TTAC's Ten Worst Autos 2008

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ttac s ten worst autos 2008

The votes are cast. The polls are closed. And there’s no question which vehicles our Best and Brightest consider the TTAC’s Ten Worst Vehicles 2008. The good news: there are only two new “winners” this year. The bad news: there are only two new “winners” this year. In fact, eight of last year’s Ten Worst are still in production. Even more depressing: half of this year’s winners have “won” TTAC’s Ten Worst three years running. How long can these turkeys hang on? Pass the cranberry sauce and read on.

There was no doubt about the final ten. When all the nominees were lined up in order of the number of votes garnered, there was a huge gap between numbers 10 and 11. So how did they rank? Here they are:

10. Chevy TrailBlazer / GMC Envoy / Isuzu Ascender / Saab 9-7X – What’s not to love about a refined straight six or a rip-snorting V8 in a family hauler? The miserable GMT-360 platform. No matter what iteration you pick, you get a jittery ride, third-world interior and panel gaps large enough to be seen from outer space. After years of insignificant redesigns, this rig’s corroded six brands, killed two and put three in the hospital. Die already, will ya? – sm

9. VW Routan – The Volkswagen Routan is a badge-engineered Dodge Caravan. Pros forge Monets, not Hello Kitty posters.- mm

8. HUMMER H2 – I secretly like the H2. It fits with my theory that all SUVs need to look like Patton could’ve used ’em to invade Sicily. Problem is, the poster child for “Drill Baby, Drill!” is anything but. It’s a Chevy Tahoe in a fat suit. A body on frame anachronism that not even a G.I. Joe doll could love. – jl

7. HUMMER H3/H3T – The Edsel had a peculiar name and a “controversial” design. The wrong car for the wrong time, it was a failure from the word go. Sorry. Did I say Edsel? I meant HUMMER H3. – wcm

6. Dodge Nitro – Do you think the tropical-paradise-nuking French care that we put panties on a few prisoners’ heads? No, they abhor our conspicuous consumption and tough-guy dress-up routines. To show them we have a sense of humor, we should send them the Dodge Nitro: a slow, cramped, artless knockoff of a HUMMER H2. Either that or use the Nitro as artillery shells. – jl

5. Dodge Caliber – As the ad campaign put it, the Caliber is anything but cute. Specifically, it’s noisy, garish, heavy-footed, hard to see out of, gutless, inefficient and poorly built. By trying to tart-up a compact to look like something Americans loved (big utes), Chrysler destroyed nearly every benefit of the small-hatch form. – en

4. Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango – You can dress up an ancient, arthritic, gas-sucking, poorly-packaged Dodge Durango as a Chrysler Aspen, but you can’t take it anywhere. Saying that, you can give it an expensive two-mode gas – electric hybrid system and drive it to Congress to get a bailout. But then people who know cars will laugh. As they should. rf

3. Chevrolet Aveo – The Aveo continues to offer a snap-crackle-pop interior, mediocre gas mileage, roly-poly handling and gutless onramp terror. With GM touting for bailout bucks, the fact that this sad excuse for an economy car comes from Korea is painfully poignant. And just plain painful. – en

2. Jeep Compass – From droning tires to a jouncy suspension to an engine that moans more than a five-year-old denied Disneyland, this un-Jeep is a cacophony of cheap. Design-wise, The Compass is a sub-moronic riff on the brand’s storied heritage. If you need further proof that Jeep Compass is an abominable snow job, check out the fake rivets on the shift knob. Better yet, don’t. – rf

1. Chrysler Sebring / Dodge Avenger – What do you do after a tremendous, demographic-busting hit like the 300C? If you’re Chrysler, you offer up a malformed, worst-in-segment, natural-born rental car and expect consumers to buy it. When historians write Chrysler’s obituary, the Sebring will get its own chapter. – jl

You have chosen…wisely. These are surely the most putrefied products on the automotive landscape today. But what about the rest? How did the also-rans rank? Here they are, in order from number 11 through number 23:

11. smart fortwo

12. Jeep Commander

13. Pontiac Torrent

14. Chevy Colorado / GMC Canyon

15. Cadillac Escalade

16. Lincoln Mark LT

17. Scion xB

18. Kia Amanti

19. Chevy Cobalt / Pontiac G5

20. Suzuki Forenza

21. Tesla Roadster

22. Buick Lacrosse

23. Saab 9-5

And so ends yet another TTAC Ten Worst Vehicle award. Will anything change before the 2009 awards? With everything that’s going on in the industry right now, something has to change. But rest assured that unless everything changes for the better, we’ll be back in a year, looking at next year’s latest crop of automotive atrocities and singling out America’s Ten Worst Vehicles. Meanwhile, thanks for your help, support and snark. We couldn’t do this without you. Nor would we.

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2 of 131 comments
  • Rudiger Rudiger on Dec 22, 2008
    mcs: "The D1.8 defenders claim that these companies build cars people want - is [the Sebring] an example? Where was management when they came up with these specs? Couldn’t someone in have stepped in and said the product wasn’t good enough and directed engineering to go back and get it right?"I read somewhere (maybe here on TTAC) that someone working at DCX explained that during that particular period, DCX management had a decidely undiplomatic way of car design and engineering where any feedback which questioned the propriety of any facet of a design was simply not allowed. An autocratic management style of being told what to do, then doing it (or else) ruled the day. If true, it would go a long way to understanding how much of the dreck which constitutes the majority of the current Chrysler line-up came into existance.

  • Kokomokid Kokomokid on Oct 16, 2009

    I agree completely that Sebring and Avenger are worst-in-catagory, but their being as good as they are is very telling. Look at it this way. An Avenger has easy to read instruments and logical controls, the seats are comfortable, at least for my 5'10", 150# body, and, even with the much-maligned 2.7 engine my rental had, it drove ok. The 2.7 is thirsty for its performance, but it gets the job done. Cars have come a long way, and worst-in-catagory is a whole lot better than it was, even a few years ago. I would not buy one of these cars; the competition is better, but I understand some people buying them, just because they want more "interesting" styling than most of the Asian competition.

  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil
  • ToolGuy If I were Jeep, I would offer a version with better NVH and charge more for it.And then I would offer a version with worse NVH, and charge more for it. (There is an audience for both.)