Jeep Patriot* Is TTAC's 2016 Worst Automobile Today (And Here Are the Other Nine Losers)

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

It’s a Dodge Caliber festooned with a seven slot grille and boxy proportions. It exists for no other reason than to leverage the brand equity built up by decades of Jeep heritage. The Patriot*, according to your nominations, our writers, and your votes is — by far — TTAC’s 2016 Worst Automobile Today.

After all the votes were cast, a staggering 66.1 percent of you believed the Jeep Patriot to be the worst new vehicle money could buy. And, as many of you guessed, it’s not the only Fiat Chrysler Automobiles product in the Top 10.

A triumvirate consisting of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mercedes-Benz, and Mitsubishi are responsible for seven of TTAC’s 2016 Ten Worst Automobiles Today. As Mazda comes close to cleaning house in the Best list, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles takes 1st, 2nd, and 4th in the Worst list.

Here are the remaining losers in reverse order.

10th Place: Toyota Yaris

Who knew that Toyota, one of largest automakers in the world that didn’t get caught cheating its way past emissions regulations, would have an entry on the worst list, while the cheater would take the 10th spot on the Best list?

Personally, I don’t understand the hatred for the Yaris. It’s a subcompact car that does subcompact car things in ways that subcompact cars should do them. Yet, here it is because 36.5 percent of you decided it should be here.

Maybe I need to drive one again. Or maybe I don’t.

9th Place: Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (including AMG)

Unlike the Yaris, vitriol aimed at Mercedes-Benz’s cheapest (in every sense of the word) model is something I can get behind. In all, 40.3 percent of you agreed with Jack Baruth.

In front-wheel-drive spec, the CLA is a torque-steer monster when it really doesn’t need to be. Automatic Honda Civics from 1992 can shift gears with more aplomb than this A-Class in drag. It’s an affront to the tri-star, which sits front and center with all the tact of Flavor Flav’s massive neck-hung clock.

If a friend asks you if they should purchase a CLA, say no. If they do it anyway, get a new friend. It’s that simple.

8th Place: BMW X6 (including X6 M)

BMW will find itself on the wrong side of our Ten Best and Worst this year thanks to the X6 and its aspiration-without-purpose styling.

Even though the X6 M — with its brutal 4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V8 good for 567 horsepower — is more than able to put a smile on the face of even the most discerning enthusiast, there’s one feature you just can’t get behind: its sloping rear buttock.

40.8 percent of you thought said buttock deserved flogging.

7th Place: Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet’s subcompact crossover is the result of GM designers watching “Breaking Bad” and coming to the conclusion that a new Aztek would be a really good idea.

Okay, maybe the Trax isn’t that horrible to look at, but the its 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is underpowered to put it lightly, an issue somewhat rectified by the new Buick Encore.

Speaking of the Encore, somehow it avoided this list. 46.8 percent of you thought the Chevrolet Trax was the worst vehicle offered by General Motors today, as opposed to the only 30.1 percent that thought the Encore deserved to be fired into the nearest Chinese steel mill.

6th Place: Mitsubishi Mirage

Have you ever partied so hard that the next morning you find a baleen whale in your bed and a credit-card balance that dangerously approaches your overall credit limit? Some of us would immediately take a shower and try to find a second job to right those wrongs. Others console themselves by purchasing vehicles with their remaining credit. The vehicle they buy: the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Here’s the problem with the Mirage: modern subcompact cars need not be dreadful penalty boxes, yet the Mirage is. An underpowered three-cylinder engine sends double-digit horsepower to the front wheels. It’s saddled with a continuously variable transmission if you have neither the want nor the mental means to shift gears yourself. And even in its most top spec, the alloy wheels wouldn’t be out of place in a Pep Boys clearance aisle. 47.1 percent of voters say “Mirage: not even once.”

(We know the Mirage is not technically available for the 2016 model year, but there was a 2015 model and there will be a newly restyled 2017 model. Exceptions were made.)

5th Place: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Apply everything said above about the Mirage to Mitsubishi’s electric car, but make one very important change: the Mitsubishi i-MiEV isn’t cheap (in the transactional sense if you buy one new at MSRP). 50.4 percent of voters agree.

Go buy a Leaf.

4th Place: Fiat 500L

In the show “The Walking Dead”, Michonne has two pet zombies that have been freed of their lower jaws so as to neuter their desire to kill and eat humans. The Fiat 500L is the automotive visual equivalent of those zombies, which sports a design that neuters its desire to find willing buyers.

The 500L tries to trick people into thinking it’s a fun little runabout with a cutesy demeanor. In reality, it’s a Fiat Panda with awkward sheetmetal built in at former Yugo plant in present-day Serbia.

3rd Place: Smart Fortwo

The previous-generation Smart Fortwo was so bad that, we believe, the majority of respondents of our poll were actually voting against the old car and not the new one. It doesn’t help that there’s been little marketing to boost the image of the new Fortwo, shown above, which we don’t think is nearly as horrible as its predecessor.

Still, the fact remains that city cars just don’t do well in America. Americans are big. American cities are big (as in spread out). Road trips are big (as in long). And Americans tend to buy big things that require big vehicles to cart around. Additionally, Americans don’t like big price tags for little cars, no matter how clever they may be. (Remember the Scion iQ? Neither do I.)

55.8 percent of you think the Fortwo (whether it be the new model or the previous car with the kidney-punishing transmission) is one of the Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

(Daimler: Why don’t you send this back to Europe and bring the Forfour here instead?)

2nd Place: Dodge Journey

The Dodge Journey is a remnant of prior indiscretions made by DaimlerChrysler and Cerberus, yet it chugs along as three-row advertising fodder in local papers for $16,995 (or whatever the price is that week once thousands of dollars in incentives are applied).

For a multitude of reasons, the Dodge Journey is the worst three-row vehicle money can buy from a new car dealer. You’re better off getting a used Hyundai Santa Fe and shelling out for the extended warranty. Or buying a Caravan. Or a used Econoline. Or nothing; just sell off your kids and remove the need for such a vehicle in your life.

Last and kinda-sorta least

* Yes, there’s an asterisk. Why? Because the Patriot, even though it handily won (lost?) this competition as the worst automobile in America for the 2016 model year, probably wouldn’t be in first place had we not eliminated the Jeep Compass from the get-go.

Before we first announced the resurrected and refreshed Ten Worst Automobiles Today, we teased the fact that the Compass was nominated 10 years ago as one of the worst sacks of platform-prostituted garbage money could buy. It’s still true today. The Compass is primarily sold on price, not substance, and is the antithesis of what any Jeep should be. Many of the same complaints can be levied against the Patriot, but at least the Patriot looks a bit more like a Jeep.

So, without further ado, TTAC is announcing a Lifetime Achievement Award to the Jeep Compass for complete incompetence from birth to present day.

And this is where you come in: this award needs a name! Hit up the comments to offer your suggestions. A winner will be picked sometime this week.

[Images: Yaris, Toyota; Mercedes-AMG CLA45, Daimler; BMW X6M, © 2015 Aaron Cole/The Truth About Cars; Chevrolet Trax, General Motors; Mirage and i-MiEV, Mitsubishi; Jeep Patriot, Jeep Compass, Fiat 500L and Dodge Journey, FCA; Smart Fortwo, Daimler]

Mark Stevenson
Mark Stevenson

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3 of 218 comments
  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on May 12, 2016

    Unsurprisingly, the "worst" happens to be the cheapest SUV available. These things have their place. Back in 2014, I drove a 2.4L, 5 speed, 4x4 Patriot with 17" A/T tires for a while. It was worth what was charged for it.

    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on May 12, 2016

      The "1st Place Finish" is idiotic. The Patriot, which is utilitarian in the sense of a boxy 1990s era Cherokee, yet more refined on road, while actually having some capability in truly adverse weather and off road, at a price of $14,000 to $18,000, and relatively reliable, shouldn't even be on the worst list.

  • Jdowmiller Jdowmiller on May 14, 2016

    Out of curiosity, I did a search of local dealers for Patriots. I found three manuals for $16,800 all of which were FWD. The lowest price 4X4 is $21,300 and it's an auto. I barely even knew these existed until reading this article but I'm finding I am strangely attracted to them. Why are they on this list? Are they the type of vehicle that makes you hate life or are they just basic and cheap? I'm in the market for a new vehicle but don't see the point in driving something that costs > $30,000 back and forth to work and, on my days off, the trails.

  • Lou_BC Blows me away that the cars pictured are just 2 door vehicles. How much space do you need to fully open them?
  • Daniel J Isn't this sort of a bait and switch? I mean, many of these auto plants went to the south due to the lack of unions. I'd also be curious as how, at least in my own state, unions would work since the state is a right to work state, meaning employees can still work without being apart of the union.
  • EBFlex No they shouldn’t. It would be signing their death warrant. The UAW is steadfast in moving as much production out of this country as possible
  • Groza George The South is one of the few places in the U.S. where we still build cars. Unionizing Southern factories will speed up the move to Mexico.
  • FreedMike I'd say that question is up to the southern auto workers. If I were in their shoes, I probably wouldn't if the wages/benefits were at at some kind of parity with unionized shops. But let's be clear here: the only thing keeping those wages/benefits at par IS the threat of unionization.