QOTD: Which Vehicles Sucked Compared to the Previous Generation?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd which vehicles sucked compared to the previous generation

On Monday, I asked you to tell me about vehicles that improved greatly compared to the prior generation; new models which were instantly and vastly superior to their predecessor.

Today, we’re going to flip it and talk about generational failures. Which vehicles were downgrades compared to the previous generation?

The failure may have been in the sales charts, where a new generation entered into a market that had moved on to other competitors, or a different type of vehicle altogether. Maybe quality fell off a cliff, or powertrain options were not as robust or as plentiful. Or perhaps the styling was so bad as to be off-putting to the consumer.

I thought long and hard about the example I’m about to give you. Here’s the last of the good Chrysler Fifth Avenues.

In 1989, you could purchase the last model year of the rear-drive M-body version of the Fifth Avenue/Diplomat/Gran Fury. The brown beauty pictured here is an ’87, because I can’t find great pictures of an ’89 model. Just as well, as the landau top grew for 1988-1989 and looked ill-fitting. Check out the interior.

Luxury, solidity and comfort abound, and the ancient Torqueflite automatic will get you there and back. The reliable Slant Six (until 1983) or 5.9-liter V8 powering these big beasts might suck down fuel through a carburetor (as late as 1989!), but don’t worry about that. You’ll be comfortable in the rich, plush environment. An environment which indeed was still available in Boudoir Rouge Velvet or Corinthian Cow or whatever. It even had an airbag (1989 only, not pictured)!

Then the calendar flipped to 1990, and the M-body was past its sell-by date because it was not a K-Car variant. Here’s what you ended up with that year:

Look at it — it’s awful. The trim looked like it was falling off straight from the factory. This Fifth Avenue was joined only by the Chrysler Imperial sedan on the large Y platform (the Imperial died in coupe form back in 1983). The Y was, of course, a very stretched K-Car underneath all the wood panel and landau. Let’s look at what you lost between 1989 and 1990.

  • A full eight inches of length
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Reliable Torqueflight
  • Build quality
  • V8 option
  • Dignity

And, to add insult to poverty, the price increased by over $2,000. At least a red (lower quality) velour interior was still available. Happily, the Y platform luxury vehicles died after 1993, when they were replaced by the much-improved LH Platform New Yorker and LHS.

I’ll stop myself now, so you can give your own examples of vehicles that failed between generations.

[Images: eBay; Classic Cars Mark]

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7 of 262 comments
  • Truckducken Truckducken on Apr 05, 2017

    Chrysler 2nd gen LH's. Worse engines, worse interiors, uglier styling, and the Ultradrive fiasco still in full swing.

    • See 1 previous
    • Gtem Gtem on Apr 06, 2017

      @ponchoman49 "the 3.5 was hard to service and required a pricey timing belt replacement in that tight engine bay " I was under the impression that the longitudinal layout made the 3.5L t-belt change not too bad of a job. www.underhoodservice.com/servicing-the-chrysler-3-5l-engine/ "Replacing a timing belt on a 3.5L V6 is typically a two- to three-hour job, so the cost of preventive maintenance is relatively cheap compared to what a broken timing belt could cost the vehicle owner."

  • MoparDave MoparDave on Apr 05, 2017

    Both of these were foisted upon us during the Damlier-Benz occupation of Chrysler... *Gen 2 Dodge Durango---they took a really good looking and versatile vehicle (Gen. 1) and hit it with the ugly stick. The styling reminded me of the old tin toy blimps from the 30's/40's (complete with the wheels suffering from a comically narrow track).The plasticy hell-hole of an interior didn't help things much, either. *Gen 3 Dakota--let's take a really good-looking, popular vehicle, bloat up the outside, cheapen the interior, jack up the price beyond the Ram 1500, and watch sales drop like a rock.

    • See 2 previous
    • Kyree Kyree on Apr 06, 2017

      @gtem Or the rebadged Dakota that was the Mitsubishi Raider...remember that one? At least it wore a better front-fascia (IMO) than the Dodge version. Or there was Suzuki, who got its briefs in a bind because people weren't transporting their Suzuki power-toys with Suzuki trucks, so they quickly rebadged Frontiers.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic And this too shall pass.....Ford went thru this when the model T was introduced. It took the moving assembly line to make real money. As time progressed, it got refined, eventually moving to the Model A. Same kind of hiccups with fuel injection, 4 speed automatic, Firestone tires, dashboards with no radio knobs, etc, etc, etc. Same thing with EVs. Yep, a fire or two in the parking lot, espresso time at the charging stations, other issues yet to be encountered, just give it time. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Art Vandelay 2025 Camaro and Challenger
  • Mike Beranek Any car whose engine makes less than 300 ft-lbs of torque.
  • Malcolm Mini temporarily halted manual transmission production but brought it back as it was a surprisingly good seller. The downside is that they should have made awd standard with the manual instead of nixing it. Ford said recently that 4dr were 7% manual take rate and I think the two door was 15%.
  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.