TTAC's Ten Worst Automobiles Today (TWAT) Award: What's Next

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Later 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.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on Oct 24, 2006

    Must pay more attention. 1. We've defended Minivan Man many times. NONE of our authors have dissed him. Or her. 2. We've defended SUV's many times, in many ways. Mr. Montgomery joined the staff after one such pro-SUV rant. 3. The truth can be fact or opinion or a little of both. We ALWAYS say something good about ALL vehicles, with the possible exception of the Chevrolet Uplander and Kia Rio, and that's only fair. 4. Style is not bias. You can be biased with style, but that's not the same thing and I sure don't see much of that in the car press. 5. Thanks for the compliment. I think.

  • Jim H Jim H on Oct 24, 2006

    Robert: We are paying attention...perhaps you missed it. To quote: "I still refuse to buy into the mentality that dictates the need to ride around in a giant, uncomfortable, poor handling penis-substitute because one day a year you take the kids jet skiing. "

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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