TTAC Says These Are 2016's Ten Worst Automobiles Today, But The American Car Buyer Disagrees With A Number Of Choices

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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  • Philadlj Philadlj on May 13, 2016

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

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 13, 2016

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

    • See 1 previous
    • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 15, 2016

      @JohnTaurus Indeed, I was mistaken. I found old photographs and it was a 4-door version.

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