Category: Ten Worst Autos

By on December 8, 2008

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.

[Click here for a pdf of all 121 nominees]

By on December 5, 2008

With all the industry news we’ve been covering, the Ten Worst Vehicles Awards got pushed to the back burner. But now that the meltdown is underway and seems to be running on autopilot, it’s time to take a look at the jaundiced jalopies that contributed to the fiasco formerly known as the auto industry. For those of you who are new to the site, the Ten Worst Vehicles is TTAC’s homage to excessively egregious examples of vehicular vomitus the automakers puked on the car-buying public during the year.  TTACs Best and Brightest (that’s you) make the nominations, our crackhead team of writers narrow the field to 20 or so of the crappiest and then you vote on the top (or bottom) ten. Just to refresh your memories, here are the buckets of bolts you selected as the crème de la crap in 2007:

10. Saturn ION – Thankfully they finally rethinked this one right out of existence

9. Chrysler Aspen – A high-tech hybrid powertrain and massive incentives aren’t enough to revive this turkey.

8. Chevrolet TrailBlazer / GMC Envoy / Isuzu Ascender / Saab 9-7X  – All but dead.  Good riddance.

7. Hummer H2 –  Sells so poorly the entire division is on life support.

6. Hummer H3 – That’s not an exhaust note, it’s a death rattle.

5. Chevrolet Uplander – Dead and finally gone.  They even closed the plant.

4. Dodge Nitro – Fizzled like wet fireworks.

3. Chevrolet Aveo – The mouth breather grill won’t help this bottom feeder.

2. Chrysler Sebring – So bad even the rental companies aren’t buying it.

1. Jeep Compass – Jeep enthusiasts asked WTF and buyers agreed.

In case you’ve forgotten since last year, or you’re a Ten Worst virgin, here’s are the rules:

1.  Any car or light truck offered for sale as a new vehicle in the U.S. between January 1 and today is eligible for nomination. I know those of you in Canada and other countries feel left out, but we have to draw the line somewhere to keep this under control.  It doesn’t matter who built it or where, just that it’s sold legally in the States.

2.  All nominations have to be justified.  That doesn’t mean just saying it’s a POS car.  Tell us WHY it’s a POS car.  Nominations may be deleted unceremoniously and without warning for any of the following reasons:  insufficient justification, excessive verbosity or pontification, foul language or patent absurdity.

3.  All nominations must meet TTAC’s house rules on flaming or trolling (i.e., don’t).  Offensive comments about other readers will be summarily deleted and the writer could be banned from TTAC.  However, offensive observations about the nominees are encouraged.

4.  Blatantly badge-engineered siblings can be nominated jointly if they all suck equally (see winner #8 above).  Platform mates can be nominated separately, but may be combined at the whim of the editor for the final vote.

5.  If we can wake them up long enough, TTAC’s writers will select 20 finalists from the nominees, give or take a few.  The number of times a vehicle is nominated is irrelevant so don’t waste the pixels on typing “me too.”

6.  Readers will vote via an electronic survey on the 20 or so finalists to determine America’s Ten Worst Vehicles.  Multiple voting ain’t kosher so don’t even try.

7.  Nominations begin today and will continue until midnight EDT, Sunday December 8, with the 20 finalists presented for voting a few days afterwards.  The winners will be announced whenever we get around to it.  We have nothing to give the winners but our disdain, so the winning manufacturers will find out about it like everyone else.

How do you decide what crapmoblies are worthy of your attention?

– Styling so bad it could even make Stevie Wonder look the other way.

– A market misfit that makes you wonder what the product planners were smoking, drinking, shooting up or otherwise self-administering.

– Engineering malpractice that makes the vehicle practically undrivable or so bland you wouldn’t want to drive it.

– Something that you can’t quite put your finger on but gives you the urge to regurge anytime you think about it.

So now it’s in your court.  Make your nominations below and tell us which ones you think are really deserving of being named one of TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles for 2008.

Please note: Nominations will close at midnight EST Sunday, December 8.

By on June 13, 2008

jp008_002cp.jpgIt's been a bit over six months since you, our Best and Brightest, picked 2007's Ten Worst Automobiles. A lot's happened in the industry since then, not much of it good. SUVs are out and econoboxs are in, gas prices are insane and manufacturers are closing factories and realigning those left. To lighten the mood during these dark days, let's see how our biggest losers have fared amidst all this turmoil.

10. Saturn ION:  RIP

The lame duck ION waddles off the field of battle without achieving any glory whatsoever.

The last of the plastic-paneled Saturns (and some would say the last real Saturn) is dead, replaced by a more expensive badge-engineered Opel Astra. It could have been much more than it was. But it wasn't, so good riddance.

9.  Chrysler Aspen: Selling, but why?

A cynical repackaging of the Durango, complete with an arthritic suspension and interior appointments you're best advised not to keep.

Aspen's sales are, inexplicably, 12.4 percent higher so far this year than last. Maybe the cut-rate gas program is duping enticing people to sign-up for six years' payments on a vehicle they won't be able to afford to fuel after three. There's a HEMI-engined hybrid Aspen variant on its way, but they're still closing the plant in 2009. Good move.

8.  Chevy Trailblazer: Going, going, not gone 

Trabant-class fit and finish and Yugo-compatible interior design

Sales of this antediluvian artifact started dropping well before gas prices started climbing. However, with a 145-day supply on lots at the start of April, $4/gallon gas the norm and SUV sales lower than a politician's credibility, it may be a long time before they disappear, even after Bowtoy Boys pull the plug on production in 2010.

7.  HUMMER H2: on the chopping block

You might as well wear a freshly-bludgeoned baby seal as drive this big rig.

GM sold all of 375 humongous H2's in May. They'll be selling even fewer in the future– now that GM's decided to ditch the Antichrist of the eco-movement. Rumors that someone will buy the HUMMER brand in today's crowded, cratered SUV and off-road market are almost as ludicrous as the H2.

6.  HUMMER H3: following big brother's footsteps

Thirstier than Lindsay Lohan fresh out of rehab, slower than continental drift and rougher than Class VI rapids.

Even though the H3 doesn't get much worse mileage than other small SUVs, the HUMMER stigma alone is enough to cause buyers to shun it. It'll also be gone when they pull the plug on the HUMMER brand.

5.  Chevy Uplander: Gasping its last breath 

The only remnant of GM's po-faced assault on the minivan market can't hit the ash can of automotive history soon enough.

Chevy's pulled the plug and is closing the plant responsible for this automotive abortion. If you just have to have one of the worst minivans ever built, dealers still have about 2700 in inventory. And will for many months to come.

4.  Dodge Nitro:  Selling like ham at Hanukkah

A four-wheeled testament to Chrysler's brand mismanagement and thoroughly inept product development.

Buyers seem to agree with our assessment. Nitro sales are down 32.2 percent; Jeep dealers had a 110-day supply as of April 1. Chrysler co-president Jim Press said his employer's going to eliminate duplicate products to streamline their product line. Start here!

3.  Chevy Aveo:  Cheap sells, at least for now

GM can't build a decent small car in the U.S., perhaps they're trying to demonstrate that they can't build one in Korea either.

A rising tide lifts all boats; Chevy's craptastic captive Korean has caught a ride on the coat tails of the American revolution against SUVs and pickups. If you need proof that consumers are desperate to buy a fuel miser, any fuel miser (even a not-so-miserly miser), well, here it is.

2.  Chrysler Sebring:  A born rental car

Its cabin, handling, acceleration, and ride quality are to driving pleasure what hair shirts are to eczema sufferers.

This car has such a bad interior they started a special project to re-do it after just one year. Chrysler says they're cutting sales to fleets and rental companies and it shows: Sebring sales dropped almost 31 percent in May compared with last year.

1.  Jeep Compass: Wannabees never go far

Jeep's recipe for disaster: laughable aesthetics, second-rate road manners, poky performance and interior materials pulled from the bottom drawer of Chrysler's parts bin.

Sales of the Caliber-based anti-Jeep are trailing last year by 13.3 percent. What else would you expect for a vehicle that can't handle much more than a dirt road yet tries to pass itself off as a Jeep? A reader reports that a salesman said the Compass will die in 2009. Another excellent idea.

In a few months, we'll be soliciting nominees for the third annual Ten Worst Automobile awards, naming and shaming the most lamentable cars for sale as new in 2008. Will Compass, Aspen, Aveo, and H2 score a three-peat? Time– and TTAC's Best and Brightest– will tell. 

By on November 8, 2007

jp008_003cp.jpgThe fat lady has finally sung. The Truth About Cars (TTAC) and its faithful readers have identified the Ten Worst cars for sale in America in 2007. We began with a list of 136 reader-nominated vehicles. Our writers narrowed the field of bad dreams down to 20 finalists. By popular vote, you selected the ten most odious automobiles. And the winners are… after the jump (we need the page views).

By on October 24, 2007

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It is time. You've nominated 136 candidates for The Truth About Cars' (TTAC) recently rechristened “Ten Worst Automobiles” awards. TTAC’s stable of underpaid and overeducated scribes surveyed the damage and did their duty: they've winnowed the roll call of automotive abominations down to the terrible twenty. Now it's your turn to tell the truth about cars. Go to the bottom of this post and vote for ten vehicles you consider worthy of public recognition as TTAC's Ten Worst for 2007.

Some Ten Worst nominees were as predictable as an episode of Scooby Do– and they would have got away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling pistonheads! A couple of choices seemed designed with TTAC's Ten Worst awards in mind. And here they are: the bad, the ugly, the worst of the worst.

Chevrolet TrailBlazer / GMC Envoy / Isuzu Ascender / Saab 9-7X (2006 Winner – 9-7X)

Chevy Aveo (2006 Winner)

Chevrolet Cobalt  (2006 Nominee)

Chevrolet Monte Carlo (2006 Winner)

Chevrolet Uplander (2006 Winner)

Chrysler Aspen (2006 Winner)

Chrysler Sebring

Dodge Caliber

Dodge Nitro

Ford Focus

Hummer H2 (2006 Nominee)

Hummer H3

Jaguar X-type (2006 Nominee)

Jeep Commander (2006 Nominee)

Jeep Compass (2006 Winner)

Lincoln Mark LT (2006 Winner)

Nissan Armada

Pontiac Grand Prix

Saturn ION

Subaru Tribeca (2006 Winner)

To assist you in your sacred duty, lend the Ten Worst selection process an air of legitimacy, amuse you and take us to the requisite 800 words, here are guidelines for assessing each finalist. 

Value (price, content, depreciation) – Does it scream "RENTAL UNIT?" Would you be better off in the long run if you just tossed your money down a sewer grate rather than buying this vehicle?

Market segment suitability – How well does the Ten Worst finalist stack up against other vehicles in its class or price range? Is there any real justification for its existence– other than placating dealers or keeping a factory running to satisfy the terms of a UAW contract?

Reliability – When you hear someone talking about "Total Recall," do you think about Arnie's magnum opus or this car? Would you buy one only if you could unload it before the 50K mile mark? Would you let your teen-aged daughter drive one across town at 1 AM? 

Build quality – Does the wiring look like a public service announcement for The Duct Tape Council? Can you see the panel gaps from low-Earth orbit? Was the trim applied by Salvador Dali after a three-day bender?

Quality of materials – Are the materials better suited for a city bus than a private vehicle? Would you rather touch a leper than a latch? Is the faux wood/aluminum/carbon fiber as convincing as Britney Spears speaking at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving convention?

Styling – Does it look like it was designed by three different blind people? In three different countries? Communicating via smoke signals? From a bong?

Performance/handling – Is the vehicle's zero to 60 performance best measured with a calendar? Does the hubbub under the hood have any correlation with forward motion? Does the car's cornering prowess bring to mind a rutting walrus?

Design – Are the ergonomics egregious? Is there less rearwards visibility than a 747? Is it a parts bin special bereft of anything remotely resembling "special?"  

Desirability– If your company gave you this vehicle as a company car, would you consider changing jobs?  If you had to drive one in public, would you pull a cap down over your face and assume the gansta slouch just to keep anyone from recognizing you?

Je ne sais quoi– That's French for "I know this car sucks, but I can't put my finger on the exact reason it makes me gag every time one passes on the street."

So, armed with these analytic tools, we place TTAC's Ten Worst in your capable hands. When you're ready, click at the bottom of this post and vote for up to 10 selections to be named the crème de la crap of the auto industry. (No repeat voting. Violators will be forced to drive the worst of The Worst for one week.) Please feel free to justify your decision and/or lobby your car-crazed cohorts below. Voting closes at midnight, Saturday 27 October. We'll announce the "winners" on November 1.

As always, RF, the entire TTAC team and I thank you for your participation. Although we use a light-hearted tone here, rest assured we understand the importance of naming and shaming the vehicles that bring dishonor to their manufacturers and disgrace our American roadways. And to those automakers whose products appear here, a message: the truth hurts. If your vehicle is on this list, regardless of short term gain, we urge you to do the right thing. For all of our sakes, it's time for the pain to stop. 

Click here to vote

By on October 17, 2007

photo_14.jpgNominations for TTAC's Ten Worst Automobiles awards continue apace. You, our not-so-gentle readers, are cordially invited to continue submitting your ruminations on these ruinations underneath this post. So far you've nominated 118 different vehicles (give or take a few clones). While we're not keeping track of how many nominations any given car receives, there are already a few clear front runners. Here's a roundup of the "leading" nominations and their pithy proponents…

By on May 2, 2007

pontiac-montana-sv62.jpgSix months ago, this website published its Ten Worst Automobiles Today (TWAT) awards. While the resulting publicity pretty much killed our access to press cars, it had to be said. As we ready ourselves for readers' '07 TWAT nominations and the eventual awards dinner (yes, you're invited), let's see how last year's "winners" have fared since TTAC named and shamed the Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

10.  Chevrolet Aveo: alive and, uh, well  

"In the case of this captive Korean import, you pay little and get even less."  

Driving a Chevy Aveo5 was like pedaling a bicycle through a Hell's Angels' motorcade: slow, noisy and frightening. And yet, since scoring a TWAT, consumers have shown their desperation for cheap, high-mileage vehicles (and their ignorance of TTAC's editorial wisdom) by sending sales up 53%.  

9.  Lincoln Mark LT: fading fast

"The Mark LT is a rolling testament to Dearborn's short-term, suicidal reliance on bean-counted engineering."

In 2006, Lincoln unloaded about 1k florid F-150’s per month. Only about 700 customers per month are currently looking at $9800 worth of first year depreciation, minus a $4k rebate. Still, anyone who loves their LT isn’t likely to care. At least not yet.   

8.  Saab 9-7x: doomed

 "You know what I hate most about the Saab 9-7X? It's a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats."  

Badge-engineering this mutant must be a low-cost proposition; GM's still building 9-7x's despite selling fewer than 500 per month. The model will surely die with the rest of the Trailblazer clones in 2010, to be replaced by the 9-4X. With Saab's DNA DOA, can another TWAT be far behind?

7.  Subaru B9 Tribeca: struggling for survival

"The fact that the B9 is also slow, thirsty and cramped proves that repulsiveness can be more than skin deep."  

Tired of TTAC-inspired sniggering and lackluster sales, Subaru is about to modify the Tribeca's infamous "flying vagina" grill and slot-in a bigger engine. The B9-no-more (if it ever was) will still be as ugly as current sales figures. Subie sold just 3606 examples in the first three months of ‘07, down 22.8% from last year's miserable total. We reckon it's only a matter of time…

6.  Chevrolet Monte Carlo: dead

"The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is a wrong wheel-drive engineering joke from the late ‘80's." 

The darling of the NASCAR set heads for the big pit stop in the sky this June. Dale Jr. fans need not despair. Chevy has a brand new set of Impala SS decals ready to plaster on NASCAR's generic "Car of Tomorrow." How great is that?

5.  Hummer H2: doomed

"While the H2 doesn't come with hair plugs, it tells the world that the man behind the wheel has a small penis, or brain, or both." 

When gas prices went up, H2 sales went down– 27% from last year. Quelle surprise! With the smaller, less hideous H3 on the market, the H2 is destined for retirement.

4.  Chrysler Aspen: DOA

"It's a perfect example of the old adage ‘Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.'"

A huge, thirsty, expensive, poorly-built, Pacifica-faced SUV based on the Durango, one of the worst-selling SUV's on the market? I'll take two. Meanwhile, Chrysler sold just 7244 Aspens in the first quarter of '07. The just-announced hybrid Hemi Aspen won't do diddley to ressurect this stillborn syllogism. 

3.  Buick Rendezvous: dead 

"The Rendezvous embodies everything that's brought GM to the brink: penny pinching, brand dilution and chronic neglect."  

GM is shutting down the plant where this minivan-based SUV is manufactured. The dubiously port-holed Enclave replaces both the Rendezvous and Ranier (a Chevy Trailblazer with the key on the ignition column, right where God intended).

2.  Jeep Compass: struggling

"The Compass stomps all over Jeep's reputation as America's purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles."  

When a company known for “Trail Rated” off-roaders bases a vehicle on a front wheel-drive family car, only L.L. Bean fashion victims need apply. Apparently, there aren’t a whole lot of buyers answering to that description. At the start of April, Jeep had a 117-day supply of the not-so-cute-ute languishing on their lots. 

1.  GM Minivans: dead

 "For their… cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition, GM's minivans earn The Truth About Cars' accolade as the worst vehicles currently for sale in America."  

These vans were so bad they caused their manufacturer to abandon an entire market segment. After this year, they're toast.

Speaking of toasts, in six months time we'll be raising our glasses to TTAC's 2007 TWAT award winners. It's too early to tell if last year's survivors will make it onto this year's list. But it's not too early to begin thinking about which vehicles will become one of TTAC's Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

[NOTE: TTAC is not asking for official TWAT nominations at this time.]

Click here for all articles about the '06 TWAT Awards

By on November 13, 2006

x07ct_up006222.jpgThe polls are closed. We’ve tallied and rank-ordered the votes. You, TTAC’s ever faithful and always vocal readers, have selected the Ten Worst Automobiles Today (TWAT) from all the vehicles for sale in the US during calendar year 2006. Some of the votes were pretty close (only 35 votes separated the 10th place winner from the first runner-up at number 11), while others ran away from the pack from the very beginning. Here they are, starting with 10th place and counting down to number one, the winners of the 2006 TTAC Ten Worst Automobiles Today awards:

10.  Chevrolet Aveo  Chevy likes to tout the Aveo as the “lowest-priced [new] car in America." In spite of their warning “content may vary,” it’s easy to see how they achieved that goal. From the hollow-sounding doors, bargain-basement plastics and skinny tires to the coarse-sounding engine that strains when faced with even the slightest incline, it exudes “cheap” from every ounce of its being. The Aveo also refutes the smart shopper’s mantra “you get what you pay for.” In the case of this captive Korean import, you pay little and get even less.  – FW

9.  Lincoln Mark LT  Lincoln’s badge engineered Ford F-150 is an unholy degradation of the world-famous Lincoln Mark nomenclature. While Brother Navigator sets the luxo-truck standard for wikkid beat boxes, wood-trimmed tillers, ventilated seats and power running boards, the LT went the adhesive-backed bling route, hit the showers and called it a day. From the richly textured but rock-hard interior plastics to the exterior’s mega-dose of bottom-dollar spizzarkle, the Mark LT is a rolling testament to Dearborn’s short-term, suicidal reliance on bean-counted engineering.  – SM

8.  Saab 9-7x  The Saab 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. Moreover, the Saab 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. I can't stand the fact that the Saab 9-7X is nothing more than a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. And when you stop and think about it, the Saab 9-7X is little more than a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. Who did GM think they were fooling when they released the Saab 9-7X, which is nothing more than a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats? You know what I hate most about the Saab 9-7X? It’s a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats.  – JL

7.  Subaru B9 Tribeca  Subaru execs may have been stony-faced when TTAC described the front end of their new SUV as a “flying vagina," but at least they didn’t turn to stone. Given the unrelenting hideousness of the Tribeca’s design– from its genital front end to its fallopian dash to its alien eyes rear end — they should count themselves lucky. The fact that the B9 is also slow, thirsty and cramped proves that repulsiveness can be more than skin deep. Why Subaru felt the need to enter the SUV segment when it offers such a wide range of superb four wheel-drive sedans and wagons is anybody’s guess. Clearly, they shouldn’t have bothered. – RF

6.  Chevrolet Monte Carlo  The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is a wrong wheel-drive engineering joke from the late ‘80’s. But it's main claim to shame is its merciless butchering of Chevy's once decadent “personal luxury” lines.  In one fell swoop, the baroque fenders went from tacky-posh to adolescently unrefined. From the front, the Asian-inspired headlights assault the muscle car values once associated with this famous coupe. At the rear, sacrilege takes the form of taillights that look like a two-way bookshelf speaker that met the business end of a heat gun. Factor in various grades of interior panel gapping, Wal-Mart spec’d polymers and parts bin swapping with zero integration and you’re done.  – SM

5.  Hummer H2  The Hummer H2 is a rebodied Yukotahoburbelade that’s so damn heavy the IRS will give you a tax break because you just bought a piece of commercial farm equipment. It looks like a school bus from behind and a morbidly obese Cherokee from every other angle. It doesn't handle. Braking distances are straight from 1956. It gets less than 10mpg and takes longer than 10 seconds to reach 60. The chances that its owners will take it off-road are slimmer than the odds of Nicole Ritchie eating. Even the name sucks (literally): the H2 is a sad simulacrum of the first Gulf War winning off-road champ HUMVEE. While the H2 doesn’t come with hair plugs, it tells the world that the man behind the wheel has a small penis, or brain, or both.  – JL

4.  Chrysler Aspen  Chrysler is trying to flog this monstrosity as a blingmobile– which is like trying to sell cocaine as a sleep aid. Chrysler's barely badge-engineered Dodge Durango is ugly. It’s thirsty. It’s slow. It’s badly built. It’s cramped. It’s expensive. Although the Aspen was an inexpensive cheap way for the Dark Lords of DCX to expand the Chrysler brand portfolio, it’s a perfect example of the old adage “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.” – RF

3.  Buick Rendezvous  Based on a 1997 minivan and introduced in 2002, the Rendezvous is a platform partner to the Chevrolet Venture, Pontiac Montana and Oldsmobile Silhouette, and a fraternal twin to the gruesome Pontiac Aztek. It’s outlasted them all, creaking along with nothing more than a few trim changes and corporate-wide mechanical updates. The ungainly Rendezvous’ ride, handling and performance are on par with… a 10-year-old minivan. In fact, the Rendezvous embodies everything that’s brought GM to the brink: penny pinching, brand dilution and chronic neglect. It’s set to be replaced by the Enclave, and not a moment too soon. – FW

2.  Jeep Compass  Props to DCX for trying to introduce an economical model for fans of the storied Jeep brand. A pox on their house for building the Compass. In this horror story, Dr. Frankenstein (played by the mustache-twirling Doktor Z) grafts round headlights and a seven-slot grill onto the face of a mediocre high-riding sedan (a.k.a. the Dodge Caliber). He throws the switch and an ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or God forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons. The Compass stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles. It’s time to get out your pitchforks.  – WCM

1.  GM Minivans  Talk about retro-design. Rather than simply cop styling cues from bygone classics, GM built the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6 using 25-year-old engineering. (Though not literally true, it’s true enough.) In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these ridiculously-named “Crossover Sport Vans.” For their antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition, GM’s minivans earn The Truth About Cars’ accolade as the worst vehicles currently for sale in America.  – WCM

By on October 27, 2006

1974-ford-pinto-122.jpgThe Truth About Cars (TTAC) TWAT Award Selection Committee has convened. Fifteen members of our cadre of car critics and commentators carefully considered the full horror of your 131 nominations. They then selected 20 vehicles that deserve your consideration for the final 10 winners/losers. And so, now, we turn to you, our avid devotees and unshakeable critics, for your knowledge, passion, honesty and sarcasm. It’s time to VOTE for the ten vehicles which will be anointed TTAC’s top TWATs for 2006.

As you may have noticed during the nomination process, some vehicles practically dripped with TWAT-iness, bobbing to the top of the toilet bowl and staying there for the duration. Many of these execrable rides made it all the way to the top 20. Others kept a fairly low profile, but were decreed fully TWAT-worthy by my esteemed colleagues. The list of finalists shows that bad taste, poor design and questionable construction know no price, market segment or country of origin. So without further ado, here are the 20 finalists, listed in alphabetical order:

Buick Rendezvous

Cadillac Escalade

Chevrolet Aveo

Chevrolet Cobalt / Pontiac G5 / Saturn Ion

Chevrolet Impala

Chevrolet Monte Carlo

Chrysler Aspen

Chysler Crossfire

Ford Ranger / Mazda B-series

GM Minivans

Hummer H2

Infiniti QX56

Jaguar X-type

Jeep Commander

Jeep Compass

Lincoln Mark LT

Lincoln Navigator

Saab 9-7x

Subaru B9 Tribeca

Subaru Baja 

Selecting 10 of these worst of all possible vehicles from such an undistinguished list will be tough. How do you decide which cars are the crème de la crap? To help you separate the chaff from the toxic waste, here are some factors to consider when voting. [Fair Disclosure: we’re providing this guide simply to give the award gravitas amongst any media spies who may be monitoring our efforts.]

Market segment suitability/competitiveness  Is it a badly badge-engineered bodge born to placate greedy, boneheaded dealers looking to sell something, anything in a particular market? Does it live up to the claims of the marketing goons? (Then again, can anything?) Is there any justification whatsoever for its existence?

Reliability/Safety  Has it been recalled more times than a favorite fairy tale? Does it have a reputation (anecdotal or statistical) for dying (perhaps of shame)? Would you put your loved ones in one of them for a cross-country trip, assuming you're not planning on collecting on the insurance?

Build quality  How does the overall quality of construction, fit and finish compare with other vehicles in the same price class/market segment or, say, a Walmart sofa? Does the vehicle rattle, thrum, drum and hum so much you could dance the conga to its beat?

Quality of materials  How do the materials used compare with other vehicles in the same price class or, say, a K-Mart suit? How well do the controls work? Is there obvious cost-cutting everywhere you look or touch? Can you look or touch it without puking?

Styling  When you look at the vehicle, do you feel yourself slowly turning to stone? Could it be a useful tool for interrogators at Guantanamo Bay?

Performance/handling  How well do the acceleration, handling, fuel economy, and drivability compare to other vehicles in the same price class/market segment or, say, one of those rolling tables teachers use for overhead projectors?  

Design  How well does the vehicle’s overall design (interior, ergonomics, exterior styling, space utilization, visibility) work? Is it an exercise in wretched excess or a paean to bad taste? Is it a modern design or does it hearken back to ye olde days of crapteryear?

Desirability  How would you feel about owning this vehicle? Would you rather walk/watch The Wiggles than be seen behind the wheel? If a rental agent handed you the keys, would you consider it an insult?

Je ne sais quoi  Does the vehicle have that certain “something” that makes you throw up in your mouth a little when you see one drive by? Should it be sent to the crusher on general principles?  

Yada, yada, yada. It’s time to vote for your TWAT. Click here and you’ll link through to the polling site. Again, vote for ten choices from the list. Once you’ve made your choices, you’ll be magically returned to the TTAC home page. Obviously, your votes will be held in the strictest confidence and tabulated with mindless electronic impartiality. You are, of course, invited to list your choices below with a short explanation of your decision making process.

The poll will be online through next Wednesday evening. We’ll announce the winners (losers?) on Monday. Thanks you for your help in this important experiment in journalistic freedom and, let’s face it, payback.

By on October 22, 2006

x07ct_up0011222.jpgLater today, I’ll compose an email to The Truth About Cars’ (TTAC) coterie of writers asking them to select the final candidates for our Ten Worst Automobiles Today (TWAT) awards. Thanks to Mr. Williams’ organizational OCD, our best and brightest will have a most Excel-ent spreadsheet of all the vehicles you’ve nominated, with your reasons for doing so. Frank will collate their choices. By mid-week, we should have both the final 20 and the software we need to throw it to you for a democratic vote. Again, thank you for your help and support. Before the deal goes down, I want to highlight the importance of this award to all of us.

The purchase of a new or used vehicle is the average consumer’s second largest financial expenditure, after their house. While most of us here are pistonheads who’ve elevated this acquisition to something approaching a religious commitment, it’s important to remember that most motorists share neither our passion nor knowledge. To select their next vehicle, they rely on you, their friendly neighborhood automotive alpha, and, increasingly, the new media. JD Power recently revealed that US car buyers spend some six hours on the net researching their next car purchase. That’s more time than I spent to choosing my investment portfolio. (Both shares.)

TTAC has a large influence in this electronic sphere. Google “Ford Fusion SEL.” We’re number one. Google “Chevrolet Aveo.” We’re number seven. The vast majority of our reviews lie within the top 20 Google listings. Yes, we’re still small potatoes compared to the e-tuber mountains called Edmunds.com and kbb.com. But we are still the largest “take no prisoners” automotive review site on the web. Those of you who believe that these e-monoliths equal our commitment to tell the “truth” about cars, consider their reviews of a couple of our TWATs.

Take the Jeep Compass [please], a heavy favorite for a TWAT. Edmunds’ review acknowledges the vehicle's brand betrayal, dismisses it as irrelevant, and then tries to damn the model: “We're not so sure the brand's first crossover delivers what young urbanites are looking for.” And Darwinism is unproven. “The interior of our test car was also plagued with a few fit and finish issues like misaligned trim, manufacturing flash and bunched carpeting.” Plagued with a few? “The result is an interior that screams ‘rental car,’ which is a shame, because the seats are unquestionably comfortable and the driving position is excellent.”

Bottom line? “The Jeep, like the Caliber, is also generally satisfying to drive, quite affordable and sometimes fun. Comfortable, too. But upscale? Fashionable? Refined? Ah, not so much.” Obviously and in relation to their other critiques, Edmunds is not so much enamored with the Compass. Yes, well, why doesn’t reviewer Scott Oldham simply come our and say the Compass blows? Two guesses and the first one can’t have the word “advertising” in it. Hey, at least we got Edmunds to admit that the manufacturer loaned them the vehicle.

Kbb.com hasn’t reviewed the Compass. But they have cast their electronic eyes upon the Uplander, the Chevrolet minivan our reviewer William C. Montgomery called “a half-assed has-been that never was and never shoulda been.” Kbb doesn’t quite see it that way. Their unnamed sage proclaims the interior “one of the nicest you’ll find in any minivan” and “the Uplander is well-suited to the needs of small families.” Fair enough– if you’re a masochist who harbors a near-murderous hatred for your family.

As you’d expect, the situation is even worse in the print media. I just received AutoWeek’s “07 Ultimate Car, Truck and Sport/UTE Buyers Guide,” bundled with my weekly issue. Jeep Compass? “While not ‘Trail Rated,’ the Compass offers many Jeep-like qualities to fend off incursions from the growing number of crossovers.” So that’s alright then. After perusing all the “Our Opinion” summaries of the vehicles named, I found myself searching (in vain) for the words “Special Advertising Section.” And yes, Jeep has a full-page ad within Crain Communications' “ultimate” guide (albeit touting the Wrangler).

Clearly, there’s still a need for an automotive website that’s willing to tell it like it is for the public good and, let’s face it, our mutual amusement. While this article (and our award) are predicated on the theory that by thy willingness to slag-off a loser thy shall be known, it’s important to remember that TTAC is just as quick to identify and praise automotive quality wherever we find it. Despite being banned by BWM from their press vehicles and launch events, we’re happy to declare that we LOVE the new 335i.

In short, our readers are our first, last and only priority. We’re proud to be able to serve you with the plain, unvarnished truth about cars. The TWAT awards symbolize and extend that “brand positioning.” Again, thank you for the opportunity to provide this service. 

Since this article was written, we've begun voting on the '06 TWAT awards.

Please click HERE to cast your vote on the final 10. You will be returned to the TTAC home page.

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