TTAC's Ten Worst Automobile Award Winners: Midyear Update

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

It'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.

Frank Williams
Frank Williams

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  • Wsn Wsn on Jun 17, 2008

    Landcrusher said: I guess Abrams tanks suck off road as well. I have seen plenty of them stuck myself. Hell, we even had special vehicles on hand just to recover them. It's all relative. Abrams are considered good tanks because it's the best we have got. If it weren't for the Japanese manufactures, GM Malibu would have been the best we have got. If tanks are in a mass market and there are open competitions, the Abrams will have the same fate as the GM cars. Reliable and fuel-efficient tanks from Japan would dominate.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Jun 17, 2008

    wsn, You completely missed the point. My comment was in response to a poster using photographic evidence of stuck Hummers as proof that they aren't good off road. As for reliability and efficiency in tank designs, I have to say that they can be important, but are not nearly as important relatively as they are in cars. The WWII Tiger or Panther tank was much less reliable and efficient than the Sherman, but most Sherman crews would have gladly traded up. It was the guys with stars on their hats, and titles before their names that preferred the cheaper, more efficient, and reliable Sherman, along with higher casualties, to a design like the Tiger. If we were going to fight today, our leaders would go for the Abrams over a more efficient design because we have a greater abhorrence to casualties than we did in WWII. Also, we have recently proven that a column of our Abrams and Brads can slice through much greater numbers of inferior designs like they were butter. Gotta love that!

  • Lou_BC While we discuss Chinese cars, Chinese politics, and Chinese global desires, I'm looking at TTAC and Google display advertising for Chinese tires. They have nukes aimed at us but their money and products are acceptable to consumers and business?
  • TheTireWhisperer And a thankful Memorial day to all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Take some time today to realize that virtually zero soldiers had died defending your border.
  • Tassos As somebody who is NOT a stupid fanatic about EVs one way or the other:No manufacturer has built a "Better Tesla" EV yet. Most have tried, we wait for TOyota only (last hope for the Tesla haters)UNLESS a DIRT CHEAP Model 2 comes along (will never happen in the next 2 or 3 years), Do NOT expect that 7% to go to even 10%, let alone the ... 30% clueless Idiot Joe Biden voters expect. If anything, PLUG INS and HYBRIDS may, in the SHORT term, bring the 7% down.
  • Pig_Iron 💝