By on November 2, 2016

2017 Chrysler 200C Platinum

Thom writes:

Hi Bark,

Your RC F article got me wondering: what are some of the cars out there you think are actually good, enjoyable cars that get crapped on for no good reason other than inherent bias and/or groupthink in the automotive world?

I always wonder what’s out there that’s actually decent, if not outright good, that everyone seems to think is garbage. (Notwithstanding that sometimes everyone thinks a car is garbage because it actually is.)

This is gonna be fun.

My criteria for what makes a car “good” is likely going to be considerably different from yours, Thom, but I’ll take a crack at it anyway (and do my best to not make a listicle while I’m at it).

  • Cadillac XTS: I like this car quite a bit. Yes, it’s undoubtedly too expensive in its higher trims, but the entry-level can be had at just over $45,000 (and there’s no shortage of discounting and dealing to be done on this end-of-life model). The motor is more powerful than any floaty land barge deserves to have and Apple CarPlay is a welcome feature. The V-Sport model is the ultimate stoplight drag racing sleeper, too. Depreciation on these is massive, so don’t be surprised if you find one for Impala money only a year or two after the original selling date, and you can be assured that whoever bought it off the lot would’ve probably been a bluehair who treated it kindly.
  • Kia Soul: I took some heat for calling this a fun option for rental row shoppers a year or so ago, but I love the Soul. If you are looking for a modern-day wagon on a budget, then the Soul is for you. It’s not particularly fast, but they’re a hoot to drive regardless. Fuel economy is good and the interior is quite nice for the price. I only ask that if you do decide to get one, don’t buy it from Orlando Kia West.
  • Lexus IS: I think the IS is the best option of the entry-level sport sedans, but it never seems to get the same love as its counterparts from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. The IS 350 F-Sport is a particularly good value and it’s faster than anybody thinks it is. Good luck trying to keep up with me in the canyons or the foothills when I’m behind the wheel of one, regardless of what you’re driving.
  • Chevrolet Sonic: Back when our dear friend Caroline Ellis was car shopping, I suggested that she check out the Sonic (notice my cameo in the hero photo?) due to the fact that she wanted a hatchback with a lot of features at an affordable price. The Sonic never gets the love it deserves, especially in LTZ or RS trims. It’s every bit as good as the Fiesta and it doesn’t command the same premium on the used market. I’m not a huge fan of the way it looks in sedan form, but as a hatch, it’s fun to drive and attractive. Caroline liked hers so much that when it was lost in a flood, she bought another one. That’s a strong endorsement.
  • Chrysler 300: Get over yourselves, guys. Forget the stigma attached to it. The 300 is a great car. The Pentastar motor is strong enough for 95 percent of drivers and the interior feels considerably nicer than it has a right to at its price. Considering I wanted a car with sporting intent and a modern feel, the 300S made it further into my recent purchase consideration set than it should have.
  • Ford Fusion: For some reason, the Fusion is a forgotten car in the land of mid-sizers, a constant fourth-place finisher in sales results behind the CamCordIma triplets despite the massive Ford dealer network. But is it really the fourth spot in class? I don’t think so. The Accord is the only one I’d definitely prefer to the Fusion, but the Fusion Sport introduces an element that nobody in the class can match. I don’t know if people say the Fusion is a bad car, per se, but nobody thinks that it’s a good one, either. They’re wrong.
  • Infiniti Q50: Okay, I wouldn’t buy one, but it’s not a bad car. I think it gets a bad rap because of its sub-600 beacon score, Jersey Shore-ish clientele. Of all the luxury sport sedans, Infinitis seem the most likely to be slammed and tinted. It’s not as fast as you’d like it to be in 2.0t trim, either. But is it bad? No.
  • Acura NSX: I know I mentioned this car in the post you referenced, but I had to bring it back here. Reading the responses to big brother’s Road & Track Performance Car of the Year article this week have been downright hilarious. “BUT MOTOR TREND SAYS IT SUCKS!” That the purveyors of the fake Apple Car told you the NSX is a bad car should be all the proof you need that it’s amazing. But the real issue with the NSX is that reviewers have tried to drive it like a Corvette and you can’t do that. You have to get on the gas early everywhere and trail brake it into corners. You know, like a mid-engined hybrid. Crazy, right? Give me the NSX versus any other car out there, and I’ll show you its taillights in a hurry.

There’s one car that I really wanted to put on this list, but I just can’t, and that’s the Chrysler 200. No, it’s not as bad as people make it out to be, but it’s not good, either. Does it deserve the hate it gets? No, especially not with the Pentastar. That said, I’d take it over the same-sized offerings from Hyundai or Kia but behind everything else. A deep discount might be the only reason to consider it.

Still, there are still some quite bad cars out there (Hi, Dodge Journey!) so don’t take my words as an excuse to discount all commonly held opinions. But ultimately, the best judge of what’s a good car for you will be you. So when you’re putting together your consideration set, take reviews with a grain of salt — the good and the bad. Unless I wrote them, of course.

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94 Comments on “Ask Bark: Bad Cars That Are Actually Good...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    “That said, I’d take it over the same-sized offerings from Hyundai or Kia but behind everything else.”

    The 200 is significantly smaller the the Optima/Sonata twins in the back seat. So yeah the 200 may drive better overall quality wise they are about the same and space wise it aint even close.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      My experience with the Sonatima is that it has an acre of rear seat leg room and enough headroom for a nine year old.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The 200 doesn’t drive better than the Koreans, especially in 200S form. It’s sole performance virtue is that it’s pretty quick. The problem is that the Camry SE and Accord V6 are also fast, while being much, much nicer.

      It’s not a bad car, but it is the worst car in it’s class.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        To get a decent 200 the upgrades drive its price point into an area where it is not competitive.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Arthur I think the 200’s trump card is really bad resale, as well as firesale rebates. So a Loaded up 200C/200S with a V6 can (perhaps) be found for the same money as a lower trim 4cyl Camry/Accord etc. Haven’t checked online if this is true, just a suspicion.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Possibly at the dealer but the Chrysler Canada website has the 6 cylinder 200 starting at any eye watering $30,245.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “It’s not a bad car, but it is the worst car in it’s class.”

        There is just no way you’ve actually compared the 200 directly to a Sonata or an Altima if you think that’s true.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’ve driven volume versions of all three on multiple occasions, and I’d call the 200 the worst of the three on balance, losing largely on suspension tuning and the side effects of excess weight (poor ride/handling, slow acceleration with the 4, lousy economy for the segment). The Altima is boring and its interior is terrible but the light weight makes it a much nicer drive and it gets vastly better fuel economy. The Sonata doesn’t do anything as well as the class leaders but it’s (again) much lighter than the 200 and drives like it, and the interior is better put together.

          It’s legit to say you can probably find a V6 200 for the same price as a four-cylinder version of the others, but then you have a car that still has the same weight issue but is just faster.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The Accord I’ll agree with. The Camry not so much

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    The Kia Soul sells on price; it truly is ugly, but there are still a great many people for whom price makes them forget the looks.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Is it uglier than a Nissan Cube or a Scion Xb or any of the other box like utilitarian vehicles that it originally competed against?

      High roofline, highish ground clearance, inexpensive and good to decent reliability scores all make it a ‘decent’ vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Sorry this car is too inexpensive for your tastes, but:
      1) I can fit both of my 6’3″ sons in the back with headroom and legroom to spare;
      2) With the 2L, it’s a freakin’ gokart.
      I’ve received unsolicited amazed praise from owners of Porsches, BMWs, and other lux brands who have wound up as passengers for one reason or another. Maybe you should try one. I don’t think the price is driving the sales…that’s the Versa you are confusing it with.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        Agreed with you and the above. And I’ll echo the comparisons to the first-gen xB. Super clean design, amazing space, and good mileage.

        The complaints about it being ugly are neither here nor there. Design isn’t judges by “prettiness” or “ugliness” it is about coherence. The Kia Soul wears its design well.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Every time I get to drive my daughter’s 2012 (Plus trim with 6MT) it brings me incredible joy. “Go-kart” is exactly how I’ve described it since I bought the thing back in January.

        When I went to buy it, even the salesman was having a blast when he drove me back to the hotel. “This little car is AWESOME! I never even paid it any mind until today, but damn!”

        I’ve got my next car purchase narrowed down to a few, and a 2012 or 2013 is one of those choices.

        We’ve had a Juke for 13 months (just too damn small on the inside), a 2012 XB for 6 months (nobody ever wanted to drive it), and now the Soul. The Kia is the best and most loved of all three of them.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      People like boxy utility if it’s funky. Look at the modern desire for the Civic Wagovan, and how faithful people are to the departed Element. And the gen 1 xB. And the Cube.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      There’s many that bought because of the looks, and the ride height without the expense of getting into a bulky SUV.

      Mom bought one because it sat higher, fuel economy wasn’t that bad, and frankly the other offering in its class were pretty poor for looks and performance.

      If KIA decides to finally add AWD to it, they won’t keep them on the lots. The 201 HP turbo should keep people happy for the refreshed 2017 model, although the price has been climbing through the years.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      A Korean economy car that sells on price? WTF? Curious that your IQ doesn’t let you see the utility of the Soul. Maybe that’s why some buy it?

      Its not the cheapest new car, so no, not everyone who has one settled for it because they could afford nothing else. Maybe they liked it over the other vehicles in its price range because of its looks, shape, or both. The shape is what gives it the utility advantage over a sedan.

      The Soul isn’t bad. In fact, I would likely take one over any other current Kia. It isn’t the best car in the world (or Kia’s best effort), but its great at what it is, a non-boring alternative to the boring 3 box economy sedan.

      I loved the original xB, the Cube, and the Element. They are not plush, they’re not fast, they’re not “good looking” like, say, a Mustang or Charger is. But they’re unique and utilitarian, just something ‘different’ in a parking lot full of Corollas and Versa sedans. They’re not compromised like the Juke, and are/were a better value than mainstream utilities like Escape and CR-V.

      What they lack in refinement, they make up for in character.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I really want to like the Soul more, I particularly dig the decent ground clearance in a regular car that isn’t explicitly marketed as a crossover/outdoorsy edition AWD thing. The problem for me is the suspension tuning. A weird combination of poor control and harshness.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          gtemnykh,
          My step brother in the States had a Soul and it was a blast to drive.

          It’s best when alone. When I drove it with 3 adults the two litre and handling degraded.

          They look a little quirky, but not objectionable.

          I’d recommend a Soul as a great eco box.

        • 0 avatar

          Have you driven the new one? In my view, those comments are definitely warranted with the old one, but the new one strikes an impressive ride/handling balance (this is based on a couple hundred miles and several days in two separate rental Souls).

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            EChid the one I drove was a ’14(?) the refreshed one. It didn’t jive well with the poor pavement of I65 North of Indianapolis by Lafayette.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            I quite like the Soul too. Its a Korean interpretation of the Nissan Cube (we dont get the Scions here).

            And since our market is so intertwined with the Japanese market I get the “Western Kei car Cubist” ethic.

            I kept up with the ‘vibe’ when it was released and the 1.6 manual is a fair choice, 4 spd auto not so much.

            I think it has a 6 spd auto now. Its the anti fashion choice car, its so ugly, its almost hip.

            Its also available as a 1.6 turbo diesel and now a 2.0 four. Not too bad. I’d go with the crowd though in most cases and get a Cerato/Forte, Mazda 3 or a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      I like the Soul very much, the shrunken Flex that it is. Here in Norway, the electric version sells like hot cakes. Also, “Electric Soul” sounds like a viable band name, and it is a solid, confident design – important for Kia. First and foremost, a car of good quality at a low price combines two important factors you don’t always see together.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      I’m surprised by the love for the Soul. I find it ugly and not fun to drive. At the rental counter I’ll take anything else instead, including the Jeep Patriot/Cherokee. Which I actually like, I hate the cup holders on the rear floor in the middle.

      I also liked the Altima and Malibu.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The depreciation on a V6 300 is truly staggering. An AutoTrader search of CPO models with lots of bells and whistles but “only the V6” turns up some asking prices that become very tempting.

    The Hemi’s on the other hand hold their value better than they ought to.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      A car has to be pretty underated to get on this list, so it makes sense to buy used where the depreciation has already largely hit. Still, you want to know if this is due to popularity or actual defects.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        If it’s stinking cheap enough, buy a ridiculously extended warranty. I’m fortunate to have a Chrysler Dealer that is actually well regarded by the community.

        • 0 avatar
          bryanska

          I have both the car and the warranty. You can get a MaxCare warranty pretty cheap. Say if the car has under 30k miles, you can go 5 yr/100k for maybe $1500 if you shop around.

          This even covers shocks and bushings! And has a rental car for every repair, covered towing, makes it better than a new car warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      Dan, about 6 weeks ago, I bought a 2015 Chrysler 300, AWD with the V-6, 9,000 miles, showroom new for $20K from a senior private party near Salt Lake City. The MSRP sticker was $38+K. I wasn’t really looking for the AWD but couldn’t turn it down for the price.

      Absolutely love the car so far. On a recent 1,400 mile trip to Grand Teton and Yellowsone, then back thru Rock Springs, WY got 29.6 mpg total for the trip. It’s only rated for 27 mpg highway w/AWD so I was pleasantly surprised. The V-6 is very strong and quick, the 8-speed trans was flawless, no gear hunting and it handles like a much lighter car. It’s a helluva ride for $20K.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      300’s image makes it unsalable to a good segment of the population.

      Also, its like driving a WW2 pillbox bunker.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Bark, this is a very good list. (Although I find the 200 awful.) And I appreciate the lack of knee-jerk political content in this week’s column despite the proximity of Election Day.

    I’d add a few more:

    Lexus GS450h. As always with hybrids, everyone focuses exclusively on the upfront cost vs. gas savings equation, which isn’t flattering to any of the big Lexus hybrids. But that’s not the reason to get your GS in hybrid form. The reason is luxury — silence in low-speed traffic, total smoothness on acceleration, and the pleasant-sounding V6 eliminating the usual hybrid moan. The powertrain makes an already luxurious car more so.

    Ford C-Max and Fusion, in Hybrid and Energi forms. (I lease a C-Max Energi.) The hybrid powertrain in these has quietly become one of the most reliable powertrains for sale in America, although your mileage may vary on the rest of the car. And the cars drive better than the Prius and Camry Hybrid competition, with better ride/handling and smoother powertrain operation. They are also better equipped, especially toward the top of the option package ladder. Both Energis are often available at ridiculously good prices/lease rates thanks to federal and state tax incentives, and even short-distance EV driving is a nice feature to have.

    Acura TLX. Yes, it’s boring compared with RWD luxury-brand competitors. It’s also cheaper. Five figures cheaper, similarly equipped. So look at it as a high-end mainstream sedan rather than a near-luxury car. As a trim level of the Accord, the TLX value proposition is actually pretty compelling. For about $5,000 over similarly equipped Accord trims, you get much nicer interior materials, better transmissions with either engine, a kick-ass audio system, a much quieter ride to help you enjoy that audio system, a variety of luxury gewgaws, and (in my experience) a vastly better dealer experience, both before and after sale.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t want to like the TLX – because it irks me that they killed two models to make one model that’s smaller than one of the things it’s replaced. But, it seems to be a pretty good car AND it looks quite a lot like the 04-08 TL which everyone laments.

      In fact, the 08 TL and the 16 TLX have almost identical dimensions. I must thusly approve of it even more.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      It’s amazing how forgotten the C-Max is. Of course it doesn’t help that Ford seems to even forget that it’s a model they offer (I’ve never seen an ad for one on TV at least). They sold less than 1000 of them in October, which is quite sad.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Forget the Hybrid, the Lexus GS is a pretty forgotten car in general. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen the newest generation in traffic, compared to endless scores of RX, ES, GX. I think I’ve even seen more of the LX Lexus Land Cruisers than I have of the GS.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      I rented a CMAX a couple of years back and loved it. When wife wanted a new car I tried to get her to get one. She test drove it and really liked it but couldn’t get over the looks. Weird because she likes ugly misshapen things (me). Ended up with a Golf Wagon and dam if the CMAX doesn’t drive/act like a class up vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Fortunately for us, my wife liked the C-Max looks immediately. I was surprised; I thought she’d find it too dorky. She had an easy time getting past the low floor height because the seat height and roof are CUV-high.

        • 0 avatar
          SP

          The C-Max is truly a nice car. I nearly bought a lightly used one. The low residuals were in its favor. The high load floor (especially in the Energi) did not help it. The non-opening sunroof also did not help it.

          Still, I could see owning one in the future. It’s a very useful car. The handling is not Focus-good, but it’s better than most hybrids. (Bask in the “Global C” goodness!) I would have a hard time paying new MSRP for it, but with some incentives, or in the used market, I think it’s a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I’d be all over the TLX, but I don’t find the transmission options attractive. I’d rather have a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic, both available on the Accord. Honda’s dual-clutch automatic may be the best one on the market, but it’s still a dual-clutch automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nice additions.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Based on rental car experiences agree on the Fusion and Sonic.

    When I’m handed the keys to a Ford Fusion rental I’m generally excited that I’ve gotten a decent car, even if it is in base trim (hint hint Ace of Base).

    We were super impressed with the Sonic rental we had, in part likely because our expectations were low, but we were genuinely shocked at how good it was. It’s highway manners and ride were truly surprising.

    I also agree that the Kia and Hyundai offerings are overrated. I returned my Kia Optima rental, which I was excited to get going, “I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.” The unit was in poverty spec, definitely not “Ace of Base” material but even factoring for that it seemed under powered, soft – the Ford Fusion is vastly better.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Was that a ’15-and-before Optima? When I was looking for cars in the late fall of ’14 I came close to getting an Optima, but the suspension and feel were just a notch down from the Sonata, which was itself a notch down from the Fusion. It just felt a bit wobbly and brittle. Supposedly the ’16s are much better, though.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yes, before 2015 – rental was in late 2013, ICR if it was a ’14 or ’13 – I want to say it was a ’13 as I seem to remember it had over 20K miles on the clock

    • 0 avatar
      manny_c44

      Yeah I agree the chevy sonic is a surprisingly competent car for the money.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I still got love for the Two Huner’t…. you can get a brand new 200C for like $20K

    I still think a used G37S is a better buy for the same money though.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The IS350 F-Sport may well be a fast (if not as fast as its boosted competitors) and decent driving performance car, and it’s the one that Lexus sends to C&D for review, but as Consumer Reports is keen to point out, no one buys those. The IS that people actually buy are mid-grade IS2.0Ts, which are lousy. Much like Ford’s “240hp” 2.0T, it definitely deserves the “2.slow” moniker.

    Yes, 7+ seconds to 60 (in the real world, brake torqued hard launches to get it under 7 don’t count, no one actually does that in real life) isn’t the end of the world, but when guys in 328/330is and A4s are blowing your doors off and paying about the same lease payment as you are, and a V6 Accord will also stomp you into the ground, you still gonna be happy you signed those papers?

    Also, the IS has easily the second worst interior in the class. It’s a notch above the “you’ve got to be kidding, this is supposed to be a luxury car?” Acura TLX (what isn’t) but it ain’t no C-class, that’s for sure. 2017 A4 over ANY trim of the IS ALL DAY LONG.

    The main problem I had with the Fusion was the 2.0T. It’s supposed to compete with the six cylinder Camry, Accord, and Altima, and it doesn’t. It feels no faster than the 220hp Duratec powered first gen Fusion from 2006. Other than that, it’s not a bad car. The seats are decent by mainstream car standards, the steering response isn’t terrible, and at least the upper level Sony branded stereo doesn’t sound like tin cans rattling (ahem Honda).

    It’s really sad what happened to the Q50. Every generation of the G has been much worse than the last one. The first gen G35 admittedly had HORRIBLE interior quality (but so did all Nissans from that era) but it was FUN. It felt light and agile, everything a sport sedan should be. The second gen G37 was less embarrassing on the inside, but that was the only improvement. It no longer felt light or tossable, and the razor sharp steering from the first car gave way to dull, boring, heavy for heavy’s sake, completely unengaging steering response.

    And now the mediocre steering from the G37 is looked back upon with fondness, because the Q50 has video game steering. Infiniti is not winning anymore. Sad!

    The NSX is “fine” I guess. But the Mercedes AMG-GTS speaks to me, and the NSX doesn’t. The first NSX was all about driving, the new one seems more interested in showing off Honda’s technical expertise.

    Here’s my suggestion for a massively underrated and overlooked car: Lincoln MKZ. As soon as it was launched back in 2013, I immediately dismissed it because I assumed it would be just like the first gen car – a Fusion clone with slightly nicer plastics inside. But it’s not. It’s actually better to drive than the Fusion, at least the regular variants of that car, and with the 3.7 V6, it’s as fast as it should be. The steering is accurate and decently weighted. Not exactly a lot of feel, but hell, an M-sport 3 series doesn’t have a lot of feel either. Almost nothing does these days. It’s tomb quiet inside, and the materials feel better than the el-cheapo ES350.

    Here’s the thing though: the MKZ has EPIC first year depreciation. You can get a 2016 MKZ with sub 10K miles on it, CPO, loaded to the gills with everything: V6, adaptive LED lights, adaptive suspension, BLIS, parktronic, radar cruise, parking assist, heated and cooled 16-way massage seats, power trunk lid, pano-roof, and the THX stereo for $30K. Maybe less if you play hardball with the dealer. Show me a better car that has all of that stuff for $30K.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      “V6, adaptive LED lights, adaptive suspension, BLIS, parktronic, radar cruise, parking assist, heated and cooled 16-way massage seats, power trunk lid, pano-roof, and the THX stereo for $30K.”

      Ignoring the V6 and THX requirement, I think a 2006 7 series or 2006 A8 fits the bill at 15k.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Hmmm, a 10 year older German car… How could that possibly go wrong?

        At least the MKZ will be practically new with a warranty. You’re going to need the other $15k to keep the Germans happy (as in going and somewhat reliable).

        The MKZ has pretty good quality, as well as the previously mentioned peace-of-mind facts of it being 10 years newer and under warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        The problem with buying a 2006 BMW 7 or Audi A8 is that you are now the owner of a 2006 BMW 7 or Audi A8. Expect to plow hundreds or thousands of dollars into those cars, multiple times per year, just to keep them running. Any problem with the Lincoln on the other hand will be taken care of for you free of charge for the next six years of ownership.

        Then there’s the NAV/infotainment issue. Sure the ’16 MKZ still has MFT, but by the end of the line, that was pretty well sorted. I’d take it over 2006 era iDrive or Audi MMI any day of the week, that’s for sure. Hell, Audis just got USB ports THIS YEAR. I’m not even sure if you can play music from a mobile device in an ’06 Audi A8 AT ALL.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      ” It feels no faster than the 220hp Duratec powered first gen Fusion from 2006.”

      that’s because it’s heavier than the 2006 and only has 20 more hp.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Heh. He doesn’t like IS 2.0t, can’t wait to see what he thinks about MX-5. Or, actually, no, I don’t. Going to be the same point missed.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’ve never seen anyone suggest that the Fusion was an underdog. Not since 2010, when it was significantly revamped and scored Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. And not since 2013, when it was totally redesigned and one-upped the Sonata / Optima twins with expressive, European styling *and* materials and creature comforts well beyond its price range. It is class-leading in many aspects, class-competitive in most.

    The Fusion gets plenty of love. I think it suffers from the number of people who believe that an Accord or Camry is going to last much longer (they’re probably right)…coupled with the lessening popularity of mid-sized family cars and the fact that the Fusion is omnipresent and thus the market is flooded with low-priced used examples of it.

    But I can think of other cars that envy the Fusion’s position. The Malibu is a fleet queen that has just now become an alluring choice. Ditto for the Altima. And the poor 200 has had the plug pulled. I’m playing the world’s smallest violin for the Fusion, because it’s a great car, even if it’s not ceremoniously great. The most a mainstream family sedan can be is a really nice appliance.

    • 0 avatar
      krohde

      Agreed – it’s a very solid car but still competing in a world where Camry and Accord are the standard-bearers, and for good reason – they’ve been great cars for 20 years, ever since Ford rested on its laurels with the 2nd-gen Taurus and has been trying to catch up ever since.

      The Altima is the one I can’t figure out. Are Nissans that reliable? Do they just discount them so much that people are compelled to buy? I’ve just never driven a Nissan I thought was great compared to its competition.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Nissan is more willing than Toyota or Honda to finance near-subprime or subprime buyers. That’s part of it.

        The other part is that Altima TCO is really pretty low. They’re cheap to buy, very reliable within the first owner’s likely period of ownership (before CVT failure gets likely), and get the best real-world fuel economy in their segment.

        • 0 avatar

          Nissan is more willing than Toyota or Honda to finance near-subprime or subprime buyers. That’s all of it.

          FTFY

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The CVTs don’t fail that often these days. It’s still more iffy than a conventional transaxle, but not nearly the harbinger of death that everyone here would have you think it is.

          The only death will be yours, for pure boredom. But Altimas are pretty reliable.

          I also think Honda did a much better CVT on the 4-cylinder Accord.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          Fuel economy is a real issue on the current Fusion with the commonly ordered base 2.5 engine. It is up to 5 less in real world driving compared to a rental Altima and new style Malibu I recently spent time with. It’s also noisier and slower than the optional 1.5EB but that engine isn’t much more efficient and has that damn stop start like the Malibu with the 1.5T. And we all know why Ford will never update the base 2.5 engine.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            For most folks use, the hybrid drivetrain is the one to get. It’s only $1800 more than the Ecoboost 1.5 and will cut most people’s fuel bills by 40%.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Krhode,

        I think you mean 3rd gen. The 2nd gen was the best seller, and they spent too much time making the third gen look radical instead of doing more to build on what the 1st and 2nd gen had. It got heavier and lazy. It still handles okay but its not a standout like the earlier versions.

        The Fusion has been out for quite a while now, it has been praised since it launched 10+ years ago. The Camry is just so entrenched as the default choice that its pathetic. Look how many good players there are in the field. The sales shouldn’t be so skewed towards the lackluster Camry.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “The sales shouldn’t be so skewed towards the lackluster Camry.”

          There’s nothing aside from exterior styling that really makes the Fusion shine compared to the Camry. Since the ’15 refresh, I’d argue that the interiors have reached parity in terms of quality, with the Camry having the edge in roominess. Ride/Handling I’d call close enough to be a wash. non-Hybrid drivetrains I give a Camry win (camry 2.5>Ford 1.6EB, camry 3.5>>Eb 2.0). Camry is made in USA with >75% domestic content, Fusion is 49% and some (soon to be all) are built in Mexico.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Is the current Camry that much better steering and handling wise compared to the 2013-2014? Because the rental 2014.5 Camry SE 4 cylinder we had for a weekend didn’t handle all that well and the steering was as numb as a 1990’s Buick. The 2.5 was nothing to write home about either in combined mileage or highway performance. Perhaps the new one is better in these areas?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            When do we vote for the annual BAFO Award? I’m really gung-ho on this poncho guy.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Its an honor just to be nominated!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s tough to out-BAFO BAFO. But Ponchochevy is trying his best.

            Sales must be slow at the Chevy dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I don’t know why the Fusion is on this list. I was more expecting to find some D3 or D4 love, because the Fusion has been consistently highly rated and sells pretty well. As you mention, its a damn good choice in most respects. It doesn’t belong on this list, the only people who think its a “bad” car are those like DW who hate it because of the manufacturer emblem on the decklid.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Kyree,
      I had a Fusion rental and I consider a Camry or Accord a better drivers vehicle.

      These vehicles are designed to be “boring” working class, reliable family trucksters.

      I believe these vehicles (esp US tuned) require a little attention with suspension and steering. Tighten the suspension and speed up the steering a tiny bit and you will have a nice car.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      The Fusion and the Accord were the only cars that made our finalists list because they were the only ones that could be equipped with a manual transmission. The Fusion drives like an older 5-series; the Accord drives like, well, an Accord — excessively firm and much noisier. Liberal selections on the options list — yes, extensive options were available with 6MT Fusions in 13 and 14 — and we ended up with a unique and fun to drive car that’s easy on the eyes, eats interstate miles comfortably and extremely economically, and handles better on curvy roads than your passengers would like it to.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m wondering which will the the cheapest deal down the road for budget buys for for the grandkids…Dodge Dart or Nissan Leaf?

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Regal would be alright if it offered a V6.
    The ATS would be alright if it offered a V8.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m sure the 200 is a great car. So much so that nobody buys them, and Chrysler can scarcely give them them away.

    Truth be told, it’s true it’s not the worst car you can buy, but perhaps Chrysler carries such a negative stigma that potential buyers stay away.

    As far as the Sonic goes, I prefer the sedan. Why? Because it actually looks like a car. It looks like a car squeezed somewhat in a vise, but still looks like a car.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    How about a late-model Buick LaCrosse? They seem attractive, roomy, and comfortable but resale values seem really low. Frankly, I totally forget about Buicks most of the time. But, they do rank well for reliability and one could do worse than to pick up a sub-30k mile example for half of the original sticker, no?

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I think the Lacrosse is great, and very underrated, although not to everyone’s taste, but I don’t think it meets the “bad cars that are great” description. I’ve never read anything bad about them- the reviews seem to be almost always positive.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Another car that recently caught my eye used is the Chevy Volt. 2013 models with low miles are selling for under $15k. A local dealer has one with 12k miles for $14,500 asking price, for example. It’s a bit too small for my needs, but by all accounts they have proven to be very reliable.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    “That said, I’d take it over the same-sized offerings from Hyundai or Kia but behind everything else.”

    You have got to be kidding me. Ignoring the fact that the Sonata and Optima have well-performing, normal automatic transmissions, they – especially the Optima – are some of the best midsizers on the market. The Optima rides and handles better than not only a 200, but also the Altima, the Camry, and the Malibu. I say this as the driver of a 2015 Mazda6. Had the new Optima been out when I was car shopping in early 2014, my decision would have been much more difficult. The 200 and the Altima are the dogs of this class. End of story.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Maybe you could have answered the original question without bragging what a hotshoe you are.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    steve, I agree on both the LaCrosse and the Volt. And if you include the LaCrosse, you’ll probably include its fraternal twin the Impala too. Full-size sedans generally are underappreciated now and thus pretty good deals. And as little love as the Taurus gets, it’s certainly not a BAD car – I actually like how it drives, except for trying to see out the back of it – and undoubtedly available at really good deals, like its Lincoln brethren.

  • avatar
    koreancowboy

    The XTS is the car that former (multi) Deville owners like myself always wanted.

    Looking at pre-owned examples, I am very tempted to go back down that route. I basically need a couch on wheels that can handle Dallas’ rough roads.

  • avatar
    BrentinWA

    I can vouch for the XTS…. I love mine. I picked it up with 5,500 miles on it for quite a bit off the $65,000 sticker. It’s HUGE inside, super plush in Platinum trim and 4200 lbs and AWD I can still pull off 28-29 MPGs on a road trip and 21 on day to day commuting. I love the speakers and CUE is very easy to bounce around in once you learn it. It’s hushed and there is NO road fatigue after 10 hours sitting in the seats.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I regularly speak with two co- worker teachers that have 2015/2016 XTS’s and they mirror your writeup. Contrary ot popular belief there are still those out there that like larger comfortable cruiser cars like this.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My biggest problem with the XTS is that it looks awkward. It tries to combine that weird rounded greenhouse of the 1st gen Epsilon Lacrosse with the sharp lines of the Arts & Sciences design language and it just doesn’t work at all. I would have preferred a blockier more defined 3-box look.

        I think the 300 and Continental are much more attractive. I even think the ES350 beats it in the looks department.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I bought a CPO Lexus IS250 just about a year ago. Yeah, I know it’s not a family-mobile with a small backseat, has poor rear-view visibility, and no; it’s not fast with the 2.5. However, I bought a CPO Lexus for the price of a new Corolla, my commute is from my apartment building parking lot to my office parking garage in suburban DC traffic, it’s a superb long range cruising machine (I-95 to SC and OH 52), and women seem to like it. A lot. As for durability; it’s a gussied up Toyota and I’m fine with that. My niece is 10, this will probably be her college car. Cooled leather seats with the sunroof open makes me smile.

  • avatar
    midnite_clyde

    I’m still trying to figure out what’s wrong with my wife’s Journey. She loves it. Smooth and quiet ride, $24k fully loaded, zero problems over 3 years. Watch the Autoweek comparo. It finished 2nd in a field of 10. The 3.6 V6 with 6 speed auto is a superior running gear. Please explain why it’s a dog. We can’t figure it out.

  • avatar
    sbvaeth

    Bark,

    Has CUE improved on the xts in your experience? Something that would stop me from buying an XTS is how bad CUE was on the first round of cars. As a daily driver I would like the infotainment system to not bug me on a daily basis.

  • avatar
    crossx5

    Definitely agree with “Chevrolet Sonic”. I was pleasantly surprised when I drove it the first time as a rental car. It definitely better than most of the competition. Except the looks, I loved every bit of driving it specially after my other rental, an Elantra.

    I would also add Mazda cars, in general, are good but don’t get the love they deserve.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    I agree with many of the recommendations, Kia Soul with bigger engine is a great car for the money. Lexus IS is a fine machine that will last. Chrysler 300 is perfect large American car. I would substitute a Accord for Fusion any day as you say, not even close in my opinion. Not that Fusion is a bad car, but in no way is it in the class of Accord. I like the Mustang and I think it deserves a place at the table. The Honda Civic is so much car. And I would substitute a Stingray or Z06 any day for too complex NSX. I know Bark you can drive the NSX very fast, but it just is not attainable.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    I was a 15 month owner of a ’15 200S V6 AWD. Put nearly 30 K miles on it with really no issue but a flat tire. The 19″ tire was $220. Oh, I did have the computer re flashed early on due to a clunky 9 speed.

    I dumped it right after Marchionne(?) talked bad about the 200. I got decent resale ($22K) when I bought a new Cherokee Trailhawk.

    I gotta say that 200S was really fast and the AWD helped a few times in the snow.

    For some reason I still get monthly Diagnosis updates via email. Cars running fine at 32K miles for who ever owns it.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Mark, just one question. At the end, you tossed off a comment that seemed to diss the Optima as one of the worst sedans in the midsize class. I was surprised to see that, given that C/D gushed all over it. What do you dislike about it?


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