By on May 12, 2016

2014 Jeep Patriot Chrysler Photo

Let’s face it: the automotive enthusiast universe wasn’t clamouring for a sub-subcompact, three-cylinder Mitsubishi hatchback. Not surprisingly, the Mitsubishi Mirage ended up on TTAC’s list of 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today.

But after TTAC named 2016’s best and worst vehicles earlier this week, we wondered whether the market agrees with the choices made by TTAC and The Best & Brightest. We know there are stark differences between the number of votes cast for vehicles such as the Mazda6 and the number of consumers who signed on the dotted line to buy a Mazda6. Will such stark differences appear when we look into the amount of support the American car-buying populace has for the very vehicles TTAC’s contributors and B&B despises? 

One by one, we’re answering that question, while also adding some insight from a devil’s advocate. Perhaps there are reasons these ten vehicles should be released from their disastrous new-found status.

2015 Toyota Yaris, Image: Toyota

10th Place: Toyota Yaris

Does The Marketplace Agree? Yes. In a subcompact market that’s down 4 percent in early 2016, the Toyota Yaris is down 46 percent and ranks behind the Versa, Accent, Sonic, Fit, Fiesta, Scion iA, Prius C, and Rio in total volume.

Devil’s Advocate: You say you want Citroën, Peugeot, and Renault to return to North America? You can already have a French car. North America’s Toyota Yaris is built in Onnaing, France.

2016 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, Image: Mercedes-Benz

9th Place: Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Does The Marketplace Agree? Not really. The CLA is by no means the most popular premium car; it’s not even one of the two most popular Mercedes-Benz cars. Moreover, U.S. sales of the CLA are down 17 percent so far this year. But the CLA, along with its GLA hatchback/crossover sibling, does add meaningful volume and profits to Mercedes-Benz.

Devil’s Advocate: Sure, the interior’s not up to snuff, the ride is too firm, the transmission is laggy, and the styling is droopy. But there’s a whole bunch of torque, and the CLA doesn’t look like every other small sedan on the road.

2016 BMW X6, Image: BMW

8th Place: BMW X6

Does The Marketplace Agree? Of course the X6 is rare – BMW knew it would be rare. But when you think of the X6 as an affordable way for BMW to add to the X5’s success, the 48,136 X6s sold in America since 2008 – including a record-setting 7,906 in 2015 alone – are a plentiful addition to the BMW X portfolio. BMW USA is on track for 2016 to be the X6’s best year yet.

Devil’s Advocate: It’s ghastly, but it’s a beastly performer with the ride height many consumers want.

2016 Chevrolet Trax LTZ, Image: General Motors

7th Place: Chevrolet Trax

Does The Marketplace Agree? No. The Trax and its Buick Encore twin are, jointly, among the subcompact crossover segment leaders. The GM duo grabbed more than a quarter of the segment’s sales in the first-third of 2016. Trax sales are rising rapidly, jumping 39 percent so far this year.

Devil’s Advocate: It’s not as expensive as the Encore.

2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES, Image: Mitsubishi

6th Place: Mitsubishi Mirage

Does The Marketplace Agree? Mostly. Nearly every conventional subcompact — the ones that don’t feel like third-world three-cylinder hatches from 1998 — sells more often than the Mirage. But Mirage sales continue to rise. In fact, year-over-year, U.S. Mirage sales have grown in 13 of the last 20 months and it now accounts for 27 percent of Mitsubishi’s U.S. volume, second only to the Outlander Sport.

Devil’s Advocate: No. I’m exercising my right to remain silent.

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: i-MiEV

5th Place: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Does The Marketplace Agree? Invariably. The i-MiEV is everything we dreaded about the electric car future, a future that hasn’t followed the i-MiEV’s path to limited range, limited power, and oddball styling. Only 2,022 i-MiEVs have been sold in America since 2011. Nissan has, on numerous occasions, sold that many Leafs in a single month.

Devil’s Advocate: Again, there is simply no case to be made.

2016 Fiat 500L, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

4th Place: Fiat 500L

Does The Marketplace Agree? Always, but especially now that the (not terribly common) 500X is also available. In the 500L’s best ever month, December 2014, only 1,482 were sold in America. Kia sold 9,906 Souls that month. Year-over-year, 500L sales have fallen in eight consecutive months.

Devil’s Advocate: Nobody should be forced to advocate on behalf of the 500L.

2015 Smart ForTwo, Image: Smart

3rd Place: Smart Fortwo

Does The Marketplace Agree? Yes. The Fortwo, even in improved incoming third-gen form, is not in keeping with American tastes. Nearly 25,000 Fortwos were sold in its first year of American sales, 2008. But since 2010, Smart has averaged fewer than 7,000 annual Fortwo sales.

Devil’s Advocate: The latest Fortwo completes its intended tasks: carrying two people and plenty of their stuff through urban environments in a fun manner, squeezing into places and out of places (and out of the way) like no other car on sale today. Alas, in America, few people need a car that fits into tiny places.

2015 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

2nd Place: Dodge Journey

Does The Marketplace Agree? Not in recent years. Dodge averaged fewer than 60,000 annual Journey sales between 2008 and 2012, but volume has now increased in five consecutive years. A record 105,400 Journeys were sold in 2015.

Devil’s Advocate: For buyers who don’t want a minivan but do want three rows of flexible seating and a powerful V6, the Journey is a very affordable route to take.

1st Place: Jeep Patriot

Does The Marketplace Agree? The Patriot was never resoundingly unpopular, but it’s become downright common in the last few years. Jeep sold 118,464 Patriots in 2015, more than double the volume achieved in 2011.

Devil’s Advocate: It looks like a Jeep and offers a cheap path into all-wheel-drive SUVs.

[Image Sources: FCA, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, BMW, Toyota]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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52 Comments on “TTAC Says These Are 2016’s Ten Worst Automobiles Today, But The American Car Buyer Disagrees With A Number Of Choices...”


  • avatar
    laserwizard

    A co-worker of mine has one of these in a dark brown main body with a white top and a tan interior.

    Yes, it is awkward to look. It is form follows function to an illogical conclusion. Form does not have to look vomit-inducing.

    It has been trouble-free EXCEPT when she got a flat tire and had to get towed to a dealer because only the dealers stock the tires for this? Is this true?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      You would need to tell us to which vehicle you are referring, before we could answer.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Maybe the Fiat? That’s the only one with different roof color options.

        A quick search shows 205/55-16 as the standard size and 225/45-17 as the option. The first size is very common. The second not as much, but it shouldn’t be too hard to procure.

        Maybe the problem was getting the same make/model of tire, so all 4 would match. She probably had some kind of roadside assistance coverage too, which would explain why the car went to the dealer and not just the closest tire shop.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Does the Smart come in different roof options?

      They definitely have tiny (perhaps very unique) tires?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The Patriot should never have made the list by ANY criteria.

    At $14,xxx-ish to $17,xxx-ish for a new one, it looks like a 1990s Jeep Cherokee (boxy in a utilitarian, good way), actually can handle severe adverse weather and *some* semi-serious off-roading (which maybe .0003% of the population ever does), is durable enough to deal with moon crater road surfaces at high speeds in our rapidly disintegrating infrastructure world in the dis-union, and should prove to be reliable enough.

    Hell, you can’t even get into many of the other genuinely terrible vehicles on this list for much less (and often they require more $) than the Patriot.

    I’m not advocating for it, in general, against the entire vehicle-sphere; I’m strongly defending it from a worst list that puts it anywhere near a Yaris, Mirage, Smart Fortwo, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I guess the old whipping boy, the Compass, was no longer available?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      One word counter-point: Caliber.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      You are 100% correct DW.

      My mom has one, she in her 70’s.

      She drove a Cherokee in the 90’s and loved it.

      She lives in the north east with its questionable weather at times and garbage roads in places.

      What sold her you ask? They come with a power rear lift gate. If you have arthritis this can be important to you. And they are AWD. And they are cheap to buy. They reasonably efficient with gas.

      I get they are not an enthusiast car what so ever but if you need or want certain features such as AWD and a power lift gate and sub 20k new your options are fairly limited.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Sub-prime lending cars, coincidence?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    How many of those Journey sales are to fleets, though? I swear, if I rented a Journey and just never turned it back in, Enterprise would probably be none the wiser.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Lot Boy: Uh yeah we’re missing a white journey with a coal colored interior.

      Boss: Which one?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Ha! A friend just a few weeks ago got rid of his wife’s 2-year-old Journey and bought he a new Chrysler 300! No “fog” or as I call them “ditch lights” though, so it may be a close-to-base model.

        Thing is, I rode many times in the Journey and it wasn’t all that bad, but it was a higher-trim model.

        After all, Chryco used to say it might have been one of the world’s best vehicles!

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          How do you like the 300, dude?

          I’ve been chasing the dragon trying to find a one-owner, low mileage 2009-2011 AMG C63 for a decent price, but they are rarer vehicles than I had anticipated.

          My neighbor (FCA exec) rolled home in a new 300S in a really nice metallic silver last week, and I think they nailed the exterior styling by toning the bling and chrome WAY down….it looks….dare I say it….far more sophisticated than any other 300 I’ve seen.

          And he said it rides better & is quieter and more stable at highway plus speeds than most vehicles he’s had before (Chrysler, GM, and even an 05 E Class).

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    I do see a lot of Journeys around these parts,. incl a few used ones lately, must be the same people who would buy a Mirage,but need more space.

  • avatar
    Philip Lane

    I DD an i-MiEV. Ask me anything.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Have you ever touched a woman’s breasts?

      How do you get to Level 99 in WoW?

      Do you feel an affinity to any Big Bang Theory characters?

      What is the 84th decimal in Pi?

      How many inhalers do you own?

      How do you like playing Quiddich?

      Are Cylons real?

      How do you say “Good morning” in Klingon?

      • 0 avatar
        Philip Lane

        A) Married with a child. Very yes.
        B) Wouldn’t know; have never played.
        c) None. Whatsoever. I think it may be the least funny show on television. It has one joke.
        D) Eight
        E) None. Not asthmatic, and I was a two-sport athlete in high school
        F) I have neither read the Harry Potter books nor seen the movies.
        G) Yes
        H) Klingons don’t say good morning.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Thanks for playing along – you have a great sense of humor!

          As for the topic at hand,..
          1. how do like driving it?
          2. what is a reasonable range – would you be comfortable with a commute 25 miles each way, given the 62 mile range?
          3. Have you had to do any maintenance/repairs on it? My expectation is that tires and wipers are about your only wear items.

          Thanks!!

          • 0 avatar
            Philip Lane

            1. That’s a broad question. To “like” driving a car like the i-MiEV, you have to recalibrate your definition of fun. It’s the first daily driver I’ve owned without a manual transmission, so I’ve had to recalibrate mine. It can be “slow car fast” fun, if you’re willing to settle for “very slow car less than fast.” If someone ever told you that a Miata or classic Mini is a momentum car, that’s along the lines of what the i-MiEV is.

            Driving Pluses:
            A) It’s electric, so all of the torque is available from 0 rpm.
            B) The battery pack is below the floor, so the center of gravity is very low.
            C) The motor is located at the rear, so RWD, and it’s a DeDion rear suspension, so it’s equipped with 1950’s supercar technology.

            Minuses:
            A) It has 66 horsepower. Sixty-six.
            B) Said battery is hella heavy.
            C) Have you seen the tires? The “wide” ones in the rear are 175’s.

            Most of the time I regard it as a commuting appliance. In my neck of the woods, a full charge requires ~$1 worth of electricity. I can drive a whole lot farther on that than I can on $1 of gas.

            Sometimes it really is fun. But it’s a geeky kind of fun. See this Patrick Bedard column: http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/something-to-drive-if-your-attention-span-exceeds-0-to-60

            2. Again, it’s all about the way you drive. The EPA says 62 miles of range, and that’s probably reasonable for most people. Without being an obnoxious hypermiler, I’ve seen the range remaining gauge read as high as 102 miles. It calculates based on a rolling average of the energy used in the previous 15 miles. When people ask me what the real world range is, I tell them about 70 miles. For me, it’s more. For my wife, it’s less. But I’m very vigilant about using regenerative braking and avoiding the friction brakes. To drive it most efficiently you have to be looking and thinking a long way ahead.

            Would I be comfortable with a 25-mile one-way commute? In the spring, summer and fall, absolutely I would. In the winter I would want to be able to charge at work. All my range figures fly out the window if I have to run the heater. Another owner once calculated that with the heater at full blast, the car will actually drive farther at 55 mph than at 35. I drove the car for 2.5 years with a 40-mile round trip commute, and it wasn’t a problem. But I’d have gotten very cold some nights if I had to stretch it to 50. The heater can cost a third or more of your range. the A/C is closer to 10%.

            3. Just like you said, wiper blades and tires are all I’ve paid for in 35K+ miles, with a caveat. The battery has been replaced twice under warranty. That may be alarming on the surface, but it doesn’t faze me.

            I bought the car when Mitsubishi was offering $10K on the hood and 0% financing, in addition to the federal tax credit. But those incentives only existed because they couldn’t move the metal. My car was an early delivery and had sat on the lot for more than 18 months. Several vehicles in that situation had batteries that slowly (and then very quickly) lost the ability to take on a full charge. Mine was one of the first, so there was a lot of testing before Mitsubishi acknowledged the problem and shipped the battery and a team of technicians from Japan to install it. That battery was awesome, but two months later, a temperature sensor inside it failed, and they performed another replacement song and dance because it is considered a sealed unit. I haven’t had any additional charging issues in the subsequent two years.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            How many miles per kWh do you get?

          • 0 avatar
            Philip Lane

            Hmm, I don’t have exact figures on miles/kWh. For one thing, I’ve never checked efficiency between the wall and the charger, so I can’t speak to that.

            As far as what makes it into the battery, I can’t say anything exact because I’ve stopped tracking detailed usage (There’s a specialized Android app that can monitor the system, but I haven’t used it regularly for months). Really I’m going to cheat and estimate that the range runs between 48-96 miles and is mostly about at the lower middle of that: 64 miles. Because the battery is 16 kWh, that’s 3-6 miles/kWh, and most commonly 4 miles/kWh.

            Of course, that assumes the car uses the entire battery capacity in estimating range, and I know it doesn’t, so it’s actually more efficient than that. I really just chose those numbers because they’re close and they made the math easier.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Great responses, Philip,
            You added a lot of value to TTAC today.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Did you cross-shop against the Leaf, or any other of the electric alternatives? I’ve driven most of them, and found the i-MiEV sort of underwhelming, but I could see the appeal if it ended up being considerably cheaper than the alternatives.

            Also, in 5-10 years, it’d be fun to tweak one to silly power levels (like a maxi-Smartabusa).

          • 0 avatar
            Philip Lane

            I did cross-shop the Leaf. In fact, I started looking at electric cars when I first learned that leases on the Leaf S were $199 a month. I heard enough times that electric car range is enough for most commutes that I decided to try it.

            But I wasn’t pleased with the equipment levels of the base Leaf, and the value wasn’t there in the higher trims. Leasing wasn’t really an option, because I was going to blow out the mileage, and in my state, you pay taxes on a lease for the full purchase price. I could get around the mileage if I bought the car at lease end, but then I’m paying sales tax on it again. Leasing a Leaf is cheaper than buying in many cases, but because of the deal, buying the i-MiEV was much cheaper than leasing. Basically, my out-of-pocket for the Mitsubishi was the same as leasing the Leaf and then buying it at lease end. But I got to claim the tax credit on top of that.

            It defies all logic, but I really felt like the Leaf felt more like a golf cart than the i-MiEV. I can’t really say why or how. I actually liked it better. It’s certainly far less stable at highway speeds, and it has all the road noise of an 80s Honda. It’s loud and tinny. But it’s a fantastic city car, and I can park it anywhere. Although there’s very little power, it will easily keep up with traffic. Just as mentioned below about the smart fortwo, it’s an excellent tool for some specific jobs, and it’s better than almost everyone gives it credit for. I’m sure most everyone who voted it among 10 worst has never driven one. Probably a significant percentage of the B&B have never seen one in the wild.

            And it would be silly juvenile fun to drive one with a screaming motorcycle engine.

    • 0 avatar
      galloping_gael

      You did a great job providing some details on the EV driving experience. I got a 2016 Leaf SV, and echo all your comments. The Leaf just made more sense for me, since I have a longer commute.

  • avatar

    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE.

    I would have responded earlier but I’m out at dinner with a fine lady.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Who’d have thought there’d be 7,906 douche posers in the USA who would plunk down good money on an X6. But then again, who’d have thought Trump would be the GOP nominee.

    • 0 avatar
      iantg

      I personally love the X6 because of how offensive it is. It’s a way that you can have an SUV and not have people ask you to help them move because they know that A) you can’t haul anything in there B) even if you could, you’re not going to. There’s no car more honest than the X6. It tells the world that you really don’t give a crap what anyone else thinks. For that reason, I love it. Would I own one? Possibly. I loved my X3, but it was far too practical and sensible – so yeah, I’d totally do an X6 or an X4.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I like the X6 also. It’s not advertised as some big SUV. It’s a sport model and has more cargo room than many sedans. As stated above, I also think it has more of a presence on the road that most other SUVs. I don’t do a lot of cargo hauling, but I like the height of the X5/6, so I could see this car working very well for me.

      This is only anecdotal, but they are very common here in the North Chicago area. I see them daily, to include a number of the [email protected]@ X6M’s. That SUV will shame most cars.

      I also noted this before on the other post, but just got back from a vacation to Vietnam a couple weeks ago. The X6 was surprising common there. I probably saw 5 X6’s for every one X5 I saw there.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The smart fortwo is an interesting counterpoint to the Miata – they’re both hyper-focused two seaters, and sell in similar (justifiably) low numbers. And yet, one is beloved (because race car?) And on the 10 best list, and the other is reviled (because its unique strengths are meaningless to the commentariat, I guess?) And one of the worst new cars you can buy, apparently.

    Unlike most people here, I’ve actually driven the new one. It’s cured most of the old one’s biggest flaws (less character, sadly). It rides fine, it’s finally got a normal automatic (and praise Chapman, a real manual transmission), and it’s got the turning circle of a bicycle. Even the old one had its merits, but its irrelevance to the average consumer couldn’t be unpacked from its genuine flaws.

    • 0 avatar
      iantg

      A few months back, my wife and I test drove one at the Mercedes Benz-Smart dealership. The biggest problem I found was the lack of enthusiasm or product knowledge about the Smart was horrifying. The salesperson told my wife that she’d be happier with her mini. We tried the old model and came away with the conclusion that the transmission was the biggest issue that the car had. Does the new shift normally? Or is there now a manual option?

    • 0 avatar
      IAhawkeye

      Part of it might be the damage is just simply done from the past model driving so poorly(I’ve never driven one, but the online consensus was that it drive terribly) it’d be like trying to convince everyone here the new 200 isn’t that bad.

      As for why the Miata fared so much better imo is that in a place like I live.. the Smart has no point. You can buy/drive a Miata and say at least it’s fun, it’s sporty, it’s a convertible. The Smart? No such luck. We have more parking then we ever need, including enough space for even the biggest trucks, and super wide streets, plus many need to go places that require highway travel. if your gonna buy a small two door, might as well have some fun.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        It was really meant as a rhetorical question. The “Best and Brightest” like to harp on the stereotypical Brown Diesel Manual Wagon-lovin’ Jalopnik reader type for their inability to look beyond their own biases, and then reject a car because it doesn’t make sense in their particular circumstances (but then, in plenty of Eastern cities built up before the car, parking is absolutely an issue), and also on the weaknesses of an older model (so much for being informed consumers).

        Like, if I made my 10 best and 10 worst list strictly based on what works for me, the former would be 10 small sports cars and hatchbacks (nothing bigger than a Golf), and the worst would be full-sized pickups and 3-row crossovers (bulky gas-guzzlers). And even though I want a brown manual wagon (diesel can suck on its own fumes), I know what’s best for me isn’t best for everybody, and tried to go more balanced.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      The Miata is more of a drivers car and combined with the convertible style, leaves a strong image. The Smart is far more utilitarian.

      I also think that despite the positive safety ratings (from what I understand), Most Americans can’t move past the “mass equals safety” mentality.

      I have seen these all over Europe and I get the advantages of a high density urban area. OK, and seriously, they do look a little funny driving around.

  • avatar
    midnite_clyde

    I am perplexed, My wife and I love our Journey. A better running gear out there than the 3.6 6 sp? A better infotainment system? Tons of extras at a great price. Zero issues. Motor Week did a 8-10 CUV comparo a while ago. Journey came in 2nd. This reminds me of Consumer Reports: unsupported bias. Oh well.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Since moving to Florida (aprox. 40 miles from Orlando), Im in a bizaro car world. Mitsubishi Mirages are EVERYWHERE. I swear I see 4 or 5 every drive through town. I saw no less than three in one strip mall parking lot yesterday.

    There is a house in this neighborhood that has *two* post-refresh Dodge Journeys that live there. They probably arent rentals, because John and I have been here for nearly a month and theyve been here the whole time. One is gone most of the day (driven to work I suppose), the other is there most of the times we drive by, but sometimes theyre both gone.

    There is a Mitsubishi dealer in town, but there is also a Ford/Lincoln, Honda, Nissan, Buick-Caddy-GMC, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram, Chevy, Toyota and Kia dealers, so its not like there arent choices. Maybe the Mitsubishi dealer has buy-one-get-one sales?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’ve seen two i-MiEVs in the Philly/Delaware valley area since it went on sale.

    I’ve seen THREE albino squirrels.

  • avatar

    Articles like these make me seriously consider a 2-door Mirage.

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