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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd which cars failed to meet the oems hype

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]

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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.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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