QOTD: Which Cars Failed to Meet the OEM's Hype?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Back in December, Matthew Guy penned an interesting QOTD post soliciting your picks for the most outrageous new car introduction. In the case of the new-for-1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Bob Lutz drove Chrysler’s new (and important) SUV up a set of stairs at Cobo Hall and through a plate glass window. History revealed the hype to be justified: the Grand Cherokee became an instant success, finding its way into suburban middle-class driveways across America.

Sometimes, though, the new product doesn’t live up to the manufacturer’s hype before introduction. Let’s talk disappointment.

Hold on, that’s not the disappointing bit — it’s the thing that created the subsequent disappointment years later. As your heart rate settles back down, let me explain. Honda wanted to bring a new sporty car to the market for 2011.

The idea behind said new vehicle was very promising, and very simple. Honda wanted to resurrect the ever-desirable CR-X (1984-1991) into a brand new two-seat hatchback. The key characteristics from the original CR-X were on order for this new vehicle. Honda’s CEO himself said the new CR-Z was to be sporty, incredibly efficient, and inexpensive.

Displayed all the way back in 2007 at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda was keen to explain that CR-Z stood for “Compact Renaissance Zero.” The Renaissance part was capturing the spirit of the original CR-X. The concept looked promising.

What was delivered for the 2011 model year was not. A 1.5-liter inline-four engine and an electric motor powered the (hybrid only) CR-Z, making a combined 122 horsepower. Though it was small, the hatchback weighed 2,670 pounds with a manual transmission. For reference, the second generation CR-X Si weighed 2,103 pounds, and had a 1.6-liter VTEC engine producing 108 horsepower.

Paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT, the CR-Z qualified as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV), managing a 31 mpg/37 mpg fuel economy rating when equipped with the manual. Marginal efficiency for a hybrid.

The inexpensive part was sort of forgotten, too. The CR-Z cost between $19,000 and around $24,000 in 2011, where the CR-X Si topped out at $11,000 in 1991 ($20,146 inflation adjusted).

And that most important quality, the “sporty?” Well, it wasn’t really there. Media outlets were generally unimpressed with how the CR-Z drove. Car and Driver reported the CR-Z was “…not terribly fun to drive,” and cited the Accord Hybrid’s superior fuel economy and much larger size.

Public opinion matched the car mags, and the CR-Z was short-lived — killed off after the 2016 model year to make room for the upcoming Clarity and Accord Hybrid models.

What’s your pick for a new car which just didn’t live up to the OEM hype?

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Brettc Brettc on Jan 25, 2018

    I'm going to say the C-Max. It was supposed to be Ford's "Prius Fighter", but once people realized the 2013 C-Max didn't get anywhere close to the 47/47 rating, Ford had to admit that they cheated on the fuel economy numbers and give owners of the original units compensation. The rest is history. Ford has relegated it to red headed step-child status and barely admits that they exist. But they still are in production for a little while longer. As a result, they're dirt cheap used, along with the Volt.

  • Road_pizza Road_pizza on Feb 01, 2018

    Lincoln LS.

  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
  • EBFlex The answer is yes. Anyone that says no is just….. wrong.But the government doesn’t want people to have that much freedom and the politicians aren’t making money off PHEVs or HEVs. So they will be stifled.