By on January 6, 2015

Today, I’m here to tackle one of the most insidious lies in the auto business: the notion that “there are no bad news cars on sale today.” But I’m not here to dump on the usual easy, safe targets like the Mitsubishi Mirage or the Smart Fortwo. Because, the low end, mainstream cars on sale today are actually pretty good. These days, the real crap has risen to the top.

In my own experience, the most disappointing cars I’ve ever driven has tended to exist in the “premium” category.

  • The Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is unequivocal dreck, with only the most cynical attempts to hide its origins as the personal vehicle of Reza Pahlavi. When I say cynical, I mean “throw on some wood and designo leather and charge $165,000 for a truck that was paid for in prior to the OPEC embargo”. And yet, it’s the hottest SUV on sale today.
  • The last-generation Range Rover Sport had so many warning lights on the dash that I was unable to even do a review of it during the week I had it. The new one is actually quite good.
  • The Aston Martin Vantage was the biggest letdown of my career as an auto journalist.
  • The Mercedes-Benz CLA got largely positive first drive impressions. In private, journos with a dearth of integrity admitted that it was a bad car, full stop.
  • The Lincoln MKZ. ‘Nuff said.
  • Per our own Jack Baruth: “Every Maserati ever has sucked. The Ferrari 360 and 430 are not great cars. The pre-facelift Gallardo was iffy.” Jack concurs regarding the G-Wagen and RR Sport.

Personally, I think that this does show just how good the average car is. Most cars that are available at price points accessible to the average consumer are a lot better than a lot of the tarted-up turds that are passed off as “aspirational vehicles”. Once upon a time, the delta between a Honda Accord and a Chevrolet Malibu was easily discernible, even to someone who had zero interest in cars. These days, it’s narrowed significantly, even if we consider the Malibu as one of the worst mid-size sedans on sale. That’s not to say there are no bad mainstream cars either. The Malibu, Fiat 500, Scion tC, the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 4Runner all qualify as “bad” cars in my books. I am sure there are others that I’m forgetting. I still think the Camaro is the most overhyped piece of garbage on the market today, and the hometown Detroit auto media is entirely complicit in praising it with laughable hyperbole, only to turn around and crucify it a year later. Disgusting. I’ve seen more integrity during Tony Hayward’s press conferences on the Macondo blowout.

But what happens is that journalists, who depend on manufacturer access for stories and a sense of self-worth (“I may make $35,000 a year, but I can still borrow a luxury car so my wife doesn’t think I’m a failure) will give measured-but-erring-on-positive reviews (known as “the wobble”). Only when the car is replaced by a new generation vehicle will they tell you what they really think of a car. Journalists don’t want to compromise their access to the fancy cars and the lavish trips that come with them, since they are a form of professional validation, both externally, and within the incestuous world of automotive writers. Better to be able to brag on social media about the all-expenses-paid off-road safari or autobahn jaunt than to keep the best interest of the readership at heart.

And as much as everyone cries out for honest, objective, take no prisoners car reviews, they never believe you when you do give a car a bad review. When I criticized the Jeep Cherokee for being half-baked, many commenters doubted my impressions on the grounds that every other outlet gave the car a positive review. In the end, it turned out that the Cherokee had a lot of issues, but by then, it was too late. Our relationship with Chrysler was damaged, I spent a lot of time defending my conclusions and had to wait months to be vindicated by Consumer Reports. Some readers even called for me to be banned from Chrysler’s press fleet for daring to criticize the car.

Nobody wants to get banned from a press fleet – doubly so if it’s a premium manufacturer with desirable product. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, most journalists would spread their legs so wide, they’d crack their pelvis if it meant that they didn’t have to spend seven consecutive days at home with their wife and kids (if they even have any). Keeping quiet about a crappy car is part and parcel of this. Say the wrong thing, and the free cars and lavish junkets will disappear.

I don’t have a family, but I do live in a modest but lovely home and I have a Hertz #1 Club Gold Card. If a car sucks, you’ll hear about it.

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213 Comments on “Editorial: There Are Still Bad Cars, But You’ll Never Hear About Them...”


  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    The MKZ? We have an aubergine one on our lot. It doesn’t seem like a bad car. Drives well. A weird combination of great materials (the wood on the steering wheel is real nice!) and crappy hand-me-ups (the center console looks like something from my 08 Sport Trac). If we retail this 2011 with 75000 kilometers for 14,000 or so it would seem like a bargain compared with other sorta-luxury cars.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The MKZ Derek drove was a disaster.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        But a good point is still being made that on the used lot (provided that Ford has worked out the fit and finish issues) the MKZ will be a far better value (in depreciation etc.) than a used Fusion.

        • 0 avatar

          To me, there’s something slightly disgraceful about the mediocre luxury car. I’d rather have the best non-luxury version of a car than the version that tries to hock itself as a genuine luxury vehicle. It’s one thing when there are actual improvements, but even with the fact that Ford and Lincoln have stopped sharing bodyshells, the Lincoln versions just feel like Fords with extra doses of self-validation. So a Fusion Titanium appeals to me a lot more than the MKZ at any level.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Kyree, what if you pay a premium for the Fusion Ti over the MKZ? Then you’d be an idiot to get the Ford over the Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnnyFirebird

        Oh, yeah. I haven’t had any experience with the new generation yet. Sharp looking, though.

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      Derek’s review was for the second-gen 2013 model. I’ve never heard anyone say too much negative about the 1st-gen models like your 2011, except that they aren’t distinctive relative to the much cheaper Fusion.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The first-generation Zephyr/MKZ is actually a really nice car. If you think of it as “the best Fusion” and consider that the Fusion of that era is quite reliable and efficient, there’s a good case to be made for the MKZ.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’ve really liked my ’08 MKZ, and it’s been dead reliable. I think the new one is a real looker, and I think it’s got a neat interior too, but my main complaint (and this applies to many, many cars these days) is that it’s less than roomy and hard to see out of due to having less glass area. I’m a big guy and perfectly comfortable in my MKZ. I sat in a new one a few months ago and it was tight.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Why is the 4Runner so bad? And how is it worse than the same-brand RAV4, which is ghastly?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      It’s not bad, it’s ugly. I don’t know why Derek thinks it’s bad

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      The front of the 4Runner is terrifying. I’m not sure why Lexus and Toyota decided their vehicles needed to look more like a Predator.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Predator is cool, a black Grand Cherokee SRT is predator. The 4-Runner looks like it’s about to eat your children, not cool, but still a good truck

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          The new 4Runner is very ugly but is a decent BOF SUV.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah besides questionable looks, what’s bad about the 4Runner? I’d say it’s in a niche by itself these days as a perfectly sized BOF SUV. More practical than a Wrangler Unlimited, more capable than all competing crossovers while being almost as roomy and almost as efficient. It will also outlast all of these aforementioned vehicles by a decade or more. Xterra is smaller and has a significantly harsher ride and more primitive interior. Grand Cherokee has a significantly smaller trunk and needs a trouble prone air-lift suspension to compete offroad.

            Call me biased, I was very impressed with the 2014 SR5 rental I had. Trail Edition is a bit much, I like the manual j-gated transfer case and the locking rear diff but all that other crawl control sand/mud/rock settings are for the birds. Toyota A-TRAC offroad traction control is already very good and standard in the SR5, and for most people makes the rear locker superfluous. Limited is a ghastly(ier?) beast with uselessly low profile tires and bumpers.

            Prices are about right, 4×4 SR5s go for $32k after haggling, Trail Editions for $35k. Considering my 1996 Limited would have cost $50k+ in inflation adjusted dollars, these strike me as a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Yeah besides questionable looks, what’s bad about the 4Runner? I’d say it’s in a niche by itself these days as a perfectly sized BOF SUV. More practical than a Wrangler Unlimited, more capable than all competing crossovers while being almost as roomy and almost as efficient. It will also outlast all of these aforementioned vehicles by a decade or more. Xterra is smaller and has a significantly harsher ride and more primitive interior. Grand Cherokee has a significantly smaller trunk and needs a trouble prone air-lift suspension to compete offroad.

      Call me biased, I was very impressed with the 2014 SR5 rental I had. Trail Edition is a bit much, I like the manual j-gated transfer case and the locking rear diff but all that other crawl control sand/mud/rock settings are for the birds. Toyota A-TRAC offroad traction control is already very good and standard in the SR5, and for most people makes the rear locker superfluous. Limited is a ghastly(ier?) beast with uselessly low profile tires and bumpers.

      Prices are about right, 4×4 SR5s go for $32k after haggling, Trail Editions for $35k. Considering my 1996 Limited would have cost $50k+ in inflation adjusted dollars, these strike me as a bargain.

      • 0 avatar
        EdTomBell

        Not to pile on, but as the owner of a ’14 4runner I agree that it’s inclusion is strange. It’s certainly not for most people, but if you need a little off road capability, decent cargo room, and some light towing in a reliable mid-size package, there’s arguably nothing better (the current grand cherokee is really nice, but it’s for a totally different audience). It’s antiquated in a lot of ways, but it does it’s job quite well.

        The limited trim is pointless, I’ll admit.

      • 0 avatar
        joeveto3

        I agree with you guys, the 4Runner is a rare duck. Yes, it’s ugly. Previous generations had classic good looks. But it’s a very capable vehicle, with rock solid reliability and resale value.

        Go price a used 4Runner and see what I mean.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I agree with Corey. Besides questionable looks, what’s bad about the 4Runner? I’d say it’s in a niche by itself these days as a perfectly sized BOF SUV. More practical/roomy than a Wrangler Unlimited, more capable than all competing crossovers while being almost as roomy and almost as efficient. It will also outlast all of these aforementioned vehicles by a decade or more. Xterra is smaller and has a significantly harsher ride and more primitive interior. Grand Cherokee has a significantly smaller trunk and needs a trouble prone air-lift suspension to compete offroad.

      Call me biased, I was very impressed with the 2014 SR5 rental I had. Trail Edition is a bit much, I like the manual j-gated transfer case and the locking rear diff but all that other crawl control sand/mud/rock settings are for the birds. Toyota A-TRAC offroad traction control is already very good and standard in the SR5, and for most people makes the rear locker superfluous. Limited is a ghastly(ier?) beast with uselessly low profile tires and bumpers.

      Prices are about right, 4×4 SR5s go for $32k after haggling, Trail Editions for $35k. Considering my 1996 Limited would have cost $50k+ in inflation adjusted dollars, these strike me as a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Depends on what you want to do with it.

      If you want a BOF SUV to go off-road and tow toys, it’s not bad at all, especially given the sorry state of the competition. It’s quite capable and comes in a nice tidy package.

      If like 90% of its buyers you drive it back and forth from your subdivision to your workplace parking lot to your local strip mall, it’s got all sorts of problems, and “bad car” is fair. It’s cumbersome to drive, can’t turn or stop, has terrible fuel economy combined with mediocre performance, has very limited interior space for its size, the interior looks like a cheap attempt to dress up old hardware (which is what it is), and the value for money for that application is poor.

      Very much a case where “bad” depends on the individual buyer.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The rental 2014 SR5 I drove got exactly the same MPG a 2013 Explorer Limited I drove on the same route (4 hours round trip 70 mph highway in 40F weather), 21 mpg.

        Explorer has a usable third row, but looking just at cargo space behind the second row of seats with the 3rd row folded, they are very close. Passenger room in the first two rows feels similar enough in both that it makes no appreciable difference.

        The 4Runner did have a more taut ‘truckier’ ride, which I am personally more familiar with and prefer. it is also quite a climb to get up into compared to the low floor of the Explorer. I think people make too much of a stink out of the ‘outdatedness’ of BOF trucks. If well packaged and executed (as I obviously think the 4Runner is), they are still very close competition to the current crop of emasculated sedan based crossovers, while offering a significant safety factor in durability, and ease of maintenance (for those of us who still wrench on our rides). Sales are obviously not on my side of the argument, as ease of everyday use trumps my bleating about the inherent sturdiness of frames and DIY friendliness of a solid rear axle, longitudinal drivetrain layout, and traditional transfer cases.

        • 0 avatar

          Are you trying to argue with Derek’s questionable taste here?

          • 0 avatar
            slance66

            I am. I am car shopping and decided on a 4Runner limited. Drove a JGC, but depreciation is terrible as is reliability. It’s also twitchy as hell on the highway and the backseat stinks (too low). The Explorer had horrible ergonomics, worse than our old Tribeca. It’s also just too big for what I want. I need to climb a rutted, muddy snow covered moutain road in Vermont, I need to manage to horrible potholes and broken pavement where I live. The limited 4R with X-REAS is totally different on-road than the SR5 and Trail. Handled pretty flat, and I drive a 3 series now. It just fit. Hard to explain, but opening the hood and knowing I could change the spark plugs in 20 minutes, unlike the 4 hour job in my wife’s RX350 made me appreciate it more.

    • 0 avatar
      anti121hero

      I actually don’t mind the 4runner at all bit I think the new rav4 is absolutely disgusting

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I think you are to a great degree channelling Jack Baruth, but in this matter that is a goods thing. Good column.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I agree.

      If anything, this could be expanded upon.

      Derek has evolved in a very good (i.e. honest) way since cutting his teeth (I was going to say “popping his cherry,” but such blatant sexist/misogynistic phrases are long since taboo in Melody Lee’s America); that reminds me, why isn’t there a XTS on the list, and I’d obviously include the wretched ATS given how hilariously overpriced that Pontiac is).

      When Derek caught a wall of feces for daring criticize the pre-production Cherokee, I was his biggest defender, and I’m glad he stood his ground with vigor (that reminds me, I miss Legendary Acuras).

      Aston Martins cause Jeremy Clarkson’s testicles to swell up with pride no matter how mediocre or outright terrible they may be – especially given their price (as do all things British with the exception of Morris’s, the Gee Whiz & the Reliant Robin). They are, in truth, mediocre vehicles intended to be worn in the same manner as expensive jewelry.

      Maseratis are in a category of laughability possessing a singularly unique status given how fragile & expensive (and often times hideous) they are.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Also, Jack, I and many others are ALREADY VINDICATED regarding the failure that is the ATS.

        Admit it:

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/how-gm-could-save-the-cadillac-ats-from-its-otherwise-inevitable-fate-of-complete-marketplace-failure/

  • avatar
    b787

    Maybe FR-S/BRZ twins weren’t worth the hype, but saying they’re bad cars is a bit extreme…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      I never drove one. They look like they’d be fun. What’s wrong with them?

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Agree about the FRS/BRZ. Mr Davis from Motorweek is one of those auto journalists that does not ever give a negative review on any car they test, even back when they reviewed the Yugo, he found nice things to say about it.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        As far as Motorweak (sic) goes, every car is a good car.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ Volt 230 & James2, while I agree that virtually every MotorWeek review over the years has been positive on the whole, back in the day they actually did list “MW Hits” and “MW Misses” for the vehicles reviewed. That kind of constructive criticism went by the wayside at some point.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        The Yugo’s rear defroster that doubled as a hand warmer when you had to push it was a nice feature in cold weather.

      • 0 avatar
        makuribu

        You have to listen carefully to the Motorweek reviews. They are an excellent example of “damning with faint praise”. It’s actually pretty funny to decode them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yeah… what’s “bad” about the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins? The general lack of power or the fact they weren’t named “Celica”. I don’t think they are bad either, just over-hyped as people longed for the old AE86. I see plenty of them on the track and their owners seem to be enjoying the heck of ’em. If you don’t fit into a Miata (because convertible) then the twins are really the only game in town.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Derek is a Miata guy.
      Never the twain shall meet.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Go spend $25K on them and then let’s talk, mkay?

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I did and I love it. Just big enough to haul my kid around when I’m handling the parenting duties solo… which is reasonably frequent since my wife is a SICU nurse. We take the CUV when the whole family is out or we expect snow.

        The FR-S/BRZ is bad at being everything to everyone. It is great at filling the intended niche, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I can only offer three things I’ve read up on them:

      1. Despite being touted as “The Next AE86” their tuning is a bit limited, not many engine swaps you can do due to the low hoodline.

      2. According to Jack Baruths site a few laps on the track will destroy their engines, this is the car that was advertised with having enough trunk space for racing tires.

      3. Smaller reliability issues, like water getting in the tailights.

      If you just want a small sports car they’re probably not that bad, they just don’t live up to what Toyabaru says about them.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        1) Lots of swaps out there. Most that want more power go SC or turbo. This car has a huge aftermarket.
        2) Prople track the heck out of these. They aren’t 24hr enduro ready off the showroom floor, but what is?
        3) Taillamps were countermeasured in the first MY. Same with the misaligned trunk. Noisy high pressure fuel pump is the only issue that persists and it isn’t like the failing BMW HPFPs where the car ends up in limp mode. Functionality isn’t impacted.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          http://jackbaruth.com/?p=942

          Just leaving this here

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            An anecdote. I guess no other tuned car has ever blown up at a track. I concede.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            To be fair, the problem that led to the blowed-up motor is a common one with non-tuned GT86s.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            I saw a Nissan GT-R blow up on track, so maybe its a “bad car” too? For whatever its worth I see way more GT86s on track then my own Z. And if you think a blown engine is not good, then how do you feel about brake failure on the track:
            http://www.caranddriver.com/features/z-meets-wall-we-investigate-why-the-nismo-zs-brakes-failed-at-lightning-lap

            FYI – I’ve got upgraded fluid and pads on my Z so I’m good… so far.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Yeah, and try fitting inside one if you’re taller than 5’6″ and over 150 lbs.

        That’s what took the BRZ out of contention for me – otherwise, I really liked it.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Jack, his exact words were “a few laps”. A few laps will not trash a stock BRZ. The stock issues I read about were the injector seals on the ‘Ring rental cars. With the slew of guys regularly tracking their BRZ s and FRSs in the US not filling the ft86club track and not-real-racing sub-forum with “fragged my engine” posts suggests that it isn’t super common. To be honest, I see way more EJ255/257 daily driver ring land failure posts on nasioc than anything of the few forums I follow. And even that hasn’t earned the WRX and STI a reputation as a time bomb that tgry very well might deserve.

  • avatar
    natrat

    ” they never believe you when you do give a car a bad review”
    I don’t even believe the good ones anymore.Country is so impossibly corrupt the slimy tentacles of money surely have reached into every corner of public life including journalism. Obviously not 100% all the time but you don’t look far for it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great piece.

  • avatar
    MPAVictoria

    Are we still pretending that that Cherokee hasn’t been a huge hit for Chrysler? Because I see them everywhere in Ottawa.

    • 0 avatar
      mik101

      So you’re one of those people that believes because the masses are dumb enough to buy it in quantity, that it doesn’t suck? If only. Look how many quality products disappeared in other aspects of life with the influx of cheap made in China garbage. Same applies to vehicles, but the original owners who ditch them shortly after the warranty goes don’t care.

      • 0 avatar
        greaseyknight

        I agree with you to some extend, but do the OEM’s really care? They just want to sell cars, and if the consumer is happy with it? I’m not talking about unreliable bad, just a meh automobile. Case in point, the first gen Ford Exploder, back in the day Ford sold a metric ton of them and made a ton of money. Not the best vehicle at the time nor the worse, but people liked them.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Quite the logical leap you made there, mik101! Either I didn’t realize that masses of Cherokee owners were dumping their out-of-warranty rigs, or you are just making stuff up. Given that the Cherokee has barely been out a year, the second is more likely.

        The bad Cherokee reviews were based on two things: the transmission is a bit rougher than it could be, and the original press junket was cancelled at the last minute in September 2013, leaving a lot of reviewers out in the cold (no free meals, nothing to publish).

        The second issue doesn’t apply to actual buyers, and the first is tempered by the fact that the average driver can’t even tell if their car is on fire, never mind a slight delay in 6-5 downshifts.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        I have a sister and a brother-in-law (husband of another sister) who both bought new Cherokees last year (neither had any influence on the other’s choice). They are both highly educated, very discerning/demanding consumers, and both of them are what I would characterize as “car people” (sister insisted on driving manuals for 15 years).
        They both absolutely love the damn thing. Anecdotal, I know, but I’m fairly convinced that the Cherokee most definitely doesn’t suck.

  • avatar
    jberger

    The MKZ is one of Alex’s favorites as a Hybrid and it’s just strange to see such a disconnect between reviews. While there is no discounting the issues Ford had getting the MKZ out the door, it seems like those issues are resolved.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The hybrid commands ridiculous resale so either the entire car is somehow better (doubtful), it’s drive-train is killer (very doubtful), or the entire car is ok but demand for it outstrips supply.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        There are only two hybrid four-cylinder luxury sedans (MKZ and ES 300h) and both are supply constrained. The six-cylinder hybrid sedans are odd ducks because they don’t really get the sort of fuel economy that draws typical hybrid buyers.

        It also helps that both the Ford and Toyota hybrid drivetrains have truly excellent reliability records.

        • 0 avatar
          MrFixit1599

          Agreed on the Ford hybrid drive train. My work truck is a 2006 Escape Hybrid with 331,xxx miles on it, and the engine and transmission have never been touched, other than synthetic oil changes every 10k miles or so. Transmission is sealed, so nothing at all.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The MKZ hybrid is a good deal compared to a loaded up Fusion Titanium Hybrid. Equipped the same, the MKZ is about $10% more. For that $3000-4000, you get a different look, better dealership, better interior materials, longer warranty, etc. You probably also get bigger depreciation though.

        I find the Ford hybrid drivetrain to be excellent. For the average commuter, it is way more than enough power.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The MY13s have evidently cratered in the wake of cheap oil compared to what they were doing in the spring. The depreciation is similar between the Ford and Lincoln twins.

          MY13 Zephyr Hybrid

          12/18/14 DFW Lease $26,600 3,323 Above JZ-WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/11/14 NJ Regular $27,500 8,008 Above SILVER 4H A Yes
          01/02/15 PA Regular $21,500 28,678 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
          12/18/14 DFW Lease $20,000 34,967 Avg WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/08/14 GEORGIA Factory $21,500 36,228 Avg WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/04/14 CHICAGO Factory $21,200 42,142 Avg WHITE 4H A Yes

          MY13 Fusion Hybrid SE

          12/23/14 DFW Lease $17,800 9,980 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
          12/09/14 KC Factory $19,300 12,825 Above WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/10/14 CALIFORN Lease $17,500 14,519 Avg DEEP IMP 4H A Yes
          12/16/14 ORLANDO Regular $20,800 14,998 Above WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/30/14 PHOENIX Lease $18,000 16,119 Avg BLUE 4H A Yes
          12/31/14 NEVADA Regular $19,600 16,707 Above WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/11/14 PITTSBGH Lease $19,600 17,191 Above WHITE 4H A Yes
          12/09/14 ORLANDO Lease $18,000 19,582 Avg BLUE 4H A Yes
          12/18/14 SO CAL Lease $17,100 21,585 Avg BLACK 4H A Yes
          12/18/14 SO CAL Lease $19,800 23,286 Above BLACK 4H A Yes

          MY13 Fusion Titanium

          10/07/14 PENSCOLA Regular $22,800 26,210 Avg 4H Yes
          10/21/14 PENSCOLA Regular $23,400 15,714 Avg BLACK 4H Yes
          10/28/14 SEATTLE Factory $19,100 14,687 Below DKBLACK 4H A No
          10/29/14 TAMPA Lease $24,800 7,373 Above WHITE-UG 4H A Yes
          11/26/14 NJ Lease $22,700 22,145 Avg LTWHITE 4H A Yes
          12/04/14 SO CAL Regular $20,900 37,869 Below WHITE 4H A Yes

          for comparison, gas MY13 I4 Zephyr FWD

          12/09/14 KC Factory $20,100 28,966 Avg WHITE 4GT A Yes
          12/09/14 KC Factory $19,700 34,365 Avg GRAY 4GT A Yes
          12/09/14 BALTWASH Lease $22,700 15,507 Above SILVER 4GT A Yes
          12/10/14 SAN ANTO Regular $20,100 34,149 Avg MAROON 4GT A Yes
          12/10/14 MINNEAP Factory $19,700 32,172 Avg BLK MET 4GT A Yes
          12/10/14 MINNEAP Lease $19,300 32,767 Avg BLK MET 4GT A Yes
          12/10/14 LAKELAND Lease $19,200 36,318 Avg TUXEDO B 4GT A Yes
          12/11/14 TX HOBBY Factory $19,900 29,843 Avg WHITE 4GT A Yes
          12/11/14 PA Factory $21,700 30,975 Avg MAROON 4GT P Yes

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    So the jist of the article is letting us know you that your reviews will not be biased. Hear, hear.

    You’re catching a lot of attention to the cars that you deem “bad”. Almost pulls away from what your trying to get out to the B&B.

    4Runner? Bad?? Do tell.

  • avatar
    mdanda

    I was hoping for a well-researched article discussing the quality differential between luxury cars and mainstream cars, and how the little guy actually wins in the battle between affordability and luxury. Instead, I got angry venting about professional colleagues. Pfft

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    By the way, always liked the way the hood line integrated into the side mirrors on the Vectra. I found that pretty clever. That design still looks pretty good today.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    By the way, always liked the way the hood line integrated into the s!de mirrors on the Vectra. I found that pretty clever. That design still looks pretty good today.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    There are many attributes to cars that are factors in the good/bad argument. Affordability, accessibility, dependability (looking at you, “premium” segment), panache, and useability are things that few journalists pay attention to. The ones who aren’t in the mfr’s back pocket all judge cars based on their peers. This makes sense, but it’s also where they fail.

    I think most new car shoppers (the ones not duped by high pressure sales tactics) make informed decisions weighing all options, and choose something that makes them just barely happier than their 3-10 year old trade in while checking as many boxes as possible. That’s why people never take your advice on a new car when they ask for it. It’s also why we tolerate a terribly-fitting plastic piece next to the fine burlwood.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    The cream rises to the top. Unfortunately, so does the scum.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    So in other words reviewers who are beholden to the companies whose products they review are not going to be ruthless in their criticism?

    If that surprises you then hold on to your hat because politicians will tell you things that they will while campaigning only to do what the lobbyists who help fund them want when they get in office. Shocker!

    And as far as the cars you listed being poor, you have some sort of significant, non-anecdotal, statistical data comparing them to others in their class to show said poor quality?

    Or like everyone else it’s merely your opinion?

  • avatar
    Timtoolman

    It’s refreshing to see the truth about cars, but one hopes all critics are open-minded from the beginning. CR was infamous for not being objective, despite the no-advertising policy of the magazine. I can’t understand why even great cars, like the vaunted BMW’s, never get a bad review. Even my friend, who works on Beemers at a dealership, says you’d be a fool not to have extended coverage. When they break, and the do more regularly than anyone would let on, they are extremely expensive to fix.

    I can’t speak for the much mis-aligned 200/Sebring, but its sister car, the Dodge Stratus my kid drives, has been very reliable. I hate it for its low stance (it’s an R/T) and the stupid wing on the deck, but hey, for a cheap car, that Stratus has served her well.

    When I think in terms of driving a status car like a BMW and the like, I think of long term costs. Aside from 84 months at $459.00/mo., I wonder what it’s going to cost in oil changes, repairs, insurance, tires. Seriously; add it up. Maybe that new 200 doesn’t quite match up with a new Accord, but the domestics have improved so much, Joe Driver can hardly tell the difference. Professional drivers aside, I’d bet most can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “When I think in terms of driving a status car like a BMW and the like, I think of long term costs. Aside from 84 months at $459.00/mo., I wonder what it’s going to cost in oil changes, repairs, insurance, tires. Seriously; add it up”

      It appears outs1de of the $459.00 per month plus insurance and gas it’s not going to cost you a thing. Times have changed

      “BMW, covering regularly scheduled maintenance needs for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles. You can extend those benefits with the BMW Maintenance Program Upgrade, bringing you up to 6 years or 100,000 miles.”

      • 0 avatar
        Timtoolman

        Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to pick on BMW. I’ve heard or read bad things about a lot of cars- BMW’s aren’t bad cars, they just came to mind because of the alleged cost of repairs. If you like to thrash them around, and they ARE a joy to do so, just plan on spending a lot on new tires. My point, in part, is that we can easily pick on the cheap alternative (basic transportation), because we all like to drive the nice performance cars with the big V-8’s and paddle shifters. Those “bad” cars are often inexpensive to operate, and a lot of people aren’t going to thrash them around. The old 200 was a pretty ugly number, yet people seem to forget, it came from the halls of the great Daimler-Chrysler.

        I just think we’ve gotten into this mentality that we (the general public) all need to drive around in cars with the latest tech, heated leather seats, and all sorts of driving aids/gadgets, when it’s inadvisable for most to do so. Bravo to those who can genuinely afford to drive a Mercedes, but that regular guy who makes $40-60 grand a year, he is better served with something more practical/less expensive, while investing in, say, a home.

        I’ll shut-up, now.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “When I think in terms of driving a status car like a BMW and the like, I think of long term costs. As1de from 84 months at $459.00/mo., I wonder what it’s going to cost in oil changes, repairs, insurance, tires. Seriously; add it up”

      It appears outs1de of the $459.00 per month plus insurance and gas it’s not going to cost you a thing. Times have changed

      “BMW, covering regularly scheduled maintenance needs for the first 4 years or 50,000 miles. You can extend those benefits with the BMW Maintenance Program Upgrade, bringing you up to 6 years or 100,000 miles.”

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        But what if I wanna stage3-chip it and put big rims on it?

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        My X3 is approaching the 4 year mark. So far, I’ve paid:

        $1950 for a set of replacement tires
        $76 x 4 = $304 (7qts BMW 5W30 _ filter) for “owner-paid” oil changes on an N55. I do my own, so the oil only stays in the sump for 7500 miles.
        $550 x 4 = $1650 annual detailing ’cause I’m too lazy to do it on my own :)

        $3904 out of pocket. During that time, its had 4 warranty issues:

        *Rear folding seat release trim was cracked upon delivery
        *Driver’s side mirror folding mechanism needed tightening
        *Replaced glove box door due to peeling plastic
        *Tailpipe flapper valve & vacuum hose needed replacement

        Just some real data for ‘ya.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Also coming up on 4 years on an ’11 328i:

          1 oil change, ~$50 (Mobil1 on sale DIY) at 3500 miles, otherwise annually on BMW, last one coming up in a couple weeks. Then annually DIY.

          2 transmission and diff oil changes, ~$75 each for oil (genuine BMW), also DIY at 3500 and 30K miles.

          1 set of winter tires, used wheels, TPMS sensors, ~$1000. Those and the summers are about 1/2 worn.

          Warranty items:
          Failed seat relay
          leaky headlight washer
          Annual wiper blades because they are free
          One set of brakes after I let the car sit out in the rain for a week at a conference, which caused a TINY, and I mean TINY trace of vibration when braking at 80+ mph. BMW replaced the brakes on all four corners for free. Must have been a slow shop day. I only mentioned it in passing when I was in for an oil change.

          Some more real data. Obviously I am following the “old school” maintenance schedule above and beyond what BMW specs for fluid changes.

          Those are some pricey shoes for that X3, what are they? And how huge? Michelin Pilot Sports for my 3-series barely run $800/set. Conti RFTs are only ~$600.

    • 0 avatar
      Speed3

      I would add the BMW X1 to the list of bad cars. I rented one and was extremely disappointed in the interior. Is this what we are calling high-end materials? Because its no better than a Mazda 3, except that the Mazda has real leather. Small, cramped, loud, and just unrefined all around. You would expect more from a BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        So get the leather. It’s an option. Options are nice, they give you choice. I’d rather have the plastic, other than the lame color choices. It lasts forever with no maintenance. Dead cow is a terrible thing to put in a car.

        But I agree with you that the X1 is pretty cheap inside. The X3 is much nicer, but much more expensive too. X1s are fun to drive though! For a wagon on stilts with an automatic.

        Small cramped and loud (but fun to drive) actually describes most of the cars BMW has ever made over their entire history, so I am not sure what you were expecting. A 7-series for $33K?

        • 0 avatar
          JLGOLDEN

          Our 2013 BMW X1, purchased new, was a replacement for a 2010 WRX hatch. It’s the 4-cylinder RWD. We went “easy” on the options. Compared to the trade-in, it’s a better car. For us. Acceleration-wise: a bit of a step down. Utility and useable space: about the same. The interior comfort & materials: A huge upgrade over the Subie. There are hard plastics in the X1, yes, but the textures are agreeable, and things like switchgear and ambience are in a different league than a WRX, altogether. The fact that it is a BMW is totally secondary, as the car simply fits our needs and overall, has been a pleasant upgrade over the raucous WRX.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    The best way to identify crap cars is through the IIHS videos. For a sample, compare Fiat 500anything with Mini, and Jeep Compass with Forester. Then you know where the money was spent.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      On the body/structure maybe but you don’t get any impression of the drivetrain, suspension, or interior that way which I’d argue are all fundamentally way more important than artificial crash tests. Most drivers will never be in any accident, let alone those specified by the IHS. All drivers will interact with drivetrain, suspension, and interior every time they drive the thing. You still think watching crash videos is a rational way to evaluate cars?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Looking at accident pictures works better imo, and thats only really good for safety.

        I’d rather have a car that can avoid accidents, so good steering, brakes, and tires are very important to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        Absolutely do. Because they are pegged against the same objective benchmark. Not some journo with his soft fingers poking a dash, or telling me how a small car with 140 hp is underpowered for a on-ramp entry, but just a simple a hard wall. Once I whittle down the field by getting rid of, say Compass and 500 that have their doors rip out and roofs bend from a 40 mph impact (double the bicycle speed!), or cars with side airbags that don’t block your head from the A-pillar, I can then go and poke the dashboard and fascinate myself with all the Tweeter reader gizmos on the center console.

        Btw, all VW and Audis should be included in Crappy Cars list for one simple reason – no USB port. In 2015.

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        Of course I do! You can replace gaskets, upgrade brakes and suspension and play Gran Tourismo all night avoiding every collision on your path. But you cannot restore your head after it hits the A-pillar in a car with side airbags in a 40 mph collision, or your limbs mangled by ripped off driver door and collapsing roof. Hitting a wall at a very moderate speed of 40 mph is a great and very objective way to identify crap cars. Again, go see how Fiat 500 deals with it versus the Mini. It’s that simple.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The problem with crash videos is that they won’t tell you how many sets of head gaskets that Subaru is going to need during its lifetime.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “The Malibu, Fiat 500, Scion tC, the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ and the Toyota 4Runner all qualify as “bad” cars in my books. I am sure there are others that I’m forgetting. I still think the Camaro is the most overhyped piece of garbage…”

    None of them are really bad. They aren’t great, but they’re not bad. To whit:

    * The Malibu is pretty much just an also-ran. It’s not really bad, unless you want to call the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart and Nissan Altima “bad”.
    * The Fiat 500, well, okay, but the whole segment (500, iQ, Spark) are problematic cars. You have to compromise a lot to make a vehicle that short.
    * The Scion tC isn’t really bad at all. Again, not great, but the whole segment (Civic Coupe, Forte Coup, Elantra Coupe) is on the ropes, and the Scion actually quite easy to live with, versus the others.
    * FT86/BR-Z. Now we’re being unfair. These are quite good cars, though they’re not the game-changers they were hyped to be.
    * If you hate the 4Runner, you may as well hate the Jeep Wrangler for the same reason. Cue Jeep fans.
    * Camaro. Again, it’s not really bad, per se. It is poorly packaged, but it isn’t actually outright awful and a lot of what makes it a poor choice is shared with the Mustang.

    About the others I cannot really speak. Not in my league

    For a car to be “bad” it really has to have no redeeming values versus the other cars in it’s class (because there are faults that a whole class shares). None of these are really bad by that metric, and only the tC and Malibu really come close by virtue of being the lamest entries their respective classes.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I can think of a bad car which should have been on this list. It doesn’t have [really any positive] traits compared to other vehicles in class, and is overpriced and undesirable, as well as impractical.

      I give you the ELR.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        ELR is a given. I’ll also throw Suzuki Aerio out there.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnnyFirebird

          I thought we were discussing currently available cars? I mean, then the Sunfire / Cavalier / Cobalt / Pursuit would have to come up.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            Ok, the Cavalier/Sunfire did suck, but the Cobalt/Pursuit/G5 weren’t really bad, either. I would certainly consider a well-treated SS.

            The Ion (first cut at the Delta platform) was, unless you got the Redline version. That excused a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The ELR isn’t bad, it’s just an answer to a question no one is asking.

        The Aerio (hasn’t been made in five years or so, so really…) isn’t a bad car at all. It’s not a pretty car, but it’s well-packaged, comfortable, powerful (for the time) and drives well enough. I know someone who has one, and tested one myself.

        • 0 avatar
          hriehl1

          The Aereo for its time was actually quite decent. It was ridiculed for its digital dash, little triangle windows forward of front-seat windows and slab sided design. But mostly because it was a Suzuki, with a very small advertising budget.

          Then came the Honda Fit… sporting the exact same features and package, for $4K more money with a lesser warranty. The “reviewers” loved it.

          What a bunch of ho’s.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “sporting the exact same features and package, for $4K more money with a lesser warranty”

            The Fit and Aerio are very different cars: the Honda (of that era) feels much lighter; it’s sportier and more engaging. It’s also incredibly loud.

            The Aerio is more like the Matrix, only better-packaged.

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      Yep. I am in complete agreement with the comment. The Fiat 500 isn’t a BAD car. It is a compromised car that occupies a specific niche. Two different things.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Let me add to the chorus of people questioning you on calling the 4Runner a ‘bad’ truck. If you ask me, it’s in a niche all to itself as the last midsize BOF SUV. MPG is within spitting distance to most crossovers, as is passenger/cargo space. It is obviously much more capable and durable than anything fwd based. Long after the last CVT equipped pathfinder has burned out its transmission, these 4Runners will be running around bouncing down trails out West, and being exported to Africa with 300k on the odometer.

    The Grand Cherokee can only match the 4Runner offroad with an expensive (and trouble prone) adjustable air suspension, all while having significantly less cargo space. Long term reliability? Not even close.

    Xterra is another obvious comparison, but it is just too small and too crude (rough leaf spring suspension and primitive interior)

    Wrangler Unlimited is not as practical in terms of cargo space and people accomodation, as well as giving up a bit of fuel economy. Long term reliability has an asterisk as well if previous Jeeps are anything to go off of.

    Lastly, yes the front end is brutally ugly. The 2010-2013 Trail Edition is the best looking of the bunch.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I think it was just incorrect to lump it in as bad. It might not be good at everything, but it is very good at some things – which should keep it off the bad list.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “Long term reliability has an asterisk as well if previous Jeeps are anything to go off of.”

      Is that so? A buddy’s (YJ) Wrangler stopped logging miles around 500,000, but it kept going for a couple more years. Seems like decent reliability, especially given that his job takes him where roads haven’t been built yet.

      You may well be lumping all Jeeps together, but the Wrangler is not known for being unreliable long-term.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        The drivetrains and axles hold up just fine, it’s more so every auxiliary component that craps out on Jeeps. Virtually every part of the cooling system, exhaust manifolds cracking, rear main seal leaks, various interior bits, sagging doors on the XJs, electrical components…

        Well within the realm of the DIYer, and particularly the Jeepers running their rigs as they were intended to be. So with a dedicated owner, the sky is the limit mileage wise.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      If head-gasket blowing previous 4Runners are considered, that throws a wrench in your Jeep remark. The 1990s V-6 and the overhyped 22 RE as well. Usually, even a minor overheating incident causes cracked head/block, warpage, etc. Id take Jeep’s bullet proof 4.0 I-6 and deal with the minor annoyances instead of catastrphic engine self destruction because the temp gauge went 2 mm past its normal position.

      The 4Runner is hidiously ugly and the only ones I see are strictly pavement-pounders, driven by bros and such who want the look and the precieved envy that goes with it.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Derek, how about getting one of the journos who gives these glowing reviews to moonlight at TTAC under a pseudonym and give not only his real opinions about various cars but describe in detail the various forms of bribery that comes with various models?

    He/she could detail the deficits of the car, the swag bags, the junket locations, the misbehavior of other auto journalists, etc. It would make for great and scandalous reading. It would also generate lots of clicks and controversy which is always good for business.

    With some careful editing your source could be kept confidential. Surely you have run into somebody that would like to dish the dirt, or that owes you a favor, or is susceptible to blackmail…
    Dan Neil must have some skeletons in his closet.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Wait, so car buffs will spit on CUV/SUVs at any chance, yet if a journalist calls one bad they get angry?

    Nice post though, this is why even if I don’t always agree with your reviews I trust that you’re being honest.

    “they never believe you when you do give a car a bad review.”

    This is even worse with older cars, car buffs love calling CamCords dull, but don’t you EVER knock the dull fourth gen Accord. FWD and electronics are witchcraft , but NEVER knock the Volvo 850! Light weight and sticks are as God wanted, but NEVER EVER knock my Grandmas Crown Vic!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    You gotta hate something once in a while to be taken seriously, no?

  • avatar
    210delray

    “Only when the car is replaced by a new generation vehicle will they tell you what they really think of a car.”

    So true, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in college, my summation of Motor Trend’s reviews were, “All cars are great, except last year’s models.”

    Probably even more laughable were the owners’ surveys in Popular Mechanics when the cars were only a few months old — how many people, unless they bought a true lemon (like the guy who set his Lincoln Mark III(?) on fire in front of dealership) would badmouth their new pride and joy?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      And then 20 years later people buy that once mediocre model, then praise it and talk about how its superior to the newest models.

      Its just bizarre how cars work as far as whats hot and whats not.

    • 0 avatar
      TheAnswerIsPolara

      On Aug 31 1972 Eddie Campos had finally had it with his brand new (1971) $10,000 Lincoln Mark III.

      It was a lemon of the highest order. He had returned to the dealer 20+ times for repairs to most every system on the car. A/C, brakes, ignition, alignment, power windows etc.

      Finally he parked it on the front lawn of the Ford assembly plant in Pico Rivera CA and SET FIRE TO IT I!! Burned it to the ground.

      He continued to make his $130 a month payments on it so he was not charged with arson or insurance fraud.

      It kept the burned shell and trailered it around with a lemon tree planted in it. FoMoCo never apologized or offered him any reimbursement.

      His actions helped to start the consumer movement and exposed the quality of American cars beginning in the 1970s. A few were OK, most had problems related to both design and build. The modern lemon laws were the result of Eddie’s protest and others who did similar stunts.

      I owned a ’71 Mark III. Loved the car. I considered it my “Hot Rod” Lincoln. A couple of issues with the car was the plastic cruise control stalk (broke at least twice on me); and the rim-blow horn. The latter would fire the horn off when the temperature creeped below freezing and I’d have to disconnect the battery to turn it off. At least I knew to get my coat on before going out to “fix” it!

  • avatar
    John R

    With regards to Aston I’ve been telling friends for years that the Emperor has had no clothes. Not at that price.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    How many more times do I have to read this same story on TTAC?

    You guys seem to complain more about your colleagues than you do about cars these days. At what point does it become a self-congratulatory circle-jerk? Because I dare say this post comes mighty close.

    You didn’t really give us any examples to go on except a link to one story from 2011. Surely there are plenty of examples if this is such a prevalent problem? Why not link us to them?

    It always leaves a bad taste when a website or writer feels the need to remind us that they’re doing us a “favor” by being honest. I have found myself coming to TTAC less and less in the past year, which is the opposite of what I expected to happen when you and Baruth took over.

    Just write your reviews. They’re good, and I do believe you are giving me the truth when you write them. But I am getting tired of this schtick.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I apply the ‘bad’ label to cars I’ve personally experienced, and to those for which there is broad consensus.

    For me, the top baddies have been:
    05 Odyssey
    02 Passat
    80 Bobcat

    Part of the ‘bad’ label is really a perception of value. I spent 50 grand between the Oddy and Passat, yet I tolerated them a total of only 57 (20 + 37) months before I parted with them. The Bobcat was a $1 (one dollar) car from a friend, but $2500 later it still never ran right.

    So if you’re dropping 6 figures on a car, it should be stellar.

  • avatar

    I disagree about the FRS/BRZ twins. Nonetheless, great editorial.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    What’s wrong with the 360 and 430? Sure, maybe they weren’t worth their original list prices, but they’re mostly reliable if you stay away from the F1 transmission, and since you can now have a nice one in the $80-120k range, I’d strongly cons!der one if I was otherwise looking at a new 911 or some such thing.

  • avatar

    You’re being disingenuous if you are rationalizing the ForTwo as anything but absolute garbage.

    It *IS* simply the worst car you can by today and is terrifically horrible.

    Yes, its worse than something like an ’02 Rio because you have to put 140k miles on an automatic Rio without any service for it to shift like a brand-new smart car.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The ForTwo qualifies as the worst new car I’ve driven in at least a decade, by a wide measure, to the point that it is relatively severe automotive punishment (and arguably hazardous to use in the manner intended on highways in the U.S. – or even at highway speeds).

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Had a ForTwo go by me on the inside lane. I was doing 120 {75 MPH} is saw him coming in my rear view. I’m thinking, “no way that thing can reach those speeds”. The dude at the wheel, was a cross between Rob Ford, and the Dad on “family guy”. His passenger could of been a double for “Honey Boo’s Mom. He must of had the pedal mashed !

        In a crash, how would they get them out of there?

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The Fortwo straddles the line somewhere between bad and just built for such a singular purpose, that its flaws at doing anything else are perceived by car guys (a hefty number who I assume would rather spend an afternoon hitting their groin with a wiffleball bat than setting foot inside a city) as terrible.

      That transmission is atrocious, no question, and the engine is middling (thanks, Mitsubishi!). That said, it’s roomy enough for two people and a week’s worth of groceries, visibility is good, it’s remarkably easy to park basically everywhere, and the interior materials are just fine considering it’s a $15k car. It’s probably a very small number of people in North America who live somewhere dense enough that parking is an issue, and yet still need a car instead of public transit or car sharing, but it is a need that exists.

      Put another way, it’d be ridiculous for me to complain that a 1-ton dually mega cab doesn’t fit in a parking spot with my motorcycle, is fairly hard to maneuver around tight corners, has a rough unladen ride, and doesn’t get 30mpg, because it’s not its fault it doesn’t fit my needs.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Comment eaten, but TL;DR, most of the smart’s problems that get mentioned are symptoms of its singular purpose to be as tiny as possible (which, as a city car, is a virtue). It’s not without merit – plenty roomy for two people and a week’s worth of groceries, great visibility, and if you can’t squeeze it into a parking space, nothing on four wheels will. And, for a $15k car that first came out in 2008, the interior materials are quite decent (the competition has come a long way in 7 years, but it’s still not a penalty box). Yes, the transmission is atrocious, and most people would be better suited by something less compromised. A one-ton dually won’t fit in my parking spot and rides poorly when it’s unladen – that doesn’t make it horrendous.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Yes, the transmission is atrocious…”

        That’s kind of a big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        pkov

        Maymar, my daughter has has a 2011 smartfortwo that she still adores as her DD between home and campus where she teaches. It’s a protected environment and a perfect match to the car.

        Of course they also have a fully optioned Explorer for everything else :)

      • 0 avatar

        To counter that, in America, if you live in a city that dense were parking is at that much of a premium, public transport would be a more viable alternative to a smart.

        Also, any space you can fit a smart into, you can also fit a Spark, Fit, or Fiesta, which are actual cars versus a failure.

        In fact, IIRC, the one place in which you would EXPECT the smart to do very well (Japan), it doesn’t.

        And to expound on what DeadWeight said, the smart car is the last truly bad car based on the metric that you really have to have some form of motoring aptitude in order to safely and reasonably operate it on a busy road. Think about the fact that no new car today struggles to make it up an onramp, will barely hold 60MPH, and doesn’t require some weird methodology to get the most of of acceleration aside from gas-n-go…except a smart car.

        You can buy a LOT of new car for the $13,2 you spend on a basey-base smart…
        2015 Versa – $11,5
        2015 Spark – $12,2
        2015 Mirage – $12,9

        And those are at MSRP. Imagine all the choices one has with rebates and last-year’s models, not to mention CPO cars…or used cars in general.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          http://bit.ly/1HJBx78

          That’s my old car, at my last apartment (which had no onsite parking). I squeezed it into that spot, as there were no other spots nearby. This wasn’t uncommon. As much as there’s a subway nearby (the main line literally runs directly underneath where I was standing), my job requires I own a car. So, for myself at the time, something four or five feet shorter (like a smart or an IQ) would’ve been beneficial.

          It’s a very specific, very uncommon need, but it does exist, and to declare the smart bad because of the limitations inherent of trying to fit that need, or because it’s not suited to doing something it wasn’t designed to. Unfortunately, it’s legitimate flaws get lumped in with a couple quirks and the fact that it’s unsuitable for a large number of people so the internet can deem it a BAD CAR LOL.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Versa feels like an E Class Mercedes compared to the clown car that is SMART.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      The ForTwo always struck me as looking like just the cab of a Japanese kei pickup.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    In the bubble of the US/CAN market, cars like the Mitsubishi Mirage are actually “bad cars.” But these are few and far between.

    Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen: Adapting an existing military vehicle for civilian sale doesn’t really imply the platform was “paid for back in the 1970s.” But yes, the AMG versions are utterly useless and fit my definition of a “bad car.”

    Range Rover Sport: The Toyota Land Cruiser does everything this does, with none of the hiccups and half of the curb appeal. OK, maybe the Range was a bad car.

    Aston Martin Vantage: Instead of comparing with the 911, these ought to be compared to Merc SLs and BMW 6ers. The 911 is far too capable for a fair comparison.

    Mercedes-Benz CLA: The back seat is useless, so from a practical point of view this would be a bad car to spend $40k on.

    Lincoln MKZ: There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Ford Fusion, but the MKZ was a half-hearted badge job in a class of A-game.

    Every Maserati ever: No, just no. None of the B&B would agree with this.

    Ferrari 360 and 430: The 430 looks awkward, but how these could be “not great” is beyond me. Flat-crank V8? 390-490hp? 8500rpm? The 348 was iffy against the NSX, but that was 1989.

    Pre-facelift Gallardo: What was “iffy” that the facelift fixed? The mid-mounted V10 was there, the AWD was there, the striking Lamborghini style was there.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    In my mind a “bad” car is one that leaves you stranded, or spends way too much time in the shop, especially when new and under warranty. If it costs you time when it’s under warranty, or time AND money when it’s out of warranty, then it’s a bad car.

    I’ve had cars that I would call a “worthless cheap POS” in a heartbeat, but if they always got me to work, I can’t say they were “bad.”

    No matter how outdated, overpriced, over-the-top, ugly, fuel-inefficient, or whatever else a car might be, if it gets you to work reliabily and safely it isn’t “bad.” Button blanks, fake wood trim, and video game dashboards be damned!

    My opinion of course.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So then generally, things like older Italian cars and present British cars are “bad.”

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        “Bad” cars just need a little discipline. That’s all.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Range Rover HSE

          Heavily Spanked Edition?

          • 0 avatar
            raresleeper

            Not sure who gets spanked more, the successful p*rn stars driving them, or the Heavy Spankin’s Edition.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            My ’01 Range Rover HSE has let me down once and had to be towed. Blown upper radiator hose on the hottest day of last summer. But entirely my fault, as I KNEW the hose was soft, it had 135K on it and was likely original, and I procrastinated doing anything about it. Was nice enough to blow 1 mile from home. I’ve now had it for nearly 18 months and put about 12K on it, and am very satisfied with my $5500 purchase. Wish the heat was a little hotter at 0F though.

            I’d love a Land Cruiser, but I can do a LOT of Rover fixing for the price difference, and old Land Cruisers need plenty of love and attention too, despite their sterling reputation. And the Rover drives better.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Well I guess replace “cost time and money” with “waste time and money” and that should differentiate between a long term weekend project and a daily driver that keeps letting the owner down. Time is our most precious resource.

        I like the article, but I’m not sure “bad car” is the right term unless they are suffering from severe reliability/dependability problems.

        • 0 avatar
          pkov

          kvndoom, I completely agree with you; any car that gets you to the paycheck everyday is good. The rest is fussiness.

          But I think most of the commenters here may be too young to remember when getting stranded was statistically probable. Cars really have gotten dramatically better since the 70s

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I rented a Pontiac G6 for a week several years ago. Refrigerator white base 4 cylinder model with Dollar General level interior plastics. Like a Cobalt, but bigger. However, at the right price the same car would be a great winter beater or 1st car for someone in high school. There wasn’t anything obviously unreliable about it and GM replacement parts tend to be inexpensive.

  • avatar
    Brian Makse

    Derek, most of my Vantage testers have been flawless, V8s and V12s alike. Minor issues with one pre-production car, but it had no impact on the car’s fundamental functionality. You’ve clearly driven the wrong Aston.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    I’d flag the Mazda3 in a rust-prone area as a bad car. California, fine, but in Quebec I definitely, definitely don’t recommend purchasing one.

  • avatar

    Funny…this.

    We geezers who used to get information from “the big 3” knew C/D was going to speak in code…but you’d get it straight usually, except for a long lead piece, which was always turbowhizbangwowwee !!!! Reading between the lines, a full test would normally let you know the seats suck or the transmission ratios were off.

    M/T was like reading a sales brochure, and R/T would generally tell you the truth but in six syllable words.

    If you wanted to know what wasn’t great, wait till the next one comes out, then the first three paragraphs are “the wonky shifter is fixed, the horrible wind road over 80 is mostly muted, and they stopped making the xxx engine, which was underpowered/underengineered/exploded at warranty end.

    A cheap car has to be good…the owner is married to it and it has to last. The rich guy can get out of a car if he hates it, and will. This is a fundamental difference in the top and bottom of the market. Now, though, that a Kia can have every accessory of a Mercedes, pretty much, the difference is in degree. I drove a Hyundai recently that had everything but a satnav. Makes it hard to understand how BMW can charge four figures for enhanced bluetooth, with is German for “streaming music”. The NVH from the suspension and into the body were from a 18k car, not a 38k car, but the gadgets and toys were the same.

    What all the old mags did, though, was ignore any used car or what happened to the car in later life, unless that exploding part was “fixed”.

  • avatar
    albert

    A Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon a terrible car???
    That´s depending what you gonna do with it!
    I found this car to be so great that I convinced my bosses and a lot of other people to buy in total more than 4.500 of them. That was in 1990, and we still are driving them daily. All around the world.
    So don´t tell me it isn´t any good.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      All hail, Prince Albert of Spamalot.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s good of Mercedes to sell you 4.5 G-Wagens. I assume the .5 was a trailer version you used for extra seating.

        But it’s pretty cool you work all around the world, must be very exotic and fulfilling. Tell me, how is the prince of Nigeria doing lately? I wired him $3.0054 to rescue a princess.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      A G-wagon on low-profile tires (which seems to be the only way they’ll spec them for North America now) is terrible at any task that isn’t displaying your bank balance to the world.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnnyFirebird

      For my money the R-Klasse was the worse car, but I only convinced my court and house of lords to buy 3.800 of them.

  • avatar
    George B

    Derek, I would argue that there are more cars I’d call “disappointing” than truly bad. Cars that mostly do the right things for their class, but have some annoying flaw. For example, the many cars from Toyota and Lexus with a severe case of automotive “butter face”. Good enough cars with hideous front fascias. Occasionally we get cars with automatic transmissions that fail prematurely, but truly unreliable engines are very hard to find today. Instead, we get annoying things like sound systems that are slow to respond and hard to use while driving.

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    I think the author is confusing bad deals with bad cars, at least in some cases. I am far from familiar with all these vehicles, but just from his own reviews, it appears that his gripe about some of the cars is more related to price than driveablility or reliability; concepts not necessarily mentioned in the reviews. Fairly sloppy writing in my opinion, which in his jargon might translate to something like WORST WRITING IN THE WORLD.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    I think some of what’s going on with expensive cars being bad is the shift in definitions of luxury. It used to be that an expensive car was top quality materials and assembly compared to slapped together shoddy. Think Mercedes W123 versus Datsun B210, or early 60s Cadillac, versus early 60s “Monday Car” Chevy.
    Now it’s all about the electronic toys and nameplates, think Mercedes W123’s Spartan trim and legendary durability versus a W210’s over tinseled hangar queen rep.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Most modern cars are built so well that you can’t really noticeably “one-up” one another beyond better interior materials, fancy gadgets, gas mileage, interior space, and performance ratings are where the competitions really at.

      Selling a well-made spartan-sedan wouldn’t work in todays market, not unless if you’re going for something super cheap, and the Mercedes W123 was anything but cheap in the states (in other countries it was a bit cheaper, but thats irrelevant).

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Regardless, the word doesn’t get out there to the average car buyer. There’s a huge disconnect between here and them.

    People see a Smart or a Mini on the market and on the street doing their thing, so they think it must be good. Or they haven’t heard anything bad about them on the news, a PSA or something. So they go for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Thats very true, it almost frightens me how little the average Joe will research a car before buying them, they’re not exactly cheap investments.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        They may not know who to ask. An indie mechanic or tow driver would set them straight.

        I’m the one my friends and family look to. But mostly they seek my approval AFTER the fact! And I’m the 1st one they have to show it off to. To show how SMART they are..

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          True, but they could look at surveys via the internet.

          “But mostly they seek my approval AFTER the fact!”

          I’ve found that most people are like this with their purchases be it cars,phones, or videogames. I personally don’t understand it, if anything I enjoy hearing comments that point out my absurd decisions.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I provisionally disagree. You CAN’T buy a truly bad new car in America today – until you cross the $100,000 threshold. Then you’re in trouble. And the higher you go, the less automobile your money actually buys you.

    For fuck’s sake, why is a $30,000 car better at being an automobile than a $300,000 one?

    If I’m paying an amount of money for a car that would buy me a nice house, I should be able to put an effortless 500,000 miles on it with nothing more than fluid, filter and tire changes.

    Oh yes, I know. Above a hundred grand, you’re buying name and status, but the current standard for automobile quality is about 200,000 major-maintenance-free miles and about 15 years of usability.

    If a car fails to meet the commonly-accepted standard, if it fails to perform its most basic function – to at least be reliable transportation by the standards in effect at the time – then it’s a bad car.

    How many lemon and defective-product lawsuits would Ferrari have to fight off if they any other manufacturer?

    Like Red Green said – “Your real high roller buys crap!”

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      It’s fair to want a reliable ultra-luxury car and have the $$$ to show for it, but boutique car companies would tell you they don’t have the resources to engineer and test their bleeding-edge cars to the same reliability standards that Toyota tests Camrys to.

      Their buyers seem to be OK with being the guinea pigs in these market segments.

      Second-hand bottom feeders like me are then stuck with the engineering (or accounting) compromises of the day. One of my cars melts its own exhaust manifolds. We unanimously define that as “unacceptable” at any price point. At that extreme, your point is valid.

      In internet-viral 2014 (yes, yes, it’s 2015 now), any car with rumours of melting headers would devastate the manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “I should be able to put an effortless 500,000 miles on it with nothing more than fluid, filter and tire changes.”

      An F1 Ferrari is designed to be as light as it can be and the engine is designed to put out as much power as possible and last long enough to get across the finish line. Long term durability isn’t a factor. If they were to sell you an F1 for the road wouldn’t the same logic apply? It’s not like anyone commutes in an Enzo.

      • 0 avatar
        superchan7

        To be fair, I think OneAlpha’s focus is on things like electric window motors failing, weather seals leaking, etc. on a $200k Bentley.

        To expect a 9000-rpm V8 and with 60ms-shifting gearbox to last 500k mi with just oil changes is Fantasyland.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          i think he’s also complaint about the $3000 shocks on an S600 – how much should the shocks cost on a $100k car?

          Would your prefer an S600 with a stiff crashy ride but 1,000,000 mile shocks?

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          You’re right. I don’t see why a $200,000 or $300,000 car even HAS problems with failing electrics.

          My point is that you’d think spending that much money would insulate you from mundane equipment failures, but I guess not.

          I don’t remember the last time I read about a Ford PCM dying spontaneously or a Dodge wiring harness disintegrating. BMW and Mercedes have had those things happen.

          I’ll pay $3,000 for a set of shocks – I just don’t want to have to do it every 50,000 miles.

          In the end, my complaint is that a 20-year-old Volvo with 200,000 miles on it already SHOULD NOT be more reliable than a brand-new Ferrari or Mercedes.

          It just shouldn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            ” I just don’t want to have to do it every 50,000 miles.”

            So, you’ll object when your LS 460 has super quite tires that wear out at 10k or a 911 turbo that has supper sticky tires that wear out at 5k? Better loud and slippery….

            Good, fast, cheap… Pick two.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            jmo,

            I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gotten 50,000 miles out of tires, brakes or a clutch in my life. Feet are too heavy.

            But shocks aren’t tires. They’re hard parts, and they’re supposed to last longer.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        There’s no reason why a lightweight carbon unibody should be any less reliable than a regular metal one.

        There’s no reason why the wiring, computers, motors and sensors in a high-end luxury sedan should be any less solid and reliable than the same systems in a basic econobox.

        There’s no reason why the gaskets and seals in an exotic’s powertrain should have a fraction of the working life of their counterparts in a regular commuter hatchback.

        There’s no reason why anyone should have to yank the engine and transmission out of the vehicle just to change the spark plugs. I mean, I get that rear-engined cars have inherently bad packaging, but come on – they couldn’t have designed clearances into the structure?

        There’s no good reason to equip an engine meant to turn nine or ten grand with rubber cam belts driving an interference valve train, when you should really be using steel chains or a metal gear drive on a non-interference head.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Spark plugs?

          Of course there is a reason, to make it easier to access you’d need to raise the hood by x and lengthen the hood by y and that would ruin the styling. Or you’d have to move the engine and disrupt the 50:50 weight distribution. It’s all about trade offs. Do you want beauty and speed and style or do you want a beige appliance?

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            The difficulty of doing a tuneup on a Lamborghini is the result of a really unnecessary design flaw.

            It’s not like there isn’t enough room in the engine bay of a rear-engine car to design in wrench clearances.

            After all, if they cared one whit about packaging, the engine would be up front in the first place.

            Corvettes, RX-7s, Supras, Astons, Skylines, Fioranos and most of the world’s sports cars have their engines up front, and they’re anything but ugly, slow or beige.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            That must be why F1 engines are in the front. Cost no object performance? You don’t put the engine in the front.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Like with food, music, and film there is a decent amount of subjectivity involved.

    I don’t think that Sajeev’s affinity for a Crown Victoria is a piece of grand performance art. I truly like everything about the Lancer Ralliart more than the GLI. I can’t stand driving the current Ford Taurus or Fiat 500 but both of those vehicles have their defenders on here.

    Basically what I’m saying is that people should make up their own minds about what they like and professional vehicle reviews are good for whimsy and little else.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree with your comment. Nothing I read by an auto-journalist will ever change my mind about a car I’m familiar with. What it will do is make me more aware of cars or features of cars that I was previously unaware of which has it’s own value, but when it comes to buying a car the only source of information I would rely on would be from actual owners of the car I’m interested in or a trusted mechanic who’s worked on them. Even then I’d be skeptical of anyone who totally loved or hated it

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        “Nothing I read by an auto-journalist will ever change my mind about a car I’m familiar with”

        I should’ve stuck to this myself, after watching an old Jeremy Clarkson video I figured I should try out a Volvo 850 (that and Volvos general reputation).

        Never take car buying advice from Top Gear, NEVER.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Did Jeremy forget to say, “Hey kids don’t try this at home”, again?

          • 0 avatar
            hybridkiller

            As much as I love Clarkson’s quick wit and effortless driving skill, he’s really just an overgrown kid when it comes to cars.
            …which probably accounts for much of the show’s appeal.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Nah, that would be better saved for turbo 850s, or worse, the later S70 models where everything’s “networked” to the computer.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    The Truthiness About Cars

  • avatar
    PJmacgee

    [slow clap]

    Soooo, any explanation of what is so bad about the 4Runner (other than that it’s ugly and about 10% too puffy)?

    I’d take the 6×6 G-wagen AMG C63 whatever thing, never know when you need to race around some dunes or whatnot in style.

  • avatar

    There are definitely non-credible writers out there, but I think TTAC conflates its own writers’ opinions with Truth, then tends to claim those who disagree with them are clearly sucking up to manufacturers.

    The “goodness” or “badness” of a car depends on too long a list of subjective qualities of subjective importance to definitively write off a car. Besides, a car is only bad at a certain price point. Were the G-wagon $15k, we’d praise it as the best thing ever.

    Secondarily, we need to clarify if we’re:
    1) Giving our opinions on something
    2) Declaring it universally good/bad or
    3) Predicting its sales success

    I’d argue the root of the problem (particularly for low-budget, low-access blogs) is the absence of comparison testing. Arbitrary points schemes to declare a winner are dumb, but the explanations from writers why “X” is better then “Y” forces them to reveal a car’s flaws or their own preferences.

  • avatar
    wmba

    ” And as much as everyone cries out for honest, objective, take no prisoners car reviews, they never believe you when you do give a car a bad review.”

    True.

    Great post, Derek. I see the usual wheeblers plus a few new shocked ones have shuffled forward to defend the mobile rubbish you highlight.

    Before the Internetz, car enthusiasts were a more localized breed, and it was implicitly understood what were good cars and bad. I never met an enthusiast with an Accord in those days except motorcyclists, for instance. Now we have a world stage where everyone can point out their hurt feelings at being criticized for being dumb enough to be the owner of a giant turd. The only outlet these people had 20 years ago was to write to C/D and get lampooned by the Editor in a snarky response, while everyone else chuckled.

    We’ve reached the stage where, as enthusiasts, we’re supposed to listen with rapt attention to people with aggrieved sensibilities and no sense of what really is decent. Or people with so little experience of vehicles in general they think their car is actually decent when it isn’t.

    I agree that most reviews are laudatory, regardless of make and model, and it’s a crying shame, because it provides justification for these no-hopers.

    I rely on the butt dyno, eyes and ears to tell me what’s good and bad. That is from my point-of-view, of course, but I do try out a fair number of new cars, and am not a badge whore. Newer cars are generally not too bad in the sense that they run when you turn the key or push the “start” button. And then proceed to do so reliably for year after boring year. That doesn’t make them “good” cars that have a spark of soul in them. The commentariat here is not composed of real enthusiasts at all – there are about half-a-dozen total, and they know who they are. So I rarely see any decent gut-reaction feelings about cars. I couldn’t care less about used cars or wagons or diesels, nasty things driven by the belt and suspenders types. I want to read about cars that generate a thrill or two, a pride of ownership beyond boring durability.

    I also know that yapping on the internet changes exactly no-one’s opinion. So I have my say, and you can take it or leave it – frankly, I could not care less. I hold to my standard.

    Look back at my posts after driving the CLA250 and FR-S and TLX four cylinder. The FR-S is a cheap tin can. By the time I’d shifted to 3rd, I knew it – the Eagle Talon turbo from 25 years ago is quieter and nicer. The TLX I-4 I knew was a loser after half-a-mile, and that was before the accelerator stopped responding. The CLA250 has no sideways or rear visibilty ( I had to stand in the rain helping the salesman back out of the space!), then I got to savor its noisy tires’ sound inside, and brittle ride – what a winnah!

    Nissans: is there a good one? If so, what is it? The new Altima is better than a 2012 Sonata, according to the Sonata owner, whose car I’ve driven. Having done so, I’d be realistic and say, it wouldn’t be hard to be better.

    And the most overhyped car this year- the GTI. If this little buzzer is so wonderful, its manifest wonderfulness escaped me entirely for the price. I’m told it grows on you after a week. Don’t have the inclination to find out.

    Bar one, the most surprisingly decent car by far I drove this past year? Mazda3 2.0 6MT that both my best friend and his son leased. Funnily enough, the same car you drive, Derek. I think I know where you’re coming from, and look forward to more of your takes on the cars available today.

    If that generates posts from hurt pride, all the better. Even if they are the usual moans about rust, recitation of experiences from 30 years ago masquerading as trenchant pontifications on today’s offerings, or squawks of displeasure after buying an 80,000 mile used car that bit you in the a*$ and dunning the manufacturer, not the previous owner. Aggrievedness has its own weird justifications.

    Plus who’s going to read this missive, anyway? With the attention span of a gnat, and a built-in brain look-up table of harsh responses to key words, the readers responses will no doubt be ridiculous anyway, offered with no reflection on what was actually written.

    Derek, how about letting us know about the 6MT Hellcat taking 5.2 seconds 0 to 100 kph at the recent annual AJAC “all-you-can-eat” auto-journo jumbo shrimp-fest and “Best cars in 103 categories for Discerning Canadian Drivers 2014”, recently ended. Would be a laugh and make you eternally dispised by your “peers”, not to mention the fanboyz.

  • avatar

    Just looked at the lowest scores for CR

    last place – Jeep Wrangler (CR’s punching bag)
    SmartForTwo – Go figure
    Mirage – A true POS
    Mitsubishi iMiEV – A true EV POS
    Scoin IQ – a joke on wheels
    FJ Cruiser – seriously?

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I own a 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth and I love the car. It’s a niche car, one doesn’t buy one for its practicality, but for fun. And it is fun… a ton of fun! It’s not a bad car.

    It replaced my ’07 350Z… also not a bad car. But a boring car. Also drive a ’13 MB EClass BlueTec. First diesel I’ve ever driven, much less owned. Also a good car.

  • avatar
    Funky

    Thank you. Unbiased reviews are appreciated. I wish that I paid better attention to the TTAC review of the 2010 Subaru Outback which I purchased in spite of the “thumbs down” review. Sadly I paid the price, having to put up with a subpar driving experience for a couple of years, for not taking the advice of the author of the review. Thankfully the resale value of the Outback was high enough that it was no skin off my nose to sell it after only two years of use. Again, thank you for the unbiased reviews. And in the future I plan to pay heed to the advice.

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    Not surprising high end cars are the worst. Just look at VW. And, high end watches are just as bad. Some of the most inaccurate timekeepers on this planet. I will stick with my $75 Armitron with it’s Japanese movement.

  • avatar
    DanielKrnac

    As a car journalist I completely agree with what was said above (in the original article).

    There is a fine line between openly saying that a car is bad and writing what the importer would like to hear. What I mostly do is write it as my personal opinion and stating that as much as possible. You cannot argue with an opinion. And so far I’ve chosen my words very carefully always saying what I thought in a very diplomatic way. Never had a problem since. And to be honest, it’s easier to write a review about a car, that has flaws rather than something like a Golf or a Corolla, since they are a automotive equivalent of potato – they do what you want, but aren’t exactly thrilling.

    But in the end, it’s just my opinion and there may as well be someone that likes this or that, just like you stated, that Subaru BR-Z is a bad car. It’s your opinion and no one can argue with that (although it’s a bit of a surprise for me, that someone actually doesn’t like that car).

    But unfortunately, many car importers react to bad reviews. Often by them not being so open to lend their press cars that easy, all of a sudden. There are media, that don’t have this problem as much, because their media reach is so big, it’s worth lending cars to them and risking a bad review. But TopGear seems to have problems with that during last years (heh). But on the other side of the barricade, there are those who say “No, don’t write stuff just so that we like what’s being said. Write what you think, otherwise it’s counterproductive” (says BMW here in Slovakia). And I wish it was like that everywhere.

    But many magazines existence relies solely on the advertising of specific brands and when the advertising goes away (when you write something bad), you start to think twice. But then you can only read stuff about brands that have advertising in that magazine – that means no bad stuff. So much of the content becomes useless and your money wasted. Internet is different (well sometimes). We for example have no idea, who has advertising on our pages so there’s none of this form of bias. We can even have opposite problem – having it hard to get cars from someone who has advertising on our pages.

    Yes, the press trips to sweet destinations and luxury press cars are something to brag about to friends. But after a while it gets old. The press trip to Sardinia sounds nice and everyone is like “Oh that’s sweet, you gonna go swimming and stuff.” No. I wake up at 3 a.m., go to the airport, sit in a plane for 5 hours, take a test car from the airport to the hotel, where they tell me how fantastic the car is, you eat, write something in a hotel room, go to sleep and in the morning return the car to the airport and sometime at night return home. It’s 2 days and a few hours of driving a to write one article. And you see shit from the destination where you were… I’ve been to dozens of places, but I only know how the hotels look like.

    And I also have to confess, yes I chose to drive the Rolls-Royce Ghost even knowing that our readers would rather I’ve tested the Golf 1,6 TDI. Because that’s where my integrity got knackered – will I ever by offered a Rolls in my life? I gotta say yes, sory.

    It’s hard to stand as a voice of nation, while most of the internet nation thinks its mission is to be against you and nail your every mistake in your eye and feel victorious after that. Yet we are on the same boat.

    Also, when testing a car, it’s not uncommon for them to have many things broken, not working properly. The problem is, you cannot judge the whole range by piece 00013, that was driven by 25 crazy journos before you. I’ve heard rumours that many car importers go around this by making specific cars for journalists so they write good reviews, while the real deal cars a considerably more … shite. Many times cars from shorooms are the real deal and are worse than what we are given (think german gigant makers mostly; french don’t bother mostly, they give you the real deal, even worse pieces sometimes).

    That’s my 2 cents :)
    With regards
    A fellow car journo from Slovakia

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    An overly critical review lets me weigh disadvantages for myself.
    The under critical review wastes my time.
    In some ways I’m like a DSG, I have then next car I want selected before I need it.
    So, keep telling the truth about cars and let me decide what’s important.
    Please.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    “Only when the car is replaced by a new generation vehicle will they tell you what they really think of a car.”

    Perhaps I’ve grown old an cynical but this is exactly what I’ve believed for many years…

    Probably since my first new car (’77 Camaro) and my last domestic (new) car (’85 Pontiac STE) were so terrible I have cultivated my disdain for marketing. Glowing reviews kept telling me how great, competitive and “awesome” these cars were only to discover how HORRIBLE and defective they truly were from day one… literally!

    Years later in the 90’s and 00’s the story was much the same. Over time the opposite of marketing begins to take effect and you view every ad, review and recommendation with skepticism and disdain only to be validated after the next collective wave of recalls, TSBs and comments on user group forums reaches a crescendo.

    The sad fact is every maker rides a wave of success and failure. Once indomitable Honda and Toyota are now clawing their way back up after making numerous mistakes, misteps and taking cost cutting and outsourcing to disastrous new levels. Unfortunately so has everyone else.

    In the end car makers no longer need to be better than their previous generations only slightly better than everyone’s current crop of crap. It all culminates where increasingly higher transaction prices meet equally higher recalls and lower customer satisfaction.

    Personally I think this bubble will inevitably burst once autonomous cars proliferate and we’re putting our lives on the line while paying $50k average transactions costs…

  • avatar

    The general consensus is that there are no longer any bad cars. A 2012 Chrysler 200 would be one of the best sedans in the world in 2004. There no bad cars today but just a varying degree of good cars. All of today’s cars are incredibly sophisticated pieces of machinery.

    You could say that movies and music are utter rubbish today, but technology has never been better. There has never been a better time to purchase a car. Even a left over Dodge Avenger on a Chrysler lot offers something that could delight a potential customer. If this case it would be the potent Pentastar V6. If you are really honest you cannot name one bad car on sale today. This is just an established fact.

    The last rubbish cars were probably the Cavalier and Sunfire. Even the Colbalt and ION that followed weren’t dreadful, but merely mediocre.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      This is so true, but human beings have short and very selective memories. The shelf-life of new technologies is so short now that it’s become fashionable to trash anything that isn’t bleeding-edge perfect – which is pretty much everything.

      We have become a spoiled-rotten society.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I forgot to say that thanks for someone reviewing cars who doesn’t mince words in calling out the Camaro for the piggish, bloated, cheap feeling & looking, overwrought & overpriced vehicle that it is.

    The ATS chassis may actually make for a much better upcoming Camaro if incompetent GM can keep its weight below 3,200 pounds or so, vastly improve the interior materials, switchgear & ergonomics, resist the cartoonish exterior styling, and price it competitively.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      I was contemplating how goddamed ugly the Camaro is the other day…looks like a so-so looking car that got stepped and squashed. For a car of that size and weight to have so little room is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Nick

    The gauche, tacky Kardashians fondness for the G-Wagen speaks volumes about that particular vehicle.

  • avatar

    I write about cars a little too, and as I like your vernacular and composition, I offer you some positive inspiration:

    http://ingallswalter.wix.com/panda#!automobiles/c24ol

    Here’s a sample:
    “It’s really not about impulse, buying never really has been, it’s about accruing all the right reasons to stay happy with your decision and purchase.”

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Your points are all spot on. Most often I think this leads to lies by omission. This way you can go home , look in the mirror and tell yourself your doing the best you can. DO your best to block out the inclinations you might have about telling the whole truth. You become a slave to the dollar , or to those who hold the dollar. Bury your conscience , for it may cost you your job. You may begin to feel the need to get into politics, as theses traits are most admired there.
    You can see the results by reading issues of 3 year old Car & Driver and & Motor Trends. What they said then vs. what we know now. I remember the flair up when TTAC went after Subaru’s styling a few years back. You were of course 100% correct , but that doesn’t matter…you needed to be punished for telling the truth. It is possible what our parents and schools taught us was a lie?

  • avatar
    Nick

    The Kia Optima I just had as a rental. 50,000km on the odometer. What a piece of crap!!!

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