. Jeep Compass – From droning tires to a jouncy suspension to an engine that moans more than a five-year-old denied Disneyland, this un-Jeep is a cacophony of cheap. Design-wise, The Compass is a sub-moronic riff on the brand’s storied heritage. If you need further proof that Jeep Compass is an abominable snow job, check out the fake rivets on the shift knob. Better yet, don’t. – rf

1. Chrysler Sebring / Dodge Avenger – What do you do after a tremendous, demographic-busting hit like the 300C? If you’re Chrysler, you offer up a malformed, worst-in-segment, natural-born rental car and expect consumers to buy it. When historians write Chrysler’s obituary, the Sebring will get its own chapter. – jl

You have chosen…wisely. These are surely the most putrefied products on the automotive landscape today.  But what about the rest? How did the also-rans rank? Here they are, in order from number 11 through number 23:

11. smart fortwo
12. Jeep Commander
13. Pontiac Torrent
14. Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon
15. Cadillac Escalade
16. Lincoln Mark LT
17. Scion xB
18. Kia Amanti
19. Chevy Cobalt / Pontiac G5
20. Suzuki Forenza
21. Tesla Roadster
22. Buick Lacrosse
23. Saab 9-5

And so ends yet another TTAC Ten Worst Vehicle award. Will anything change before the 2009 awards? With everything that’s going on in the industry right now, something has to change. But rest assured that unless everything changes for the better, we’ll be back in a year, looking at next year’s latest crop of automotive atrocities and singling out America’s Ten Worst Vehicles. Meanwhile, thanks for your help, support and snark. We couldn’t do this without you. Nor would we.

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131 Comments on “TTAC’s Ten Worst Autos 2008...”


  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I can’t really see how the Dodge Nitro fits into this list. It’s not a profoundly inferior car, like the Sebring. It’s a Jeep Liberty in a fancy dress. But it’s not a bad car…

    And where’s the BMW X6? Something’s rotten here…

  • avatar
    John R

    I can see the Nitro as an also ran, not in the top ten.

    That Cobalt/G5 needs to be in the top ten. Getting great gas mileage is one thing, but detesting every minute of accumulating it is what makes it “special”.

  • avatar
    brush

    After seeing the all of the Chrysler/Dodge efforts in Australia I cannot understand why all of the products, apart from the 300c, aren’t occupying all of the positions. From interiors that make a Kia look like a well engineered and no expense spared vehicles to unusually small interiors/large body ratios, it is no wonder that Chrysler/Dodge will go.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Hmmm…9 out of 10 for the two automakers on the brink.
    The other is source from one of them.

    Is there a correlation?

    Liked wcm’s comment on the H3.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    The correlation is that the product is king. And that bad products for decades on end leads to shrinking sales and in this case an inevitable bankruptcy.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Hmmm…9 out of 10 for the two automakers on the brink.

    And the one Ford on the list is just an F-150 in a tux (an idea whose time has long gone) that could not have cost that much to develop anyway. Hmmm indeed.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    What the hell? The xB isn’t on the list! How come when the world’s most careful automaker, with a plethora of engineering resources adds OVER 600 POUNDS to a car in a redesign in what was an economy car. And to make sure the mileage drops, they add an engine 800cc BIGGER, and make it over a foot longer. Jesus, Toyota, what’s next, taking away the 1.8L VVTL-i engine from the ’06 Corrolla XRS, so good that Lotus uses it, and replacing it with the four cylinder from a Camry? No, wait, losing the support of all Toyota enthusiasts by killing off the Supra, Celica, and MR2? Errr, I mean, making a youth-oriented brand that now appeals mainly to old people? I mean, trying to make a performance hybrid sports sedan with a seriously un-sporty CVT transmission? Uhhhh, making a track-star sports sedan with EIGHT FRIGGIN’ GEARS so you’re constantly working the paddles, and with a body kit only the typical teenage Civic owner could love, with FAKE EXHAUST TIPS? Or, ummm, making a hybrid pickup truck? Oh, wait, they DIDN’T do THAT ONE.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    I don’t agree that the Jeep Commander should even have been 12th. It’s actually a nice design with an awesome four-wheel drive (Quadra-Trac II).

    It’s problems were:
    1) Although different in style, too much like the Grand Cherokee and just cut into Grand Cherokee sales. The XK should have been built as a big SUV (with more 3rd row leg room for adutls to shut up the auto press… as we all drive around loaded with adults all the time… rolling my eyes…), well that is if…

    2) Gas prices were cheap. When the Commander came out, gas prices were just starting to go up… Jeep was late to the party.

    3) Should of had a front straight axle. The Jeep crowd would be all over it. Jeep made that mistake with the Liberty (although the KJ was one of the top selling SUV’s in it’s class… so that is debatable).

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    Wow, all of the Top Ten are from GM and Chrysler, (I don’t care if it’s got a VW badge, it’s a Caravan). 18 of 23 are from these jokers.
    What a sad testiment to the state of the NA auto industry.
    Kudo’s to Ford for only having 1 on this list of 23. Show’s who’s going to make it out of all this mess alive. GM and Chryco don’t stand a chance.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    I agree the Dodge Nitro is required on this list,its a Gas user for sure and sure to be a loser!

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    why arent the caliber and the compass combined like all the other platform sharing/badge engineered cars?

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’ve never driven a Sebring, so I decided to take a look at some of the reviews.

    According to Edmunds, The Touring’s 2.7-liter V6 is actually less powerful than the Honda Accord EX’s four-cylinder, yet somehow less fuel efficient than the Accord’s 268-horsepower V6.

    The D1.8 defenders claim that these companies build cars people want – is this an example? Where was management when they came up with these specs? Couldn’t someone in have stepped in and said the product wasn’t good enough and directed engineering to go back and get it right?

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    I’m still disappointed neither the Cayenne or Panamerica made it on this list. Both ruin the Porsche name. Oh well.

    Otherwise the list is spot on. Especially #1.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    If Chrylser closes, who are gonna kick around?

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    Wow, this article also belongs in your Bailout Watch. After all, one of the biggest arguments made in favor of the bailout is that we all still have an 80’s notion of D3 quality and haven’t noticed that they’ve changed completely and now make cars of comparable quality to the imports. This list is a powerful refutation of that argument.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I don’t agree that the Jeep Commander should even have been 12th

    Well, it wasn’t top ten, so don’t complain. I think it should’ve been higher mostly because it failed miserably at being what it’s supposed to be a large SUV. It also should’ve been deep sixed at very least after the 2006 model year.

    Having ridden in one, it’s not confortable for an adult in the middle row of seats, let alone the way back. Having driven one it’s slow, thirsty and in no way a “fun” to drive vehicle. Hands down I’d take a Tahoe or Expedition or Sequoia over the Jeep.

    Solid front axle? Yeah, maybe that would’ve got some Jeep fan boys to buy, but would not have fixed the failings of this vehicle.

    Yes, the H2 might be a “Tahoe in a fat suit” but for everything inexcusible about the H2, the Commander is as well, just without the in your face syling.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    In a way it’s silly to argue about who is and isn’t on the list. It’s like, just a list, you know? To my eyes the Top 10 has a common wisdom quality to it, e.g., at this point it’s all too easy to beat up on Hummers and Chryslers. But then they do richly deserve it.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Airhen- I just had the joys of Hertz giving me a Commander for a week.
    It had a few nice features: remote start, heated seats, and sat radio. And a nice flat dash with recesses…great as a field vehicle. Great stuff when doing some siting studies between Canada, Washington, Montana, and Idaho.
    However, it sucked, sucked, sucked fuel. I felt like I was inside a rubbermaid container, and never did find a great seating position. Headlights (combined with foglights) were terrible in rain and snow. There were a few rattles in the rear compartment…which is fine, temps were cold and the vehicle had 6k miles on it. Also had a burning smell whenever 4WD kicked in, never used 4-Lo or Hill Descent.

    I should have taken the free upgrade for a not much better looking vehicle, but probably better put together: Armada. Overall, it’s a vehicle for no one…most people that want a bigger Jeep will get a Grand Cherokee, the others will get something else that the market offers.

    Just to keep within perspective…I own an 06 Mazda and 84 Volvo, but previously had an 04 Explorer 4wd (company rig) that I had no problem getting around the back trails of the Wasatch and Uintah mountain range(s).

    With that said, I agree with everything else on the list.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    I’ve said it once here, and I’ll say it again …. I don’t get all of the “hate” for the GMT360. They sell better than the currrent crop of GM crossovers, and everyone I know that owns one loves it (me included, as well as two of my neighbors). I bought a 2004 Rainier V-8 for my wife … actually HER PICK … and she wants to keep it until the wheels fall off. No problems in 38,000 miles. It’s comfortable, the ride is fine for a truck, it’s quite, the V-8 pulls the classic car with no trouble, and the AWD keeps the better half between the white lines in these damn Minnesota winters. I know it gets voted as “bad” here, but how many of the voters have actually OWNED one??? Sounds to me like follow the crowd, or a bit of group think.

    Rant over …. for now ….

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ford continues to set itself apart from the Detroit pack.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I think the Sebring should be retired from the competition (assuming Chrysler exists next year) and become a permanent TWAT emeritus.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Whoever had the bold idea to slap a VW badge on a Chrysler must be rolling over in their grave now.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The Toyota Yaris coupe should have been on the top 10 worst list. It is by far one of the most flimsy insubstantial POS cars I have had the misfortune of driving. The rear tires are litterally 6 inches away from the back of the bumper making a rear end collision a positively explosive reality. The seats look like something out of a golf cart with 1970’s Dodge Dart seat material. The quear as a duck center mounted dash is totally distracting and leaves a huge hunk of cheap plastic facing the driver where the dash should be. The engine is noisy, slow and no better on gas than the larger Corolla and high speed driving is a pretty scary experience in windy conditions. Add in soft soggy handling, lifeless steering and a near Corolla price tag and this puking turd of a car belongs on anyones top 10 crap list.

  • avatar
    cristiana

    yournamehere,
    I was wondering the exact same thing.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …FAKE EXHAUST TIPS?

    I’ll agree, at least partially, with your other points, but this one needs some clarification. Lexus is far from the only make that uses fake exhaust tips, and far, far from the most expensive.

    There are other, much more “storied” marques with much more “heritage” that subscribe this particular sort of fakery. Lamborghini (all of them), Audi (R8) and Ferrari (California) come immediately to mind. I believe a few Porsches have used them as well.

    I think it’s about time we let up on Lexus a little, no?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Just a question: core to the what should/shouldn’t be on the list is the question: “Do we vote in cars that flat-out suck (Sebring, Caliber, GMT360s), or cars who represent gross suckage (TSX, X6, xB, 9-5) but aren’t actually that bad in an of themselves”

    This list seems to gravitate to the former. I’m ok with that if it’s the intent, but it does make the TWAT a little less industry “truth” and a little more like the bottom half of Consumer Reports. Or a Chrysler all-products brochure.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Toyota Yaris coupe should have been on the top 10 worst list. It is by far one of the most flimsy insubstantial POS cars I have had the misfortune of driving.

    Drive an Aveo. It’s like a Yaris, but without any of the Yaris’ virtues.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    I think the Compass/Caliber thing was discussed in another post – even though they share many of the same bits, they are marketed at distinctly different crowds. Plus, the Compass has that extra spicy bit of brand defiling to give it that extra oomph.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    @psarhjinian

    I think what Rev is trying to say re the fake exhaust tips is that the stacked chrome tips on the IS-F aren’t connected to the actual tail pipes, they’re just there for show and tell.

    And is it any wonder that half of that top ten list are Chrysler products? does Chrysler really deserve to live with such a dismal failure as the Sebring?

    I fully agree with that list though…I always wondered how nice it would be to have an Impala with a straight six under the bonnet.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    Airhen –

    I agree with you that Jeep Commander gets more flack than it deserves. It would have been fine as a Grand Cherokee; problem was they already had one. There’s nothing wrong with the concept of a 3-row Jeep SUV, and the excecution isn’t terrible like, for example, a Durango. It’s a wrong decade, wrong vehicle lineup, too much competition issue.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Ford made the same mistakes GM and Chrysler made, just to a lesser degree than GM and Chrysler. Ford shows they can make genuinely good cars in Europe but they chose to give the US market cheaped out models hoping the US consumer wouldn’t notice. But I guess they did in the end.

    I still give Ford a chance of surviving, that is if they actually want it to survive in its current form after GM and Chryco file. On the one hand it would be very good pr for them to be the only survivor, but then again if they are subsequently stuck with uncompetitive production costs while a leaner and meaner new ‘GM (Chevrolet?)’ would not be, maybe they’d rather cut their losses too and blame carpocalypse.

  • avatar
    Albnyc

    Chrysler in the crapper by no other fault but their own. Let’s give them taxpayer money!

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Fake exhaust tips are not always bad if you’re going for the “tips molded into the bumper” look. You put the exhaust tips against that plastic, and watch it melt over time.

    In the end, I’d rather have a seperated exhaust tip from the bumper.

  • avatar

    IMHO, the Nitro should have been above the Aveo. Stop defending this stupid car, the Nitro is embarrassing.

  • avatar
    allen5h

    jerseydevil :

    If Chrylser closes, who are gonna kick around?

    Chrysler is closed. Tomorrow.

    Ingvar :

    The correlation is that the product is king. And that bad products for decades on end leads to shrinking sales and in this case an inevitable bankruptcy.

    Yeup. Product is king. If you cain’t build a good product, then you should go bye-bye. Same for banks. If you cain’t stop from lending to deadbeats, then you should go bye-bye.

    Now if you lend to deadbeats to buy your lousy product, then this becomes a matter of national security, and we need more of it, so you subsidize it: We bail ‘em out.

  • avatar
    NickR

    racebeer, I have to challenge your defense of the 360. My boss has one, and he regularly shares stories with me of misdiagnosed, undiagnosed problems, lengthy stays at the dealer, etc., etc. It’s a leased company vehicle and I think he will throw a company party when the lease is up. BTW, inline-6s are reknowned for their smoothness, but not his. One of those undiagnosable problems is a persistent misfire.

    The top 10 truly deserve their place on this list. I agree that in future years TTAC might want to consider changing the name to ‘The Sebring Awards’. After all, you do have the Bob Lutz award.

    I’d love to see someone on Congress produce this list and ask simply as ‘What’s your excuse for this?’

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    racebeer :

    I agree. I wouldn’t say the GMT-360s are great cars, but they’re more than adequate. I had an Envoy for a rental a few weeks ago and the interior was decent, the engine was surprisingly powerful, the ride was smooth, and the handling was OK for an SUV. I don’t notice things like panel gaps, I might spend 99% of my time with a vehcile on the inside, but 99% of that time is spent looking out the windshield, not nitpicking for things that might stand out to a journalist, but don’t make any difference in real life. The Envoy was an all-around decent truck, which might not make it class-leading (I have no desire to know what the class leader is, because I have no interest in driving an SUV) but it definitely doesn’t deserve to be on this list.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    8. HUMMER H2 – I secretly like the H2. It fits with my theory that all SUVs need to look like Patton could’ve used ‘em to invade Sicily. Problem is, the poster child for “Drill Baby, Drill!” is anything but. It’s a Chevy Tahoe in a fat suit. A body on frame anachronism that not even a G.I. Joe doll could love. – jl

    People can like a vehicle or not, but don’t spread false information. The H2 is NOT simply a “Tahoe in a fat suit”. I dare anyone to take a factory Tahoe the same places a factory H2 is able to go. It wouldn’t get far. There are substantial differences.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Base Yaris is 12k…

    It’s not near Corrolla prices at all really. 4 grand is a lot of cash at the low end of the market.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    I am in consumer product development, I am amazed that many,many people: R&D, Product Marketing, Sales, and top company management sat in meeting after meeting and signed off on these designs – “Yes sir, we all agree, we need the Nitro and we want just that design to rock n roll in the market.”

    It is so surprising that all of us here agree (mostly) that these cars are terrible, but somehow Chrysler and GM management all agree to develop these cars and KEEP these models going on and on. WOW.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    The really scary thing about the Sebring/Avenger being #1 is that even CONSUMER REPORTS agrees (!!!).

    The fact that CR and car enthusiast sites/magazines agree about what makes a terrible car is a sure sign of the (US automotive industry) apocalypse.

  • avatar
    olivehead

    alright, you guys are gonna make me go out and test drive a sebring. how can it be THAT bad? (relax, it’s a rhetorical question.) i’ve never driven one or even been in one, but from pics i’ve seen it’s a matter of taste more than anything (although the materials look a bit more “plasticky” than i’d like, but i can say the same for a current-generation camry, which i have driven). the exterior, again, seems to be a matter of taste, not quality of build. i’ve got a 2009 accord with less than 1000 miles on it that i’m putting in the shop next week, under warranty, for them to fix this tail light/chipping paint issue that i’ve seen on 99% of 8th gen accords i’ve surveyed. yet somehow there’s been no recall or service bulletin. i’d just as soon leave it be, except that i’ve seen year old cars where 2 inches of paint has peeled off around the tail light over time. anyway, my point is that even honda has issues. oh well, any other point i may have had, i think i lost it.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I am in consumer product development, I am amazed that many,many people: R&D, Product Marketing, Sales, and top company management sat in meeting after meeting and signed off on these designs – “Yes sir, we all agree, we need the Nitro and we want just that design to rock n roll in the market.”

    Easy to understand when the majority of voices in room are MBAs, Lawyers and Accountants who grew up and went to school in major metropolitan areas where cars were an afterthought not a day to day necessity.

    It’s too late now but one thing that might have helped Detroit is if beginning in 80’s the Big 3 would have forced their top management layers in all divisions to personally purchase, drive and maintain the products they were selling. Then every six months drive an overseas competitors’ comparable product for a month.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I think what Rev is trying to say re the fake exhaust tips is that the stacked chrome tips on the IS-F aren’t connected to the actual tail pipes, they’re just there for show and tell.

    And so are those on the Murcielago and R8, but people pick on Lexus because it has no “heritage”.

    There are only two ways to do exhaust tips (three, if you count the econo-car “below the bumper” look): a) you either float them in a hole in the bumper, which looks sloppy as the tip can’t be flush with the body, wiggles around and/or melts the bumper plastic or b) you use moldings in the bumper and let the real exhaust float behind it, which looks clean in daylight but fake if illuminated from behind the bumper.

    Again, there are legitimate beefs with Lexus, the IS and the IS-F, but the exhaust-tip meme is a cheap-shot and enthusiasts should know better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I think the Compass/Caliber thing was discussed in another post – even though they share many of the same bits, they are marketed at distinctly different crowds. Plus, the Compass has that extra spicy bit of brand defiling to give it that extra oomph.

    No, that would be the Compass and the Patriot. Why they built both is beyond me, but I’m sure it made sense the the Mercedes-led brand managers who kicked it out the door.

    Oddly, the Compass sells better in Canada. Hell, all of Chrysler does well here. Maybe Magna should have bought them instead of Cerberus?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    This was just a domestic bash. I hope everyone had fun.
    How does this compare to last years list?

  • avatar
    AKM

    All American cars (if you count the Routan). Ouch.

    I must admit I have an issue with one element of the process: it does not distinguish between bonehead marketing moves and between vehicles bad in and on themselves.

    For example, the Routan is a terrible, horrible marketing error, but the vehicle itself is no different from the Dodge Caravan.

    There should be 2 separate awards: one for bad marketing departments, and one for bad cars.
    Then again, some are BOTH, such as the jeep Compass: a pitiful car, and a brand defiler.

  • avatar
    Sigsworth

    “Panel gaps you can see from outerspace.”

    I laugh every time I read that…

    As a Scion xA (or is it Xa?) owner, I was disappointed that the xB didn’t make the top ten, as it epitomizes my anger with Scion for taking the old models and making them worse in every way. On the plus side, I expect my car will retain its value better than the new ones. Be that as it may, can’t argue with a list that was voted on by the B&B.

    One thing about the collapse of the 2.8 is that with luck, and the removal of some of the onerous federal regulations, smaller independent US car makers will spring up offering more choices and better cars. The strong will survive and evolve into giant automakers that will get bailed out in a hundred years.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    -volvo-
    Point taken and I agree with you …the people making the decisions that move a model forward from R&D thru the process to Production should be living the cars. It is all too easy to get caught up with the hype of new designs. E.g. the chilled cupholder or the ‘cool’ camping accessories for the doomed Aztec – I think Detroit somehow loses focus of the model when their competitors don’t, and this survey is an indicator of that.

  • avatar

    Well-written as usual. Congrats on another fine list Robert et co.

    I think the Amanti would have placed higher if it was actually on anyone’s radar.

  • avatar
    8rings

    The gripes on why the X6 (and other cars that make no sense) are not included on the list really don’t hold merit here. While they may not make sense, no one can argue that the X6 isn’t executed well. It has a wonderful interior, it handles and drives great. Does the market really need a 4 seat SUV/Coupe thing? Not really, but you can’t argue it’s execution. More than we can say for all of the engineering wrecks on the list.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Hm…I have never driven any of these cars…? Now I’m curious :)

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Many have asked how the Detroit car companies supposedly loaded with talent can produce truly bad vehicles, and even after strong evidence they got it wrong, keep offering it up. I have the same question and a personal observation.

    For example, the 1987-1990 Chev Caprice Classic was one of the best looking full size cars on the market (you pick which year). In 1991 it was replaced with the most gawd-awful styling (to which Motor Trend promptly named it the Car of the Year). The rest of the GM lineup soon followed this horrid styling.

    When GM’s response to the mountain of criticism from every corner was to simply open up the rear wheel opening, many had the epic epiphany that these people do not care what people think and worse, they could not care less about their cars.

    Neither I nor none of my immediate family has been back in a GM dealership since. This is a family who’ve owned Chevrolets since 1946. The 1992 refusal to clean up the mess and unending mis-steps since affirms General Motors is far from “getting it.” When my 80 year-old mother, a die-hard GM owner, puts a Toyota Camry in the garage, Detroit has lost middle America.

    Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and the European imports found the U.S. market eager to flee the Detroit automakers. It’s now at 51% with nothing on the horizon slowing this upward march.

    All of which is to say it does not matter what Detroit products are on the list; nobody I know will be going into one of those dealerships to look at any of them anyway.

  • avatar

    yournamehere:
    why arent the caliber and the compass combined like all the other platform sharing/badge engineered cars?

    As explained the last time this question was asked, Sebring/Avenger and other badge-engineered monstrosities usually aim for the same market so there’s little to differentiate them or indicate they should be separated.

    Caliber is a crappy little econobox. On the other hand, Compass is a crappy little econobox they’re trying to pass off as a Jeep. The brand dilution that results is enough for it to qualify a separate listing.

  • avatar
    OB 50

    “I can’t really see how the Dodge Nitro fits into this list. It’s not a profoundly inferior car, like the Sebring.”

    Just last week, one of our sales guys came into town and rented one of these things. While riding to lunch in it, I couldn’t help but notice that it is probably the most poorly designed car ever conceived.

    All of the buttons and handles are over-sized as if designed for giant toddlers, and the overall theme of the interior just screams “bulldozer”. Black on black on black, made entirely out of Duplo blocks.

    The best part was when he tried to pass on the freeway. It just made this horrific noise, and that’s pretty much it. Oh, about a minute later it sort of sped up, a little.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Fellas,

    The Nitro is uckin’ fugly. That’s why it’s on the list.

  • avatar
    unsprung weight

    The Nitro is uckin’ fugly. That’s why it’s on the list.

    Anyone who thinks the Nitro is on the list because it’s ugly hasn’t driven it.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It may look like a 2007 TWA(T) class reunion but every car on this list richly deserves to be on the dung heap of automotive history.
    Ford’s absence does give me hope that they can turn it around before it’s too late.

    With so many repeat offenders, maybe it’s time for a TWA(T) “Hall of Fame”?

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The GMT-360 platform is pretty good. As is the DOHC inline 6 that GM developed for it.

    That they developed a DOHC inline 6 for use in only one truck at a time when their car engines sucked, and that they had to stretch the truck across 6 brands is why GM is screwed.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Hard to beleive Chysler worked on the design and development of the Saturn rocket that put man on the moon.

    But then Packard built the Merlin engine that helped win WW-II…

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    In reference below to Hummer. Honestly, I’ve never seen a dirty, dented or scratched Hummer yet from any off road use. Many of them have Hoodlum wheels on low profiles. I’d venture to guess that more Subaru’s go off road than Hummers.

    Yes indeed, the Hummer H2 is a Tahoe in a fat suit and it has the fat weight too…not to mention less visibility from the drivers seat to navigate the trails anyway. Lets face the hard truth in this site forum. Hummers are unworthy/poseur vehicles.

    TexasAg03 :
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    8. HUMMER H2 – I secretly like the H2. It fits with my theory that all SUVs need to look like Patton could’ve used ‘em to invade Sicily. Problem is, the poster child for “Drill Baby, Drill!” is anything but. It’s a Chevy Tahoe in a fat suit. A body on frame anachronism that not even a G.I. Joe doll could love. – jl

    People can like a vehicle or not, but don’t spread false information. The H2 is NOT simply a “Tahoe in a fat suit”. I dare anyone to take a factory Tahoe the same places a factory H2 is able to go. It wouldn’t get far. There are substantial differences.

  • avatar
    snabster

    I don’t think the formatting will come up, but I pulled up YTD sales of the 10 worst.

    500,000 sold. I don’t doubt why GM/Chrysler think they are coming back — a lot of stupid buyers out there.

    This is just US sales, so it may be a bit more.

    Chevy TrailBlazer / GMC Envoy / Isuzu Ascender / Saab 9-7X total: 96,792
    Trailblazer 70,791 -42.2
    Envoy 22,716 -49.1
    Isuzu
    9-7x 3,285 -29.6

    VW Routan 2,488
    HUMMER H2 5,721 -49.3
    HUMMER H3/H3T 19,152 -51.2
    Dodge Nitro 34,332 -49
    Dodge Caliber 81,262 -12
    Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango
    total: 40,724
    aspen 20,739 -20
    durango 19,985 -54
    Chevrolet Aveo 53,103 -12.15
    Jeep Compass 24,124 -33
    Chrysler Sebring / Dodge Avenger
    total: 128,004
    sebring 68,091 -19
    avenger 59,913 -21

    Total: 485,702

    Thoughts? The Routan is dead. Saab 9-7 are the only thing keeping Saab dealers alive. I couldn’t find any isuzu numbers.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    You can sell 24K of the Jeep Compass, but what did the program cost to develop, what are the after-sales warranty costs and, as volume drops the suppliers will increase their part costs for unique parts. Same goes for the others too…

  • avatar
    breimann

    awesome list… i love to hate these crappy cars. I get all bent out of shape when I see a compass or sebring or whatever on the road.

    “What were they thinking?!” I yell.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    6: The Nitro is already available in France… VM Motori diesel and all.

  • avatar
    George B

    Hope Chrysler decides not to manufacture additional units of the TTAC 10 Worst list. Not even rental quality. I have been a passenger in a #12 Jeep Commander many times and would consider buying one at a really low price, but prefer the looks of the Grand Cherokee.

    Drove a rental Cobalt and, while bad, it’s a huge improvement over the Cavalier. The Cavalier loaner car was so bad I called the girlfriend to ask which she preferred to ride in, the Cavalier or my beater 90 Ford Probe. Successfully used the Cobalt on a date with a short “its a rental” excuse.

  • avatar
    8rings

    I say the more idiots who buy these things the better. Hell if everyone saw the light and wanted an Audi, BMW, Infiniti etc. the prices and demand on them would be sky high. Idiots in brand new Avengers keep used BMW prices reasonable.

  • avatar
    thespian666

    So calling the 9-5 an also-ran crap car is like calling the Cadillac Cimmaron (which of course it is/was) one. Difference being that in 1997 (when my 2004 9-5 was being designed) this Saab was a minor victory in terms of safety, power, fuel-efficiency and comfort; dare say aesthetics as well – in an Ikea sort of way.

    Everything else on the list is fair game.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    Should there really be this many Chryslers on the list? I thought a prerequisite for placing was “currently still in production”…and as I recall, that knocks Chrysler out or the running. Zing! …too soon?

    In any case, thanks for posting the also-rans. My love-to-hate-it Scion xB2 didn’t place on the list, but it’s nice to know the general public is similarly contemptuous of this car. :)

    It’s a shame to see Toyota’s War On Desirability pushed so far up the list by GM and Chrysler’s respective crapfests. I wonder if that’ll be an issue next year…

  • avatar

    To anyone who says this is a domestic diss-fest:

    Not one Ford on the top 10 list. Not sure why the LT is on #16 however. Ford isn’t demanding a Bailout package this month either so whey-hey.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    In reference to #6, I guess I need to lighten up a little, because I don’t think it’s funny to make a joke about torture.

    But perhaps TTAC should just go a bit farther on the controversy scale, and call these ones “the cars TTAC is throwing its shoes at”.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Sadly, the Routan was one of VW’s better selling vehicles last month. It’s more of a reflection of a small lineup with low sales than anything else.

  • avatar
    SpottyB

    What I find kind of funny is that so many here are like “see, I told you so” over a list that they created and voted on. It’s kinda like patting yourself on the back.

  • avatar
    CoffeeJones

    Even The Office was ripping on the Sebring

    Dwight: [crying] The Sebring is cool! The Sebring is so cool! Please don’t fire me Michael, I’ll do anything!

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Time to start placing odds on whether Chrysler will restart production ever.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    To those who are saying this is just domestic bashing…

    Import companies that build vehicles that can really compete for this award tend to disappear. Daewoo, Isuzu etc.
    The import buyers are way to demanding for the real losers to stay around.

    GM and Cryslur have dragged their worst items along on the wings their adoring (if misguided) fans, sold them to fleets or imported rebadged vomit from companies we rejected because they were to lazy to develop a real competitor for the category.

    These vehicles have earned these spots!

    Actually, I would bump the fart car and the Col/on trucks into the top ten and remove the GMT360 (mediocre, but there are worse) and the H2 (yes it’s the wrong vehicle for today, that doesn’t bother me, it does what it is supposed to do.)

    I agree that the broken-Compass and lo-Caliber should be combined. That would leave room for the Forenza (gotta love Daewoo).

    Generally it is a pretty worthy list.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Verbal-I say 60/40 against.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Difference being that in 1997 (when my 2004 9-5 was being designed) this Saab was a minor victory in terms of safety, power, fuel-efficiency and comfort; dare say aesthetics as well – in an Ikea sort of way.

    The “In 1997″ is the opportune phrase. It was in 1997 (a 98 model, debuting in late 97). It has barely changed since. There are no plans to change it until 2011 at the earliest.

    Fifteen years on a platform in not a good thing for any car, but it’s shameful for a luxury flagship.

  • avatar
    davekatz

    Kudos, carperson!Got it zackly right!

    Big concentrations of power of any sort have no accountability within their sealed dioramas. It’s only when the outside world comes a-knockin’on the diorama’s door–helloooo, Karl Marx! Helloooo, Galileo! Heeeere’s Jesus!–that concentrated power is revealed as hollow and corrupt.

    The global economy turned the key–to flog this door metaphor to death–on the 1.8.

    Hmmmm. Insurance? Congress? We can only hope…

  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    I think that with the exception of the Sebring, the entire Chrysler line are masterpiece designs and fabulous lookers. The Nitro is a sexy 3/4 scale Land Rover HSE hamstrung with a 40 year old technology drive train. There have been minor tweaks and variations sure, but really nothing significantly different out of these manufacturing dinosaurs since the Second World War. There really was much more drive train advance between 1910 and 1940, than between 1940 and Today. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I loved the look of the Nitro but it was just too inefficient in every way for me to seriously consider working a year or more of my life for. In that sense the Nitro is a loser, but if it is in the Top Ten of losers, it’s only because of its great promise and potential. Because of what it might have been. What any of them might have been. Autonomous Carriages ready to leapfrog, not imitate, the competition

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    WOW, all GM and Chrysler?

    Harsh….

  • avatar
    thespian666

    “psarhjinian :
    December 18th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Difference being that in 1997 (when my 2004 9-5 was being designed) this Saab was a minor victory in terms of safety, power, fuel-efficiency and comfort; dare say aesthetics as well – in an Ikea sort of way.

    The “In 1997″ is the opportune phrase. It was in 1997 (a 98 model, debuting in late 97). It has barely changed since. There are no plans to change it until 2011 at the earliest.

    Fifteen years on a platform in not a good thing for any car, but it’s shameful for a luxury flagship.”

    You couldn’t be more correct except that that doesn’t make it a bad car, rather simply an out-dated one. It’s exterior design, to me, is rather timelessly original. Other than the 2.3T being a bit harsh, the power is commendable as well as cost of ownership. Of course, I’m biased – but I believe the same could be said about the Volvo S60 or a W126 Mercedes. Both had platforms last forever but neither would be put on this list.

  • avatar
    ca36gtp

    A few of these are simply ridiculous exaggerations. The GMC Envoy isn’t the prettiest thing, but it’s hardly one of the WORST vehicles out there.

    The Cobalt/G5 also seems a bit overblown. Yes, it needs some union strangling so that there’s a bit of cash to touch up the interior, but there’s nothing wrong with the rest of the car. 37MPG highway from a fairly gutsy 2.2L motor while the asthmatic 1.8L in the Honda Civic can only manage 36MPG seems like a win for the Delta platform to me.

    The rest of the list is pretty much well deserved, but it seems like the two examples above are just there because they’re American, not for any failing of the vehicles themselves.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You couldn’t be more correct except that that doesn’t make it a bad car, rather simply an out-dated one. It’s exterior design, to me, is rather timelessly original. Other than the 2.3T being a bit harsh, the power is commendable as well as cost of ownership. Of course, I’m biased – but I believe the same could be said about the Volvo S60 or a W126 Mercedes. Both had platforms last forever but neither would be put on this list.

    Look, I like Saab–I own one–but this isn’t 1980. It was cool that the 99/900 lasted over 15 years, but that was because the car really was that good, the competition didn’t move as fast and development cycles were longer. The 9-5 is just not good enough to hang around that long, not against cars like the TL, A4/A6, 3/5-Series, C/E-Class, S60 or ES/GS.

    I Mercedes let the E-Class rot for that long it would be similar, but they haven’t. No one has treated a car as shabbily as GM has the 9-5.

    In the time the 9-5 has been on the market, the competition will have been through two or three cycles. Hell, assuming GM survives that long, several of it’s mundane cars (the Cavalier/Cobalt/Cruze) will have been refreshed more often. Even the L-Series, which debuted the same year, will have had two replacements (the Aura and likely the Insignia) buy then.

    Again, if that’s worthy of an honourary TWAA, I don’t know what is

  • avatar
    Emro

    “don1967 :
    December 18th, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Whoever had the bold idea to slap a VW badge on a Chrysler must be rolling over in their grave now.”

    Wolfgang Bernhard is alive and well still…

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    My initial observations on the TWA list:

    1. Suzuki seems to have decided that offering rebadged Daewoos is bad for the brand (the Forenza/Reno has been dropped from Suzuki’s MY2009 lineup). I can’t fathom why GM would want to damage the Chevy brand further by offering a Daewoo with less room, less power and fewer amenities than the Forenza/Reno as a Chevrolet (let alone as a Pontiac G3).

    2. I voted to include both HUMMERs in the TWA list because they are the antithesis of “form follows function.” The M998-series HMMWV looks the way it does because its features serve a purpose. The HUMMER H2 and H3 caricature the HMMWV’s appearance for no apparent functional reason. Relatively tiny windows make sense for a vehicle that might be the target of hostile fire; on a civilian vehicle, they make much less sense.

    3. I can’t quite fathom why ca36gtp refers to the Cobalt’s 148hp, 152 lb-ft. 2.2l engine as “punchy” and the Civic’s 140hp, 128 lb-ft. 1.8l engine as “asthmatic,” when the Civic’s hp/lb and torque/lb are both superior to the Cobalt (hp ratio: 18.77hp/lb for the Civic, versus 21.73hp/lb for the Cobalt / torque ratio: 20.5 lb/lb-ft for the Civic, versus 21.2 lbs/lb-ft of torque for the Cobalt*).

    4. I agree with TTAC’s listing the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Compass as different vehicles. The former is an ill-conceived rolling pillbox, while the latter is both an ill-conceived rolling pillbox and a brand-diluting vehicle. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping!

    *All comparisons in this paragraph are based on MY2008 specs, as posted at AOL Autos.

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    All negative comments on the Nitro are right on – you could not design a worse engine than the 3.7L V-6 if you tried. What happens when you position the spark plug right next to the exhaust valve? Nothing good, that’s for sure. All the power of a 4-cyl with the fuel economy of a V-8. Congratulations Chrysler!

  • avatar
    ca36gtp

    3. I can’t quite fathom why ca36gtp refers to the Cobalt’s 148hp, 152 lb-ft. 2.2l engine as “punchy” and the Civic’s 140hp, 128 lb-ft. 1.8l engine as “asthmatic,” when the Civic’s hp/lb and torque/lb are both superior to the Cobalt (hp ratio: 18.77hp/lb for the Civic, versus 21.73hp/lb for the Cobalt / torque ratio: 20.5 lb/lb-ft for the Civic, versus 21.2 lbs/lb-ft of torque for the Cobalt*).

    Because it’s the truth. You can drag out whatever useless stats you want, I’ve driven both cars and the Cobalt feels gutsy compared to the Civic. The 2.2L engine has a much healthier power delivery, whereas the Civic always makes you feel like you’re in the wrong gear.

  • avatar
    niky

    I agree with AuricTech… the Jeep Compass is on such a higher level of awful that it deserves its own entry.

    I’m miffed the Suzuki Forenza didnt make it any higher. A four-banger with Explorer levels of fuel consumption, inert handling and incredibly unreliable electronics? Where do I sign up?

    The Toyota Yaris isn’t a great car, but it makes the Chevrolet Aveo look like rat’s droppings. It actually has fuel economy, for one (driven properly, not at the 80 mph most Americans seem to drive), has a chassis and an engine worthy of being sold in the 21st Century and it has decent space for being a subcompact.

    Granted, it’s crap to drive. (Even Sport Compact Car admitted: “You can make a turd handle, but it’s still a turd” when doing a tuning challenge with one)… but this is a Toyota. If it were a Honda, it would be just like the Fit.

  • avatar

    Rev Junkie,

    The good Reverend should know that it is a sin to speak ill of the house of Toyoda.

    The truth is that the auto industry is a tough game. $2 billion dollar bets on a moving target two years out and even if you have good product and good customer service you could always catch the downward slope of the economic cycle.

    Toyota does a lot of things well (I’ve always been impressed by the way they introduce the chief engineer of every new model at the press conferences), but they’re not perfect.

    Today’s economy is so screwed that even Toyota and Honda are losing money. When your model is lots of cars and small margins, a 30%+ hit in sales has to hurt.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    niky: “… the Jeep Compass is on such a higher level of awful that it deserves its own entry.”What puzzles me is where is the mechanically identical Jeep Patriot? I guess because it at least looks okay (unlike either the Compass or Caliber), it gets a pass.

  • avatar

    It’s interesting that the Jeep Patriot didn’t make the top, or should I say bottom 20 while it’s platform siblings, the Caliber and Compass, are ranked 5 and 2.

    Chrysler isn’t completely without talent, and the Patriot is available in a Jeep “trail rated” version so maybe it has credibility and is truer to the brand. The idea of a Jeep cute ute isn’t inherently stupid, it’s not like Honda & Toyota haven’t sold a bunch of CRVs and RAV4s. The Patriot is also one of the best recent takes on Dick Teague’s masterpiece (one of many) the Cherokee, the Jeep that couldn’t be killed off (still in production in China).

  • avatar
    snabster

    @ psarhjinian;

    I’ve said it before: SAAB is a crappy luxury brand. Yes, GM’s negligence should be criminal. But I have to give some credit to the engineers who keep on **slightly** improving the 9-5. I know you don’t like the projectors and new metal, but the projectors are not uglier than the 9-3s, and the new metal, well, yes.

    What is surprising as well is that the interior electronics haven’t changed. Is there a real oil pressure guage yet? Or a voltmeter? Or better heated seats?

    Anyway,. props for nominating — but it looks as if SAAB is so ignored it can’t win the nomination anyway..

  • avatar
    Kman

    A good list.

    Congratulations to all the winners: the losers.

  • avatar
    Giltibo

    It’s sad…

    To say that the Big 3 had the market cornered and they basically let it go piece by piece… Remember the Cutlass, the Caprice (Late 70’s – Early 80’s), the Taurus (Mid 80’s – Early 90’s) or even the K-Car (Twas not a very refined car but it was right for the moment).

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan et al. jumped in the breach and filled the pipeline with sensible small and midsize cars and, with the Big 3 still neglecting their quality, made their reputation and took the market… and are not relinquishing it.

    It’s really sad to see 2 manufacturers who once were proud taking all top 10 spots in this “Worst Auto Today” poll.

    Now it’s time to pick up the pieces. Many jobs will not be saved, unfortunately, but let’s ensure that the CarMageddon does not take the entire American auto industry. After all, the Hondas, Toyotas and other foreign brands need competition to keep them on their toes and kepp them honest :-)

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    What’s the point in having this contest if ALL the votes don’t get counted? I recall seeing the Toyota Prius nominated numerous times, yet for some mystifying reason I see no mention of it on here. I call bullshit. The beginning of this article begins with “The votes are cast,”. Apparently only some are allowed to be counted.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Kudos on what appears to be a well-thought-out “awards” list. I am surprised by the dearth of Ford products on the list.

    Personally, if the Chevy Colorado gets runner-up placement why isn’t the Ford Ranger on the list? It suffers for many of the same reasons the Saab 9-5 is on there. Haven’t they been making this thing (with minor updates) for at least 20 years? And it wasn’t very good when it was first designed. I don’t know much about the Colorado but it looks like a Cadillac next to a Ranger and you it’s hard to think of a Ranger and a Tacoma getting any cross-consideration.

    Also, the U.S. Focus deserves some mention if for no other reason that we know Ford can do so much better. Heck, the Focus they sold 6 years ago was better than the new one. It’s an insult. I also hate them for replacing the hatchback with that ugly little coupe that couldn’t even look good on the SEMA stage with thousands of dollars worth of bling.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    It’s interesting that the Jeep Patriot didn’t make the top, or should I say bottom 2

    Ronnie, I would’ve voted for the Patriot. Not because I know anything about the new model, which I don’t, but because it’s no longer a “cute ute.” I personally know several women who own or have owned the previous gen Patriot because it’s “cute.” None of them say that about the current model. And I have yet to meet any man that would drive any Patriot. Jeep clearly failed to get repeat customers for the vehicle after the redesign. Classic failure.

    Personally, if the Chevy Colorado gets runner-up placement why isn’t the Ford Ranger on the list?

    While I agree that Ford deserves some ribbing for how they’ve let the Ranger rot, I think it gets forgotten because nobody really buys it for a personal vehicle. It’s a classic fleet vehicle, much like the Crown Vic. Yes, they end up in the consumer market second hand, but by then they’re the perfect vechile for that market, the occasional lumber yard run. The Colorado is a relatively new vehicle that in many ways isn’t better than a 20 year old Ranger. Updated body modlings alone does not make a vechicle better than an old model. For the price I’d take a 10+ year old Ranger over a new Colorado and that’s IMO why the Colorado deserves listing. Yes, the Tacoma hands down is a class leader, but also a price leader. It’s not worth what it costs, and frankly, neither is the Colorado. Focus too, not a great car, but is it the epic failure the Cobalt is, maybe, but at lest it hasn’t been badge engineered to death yet. Ford’s not on the list becuase they are just “a little bit better.” We’ll see if that’s enough to save them from C11. Who knows.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    ca36gtp-Civic vs. Lobalt mpg
    EPA isn’t much more than a vague hypothesis of how they compare on the road.

    Read a few tests where the two are head-to-head.
    Same drivers, same day. Or a consistent method like CR has.
    Read three or for tests for each.
    It’s hard to find a test on the Civic that is much below 30mpg overall, usually above.
    I think the highest mpg I have seen on a Lobalt recently was Edmund’s test of an XFE. 25 mpg. Best tank of 29mpg.

    In the real world the Lobalt gets the mpg of a mid-size car. Every person who bought one would be better off with a used Malibu.

    This is a big reason why it and (and it’s pathetic little step brother, the Aveo) belong here.

    They FAIL at their primary mission, saving gas.

    If you cheery pick stats you can convince yourself of what you want. If you look at a broad spectrum of the data the Lobalt is pointless.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    p.serenissima

    So I’m going to play against type: my wife has had an H3 since April and loves it. Mechanically sound, safe (she’s had one accident in it) and reliable. I like it so much I’m seriously considering the H3T.

    Just seems to me the H3/T is on this list because of looks alone. From my POV, the H3/T have a functional look that lasts, compared to the new body style ever six month competitors.

    My two cents.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I get all bent out of shape when I see a compass or sebring or whatever on the road.

    “What were they thinking?!” I yell.

    Here’s what they were thinking: “Well, Geico only allows me $35 dollars a day for a rental…”

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT

    Go up about 7 posts and re-read what Giltibo posted.

    ‘nuf said.

  • avatar
    zenith

    Actually, I’ve generally done better than EPA mileage. I got 31.2 mpg in a rental version last generation’s Malibu, though lots of folks flamed me and said it was impossible.

    Next rental, I’ll ask for a Cobalt and if I can’t get at least 32, I’ll believe the “Cobalt’s a gas hog” comments.

  • avatar

    I don’t think the Tesla deserves to be here, simply because those fortunate enough to get one agree it’s loads of fun to drive. At the very least, its sheer audacity makes it worthy of credit.

    Production delays, however egregious, don’t make it a bad car.

    D

  • avatar
    DAC17

    I guess Chrysler really should go Ch. 11, huh?

  • avatar
    bankerdanny

    JJ :
    December 18th, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Ford made the same mistakes GM and Chrysler made, just to a lesser degree than GM and Chrysler. Ford shows they can make genuinely good cars in Europe but they chose to give the US market cheaped out models hoping the US consumer wouldn’t notice. But I guess they did in the end.

    The domestics have 2 problems trying to sell the european cars here:

    (1) Americans aren’t willing to pay premium prices for small cars. Go to Ford’s UK website and price out a 4 door Focus with the 2.0/auto and AC, at current exchange rates the sticker is $28k! Choose a diesel, or add some power goodies and the price goes even higher. Are you ready to pay almost as much for a Focus as a G37 or 128i?

    (2) CAFE doesn’t allow the big 3 to count the european built models towards corporate mileage goals. So they are forced to build them here using expensive US labor.

    So, they want to make some profit, but they can’t charge much, and they have to build them in a higher cost environment, something has to give and that is materials and quality.

    Ford, GM and Chrysler have made plenty of mistakes, but they don’t sell low quality small cars here by choice.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’m still not sure I get why the Cobalt is considered such a disaster. I will give you that the styling appears as if nobody even tried, but in my mind the existence of an SS version (which seems to have excellent bones) elevates the car above the Focus. Even GM’s interior details, while bland on the Cobalt, are far better and appear more durable than the tupperware and rattle-can “aluminum” used in the new Focus.

    I’ll have to rent one next time I’m traveling but I have driven an ’09 Focus and was saddened to see what they did to the original which was a good car and offered the versatility of a 5-door model. I think I’ll go check Craigslist for a used SVT Focus 5-door with the Euro package…

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    ZENITH-no problem believing a malibu would get 31 mpg, esp on the hwy. Dang near any sedan can. That includes v6 models.

    I bet an easy driven Lobalt will on the hwy also.

    My point is that driven by the same people (rather than an anecdote by someone of unknown driving habits and math skills) in the same conditions, a Lobalt (even the -gasp- XFE)consistently gets mpg (23-25) typical of a midsize sedan. That’s unacceptable.
    The Corolla and Civic, under the same conditions, with the same drivers, consistently get higher mpg (29-32 typ). I think CR got close to 40 on their hwy loop with each.

    One test could give an odd result. I have seen numerous tests of each and the Honda and Toy always beat the Chevys mpg very easily. The Lobalt is a bit quicker (not much).
    I suspect 14 out of 10 economy car buyers will take mpg over speed every time. ;^D

    A worse built car that does it’s primary job poorly. Bigger outside, heavier, smaller interior. Crappy fit and finish.
    The Lobalt belongs.

    Regards,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    JEM

    I agree with pretty much all of the top 10, though the Trailblazer SS and 9-7X are reasonably useful and fun if gotten cheaply enough.

    All that Chrysler junk is amazing. Almost every last one of ‘em is worse than the vehicle it replaced, which is quite an achievement. Why would a car company design and build a vehicle intentionally to be no better than seventh- or tenth-best in its market segment? You can’t undersell the competition by enough to overcome that kind of deficiency.

    As for 11-23, I wouldn’t put the Tesla or the Smart in a ‘worst’ bucket, though their competencies are very narrow (and in Tesla’s case the car’s far better than the company that builds it.) The Buick Lacrosse is not bad, it’s just not as good as it needs to be, and the Saab 9-5 is still a nice enough piece of hardware though it’s well past its sell-by date.

    And while the base Cobalt is nothing special (and the Pontiac G5/G6 are trash) the Cobalt SS is absolutely the most fun you can have for $24K, it’s fast and most importantly (and unusually for Detroit) it drives like a ball of silk even when it’s going stupid-fast, by comparison the Mazdaspeed3 feels rough and badly set-up and the VW GTI feels like a ton of sand. Cobalt interior’s barely up to the Mazda and nowhere near as good as the VW, and it’d be nice if the four-door were a hatchback, but it’s still huge fun.

  • avatar
    DAC17

    I own a Mazdaspeed3, and it’s a lot more refined that the Cobalt SS. Granted, both are about as quick, but the Mazda is a lot better driver.

  • avatar

    9. VW Routan – The Volkswagen Routan is a badge-engineered Dodge Caravan. Pros forge Monets, not Hello Kitty posters.- mm

    This was by far the most clever and funniest of the mini-reviews.

    The Routan is especially sad because the concept of the New Microbus was so cool. The ads for the Routan just made me want to toss my cookies

  • avatar
    Dencal26

    Sorry I disagree with this Anti American list. Why is Prius not on the list? Toyota Prius is one of the ugliest designs I have ever seen. No hybrids do not have to be this ugly. If this was a GM Prius it would have made the list. Where is the Suzuki Grand Vitarra which is another hunk of junk ?

    I have a 1998 Sebring Convertible with 98K trouble free miles. Not even a minor rattle.

  • avatar

    The Prius is not on this list because it does so many things so incredibly well.

    * 50mpg, yet lots of spa ce for your stuff and your family
    * bombproof reliability for 300k
    * not a bad car to drive, as some owners on these boards will tell you. In fact, fun, although not in the sense of a roadster. But in the world of family four door sedans, it’s damn good.
    * technological tour de force

    Mind you, I’m not a fan of hybrids. I like my internal combustion straight up, just the way I like my bourbon. But I can’t deny Toyota’s accomplishment with this car.

    Now, you were kidding a out wanting to put th ePrius on teh bad car list, right?

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @bankerdanny :
    Americans aren’t willing to pay premium prices for small cars. Go to Ford’s UK website and price out a 4 door Focus with the 2.0/auto and AC, at current exchange rates the sticker is $28k! Choose a diesel, or add some power goodies and the price goes even higher. Are you ready to pay almost as much for a Focus as a G37 or 128i?

    OK, then price out a GTI at VW’s Euro website. Or a Passat. Or a 135i. A Focus isn’t the same price as a 128i. It’s a cheaper alternative to a Volkswagen in Europe. Comparing European Ford prices, wich include VAT, to American BMW prices, which don’t, doesn’t work.
    Also, cars are so much cheaper in the U.S. that there are companies that import US-Spec German cars back from the U.S. into Germany, convert them to German-spec and sell them for 30% less than German MSRP. Works with Cayennes and Touaregs, for example.

  • avatar
    niky

    Yup. You can’t compare UK prices to anywhere else… the taxes on cars there are ridiculous! We get the European Focus over here, and the price is competitive with the Corolla, Civic and Mazda3.

    The Toyota Prius, personally, is useless in terms of economy, simply because the price premium, in the absence of frivolous “greenie” tax breaks, outweighs the savings on fuel prices, unless you drive very far and long. But as a car per se, the new Prius, in the absence of fuel-saving tires, actually drives pretty well. It’s spacious, very economical, very quiet and comparable in performance to most compacts, while returning fuel economy as good as or better than a subcompact. I wouldn’t buy one… but if my office issued me one as a company car, I’d feel very lucky, indeed.

    Just because you may dislike it for political reasons, doesn’t make it a bad car… same with the Tesla. The Tesla is about as useless as a bugatti Veyron… and just as overpriced. Doesn’t make it a bad car.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    The only reason I’m pissed that the Prius wasn’t on the list is because so many people nominated it. There’s no point in holding nominations if the nominees are going to be cherry picked.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I would hope that all the Prius-haters will be as rabid about the Volt, a vehicle that, if the price estimates are correct (nearly twice as much as the Prius), would seem to be guaranteed a spot on the list for exactly the same reasons many have tried to use for the Prius. That is, if the Volt even makes production.

    If the Prius-haters really want a current production hybrid on the list, it should be the Malibu. The premium GM wants over that of the non-hybrid version is outrageous when the mpg benefit is so miniscule.

    Ironically, that wasn’t originally the case with the Malibu Hybrid. The original price increase was something like $1800 for the hybrid. With a $1300 tax credit, that effectively made the premium $500 for the hybrid, which was reasonable for the tiny improvement in fuel economy.

    But then when gas went to $4/gal, in typical GM fashion, GM jacked the price up to where it’s now around $3000 more for the hybrid. Needless to say, the few sales there were fell off dramatically.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Has anyone here driven a Tesla Roadster?

    It’s kinda of amazing, when you think about it, that 80% or more of Chrysler’s lineup is worse than the Kia Amanti. Of course, being in the Auburn Hills area this week means that I get to see the Dodge Nitro all over the roads.

    The Prius should be on the list.

  • avatar
    Rix

    Not a single Ford/Lincoln on the top 10. Not a single Hyundai.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    You know what, I really want to test drive that Sebring to see just how terrible it is. I’ve seen them and person, and they are just as ugly as they are in pictures (some salesman must have forcefully unloaded that heap on the little old lady from my church who unfortunately owns it), the interior looks crap-tastic, and have read reviews that it drives in the same geriatric way it looks. What I want to know is, if I go into the showroom with my dad (i’m only 17), will the guy be desperate enough to let both of us drive it? I just really want to see how bad it is, and I have driven some pretty bad cars…. well just one bad car, but it was exceptionally awful: a bulbous ’05ish Taurus with a column shift. You’ve seen those, the ones whose sides look like they have fat rolls!

  • avatar
    happy-cynic

    My mom had rented a Sebring when she came from out west to visit us. I took it out for a drive. The ride was not bad. But the interior was awful. It reminded me of the McMansions that are soo popular around here. Trying to look fancy on the cheap. Even though it had less then 10k on the clock, it felt tired. It could have been decent , but looks the bean counters and the UAW had bleed the life out any chance of it be more then what it is
    It has earned its place on the list.

    Ah the Durango; I know some one whom was a huge Beemer fan.
    He had a 5 series. Talk about being punished. He got married, and his wife forced him to move to Southern PA. He came up to visit and his ride is now a hemi Durango. There should a lawsuit against Chrysler for taking one of the coolest towns in the USA and sticking on a real turd of vehicle. It too is well deserved to be placed on this list.

  • avatar
    vvk

    SAAB 9-5?!! 260 hp, 33+ mpg, ungodly midrange and by far the best car seats in the world — all bad?!

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    I think the list was right on. I know many people think that the Prius should be on the list, but the execution of the Prius is smart, not idiotic. I has innovative (still today) power management, the build quality is high and it is tolerable to live with.

    I drove a Nitro on a business trip a few weeks ago. I cannot believe that Cry-sler management agreed that this car would be the one that hits the target. WOW. Don’t they do any market research or benchmarking at Chrysler?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “For example, the 1987-1990 Chev Caprice Classic was one of the best looking full size cars on the market (you pick which year). In 1991 it was replaced with the most gawd-awful styling (to which Motor Trend promptly named it the Car of the Year).”

    I agree with you. The crisp lines of the 87-90 Caprice were elegant and looked great. The upside down bathtub of ’91 is absolutely horrific. WTH!

  • avatar
    niky

    Unfortunately for the Prius haters, the Prius doesn’t deserve to be on the list. I hate the idea of the Prius. Absolutely. Hate the way it’s used to tout Toyota’s “green” image, while allowing them to make grossly inefficient Scion xB 2.4s and V8 Pickups.

    But after driving it… I have to admit… it’s a great commuter car. Its only sin, really, is being too expensive for the task… but then, almost anything from Audi, BMW or Mercedes is too expensive for said task, too… (honestly… you’re buying a 1-series with an automatic to… what?).

    It’s not even the worst car in Toyota’s stable. That slot is reserved for the Yaris sedan. :D

  • avatar
    rudiger

    niky: “It’s not even the worst car in Toyota’s stable. That slot is reserved for the Yaris sedan.”What about the FJ Cruiser? It would seem to have the biggest flaw of the small Toyotas (appearance), plus it’s a big, expensive, inefficient gas-guzzler. That would seem to handily trump any other faults of Toyotas like the Yaris, Prius, Corolla, etc. It’s Toyota’s ugly version of the Hummer, whose only saving grace is that it doesn’t have any of the Hummer’s quality issues.

    As far as ‘bad’ Toyotas go, it’s tough to fathom how the Scion xB could be number 17 and the FJ Cruiser is nowhere to be found.

  • avatar
    akear

    What is surprising is that the Sebring outsells the Aura by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. It is not that the Sebring is an awful, but it is resoundingly average. Average in today’s market does not cut it at all.

    I came across a year old USATODAY review on online that give the Sebring a positive write up. In fact the author liked it better than the current Malibu!
    Unlike the Malibu, at least the Sebring offers a navigation screen.
    What really troubles me is Chrysler’s inaction in replacing the Sebring. They have heard most of the reviews, and you think they would want to improve the car. However, with no-action Nardelli in charge nothing will probably happen. He is sucking the life out of Chrysler just like he did at Home Depot.
    Nardelli actually makes Way-goner and Putz look good.

    What a disgrace!!!!

  • avatar
    rudiger

    mcs: “The D1.8 defenders claim that these companies build cars people want – is [the Sebring] an example? Where was management when they came up with these specs? Couldn’t someone in have stepped in and said the product wasn’t good enough and directed engineering to go back and get it right?”I read somewhere (maybe here on TTAC) that someone working at DCX explained that during that particular period, DCX management had a decidely undiplomatic way of car design and engineering where any feedback which questioned the propriety of any facet of a design was simply not allowed. An autocratic management style of being told what to do, then doing it (or else) ruled the day.

    If true, it would go a long way to understanding how much of the dreck which constitutes the majority of the current Chrysler line-up came into existance.

  • avatar
    kokomokid

    I agree completely that Sebring and Avenger are worst-in-catagory, but their being as good as they are is very telling.

    Look at it this way. An Avenger has easy to read instruments and logical controls, the seats are comfortable, at least for my 5’10”, 150# body, and, even with the much-maligned 2.7 engine my rental had, it drove ok. The 2.7 is thirsty for its performance, but it gets the job done. Cars have come a long way, and worst-in-catagory is a whole lot better than it was, even a few years ago.

    I would not buy one of these cars; the competition is better, but I understand some people buying them, just because they want more “interesting” styling than most of the Asian competition.


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