TTAC's Ten Worst 2008: The Nominees

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

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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  • Rev Junkie Rev Junkie on Dec 10, 2008

    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?

  • Allegro con moto-car Allegro con moto-car on Dec 11, 2008

    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.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.
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