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]

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63 Comments on “TTAC’s Ten Worst 2008: The Nominees...”

  • avatar

    I’m still amazed at how many very good vehicles have been nominated. I have to wonder how many are being pushed by fanboiz of brands that are earning their spots on the list and are just lashing out.

    As I noted before, there is also, IMO, a pile of enthusiast hubris choices. Why do we think we,who are the real demographic oddities, are the only people who’s tastes and preferances matter. Just because it is not enthusiast oriented, or we find it boring (I agree that many of those so described are boring) hardly makes them bad or a “worst”.

    If we vote in good vehicles as bad we will only discredit ourselves.

    A thought.


  • avatar

    Psh. Practically every Toyota was nominated. :/

    I hope not too many good cars are put on the TWAT list. Seems like everyone derides family sedans for being too boring. :(

  • avatar

    I’m very pleased with the hybrid hate.


    I hate the 3-series haters. Ok, they have to keep themselves on their toes, but 10 worst? nah ah.

    My not so bold projection;

    The previous years winners will win again, I’m saying that of the Chryslerberus products the Aspen might just escape the top3 because it’s below the radar and I’m preparing for the H2 to make the top3. That thing gets more hideous by the day.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t lose too much sleep bunter. The TTAC staff has previously been very conscious of removing the merely boring from the true automotive dross, leaving candidates that are truly worthy of being Ten Worst candidates.

  • avatar

    Lol @ Ferrari California made the list. Not too surprising from the comments when it was reviewed here.

    And TBH, Tesla Motors, the company, should be on the list, not the car.

  • avatar

    I didn’t have time to participate in the nominations process this year, nor did I objectively have enough experience with 2008 vehicles to make a truly informed choice. BUT, how the heck did the Mazda3 get nominated!? Who honestly thinks that a Mazda3 is one of the worst cars made today? I can accept thinking that it doesn’t deserve to be on or at the top of a Ten Best List, but one of the worst? What’s their choice for a best car? A Chevy Aveo? A Toyota Corolla? Or, maybe some other under-powered car with massive understeer?

  • avatar

    Bunter1> Worst is very subjective. to YOU a car that “does what it is designed to do” is what you consider “best”.

    For someone else, the “best” car may be one that you can drive like you stole it.


    This site is geared towards enthusiasts which probably have different opinons than the mainstream.

  • avatar

    Heh – after looking at the list – is there a car not on it???

  • avatar

    I’m with Bunter1 on this one.

    Making a vanilla mainstream car like the Corolla or Accord does not warrant an mention on the worst list.

    Toyonda got where they are by appealing to the giant middle of the market. Every once in a while they will throw the pistonheads a bone with a MR2 or S2000 but their bread & butter is low cost of ownership transportation appliances.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    I’m not sure this is entirely accurate. I know of a very environmentally-minded conservationist who gets a lot of use out of her pickup: clearing debris and uprooted invasive species, hauling trees for transplanting, etc.

    Is this sort of person going to purchase a brand new belt-assist hybrid pickup? No. More likely she’ll go for a 10-year-old diesel and run it on used cooking oil. But there are pickup-driving environmentalists.

  • avatar

    With all the votes (and hate thrown) on the Prius, I’m wondering about the obvious glossing over on that particular subject…

    Would the Prius as the TWAT of the year be, umm, just, toooo politically incorrect for TTAC?

  • avatar

    It’s important to distinguish between missteps/disappointments, gross errors, and outright catastrophies.

    the GM E85 program, catastrophe waiting to happen

    Styling and increased size of new Accord, a disappointment

    BMW 1-series, a new platform, not inexpensive or light enough, a gross error

    Audi’s new styling, a matter of debate

    Smart fourtwo’s price, ho-hum fuel economy, and so on. A big disappointment.

    and so on…

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the Corolla Hate. Cars are first and foremost transportation which should be reliable and well built. Most of the “interesting” cars throughout history mostly were nightmares to keep running, (Think old European models) and most small economy cars were low quality junkers (Vega, Pinto, Cavalier, etc.) Corolla has a 42 year history in America, and was constantly improved over that time. Its current incarnation is the most daring and attractive yet. Compare it to its rivals like the Honda Civic, with its puny hood and minivan windshield. Focus? Cobalt? Old and boring looking stuff. And it doesn’t have the geeky, 90 pound weakling look of its Prius sibling. A Corolla was a solid choice in 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, and 2008. How many cars can you say that about? How many cars came and went during that time? Their makers did not even care enough to continue making them, let alone improve them. Does the Corolla deserve to be called one of the most exciting cars of the year? Absolutely not. But one of the 10 worst cars? With the junk that so many carmakers are putting out these days, I really don’t think so.

  • avatar

    The people at Car and Driver are badge humpers (humpees?) of the highest order when it comes to BMW and Honda, so no one should be shocked that the 3-series has made the 10Best for the 17th time in a row. (Maybe they can start truthfully calling it the 9Best.) That said, there are certainly a lot of cars that don’t belong on the 10 Worst, but I’m certain they’ll be plastic-laden turds like the Caliber and G3 or WTF-mobiles like the X6.

  • avatar

    And VOLVO escapes without a single nomination. Better proof Ford should not sell the brand, I challenge one to find! I think they are the biggest make not on the list. Followed by the even more improbable….

    JAGUAR! I guess having only 3 models has its advantages.

    And finally, where Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche fail… LOTUS succeeds.

  • avatar

    Toyonda got where they are by appealing to the giant middle of the market. Every once in a while they will throw the pistonheads a bone with a MR2 or S2000 but their bread & butter is low cost of ownership transportation appliances.

    Seconded. No bulletproof, good-for-twenty-years-or-300k-miles, efficient, affordable, comfortable vehicle deserves a TWAT, no matter how anodyne.

    When 2030 rolls around and many of these Camrys, Corollas, and Accords are still on the road, the folks who nominated them will feel rather silly, I think.

  • avatar

    Producing a car that serves not true purpose to it’s core brand and identity should be an automatic nomination, or better yet, bonus points.

    – Jeep Compass / Patriot
    – Mini Clubman
    – Porsche Cayenne
    – Mercedes-Benz B-Class (We get it here in Canada)
    – Mazda Tribute
    – Saab 9-7x

  • avatar

    Apologies for missing the chance to weigh in… I was on a business trip to just slightly north of the Middle of Nowhere. =

    I did however, DRIVE there and back, even when offered a flight. How’s that for a dedicated driver?


  • avatar

    Is this sort of person going to purchase a brand new belt-assist hybrid pickup? No. More likely she’ll go for a 10-year-old diesel and run it on used cooking oil. But there are pickup-driving environmentalists.

    I’m sure there are, but those people are incredibly thin on the ground, and are probably buying Rangers or Escapes (possibly hybrids), not Escalades and Tahoes.

    I don’t get the hybrid hate. Hybrid buyers are demographically likely to be appliance buyers, and they’ll choose the most appliance-like vehicle as long as it meets their needs, even if means something shaped like a melted bar of soap. By and large they don’t want sports sedans, roadsters and/or trucks than can tow a horse trailer. They aren’t interested in driving excitement, which is why GM and Honda’s offerings in this space have failed: they tried to sell cars that no one wanted to buy. That was my point about the GMT900 hybrids.

    It’s the same with the nominations of the Camry and Corolla on the grounds of blandness: they aren’t really terrible cars, just purpose-built appliances. Blandness and capability is ok, as is mediocrity with style is ok up to a point. It’s the intersection of Bland and Mediocre–where the Chrysler Sebring and Chevy Impala are parked–that truly deserve their place on this list.

    Side note: the GMT900s aren’t BAS hybrids; they use GM’s capable, if difficult-to-package, two-mode system. It’s another testament to GM’s “We Know Better Than The Customer” syndrome that they didn’t spend the resources to get this system into vehicles that actual hybrid buyers would want to buy.

  • avatar
    John R

    I’m with Bunter1. This list is largely redonkulous. It reeks of fanboy hate (ZR1 and the GT-R?! LMAO). This isn’t the “Ten Worst” this is just a list of “Cars some Guys Don’t Like”. I read the comments for these and most of the justifications were laughable. I don’t care for the Prius either, but because its a soul-sucking drive isn’t justification for a nomination.

    TTAC, this really needs to be looked at, hard, and culled down.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    IMO there were a lot of silly nominations made this year. Sure the Corolla is a vanilla car, but one of the ten worst on the market? No way.

    Some people seem to be nominating cars based on perceived backsliding. The Accord, Fit, TSX and Scion nominations all fall into that bucket. Making a car slightly less fuel efficient or uglier than the prior model is hardly worthy of Ten Worst ignominy.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @John Horner:

    I agree with you. Unless Honda’s Fit 2.0 was a rebadged Hummer H2, a step back isn’t enough.

  • avatar

    Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy’s “copy” of it.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand the Corolla Hate.

    There’s two factors:
    * Knee-jerk “it’s bigger than a 1985 Camry!”.
    * Decontenting

    The first is just a fact of life in the North American market. One, people are badge-loyal, but not necessarily brand-loyal, and Corolla buyers just keeping buying Corollas. Only they want a Corolla that’s slightly nicer (bigger, more fully-featured) than the one it replaced. Two, as car prices go up without a corresponding increase in income, people aren’t making the Corolla->Camry step because it isn’t worth it and/or they can’t afford it.

    And Toyota (and others) are simply obliging these trends. If you want a car the size of a 1987 Corolla, Toyota will sell you a Yaris.

    The decontenting issue is a thorny one for some. I personally don’t care if the dash plastics are soft. I’ve been in several cars with soft dashes, beautiful materials, non-functional electrical systems and mechanicals that throw a thousand-dollar repair every six months; I’ve alse been in cars with rock-hard, rattly interiors and flawless mechanicals. If I had to choose between interior plastics and operating costs, I know which I’d choose. Toyota, faced with rising costs, made the same choice. So did Volkswagen.

    The only reason we have soft-touch plastics and wood trim at all is an attempt to ape leather-and-wood dashes of nearly a century ago–and the reason they used leather and wood is because plastics didn’t exist! In a car like the Corolla I’m not bothered one bit that the dash is rock hard plastic. That same plastic is more durable (doesn’t split in cold/heat; doesn’t scratch).

    Now, I do wish they’d use a darker shade. Whomever it is that prefers light grey over black needs to sit in a ten-year-old light-grey interior that’s suffered regular abuse. Matte black cloth and plastic age much better.

  • avatar

    This is my favorite poll to vote on and I miss the old name Ten Worst Automobiles Today – as the abbreviation pretty much took a nice jab at the maker – akin to “flying vagina”! We need something else for others to be outraged besides the Death Watch and D2.8 CH11 cheer leading.

  • avatar

    Thank you for putting BMW on that list. BMW’s advertising says “performance” so loud that almost no-one notices that the 3-series cars are porked up pieces of crap.

  • avatar

    What you’re seeing with the Prius hate is Limbaughian knuckle-draggers attacking the car because of in-group out-group thinking. It’s fundamentally retarded, and simply calling this a “war” or a “battle” is engaging in bias via false equivalence.

    Robert, you’re better than that.

  • avatar

    How is this for a surprising list? These are 2008’s top-selling vehicles not nominated for the Ten Worst:


    Are these the new vanilla? Instead of being extreme or trying to be everything to everybody, they avoid the hate by being exactly what they claim to be.

  • avatar

    M1EK> I don’t like the Prius and I don’t like Limbaugh either. Your assumption fails.

  • avatar

    Limbaughian, as in, “like Limbaugh”. FUDders, people who are attacking the car because they think it symbolizes a particular ideology they hate, etc.

  • avatar

    Could someone please explain me what is wrong with the Subaru Forester??? I know, it is not perfect (hardly any car on sale today is) but, first, I can’t believe it made the list and, second, I just don’t get why would anyone in its sane mind believe it is one of the TEN WORST vehicles in sale this year?

    To Robert Farago: Can we (your audience) still call ourselves TTAC’s Best & Brightest??? This list clearly shows that the audience this site has is composed of gearheads but, also, of plain jerks that nominate a car for “stupid” or nonexistent and subjective reasons. I could quote a lot of comments showing examples of this but (I think) this is the best:
    obbop :
    December 6th, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Add any Audi to the list.

    Better yet, add all Audi models to the list.

    That Audi do the trick to sate my general despisement of Audis.

    Many reasons for my assuredly subjective beliefs.

    Last Audi I drove was a 1980 5000.

    Still despise that car.

    This just shows how foolish some nominations are. Also, the fact that a car is fugly (like those new Acuras) does not inmediately make them the WORST of the year.
    To support my stance I would like to quote this:
    Bunter1 :
    December 6th, 2008 at 11:21 am


    –adjective, superl. of bad and ill.
    1. bad or ill in the highest, greatest, or most extreme degree: the worst person.
    2. most faulty, unsatisfactory, or objectionable: the worst paper submitted.
    3. most unfavorable or injurious.

    It seems to me that a great many of the nominations show a lack of understanding of this concept.

    In particular many of the mid-size sedan nominations are laughable.

    First of all, the mear existance of the Avenger/Sebring twins would seem to absolve every other vehicle in the category in virtually everyway.

    There is a group that is critical of some of these cars because they are not sporty enough.
    Hello! that’s why the sports sedan exists. Volume alone seems to indicate that many people prefer a softer ride and less caffinated handling.

    Get over your enthusiast hubris. That is not bad, just different.

    Secondly, several cars (Maz6 and Accord in particular) have been slammed for their “bulk”.
    I looked at some stats, they are a whole two friggin inches longer than the Malibu! Horrors!
    Heck, they are also about 200 lbs lighter, and considerably bigger inside. This is bad?

    Excuse for my complaint but I hope the finalist are chosen based on esential characteristics that clearly make them the worst on sale this year.

  • avatar

    Seeing how vehicles like the Corolla, Accord, 3-series, Acura TSX/TL, et. al. were nominated is just further proof that we hold some manufacturers to much higher standards.

    For example, had the new TL been a model from Lincoln it would be in competition for 10 best lists, and far from any 10 worst nomination. It’s only a bad car based on it’s predecessor. If your predecessor is absolute horrific and its replacement is merely mediocre the new model often gets forgotten. Not for being bad, but not for being excellent. We only notice the stuff on the fringes.

    Still, I think it’s fair game. Just because Toyota has “legendary” quality doesn’t mean they are flawless. The likes of Toyota, Honda, BMW, etc. deserve to take some kicks. Maybe we need a 10 biggest disappointments list to fill up with the cars we expected more of.

  • avatar

    Oh, and next time I get a Prius as a rental car I’m going to make it a point to listen to Rush Limbaugh while driving. He’s on AM, right?

    I would only nominate the Prius to a 10 worst list for being bland. Is someone arguing it’s an enthusiasts car?

  • avatar

    what ever happened to

    T en
    W orst
    A utomobiles
    T oday?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    the demands of being safe for work.

  • avatar

    M1EK: “Limbaughian, as in, “like Limbaugh”. FUDders, people who are attacking the car because they think it symbolizes a particular ideology they hate, etc.”

    Get off your high horse. I don’t like hybrids b/c they are overall inefficient and not b/c of the ideology behind them (Yep I’m an economist). With a hybrid you get slightly better mpg than an economy car for a premium of $3k-$8k more, no more tax credits, have to use more resources to build the car than an economy car, and then add in the eventual cost of replacing expensive batteries using precious metals in 5-6 years time. That is facts not ideology that is against hybrids. As much as you want to cuddle them – they are not as efficient overall and speaking up against them from a factual standpoint is not a hateful ideology. This is the same argument that if someone doesn’t agree with you they must be Hitler!

    200k-min: The reason why I see the TSX on the TWA..T list is that Honda could have done so much better and gave us an ugly duckling with hardly any redeeming factors. Yes if Lincoln or Buick had a car like the TL (same looks) it would likely have not been an issue. But you also have to judge the participants based on the MFGRs ability to give us great things.

  • avatar

    Is it too late to put the Pontiac G6 on the list?

    Seriously, though. Why bother debating over Lambo’s and BMW’s when you’ve got the poster child for GM’s failing (flailing) staring you right in the face? Poor reliability, plummeting resale, completely at odds with the brand’s identity (excitement?), and finds most of its new titles being issued to rental car companies.

    I would also, had I been timely, have suggested anything with a pushrod engine and a four speed automatic. Is it 1990 again???

  • avatar

    I see many cars in that list that don’t belong there. Just to start ZR-1 and Hype-R (or PS3), G8, Challenger

    The new Corolla is FUGLY, FUGLY god dammit!!!! The Civic, even with 3 years on the market, blows it away.

    Even the 1st gen Mazda3 looks better than that thing.

    The Aveo, Amanti, G3, Commander sure deserve the “honor”.

  • avatar

    jaje: “With a hybrid you get slightly better mpg than an economy car for a premium of $3k-$8k more, no more tax credits, have to use more resources to build the car than an economy car, and then add in the eventual cost of replacing expensive batteries using precious metals in 5-6 years time.”

    “Slightly better mpg?” What other vehicle gets 48mpg in the city? 46mpg on the highway? The highway improvement is the less remarkable of te two but it’s still head and shoulders above the rest of the herd. And nothing is even in the same ballpark for city fuel economy.

    “Premium of $3K-$8K” over what? A Prius starts at $22K. A Malibu is comparable in interior room and starts at $19K.

    “Have to use more resources to build” than what? Another mid-size car? Where are these resources hiding? The Prius doesn’t weigh all that much and it doesn’t cost all that much. If they used significantly more resources to build it, we’d be able to find them somewhere… either in the price tag or on the scale.

    “And then add in the eventual cost of replacing expensive batteries using precious metals in 5-6 years time?” There’s Priuses on the road today and the batteries certainly aren’t failing wholesale, if at all. And as for “precious metals” in them… Nickel counts as “precious?” Nickel is a common component of vehicle steel, anyway. Here’s an experiment for you… give genuine nickel jewelry to your wife for your 25th anniversary and see how well that goes over. I hope your couch is comfy.

  • avatar

    Maybe I can persuade you. It’s not a problem to make a cheap, reliable, efficient car (I love them actually). The problem is when one of your competitors shows you how to do it better, succeeds beautifully, and then you do nothing to address the imbalance. I’d say the Corolla and Yaris are perfect examples. When the Mazda 3 came along (and there are other valid examples…civic) just at and above the Corolla price range, demonstrating that a better compromise is possible with suspension, steering and braking set-ups then Toyota has a real problem. Either they step up and engineer a comparable car, or they rely on buyer loyalty (a la GM) and refuse to change their outlook on product. The Yaris was similarly upstaged by the Fit (and possibly the sx4 though I havne’t driven one of those) and has done absolutely nothing about it. In fact, I priced out and drove a Yaris and realized that just getting a tachometer and alloy wheels basically brings you price parity with a Fit sport (and on that day I drank the haterade). My overall point is that this company isn’t just mildly decontenting on interior plastics, which I agree is fine…they simply aren’t investing in a better mechanical product. A new suspension layout isn’t necessary, maybe just revise the damping and spring rates etc… But this hasn’t happened, so if you can’t name a car in it’s segment that is A. blatantly less safe or roadworthy (not 3 vs. 5 on some CD list) and/or B. more boring to drive, then the car is worst in class and deserves a TWAT. Correct?
    And I nominated the Toyotas b/c I’ve driven a lot of this class in the last 2-3 years. Haven’t set foot in whatever the hell Kia is selling though (Rio I think), so that may be worse.

  • avatar

    Folks, this is just the list of nominations. TTAC’s crack(head) staff will winnow it down to 20 final nominees, and resubmit the list for our vote. Don’t panic.

  • avatar

    With a hybrid you get slightly better mpg than an economy car for a premium of $3k-$8k more, no more tax credits, have to use more resources to build the car than an economy car, and then add in the eventual cost of replacing expensive batteries using precious metals in 5-6 years time. That is facts not ideology that is against hybrids

    No, those are lies and FUD. You need a better dictionary. The Prius, a midsize car, is 10-20 mpg better than its closest competitor in the midsize class, and 5-10 mpg better than the closest diesel. The batteries in the previous generation Prius have been lasting the lifetime of the cars — and the lone study that talks about the supposedly huge resource impact was a notorious hatchet job that this site has debunked about ten thousand times.

    Lies and FUD. Hope you can sleep at night.

  • avatar

    I also wish people would get over the hate for Corollas and Fits. One gets the impression that some people are just sore losers, and dislike the fact that these vehicles have succeeded with consumers.

    @ tedward:

    The problem with your analysis is that Toyota’s customers don’t necessarily want that “better” suspension offered by the Mazda Mazda3.

    I drove the Mazda3 when I was shopping for a new car, and thought it was too noisy, too hard-riding (and bouncy, to boot), and a touch over-sensitive in the steering. A few months after I bought a Corolla, I drove a rental Mazda3 and got to re-examine that perception. I came away satisfied that I had made the right choice. On a switchback, the Mazda3 is sharp and dynamic. On potholes, it’s just unpleasant. Even my friend, who loves to drive for the sake of driving, found it a bit much.

    Toyota doesn’t build the Corolla for people who want the Mazda3 experience. They build it for people who want smooth, predictable handling that absorbs bumps and keeps quiet. I’m the first to say that the steering needs retuning for a bit more weight on-center, but the suspension settings are just right for people who don’t drive aggressively on country roads most of the time.

    I will agree that the Civic offers sharp competition for the ‘Rolla. In the end, I test-drove each of them no less than four times, and I think it just comes to personal taste. I happened to like the exterior of the Corolla better, and liked the look of the Civic interior. The Civic, however, tries too hard to be nerdy, and its manual shifter is bizzare and unergonomical. Finally, the fact that you couldn’t get an ’08 Civic (on the market when I was looking at the new ’09 Corolla this spring) with stability or traction control took it right off the list. I live in the Snow Belt, and I’m a very good driver, but sometimes you need some help, especially with a steep driveway and freezing rain (like tonight). Other than that, they’re very close.

    If you want to find a bad choice in that segment, by all means drive a Sentra or Elantra. Ouch and double-ouch.

  • avatar

    To all of those who nominated the BMW 3-series as a “worst” car, have you actually driven it? Or has your jealousy for those who can afford one clouded your judgment? I can’t afford one (not yet at least), but that doesn’t stop me from stating that it still is the benchmark for everything a car should be.

  • avatar


    I wouldn’t by any means say the 3 series is bad or one of the worst, but when I was shopping german & japanese, the best bang/$ for me was the STi that I found. For the price of an entry level bimmer, you get a much “harder” car (with an admittedly crappier interior…but if you are taking time to notice the interior in an STi you aren’t really driving it).

    Kixstart> My friends GS500F (you said which “vehicle” not “which car”) he bought for $4500 out the door new does in the mid to high 40’s city, mid 50’s highway and costs $35/month for full coverage insurance. It will also out accelerate and is a ton more fun than a prius, and costs 25% of the price. Even better is a ninja 250 which is (from what I’ve heard) high 50’s city, mid 60’s to low 70’s highway, is $4k or less out the door and is based on a 20 year proven design. It’s kind of slow at 0-60 in 6.5-7 seconds, but you can go up to the gs500 if you want something faster (mid 5’s).

  • avatar

    Robstar, Ha ha! Point taken! :-) I have heard people talk of 70mpg city on Ninja 250s. I used to ride, myself. But my Honda 400 four never seemed to get as much as 40mpg. Maybe it was the way I rode?

    I live in Minnesota, now, and only the very hardiest cyclists are out today.

  • avatar

    I don’t see any motorcycles these days, but still tons of bicyclists :)

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    Maybe I can persuade you. It’s not a problem to make a cheap, reliable, efficient car (I love them actually). The problem is when one of your competitors shows you how to do it better, succeeds beautifully, and then you do nothing to address the imbalance.

    I’ll grant you the Corolla isn’t perfect, but it is very good at satisfying more customers than the 3. It gets better mileage and gives up nothing in terms of power, rides much better, has lessy fussy ergonomics and better statistical reliability. I’d prefer the Focus (pre-08) or 3 as well–I think it’s a brilliantly-sorted car–but I’m in the minority. You cannot argue with Toyota’s logic in this because the sales and retention numbers bear it out.

    The Fit versus Yaris is a similar call. The Yaris gets better real-world mileage, is easier to park and rides better; the Fit is more versatile and handles better. The Yaris sells better because it appeals to a wider segment of people.

    Sales aren’t always indicative of quality, but it’s very, very hard to argue against year-over-year sales increases and top-of-the-market customer satisfaction.

    Again, the Corolla et al aren’t bad in the way the TSX is (they’re not grossly disappointing) or the way the Sebring is (outright terrible. They’re just appliances for a given task. You may as well hate Maytag.

  • avatar


    I personally don’t go for Toyotas, but I understand that they are making good choices for the customers they serve.
    Call it respect rather than love.

    I prefer a firmer ride/handling trade-off. So what? Your choice is just as valid.

    Again, as enthusiasts we need to stop thinking the car world revolves around us.


  • avatar

    Bunter1> I think what is voted “Worst” here, has to be seen with the perspective of “Not ‘worst’ for everyone, but ‘worst’ as rated by a small group of enthusiasts who have different value judgments than mainstream.” If you look at it in that context, really any car can be rated “worst.”

  • avatar


    On the Corolla: I see your point about a preference for a softer set-up (although I love the 3, no reservations about a crashy ride), but I still don’t think Toyota aimed for more than comfortable when they finished off the Corolla. That’s basically my problem, here we have a company that can literally snap it’s well-moneyed fingers to make it happen, but they haven’t. The car could have been too soft for my taste, but still dynamically competent. I’ll have to admit though, that my reaction is informed by a belief that Toyota has taken up some of the bad habits that GM used to demonstrate, so this car itself comes in as something of a whipping horse for the brand. Especially since I’ve been reminded of the Elantra (I still prefer the Sentra to the Corolla, haven’t driven the automatic though).

    psarhjinian The Yaris is a more glaring example in my opinion though as it’s value for money isn’t even ballpark range on the Fit. The sheer lack of basic features (tach!) is stand-out (though cool cubbyholes I admit), which would be completely fine if it handled better than it does, but I have to say, I thought the Fit I drove had a better ride as well. Where I did drive the Yaris (Oneonta, NY) there was an exceptionally rough patch of road and the car fell into the holes one corner at a time, it was very unpleasant. Also, the clutch take-up was too light as was the steering. That being said, it may be that the Fit’s ride benefits from the extra length of the vehicle, which goes right to your easier to park argument. I think however, that if another car company had released the Yaris, as is, to us, we’d be loudly mocking them and calling them out. There are cars out there that I hear are less fun to drive (Versa) but they actually accomplish the goal of being cheap in price, which the Yaris just dosen’t do with the few options I would need to buy one.

  • avatar

    Does anybody else think M1EK needs to take a deep breath and calm down. lol

    Name calling and demeaning people only weakens your position. I agree that the Prius probably doesn’t belong on the list, but totally disagree with your characterization of the people who put it on there. There are legitimate gripes about the Prius whether you want to recognize them or not. For most people who buy them as a commuter car and grocery getter, a smaller, cheaper, fuel efficient car like a Corolla would have been the better economic choice. Also, remember this is purportedly an “enthusiast site.” I don’t think the most dedicated Prius lover could honestly argue that the handling and acceleration of the vehicle is sporty. Let’s not forget the years of rhetoric about how good people drove a Prius and the rest of the population were Troglodites, Cretans, Luddites, etc. You’ve got to expect some backlash against that type of attitude, and further name calling only exascerbates it.

  • avatar

    I agree with Robstar on our criteria as well…we’re not undertaking to examine the business case for each car, we’re telling everyone exactly which car is the worst from our perspective. I like that there’s argument over what that perspective is though, it’s just that I think A – B appliances shouldn’t enter into it for favorable mention.

  • avatar

    Lumbergh21, the complaints you make about the Prius are eminently reasonable (could be subjectively true for you if not for me).

    The complaints OTHERS made about the Prius (battery life, supposed low mileage, the Hummer v hybrid study, misrepresenting vehicle class) are objectively false.

    Do you not see the difference? Really?

  • avatar

    Remember folks, this is a list composed of entries from contributors who read TTAC. It’s the public opinion. Your going to get a wide-range of entries because of this very premises. That allows for any and all reasons for an individual to submit their worst (literally or otherwise).

    Remember, TTAC now has a significantly wider audience, it’s not as small and focused as before. The smaller readership would only have helped to skew the lists in a more biased favor overall, since the readership was probably more “hardcore” or “truth-seeking”. Theoretically, at any rate. Now, your getting a much broader opinion.

    This is why some publications have two lists, an Editor’s list that (theoretically) provides an unbiased take on all options to yield a (hopefully) well-researched, factually-based result. A second Reader’s list voices the public opinion. The two are always good for a healthy, objective comparison, regardless of outcome.

    If someone wants to enter all models of a certain make because of a simple, hateful bias, they are completely allowed regardless of anyone else’s concerns on that matter. You can’t force anything on a public vote.

  • avatar
    Dave Baker

    Assuming they make the short list for us to vote on, you’ll please follow your badge-twin rule and combine the Chevy Aveo and Pontiac G3. With all that’s out there, I’ll need every one of my remaining 9 votes.

    The cool thing is that worst is a relative term. Many of today’s worst still compare decently with much of the mainstream from 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Curb weights are up and bad styling endures (I’m talking about you Sebring) but when was the last time your car rusted out, or had an electrical system failure, or wouldn’t start on a cold day because the carb was iced up. And I’m not just talking about old Alfas and Jags. The Chrysler Aspen/ Dodge Durango may yet make my list, but compared to the Dodge Aspen/ Plymouth Volare from the ’70’s, they’re freakin’ Rolls Royces.

    Speaking of which, a late nomination for the Rolls Royce Phantom. Indisputably the worst value ever in terms of good looks for the money.

  • avatar

    I agree that some people here need to settle down some. I get tired of hearing those who think Hybrids are the perfect vehicle and have no drawbacks – and to them anyone who tries to add some kind of objective criteria into the discussion is a liar and spreads FUD if you take a hybrids name in vain.

    There was a lot of negative press from those who resisted Hybrids but the fact is a hybrid still costs more to product and requires more energy over a comparable gasoline or diesel car. Any “debunking” was the exaggerated claims and what was untrue in the first place.

    You classify a Prius as a “midsize car” and say no one else would ever cross shop a Prius with any other car – but in reality many of its competition are not large or mid size cars but often are compact cars (which really aren’t that compact anymore) – these people cross shop mpg and other attributes over size. That leads me to where an (inferior in your opinion) $15k compact car that gets almost 40 mpg combined is not as efficient a choice – a $7k premium to get a hybrid. With gas at $1.50 a gallon again the hybrid won’t pay for itself for the premium – even over another midsize car. $20k for a Camry 4cyl and $22k for Prius – gas would have to be over $4 again.

    As for batteries being a non consideration in a hybrid is patently misleading. All batteries degrade over their useful lives leaving them less efficient and effective over time. They use precious metals and add much complexity making the drivetrain and CPUs more complex. Eventually hybrids need to be recycled and batteries have toxic chemicals that need to be specially contained and processed. This is a cost most people ignore b/c it happens outside their time of ownership.

    The main advantage of a Hybrid is its city driving – it excels the best here b/c of its setup and its mileage numbers prove it. Note most hybrids actually get better city mpg than on the hwy.

    I am not a “liar” nor trying to spread FUD so please stop making this personal. Hybrids are not as wonderful and beyond reproach as you make them out to be. They do have their advantages AND disadvantages. And if I lived in a city and had a lot of traffic to deal with I’d look into buying one.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    I’m glad the ZENN made it onto the list, below is my harangue against the world’s most expensive golf cart, first posted on the Car and Driver forums:

    It is hard to find a deal as bad as buying a ZENN electric “car”. The ZENN is easily the worst automobile sold in the US today. For the outrageous price of $17,000, you get: something that goes from zero to 25mph in 9.2 seconds, even slower than the REVA G-Wiz, an electric vehicle so slow it lost a drag race to four men carrying a table (look it up on YouTube, seriously). Also, you get a vehicle that is terribly impractical, to boot. This glorified golf cart has a maximum of only fifty miles per charge, and yet it takes eight hours to fully charge it with the standard charger. Want to recharge in only one hour? Easy, just hand over $8995! Well, you think, at least it can carry my groceries home from the store, right? Sure, but you better shop wisely as the hatch can only swallow 13 cubic feet. Need more? Okay, just use the passenger seat, but I hope you like riding solo, which can’t be much fun as the little two-seater doesn’t include a radio in the exorbitant price. Do you at least get a distinctive looking vehicle so people know your virtue? Of course, you get a “car” that looks like you built it yourself out of mismatching junkyard parts, modeled after a Matchbox Car! The interior isn’t much better, because your $17,000 “car” is clad side-to-side in cheap plastic that looks as if it came out of a Daewoo! It isn’t all bad, because you get two cloth seats with some different looking upholstery, like something out of a mid-80’s Cavalier to cheer you up from the depressingly fake wood and the blantantly plasticky faux metal adorning the vents. The interior isn’t nearly as depressing as the fact that the “car” is so expensive that it could never save you money in transportation costs unless gas hit $50 a gallon! On the environmental side, I believe the metal mined for the six lead-acid batteries and the disposal after the vehicle’s life does more damage than, oh, say, a Ford Excursion. The only upside I can see to buying a ZENN is that you can park in a half-space for Smart cars, and the smugness some get for claiming they’re “saving the planet”. I’d rather save $12,000 and keep my fun, fiesty, 40mpg ’99 Civic EX 5MT Coupe, thank you very much.

  • avatar

    and to them anyone who tries to add some kind of objective criteria into the discussion is a liar and spreads FUD if you take a hybrids name in vain.

    No. Objectively FALSE statements that have been debunked here many times will, and should, get that rejoinder. Otherwise, I’ve had no problem at all identifying subjective differences of opinion (drivability, for instance).

    The claims you make about battery disposal are bordering on objectively false at this point in time. The oldest Prius batteries are already being recycled when necessary (remember, there are some on the road from 1997, at least in Japan – some of those cars have reached the end of their lifetimes). The claims you make about battery life are suspect as well – there are US Priuses from 2000-2001 still going strong; there are the infamous Prius cabs; etc.

    If you don’t want to be called a FUDder, don’t hang out in the places they do.

    And I never once said nobody ever cross-shops the Prius with any other car. Obviously *I* did. The argument comes when people say you should always cross-shop it with the Corolla, which is smaller in both passenger and cargo space, but not with other cars of the same (midsize) class.

  • avatar

    Rev Junkie:

    I nominated the ZENN after an encounter with one last year.

    They were doing some sort of promotional tour with the car (towing it as they are not road legal in most of Canada) and the guy showing off the car was drawing a big crowd.

    Everyone was amazed that this futuristic electric car was built in Canada.

    So I decided to ask three questions:

    How long does it take to charge?

    What’s the range?

    What’s the top speed?

    After he replied the crowd seemed to disperse.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    The ZENN is going to flop worse than the EV1, and I doubt the only ones that will sell in this country will be to Hollywood celebrities trying to bolster their image with a “green” car. Honestly, who else could afford to blow over $17K on what is basically a golf cart?

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    On another topic, I’m really hoping the xB gets a spot on the list because the world’s most cautious and thorough automaker couldn’t keep a simple hatchback from gaining OVER SIX HUNDERED POUNDS during a redesign. Also, for giving a supposed economy car a whopping 2.4L engine, nearly the biggest in its class, with a piddling 158hp, only 18 horses up on a Civic despite having an extra 600cc of displacement. It’s like a late 70s Detroit approach to an economy car. What’s next for the redesign, a new carbureted pushrod engine, a three-speed transmission, and a solid rear axle?

  • avatar

    My vote for worst: Buick enslave sucks burro big time.

    Also, I am on the record as a Prius hater ever since day one. And I offer no apologies.

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