By on February 27, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Image: VolkswagenIn last week’s QOTD, we asked you to share the vehicles that pleasantly surprised you after spending some time behind the wheel. Whether your expectations were high or low to start, it’s always nice to recall transportation that impressed.

Today we turn in the opposite direction, and talk about cars that left you feeling disappointed.

Most of the time, the knowledgeable consumer in all of us creates an expectation of a vehicle. Something you’d heard or read — perhaps a rave review or the rantings of a rabidly biased fanperson — can lift those expectations. In today’s example, I walked away from a rather expensive automobile thinking, “They couldn’t manage to make a car better than that?”

2018 Acura RLXAnd here it is — the leather-lined pontoon boat featuring all-wheel drive, a hybrid powerplant producing 377 horsepower, and lots of technology. The premium logo on the grille should say something of the materials used in its construction, not to mention the integrity with which it was engineered and built.

Yet somehow it all falls down. The styling doesn’t really work. What used to be a Honda Legend made into an Acura for the U.S. became an Acura which wears Honda badges elsewhere. Updated for the 2018 model year with new styling language, the car underneath has remained largely the same since 2013. The interior is a mess of various angles, textures, and buttons. The one I drove featured bleached-effect faux wood trim, which really washed out the light parchment interior even further. Then I drove it.

Wallowy and soft, the RLX went down the road with zero enjoyment, asking for little input from the driver. Best to slow down a bit in corners, as the two-ton sedan lists to and fro while you saw at the wheel and hope for feedback. Braking is aggressive and regenerative, feeling excessively sensitive and overly boosted. A light touch to the brakes felt more like a stab — most difficult to modulate.

I expected Honda could build a nice, comfortable luxury sedan with its years of know-how. After all, the RLX is direct successor to the RL, a car which used to represent the pinnacle of Acura’s offerings (a place occupied by the MDX presently). And the ask for the top-trim RLX I drove? $61,900. I really don’t think so. The RLX let me down in a big way.

Let’s hear about your big disappointments.

[Images: VW, Acura]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

166 Comments on “QOTD: Found Yourself Surprisingly Disappointed?...”


  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    Two disappointments stand out. First was BMW’s F30 3 Series. I drove an early 328i Sport with manual transmission, and was seriously disappointed, mostly because of the numb, lifeless steering about which C&D and others have griped consistently. The car was extraordinarily competent, but not inspiring at all. Oddly, this was a relief, because I thought I’d want to buy one, but I didn’t, so I still have my 2010 TSX seven years later.

    Second was a Nissan Altima rental I had back in 2017. I had very low expectations, but it couldn’t even clear the low mental bar I’d set for it. I didn’t think any modern sedan could have such poor dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’ve rented most midsizers, and have had a few Altimas fairly recently. My last one was a well broken in (and smoked in) 42k mile example that I thrashed around some twisty backroads that were in the process of being repaved out in rural Upstate NY. Perhaps it’s not at the top of the class, but it was exceedingly competent. Speaks to how far even pedestrian sedans have come I suppose.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      I was rather surprised by how much I loved my rental Altima last year. I assume it was a 2017, too. It was quiet and comfortable, good seats, roomy interior, nice materials. Smooth engine and CVT. Huge trunk. No complaints whatsoever.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I agree vvk. I had a basically zero mile example in San Diego last year without the wear and smell issues of my more recent one, and it left a rather favorable impression overall. I don’t understand all the hate they get. I liked how simple and intuitive all the controls were, comfy seats. Engine was a bit unrefined compared to some other entrants I suppose, but the CVT did its job well, got the car up to speed with ease. The higher mileage one I rented in NY I used to drive myself and my parents to NYC, it knocked down an honest 40mpg with a load of passengers and luggage. I will say I did the same drive earlier that same year with an Optima LX-FE and it got even better MPG out of its direct injected 2.4L+6A automatic (43 indicated). That Optima did everything the Altima did, just a bit better overall. But both are solid choices as far as I’m concerned, historic long term CVT durability on the Nissan would be a consideration, however.

        • 0 avatar

          The Altima is enormous and cheap, comfortable enough, and economical. That’s enough for lots of people (and especially rental companies).

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Had a thought on your car search, by the way – Genesis sedan.

          • 0 avatar

            I think I am going to write a follow-up post, because the last one did so well, and I have more things to add (and delete).

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            My guess is you said auf wiedersehen to a certain vehicle.

            Seriously, I’d check out a Genesis. It’s a really good cruiser, and without AWD (which you just won’t find around here), it’ll probably be a tad quicker. Nice, straightforward ergonomics as well, which is rare in cars like this.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s not sold yet, but I’m hoping.

            I checked the Genesis (G80 with no name) that Ajla posted last time. I liked it, but it looks so similar to what I have now. Even though it had a 5.0.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            Perhaps that could be a topic for a recurring article similar to Buy, Drive or Burn.

            It would be rent, lease, or buy. The criteria would be something along the lines of which cars would you like short-term, but could see becoming annoying down the road; which cars would be nice in the intermediate term, but you know you’d unload it at the end of a typical lease term; which car would you drive the wheels off of.

        • 0 avatar
          sb222

          Agreed on both cars. I drive a 2018 Altima SV from NY to CT for 3 weeks last November. It was a comfortable highway cruiser. I’d have no problem for use as a daily driver. CVT long term reliability is a concern as I keep my cars. I also had a 2019 Optima LX-FE for two days shortly thereafter. A nice car especially for a base model. Another fine highway cruiser. One little detail that was great was the mute function toggle on the steering wheel controls. It’s amazing how such a small thing can be so endearing.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @vvk same. I’ve never had a tired out example and the fresh ones I’ve driven I’ve always walked away going, “I don’t get all the hate for the Altima,” outside of the CVT which does a lot of rubber banding. That alone would be a deal breaker for putting one in my driveway but overall the Altima is a pleasant drive.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I rented an Altima two years ago on vacation in Florida. I was actually surprised at how comfortable it was, and how good on gas. The CVT was bearable. I fully expected to hate the thing, and was initially not excited about it being my rental option. I’d have to fall into the camp of those who have assumed Altimas were garbage, but were pleasantly surprised to some extent.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ Nedmundo – I was similarly disappointed when a friend let me drive his E90. I’m not sure to what degree it was (1) that BMWs have gotten worse, (2) that the difference between BMWs and the median sedan has narrowed significantly over the past 40 years, (3) the fact that this example was AWD rather than RWD, or (4) rose-colored memories of an early ’80s BMW. At any rate, I was disappointed in the E90’s steering.

      I will say [ducking] that I actually like the E90 and F30 as transportation, especially their surprisingly livable back seats. I can see where someone would like one. But that person’s not a 2019 analog to a 1979 BMW buyer. I’d be happier with something else. (NB: Today’s buyers may well be a 2019 analog to a 1989 or a 1999 BMW buyer; BMW’s enthusiast buyer demographic got swamped very rapidly over the course of the mid-’80s.)

      – – –

      Re: the Altima, I think sometimes people get wrapped up in published ordinal rankings within a segment. I liked the 8th-gen Malibu, and the internet consensus is that it’s terrible. I haven’t been in the current Altima, but I can easily believe that–CVT durability concerns aside–it’s a decent ride.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I had a similar experience with a non sport F30 328iA. A Honda Accord rental I had around the same period was better sorted dynamically. And it was abysmal at pairing to my phone.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      I am wholly in agreement with the Nissan Altima, but my impression may be tinged by having low budget rental Altimas rather than a fully loaded version. The 2017-18 Altimas that I have driven were incredibly slow with a droning CVT, a horribly uncomfortable cockpit with hard plastics intruding on my leg space, and a hard, cheap, plastic interior.

      In addition, the Altima was so low to the ground that getting in and out of the car was a chore, and I am a relatively fit person. Seriously, drive one and you will quickly understand why everyone is ditching sedans and moving to crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        It is so funny how our opinion depends on our perspective. The car is the same but our impressions are polar opposites!

        > incredibly slow with a droning CVT

        That’s what my wife said — she hated the Altima we were renting. She is used to 4-5 second RWD cars and every time she drives something “average” she complains about the power and traction. She has also driven manual transmission cars all her life, except for our transmission-less EV, so she complains about every automatic, too. And so do I :) But the CVT in the Altima seemed pretty unobtrusive to me, as long as I accelerated gradually and smoothly. It was completely useless when I tried to accelerate quickly, no power whatsoever. But I expected that.

        > Altima was so low to the ground that getting in and out of the car was a chore

        How funny. The Altima is so much easier to get in/out of then my own cars, I really enjoyed that aspect of it. My father really struggles to get in/out of my BMW and Tesla, the Altima was worlds easier. I guess it all depends on what you are used to.

        I will add that I had rental Sonata and Optima on vacation a few months ago and they were significantly inferior to the Altima in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “The 2017-18 Altimas that I have driven were incredibly slow with a droning CVT, a horribly uncomfortable cockpit with hard plastics intruding on my leg space, and a hard, cheap, plastic interior.

        In addition, the Altima was so low to the ground that getting in and out of the car was a chore, and I am a relatively fit person. Seriously, drive one and you will quickly ”

        These complaints could be leveraged at literally every single other midsize car in the class then, if these are the complaints about the Altima. The low to the ground comment especially, backed up by claims of being fit. Yeah, it’s at normal sedan seating height, and notably higher than old Honda sedans and such. Unless you’re old with bad knees or whatever, I don’t see how it’s particularly arduous to get in and out of.

      • 0 avatar
        Nedmundo

        Yes, I’m pretty sure mine was a very low budget base model, which no doubt influenced my impression, which was similar to yours.

        Last year, I had a new Malibu as a rental, and it was fine.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Honda HR-V

    Wretched, crampy, bumpy, plasticy runt of a CUV that would be well replaced by a lifted Fit.

    Damn thing has no more ground clearance than our last sedan, an ’02 Sable.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Actually, the car in the picture above – a GTI – was my great “disappointment”.

    Last fall, I decided to pass my Jetta on to my daughter for the remainder of the lease, leaving me free to pick out something cool for myself. The GTI was at the top of my list. I’d literally lusted after this car since college, going so far as to actually swipe a golf-ball shifter off one that was sitting wrecked in a dealer’s lot and put it on my Rabbit (sincerest apologies to the cops in Ballwin, Missouri for that adolescent stupidity).

    But when I drove the car, I found it simply wasn’t what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong – a GTI is a first-class drive. But I’m 55 now, and as much fun as it was, it was loud, and the ride was a bit rough. It was just too much boy racer for a guy in his ’50s. I wanted more toys, and more luxury. So, I refocused on finding an off-lease luxury sedan.

    The solution turned out to be an Audi A3, which is basically a GTI for grown-ups.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      Mmmm, similar situation and my answer was the less-expensive version of the S3, i.e. the Golf R. I ordered one in shiny blue and was generally delighted with the choice except for the leather seats…and then the gassing-monkey scandal happened at VW. I now drive an ’89 Porsche 944 turbo after test driving all the non-VAG things.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        LOVE the S3, but it’s going to be out of my budget unless it’s used, and I’d be very nervous about doing that – Lord knows what kind of hooning has been done in it.

        • 0 avatar
          TDIandThen....

          I legit wasn’t aware that the A3 is that much less expensive than the Golf R. I see the Golf R as a less expensive Audi S so…wasn’t even looking at the Audis. For that reason and for the badge – I like the ‘never noticed’ aspect of a VW.

          Anyway, neat, I learned a thing, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I was disappointed for the opposite reasons. It wasn’t as fast or hardcore as my modified G37. I want to give it a second chance though now that my mentality has changed. It is a good intersection of a lot things I want and need (14 second quarter mile, ~30MPG, good highway refinement), and they take a huge price dip with very few miles. Only x factor is how roomy they are with rear facing child seats.

    • 0 avatar
      duncanator

      Damn, I read your comment and it almost exactly mirrors my experience. I had an 08 Jetta, which I gave up in 2015 for an A3. I also test drove a GTI, but as someone who is now almost 49, I also thought it was no longer for me. Your comment about the A3 being a GTI for grown-ups is spot on. I would have loved an S3, but I got my 2015 A3 Premium Plus with 8k miles for 29,9 so I couldn’t pass it up.

  • avatar
    gtem

    2nd gen Sienna (a 2010 in my case). I had always thought of these as predating Toyota’s dive into decontenting the interiors of their cars and thought I remembered a relative’s ’04 Limited as being fairly well furnished inside. I took a used 2010 Limited AWD out for a test drive when we were van shopping last month and I was really taken aback at how cheap everything was and how worn it all felt despite the somewhat low (109k) miles. Granted this particular car had lived a hard life with 4 previous owners, but still, I was quite soured on the whole experience.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I realize I missed Toyota’s golden era but I have been disappointed by my Toyota ownership experience. (2010 Highlander)

      Mechanically an anvil but the interior feels cheap, the paint is thin and cheap, and driving is the definition of appliance. I’m an enthusiast but I’m about as passionate about my Toyota as I would be about a dishwasher.

      • 0 avatar

        My parents’ 2011 model has a very thin feel all over.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          As does my father’s 2003 Avalon. Mechanically sound (other than front wheel bearings at about 60K) the trim is chintzy and a lot of the interior has not worn well. He’s really old so mileage is barely 75K.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            that’s odd to hear golden, but then I’ve never sat in one. I had always assumed the 2nd gen Avalon was still well within the relatively “fat” years, albeit certainly not the mid 90s cars anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I rode in a 1st Gen Avalon (nearly new) that was owned by one of my professors during my bachelor’s degree.

            It was the nicest Buick that Toyota ever built.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Toyota Highlander I wanted to test drive turned out to be so bad that I cut my test drive short and turned around. Terrible suspension, seats, steering, brakes. Very cramped compared to other three row crossovers. Throttle response and terrible 8-speed auto was what irked me the most, though. How do people drive these things? I drove the Subaru Ascent right before it and it was head and shoulders above the Highlander. And I did not like the Ascent at all. But the Highlander was in another league of terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      What do you mean, it turned out to be? It is not rated very high by any rating system out there. for example, CX9 is rated way higher. So, this was your personal expectation without being primed by existing ratings. If you prepped yourself, you would know that you shouldn’t expect greatness there. Hence, your disappointment would be less.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        I don’t pay attention to what rating systems say about cars. Rating systems always say bad things about my favorite cars.

        Mazda CX-9 was pretty good. I actually tried to lease it but could not get the deal I wanted. A good thing, too, since the Traverse turned out to be much superior in every way. The Traverse is the best enthusiast three row crossover bar none. I miss mine.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    The 10th gen Civic Si.

    I had the displeasure for driving this abomination on two occasions, once for about 15 minutes and then again for an hour.

    Firstly, power delivery was unimpressive and incredibly brief. It comes on about 2500rpm and gives up at 5500rpm. It was like driving a diesel truck with a full load.

    Then there was the steering. It was heavy, obnoxiously heavy. Heavier if you put it into sport. Yet for all it’s heft, it gave exactly no feedback. No clue what the front end was doing.

    The clutch was bad, engagement was all the way at the top. When starting off, you had two choices stall, or peel out. Pick one.

    It was the exact opposite of fun in the corners as touching the gas even slightly caused under steer and with no feedback from the steering, I had absolutely no confidence to push it at all.

    On the highway it’s tiny power band made passing maneuvers pointless. Grab a gear to low, and instead of being greeted by the last breath of top end like in cars past, I was instead met with an asthmatic wheeze of desperation and no forward thrust. Grab the next gear and be underwhelmed as you have 2000 revs to accelerate with before needing to shift into the next gear.

    It was the most awful modern car I’ve ever had the displeasure of driving. Every positive review I see of that retched car I chalk up to being paid off by Honda. I can’t fathom how anyone would like that car.

    I’ve driven it’s 8th gen ancestor – vastly superior car in every way except ride comfort. I’d like to drive a 9th gen. But I will never buy a 10th gen. If it was given me, I’d sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      I spent about a half hour on a dealer test drive in one and I don’t agree to anything you said. I was given a pretty extensive test drive as it was a pretty slow day at that dealer.

      – Clutch? Definitely not one or the other. It was like any other normal car.
      – Power? It’s a modern ~200hp 4cyl turbo, mostly plain and boring. Plenty of power to pass. Not a beast but acceptable. It’s a very mature power delivery, unlike old Civic Si of yore.
      – Didn’t notice that steering was awful either. Suspension was taut and mostly flat. I’ll call it comfortable for the class.

      This isn’t the most exciting Si but it’s a capable sporty sedan for fairly short money. I was quoted $21k for a brand new Civic Si sedan on a year end model. I didn’t buy it. Nice car, but I think I would get bored with it quickly. Glad I tried it though.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “It’s a very mature power delivery, unlike old Civic Si of yore.”

        I guess that’s one way to put it. I still think a 200hp NA 4-cylinder would be a lot more fun in that application.

        • 0 avatar
          theBrandler

          I think actually putting a powerful engine in the thing would make sense for 2019. It’s had near as makes no difference 200hp for 20 years. All the while the Accord V6 has gone from ~200hp to 278hp before taking a step back in the latest generation. 220-240hp in an Si would make far and away more sense.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            Always a Hondata stg1 tune :-)

            https://www.maperformance.com/blogs/maperformance-blog/10th-gen-civic-si-stage-1-tune-for-hondata-or-ktuner

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      So you totally bought the Si, right?

      Can’t say I agree with your assessments, but the Si wasn’t for me either – too adolescent. I couldn’t abide by that silly wing on the back, and I hated the gauges. No volume knob sealed the deal. I couldn’t find much fault with the way the thing drove, though – in particular, the steering is great, and it probably has the best manual shifter of any FWD car on the market.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    2009 Honda Fit Sport. Brand new.

    Not sure if the car had struts or just rigid metal tubing connecting the control arms to the unibody. Driving over a dime resulted in heads bobbing up and down.

    Zero torque. A drive across NE Kansas (very gentle hills) resulted in the engine alternately screaming up the grades and then the more relaxed (well, relaxed for a Fit) downside.

    Windy days resulted in white knuckles. A semi passing the other way on a two lane highway, and the resultant wind blast, no bueno in a Fit. Kind of like my 66 Beetle.

    Honda apparently routed the fresh air ductwork directly over the exhaust manifold. A/C off, the air coming into the car with the temp knob on full cold was 20 degrees warmer than ambient. I’d estimate that about a fourth of the air conditioner’s output was lost to heat soak from the engine bay into the climate control ducts. Worst air conditioner I’ve experienced in a modern automobile.

    Uncomfortable driver’s seat, non height adjustable.

    The interior space utilization was brilliant, magic seat, etc. But the car sucked in many other fundamental ways. Maybe if you lived somewhere that had roads that were literally smooth as glass, the temps never exceeded 75 degrees, and the wind never blew, it would be a great car.

    I was so enamored by the concept of the Fit, the space efficiency, and the Honda reliability thing that I barely test drove the thing before I bought it. Massive mistake. The sales person tried to warn me to buy a Civic instead. I didn’t listen. I don’t think we kept that car a year before trading it off.

    I can deal with cars that ride like crap. I once drove my VW Rabbit pickup from Kansas City to Danbury, CT and back. So I can deal with a lot, but that Fit sucked balls. A trip over an hour in that car was a pride swallowing siege.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Well, the Fit is an urban runabout and the most space efficient non-van since tall boy wagons. There are two in my immediate family and I’ve driven each a fair amount.

      The AC issue is exacerbated by the amount of glass in the huge windshield. Doesn’t seem as bad in the 2016 but there may have been improvements made to the ducting/AC efficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        The AC in my dad’s ’07 can barely keep up on a day in the mid 80s, keep in mind that these cars are engineered for the Japanese and European markets first and foremost and have classically-weak Honda A/C. Conversely my 2012 Civic had astoundingly frigid AC, obviously engineered for the North American market.

        I like zipping around town or to the farm on back roads in their Fit, but yes any sort of interstate travel wears you out with NVH and an uncomfortable-for-taller drivers seating position. Theirs is basically permanently in cargo-hauling mode with the seats laid flat, and it excels at that. They’ve hauled wine barrels and bee hives and all sorts of other farm-related gear in theirs.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        I’ve driven the current Fit, and it is considerably better than our 2009 was. You are absolutely correct about space efficiency. If that was the absolute only factor that mattered, I’ll give you the Tardis effect. But man, the thing was so subpar in almost every other way. The voluminous interior wasn’t even remotely worth the compromises.

        I live in a major city, so I kinda get your urban runabout thing jatz…if said city had zero potholes, expansion joints, and the terrain was pancake flat, the Fit might work for ten minute drives to Costco.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          In truth both my relatives who own them are professors with minimal commutes from suburb to campus. And both their spouses have big, comfy highway cruisers for anything else.

          The Fit is absolutely a niche vehicle but the best in its niche.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          It’s funny how perspectives change, when our family bought our ’07 Fit, it was SO much more refined than the 170k mile ’90 Civic Wagon it replaced. Much smoother riding, much quieter. Now when I drive the Fit a decade later, it’s like a rough riding tin can!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The Fit’s a neat little car, as long as you don’t do any highway driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      In my experience, ALL modern Hondas (including Acura) suffer from somewhat weak A/C systems. Every one I have driven (’98 Prelude, 01′ Accord, ’06 Accord, ’15 MDX) seemed to have trouble blowing as cold as my other vehicles, and tended to require higher blower speeds for longer duration in order to get comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        Your experience jives with mine. But the Fit A/C was way worse than typical Honda weak A/C. The gap between GM air conditioning and Honda air conditioning…except it was Honda air conditioning to Fit air conditioning.
        The A/C control should have said PA/C, for pseudo air conditioning. Reminded me of the R12 cars converted to 134 back in the day when refrigerants shifted over.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    My old 2014 JK that I ordered brand new, waited 8 weeks. I had high hopes of loving the Jeep top down lifestyle. Nothing clicked with me in that car unless it was an absolutely perfect day with the top down. I lasted just 10k miles with it until I traded it in on something else. Luckily, I only lost about $2,800 in depreciation over 18 months of ownership. It could have been way worse.

    Jeep Wrangler, I don’t understand the lifestyle…

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      JH2…

      Agree. I rented one at IND last year. 2 door jeep. Never drove one before – wanted to see what all the buzz is about. I found an unrefined drifting, pounding, plodding, noisy torture machine for a 200 mile drive. Couldnt wait to get out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      This is funny.

      my wife wanted a jeep SOOO BAD. I thought they would be great too. I was so excited about the Jeep Lifestyle, and we thought it would be so “us”.

      We bought it used and at first it was great! With the sun shining we took of the roof, kids loved it, we loved it… but then we realized it was too much of a hassle to ACTUALLY take the roof and doors off, and it rains more than we ever thought… we only put about 1000 miles on it before we realized “yeah… this sucks” and we sold it.

      I love offroading and whatnot, but I’m with you.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Indeed. My best friend bought a 2018 Wrangler JLU Sahara, in orange, right as they came out. It was a lot more refined than the JK, but he, too, realized it was a hassle to take the doors and roof off…and that it drove poorly most of the time.

        He now has a 2016 435i Convertible.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        The last time I rode in a Jeep outside of a friends very nice Grand Cherokee was a YJ Wrangler and a later CJ7. Yes they can be rough and tumble. I’ve considered a later model JK, JL, JKU thinking they are more livable and because of the “Jeep lifestyle”. From these comments they make sense for weekend and vacation use not as a daily commuter.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Yeah, it’s why I went for a Grand Cherokee myself instead of a Wrangler. The Grand Cherokee feels like a Mercedes-Benz (and shares a platform with a few of them).

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    My time behind the wheel of a Cadillac XT5 left me lukewarm. While I love the design of this car, nothing mechanical, feature-wise, or comfort-wise stood out to justify a price in the $50,000 range. Maybe my expectations were wrong, but the overall feel of the car was no more “premium” than my Chrysler Pacifica or my Honda Odyssey Touring. Maybe part of the problem is my own psychology, being confused by the Cadillac brand, which itself is confused about what it is (with whatever marketing whim it’s chasing) and where it wants to go.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Dallara DW-12. Cramped interior, no cupholders, terrible ride, rearward visibility is basically nonexistent, and the infotainment system wouldn’t pair with my iPhone. What a piece of junk.

  • avatar
    Dan

    2010 4Runner. Loved it at the car show. Finally, finally, finally a 4Runner with a place for the driver’s legs to go. Not so much for the driver’s head, but we can’t have everything can we? Went for a test drive with every expectation of writing out a check afterwards. That lasted like 45 seconds. What a gutless POS. First 3/4 of the pedal didn’t do anything. Like an eco mode that you couldn’t turn off.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The “permanent eco mode” observation is spot on, and unfortunate (although it can be useful off-road). The motor actually makes very decent power if you truly step on it (7.5 0-60, comparable to a 5.3L Tahoe iirc)

      • 0 avatar
        syncro87

        I was thinking about the off road angle. Maybe the throttle response is set up purposely on the far end of the spectrum for off roading. Lots of pedal travel and low response is probably good when rock crawling, etc.

        So the 4 runner apparently has the exact opposite programming as a Subaru Forester. With the Forester, moving the gas pedal one percent of travel results in 99 percent of engine output. The other 99 percent of pedal travel gets you that last one percent of engine power.

        Soob sets it up that way because they know their cars are perpetually under powered, but making the throttle super sensitive gives the impression of power on test drives. They’d sell a less cars if the throttle mapping was linear.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yep it’s a cheap trick, and I hate it when manufacturers go too far in either direction of calibration. Nissan’s VQ40 equipped Xterra/Pathfinder/Frontier have very aggressive throttle mapping, and it makes the engine (which the 4Runner’s 1GR matches in power and torque) feel V8-strong off the line.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          The non-linear throttle mapping was a bigger issue than you might think when our kids were learning to drive (super-touchy at tip-in).

  • avatar
    syncro87

    I’ll chime in with my #2 disappointment after the Fit, and it pains me to say this as a VW fan…

    The new Passat I test drove about 3 or 4 years ago. I was driving, and something was amiss, but I couldn’t place what it was. Then I realized that the steering wheel was noticeably offset to the right.

    Now, I know VW isn’t the only one to do this. But it was strikingly apparent on the Passat for some reason. Once I figured out what it was, I couldn’t get around it. It felt like I was sitting way too far left of the centerline of the steering column.

    Also, everything was made of chintzy plastic that had squeaks and rattles from brand new. Didn’t strike me as a car that would age well, and gave a strong “built to a low price point” vibe.

    The suspension was under damped in the front, but OK in the rear. Oddly inconsistent.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d take the rental Altima I had over that Passat.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    2004 Tacoma. Owned one for about three months. Weak, thirsty 4-banger, lazy auto,bouncy ride, tinny stereo,cramped cabin. Not for me.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Biggest disappointment I ever owned was a 1989 Olds Cutlass. I cannot understand how GM spent $7 billion developing the W platform on which it was based, only to turn out a car that underwhelmed is most every way. While not a junk heap, it was clearly inferior to just about every competitive car out there. Underpowered, poor brakes, poor interior quality (literally kept a hot glue gun in the glove box to re-attach pieces that fell off), gas mileage less than expected.

    Biggest rental disappointment was the Jeep Patriot by a mile. Lousy driving position, tiny rubber band engine, 13-gallon tank that required frequent fill-ups. Who actually bought these crap piles?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I do not fondly remember my Patriot rental either. Only good thing I can say about it was the interior volume for the dollar was decent. I was so happy to get back to my Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Patriot had one excuse to go on – it was cheap. Other than that, it underwhelmed in every way, especially when optioned with the CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I came close to buying a early 90’s W-body Cutlass Supreme convertible. Even though the chassis and 2.8
      MPI V6 were well balanced I couldn’t get over the cheap Roger Smith era bean counter interior and door mounted belts. I passed and bought a MN-12 Thunderbird LX.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My Uncle Tim owned THREE W-body vehicles…

        Proof of his GM Fandom (1st year W-Cutlass Sedan, 35th anniversary W-Cutlass convertible 3400 HO ate it’s head gasket just like every one of them ever made did, and finally a W-body Monte Carlo 3800.)

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          A few years later I considered a W-body Grand Prix coupe
          with the 3800 SC. Along with the last Impala the best of the W. The 3400 was notoriously problematic.
          In typical GM fashion they get it right by the end of the model cycle.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            The only one of Uncle TIm’s Ws you could call reliable would be the 3800 Monte Carlo. The 1st year W-Cutlass was the textbook definition of “GM cars run like $hit longer than most cars run.”

            I was shocked when GM changed the engine transmission in the W-Impala just as it was becoming a “fleet only” vehicle. It was a huge change for the better for anyone who drove one but it still struck me as a strange move to suddenly drop a 300 hp V6 and 6 speed auto into a 30 year old design.

            My sincere hope is that many of those Impalas become engine/transmission donors for old Ws that are getting restored. I’d love to see a Cutlass Supreme coupe running around with that combo.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            PDan my understanding was that by 2012 the only Gm vehicle using the old school “High Value” OHV+VVT 3.5L/3.9Ls made in Tonawanda NY were the Impalas. I’m sure it made sense to consolidate around the more modern and common “High Feature” DOHC 3.6L V6. I remember driving down with my dad to Virginia in a 3.5L+4spd car around 2010 or so, it was not an unpleasant powertrain in the least to be honest and got decent MPG. The 3.6L+6spd has wonky gearing in the Impala application. Super tall 1st gear, and the motor just feels weak off idle when its fighting that gearing. I daresay the 3.5L+4spd feels better driving around town.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @gtem

            Yes but at the time the official GM line was NOT “we’re gonna keep building this one until 2016” the official line was “We’ll build the old W-Impala as long as it is profitable” but not saying that this change was going to last 4 YEARS.

            It just seemed like a strange move for a vehicle that could be killed at anytime.

            Just sayin’…

            However lots of lower income folks are grateful for the cheap Impala’s coming off rental duty being built up through 2016.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Jaguar XE. I didn’t like the generic exterior, but in the right color I could live with it and I have a big soft spot for Jags so I gave it a shot.
    The car is no good. A 1st gen Forte SX would give the interior (both design and materials) a run for its money. The ride was stiff, seats aren’t comfortable, the infotainment was slow, rear seat was nearly unusable.
    The handling and power (I drove a V6) were class competitive, but really nothing more.
    Even worse, to get the V6 now requires an eye-watering price. I can’t imagine that dropping 100hp and giving it a thrashbox 4-cylinder helps anything.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed – the interior in ANY Jag, save the XJ, is a huge letdown. Jags should have lots of leather, wood, and chrome inside. Period.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        BTW…Jaguar apparently just updated the XE. Interior is still underwhelming.

        https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a26541043/2020-jaguar-xe-sedan-photos-info/

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Eh, the E-type didn’t have any wood except the steering wheel rim, and no one questions that. I think the XJ’s interior is still pretty fantastic, but they haven’t figured out how to scale that down to the XE/F, which come across as a little too austere (which highlights some of the chintzier bits).

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Now, you ARE aware you just compared an E-type – a rolling piece of Viagra – to an XE, which looks like it could have come out of the Kia factory, right? :)

          Seriously, you’re correct about the XJ’s interior – it’s classic Jag. Too bad they haven’t bottled that magic in the lesser models. It’s not like Mercedes or Audi hasn’t figured out how to do that.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Oh, fully aware (the XJS also had a wood-free interior at first too), just using that as an unquestionable example that a proper Jag doesn’t have to be beholden to a possibly antiquated idea of a British luxury car, it just has to be something special.

            Admittedly, I like the XE, but thinking in terms of being able to pick one up cheap off lease, not whether or not it’s worth the money they ask for a new one.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I suppose, then, that it’s a question of what makes a sport sedan special, and for me, if the sedan’s British, it needs to come with the aromatic leather and wood trim. YMMV, of course.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    2017/18 Ford Fusion. I had one day in a loaded Titanium AWD model with only 800 miles on it and though my time with it was short, I left it impressed. About 2 months later I had the same model and trim as a rental for a week, this time with 23,000 miles. I assume that a rental mile is like 3 miles if a consumer owned it but that cushy interior did not fare well- the seat was uncomfortable, the leather looked like it had been in the sun for years, and some front suspension malady had already developed. Shame.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It’s almost as if Ford had given up on the car. Wait…

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        True, but it’s the reason I din’t give much consideration to the Explorer. The interior materials looked similarly to the Fusion, but we kept the vehicle we were looking to replace for over 160,000 miles and I figured the Explorer would wear similarly.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I noticed the same thing. I rode in a loaded Fusion Titanium and found it to be quite pleasant. Some months later I rented one and found the seats to uncomfortable. Reason enough to go for the upper trim level.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Back in 2010 I went for a ride with my boss to an event and we took his Mini. Until that day I had always wanted one. That cured me. My roadster, with solid motor mounts and a lopey V8 shakes less at idle than that car and the ride was no better.

    We were given a 2013 Rogue and I thought it would be a decent vehicle. The hills in Kansas cause the CVT to go in to limp mode when it gets hot. Crappy gas mileage and cramped for its size and the seats are not suited for long trips. I don’t know if there was a worse turd on the market that year, but at free + title and license we WAY overpaid for it.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Ill agree on both as lousy cars. Minis are shoddily built (or at least were) and 20k miles on a Mini was like 100k miles on a Honda – if not worse.

      The Rogue was generally bad in every aspect other than front seat comfort. For its size, the front seat was unusually comfortable to me. But everything else was awful.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Nissan’s lingering french connection is that they put adequately long seat cushions in their cars. I agree, the Rogue has better than average seats for the class.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          We must have a bad year since we had to buy cushions on our trip west. We had made it to the second day of travel before we coudn’t stand it. They are long enough, just shaped very wrong.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    Honestly, I’ve been surprised at my level of disappointment with most modern luxury cars. I appreciate many aspects of them, but material quality isn’t as good as I expect. In many cases, it appears to be only marginally better than nice non-luxury cars, in some cases, it appears to be worse. However, they are frequently available with features that I like to have.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    ~2012 or 2013 Mazda 3, I can’t remember exactly when I drove it.

    I mean it was fine, but hardly seemed class leading as I had been led to expect. Just another forgettable compact car to me. The clutch feel in particular was atrocious.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Im convinced that Mazdas BFFs with auto magazines. Its how theyve gone from being sporty to luxurious.

      I drove a few 2009-2010 3s and a Mazda 6 (which was burning oil iirc), the handling was nothing to write home about. The one redeeming quality was the dash design but it was hardly luxurious.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’ve found 3’s wildly uneven – I drove a base ’09 3 (with the older MZR engine) and was thoroughly unimpressed, but a ’12 with the Skyactiv engine seemed much more in line with what I was expecting (might have also helped that the ’09 was driven around an office park neighbourhood, while the ’12 was used for a couple days around Vancouver Island).

      I also had a loaner ’14 when my Mazda2 was in the shop, and it was nice, but felt much more restrained than the (also much less civilized) 2.

      • 0 avatar

        I tell you, the new 3 is a nice place to be and feels well-made.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          Went and sat in the new 3 the other day in the showroom, top of the line sedan. Weather too awful for a test drive, so had a half-dozen salesmen to myself – no other customers. Man, were those guys loaded, just overflowing, with product knowledge. Ahem.

          Was a bit disappointed with the car.

          The feeling of quality is palpable all right. Seemed nicer than the 6. The car is huge, the size of my B4 08 Legacy to within an inch of length and same width.

          So why the inside is so small is beyond me. The driver’s space is confining. A 6 sitting alongside confirmed it by comparison. Where’s the stretchout room in an over 15 foot long car?

          It occurred to me that the width inside the 3 is used up by thick doors when I got out. The sills/rockers or whatever are so wide that with left leg on the ground, pushing off with my right leg to get out, my right knee hit the ridge atop the sill. That’s pretty silly. I tried three seat heights and nothing much helped. I’m 5-9 so average height.

          Then there’s the front end. So low I do not think it has a hope getting in the average driveway in this older part of the city from a high-crowned street without a major crunch, if it’s possible at all. A ’95 Golf won’t! I’d be surprised if it could exit my own driveway out in the country without hitting because I have a short sharp climb up to the road. Don’t feel like modifying the driveway just because of a car. The Golf R is worse of course in this regard. Why manufacturers seem to forget that infrastructure doesn’t change for decades but keep making cars lower for no real reason, I cannot fathom. I guess that’s why hatchbacks on stilts proliferate, just to get back to front and rear breakaway clearance we had 20 years ago on sedans.

          Mid section ground clearance on the 3 is fine, over 6 inches – it’s that really low front end that’s silly. Will wait until better weather for a drive and we’ll try out my friend’s driveway a half-mile from the store. With salesman.

          As for exiting the car, I’ll have to see whether that’s acceptable by further trial. I want it to be, because there’s not much doubt an AWD for $28K is a deal, especially with that level of fit and finish. It really is unusually nice – but small.

          I also tried sitting in a CX-5 and the cloth seat was terrible with hard lumps strategically positioned to hurt my butt. And, if anything, I found it a bit too high to clamber in easily as well.

          Hmm.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Toss up between the MB GLA and Nissan Pathfinder. And I’ll toss in the Altima. Granted, this was a few years ago, but the CVT drove me so batty that I barely made it out of the rental lot before turning it around and getting another vehicle.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have five, two were rentals and three were cars that I owned, one very briefly…stay tuned

    The rentals:
    This was circa 2010: rental Toyota Corolla. It was my only option but hey they sell a gazillion of them right? OMG, I was in Wyoming and all I recall is the car could barely keep 75 mph and I believe was louder than the space shuttle on re-entry. It was terrible.

    2018: I had the opportunity to rent a just about new Toyota 4Runner. They are ubiquitous here in CO so they must be great right? Wrong. Weird Tonka toyish huge gray plastic dials on the dash, slow and I mean really slow and with the nearly the same MPG as my Suburban, which isn’t saying much (16’ish give or take mostly give based on how I drive). I just don’t get the hype.

    As with the Corolla, I get they resale great and last forever, no disputes. But, both have instances have seared an impression of Toyota into my brain that thatI will have a hard time overcoming from a standpoint of me ever spending my own dollars to own Toyota product. I think they are lame and overhyped.

    Ones I have owned:
    2011 Nissan Frontier 4×4 CC 6 MT: the most uncomfortable front seats of any car ever made. I could make it 100 miles or so and then it was unbearable. slow and thirsty; but I was kinda expecting that going in.

    2011 Honda Accord 4dr MT 4 pot dx (base version): this is the rolling definition of sadness. loud, not quick or slow, poor seats, doors that sounded like aluminum cans when they were closed, i.e. no ‘thud’. (I don’t have the vocabulary or expertise to articulate this thought any better). I owned this car for 1 tank of gas and then mercifully sold it on CL at a break even.

    2008 JK 2dr 6MT: As mentioned above I just didn’t, at the end, understand the Jeep lifestyle. While I did not hate it, the rig was slow in the beginning. Though a flowmaster, CAI, & SuperChips tune really woke it up and did not affect FE at all. It was everything you would expect wobbly and bouncy and not quiet at highway speeds even with a hard top. None of this was surprising, just more of a why bother? Their are some many other ways to transport oneself. The front seats…very comfortable though.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “2018: I had the opportunity to rent a just about new Toyota 4Runner. They are ubiquitous here in CO so they must be great right? Wrong. Weird Tonka toyish huge gray plastic dials on the dash, slow and I mean really slow and with the nearly the same MPG as my Suburban, which isn’t saying much (16’ish give or take mostly give based on how I drive). I just don’t get the hype.”

      Take a weeklong trip offroad, might gain some perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      “…an impression of Toyota into my brain that that I will have a hard time overcoming from a standpoint of me ever spending my own dollars to own Toyota product. I think they are lame and overhyped.”

      Nailed it. I hope the Toyota hype fades out along with Boomers.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The 4Runner has a pretty good drivetrain but you can’t be afraid to get the RPMs high. Around about 4K RPM it takes off like a rocket.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    The single biggest “disappointment” (if you could call it that) was a Prius I rented about 4 years ago.

    I don’t deny the technology as being impressive, but as a driver’s experience it was noisy, under-powered, uncomfortable, lacking in space for luggage, and generally confusing to operate (although that’s more about my inexperience with one).

    If I’m judging the Prius on its merits as a car, it was on par with most any late 70s/early 80s econobox–EXCEPT for mpgs. Although many of those cars were capable of the upper 30s. That’s not enough to make me want to own one.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    I have two.

    2017 Nissan Maxima (The Queen, as my wife is Dutch and the current Dutch queen is Maxima). It has 300hp, descent looks, and lots of comfort and amenities inside. The CVT isn’t even a disappointment (although it is for some). No, for me it was the adaptive cruise. When it worked, it was something that would make this car my favorite. But since it got caught up by the most simple of things (a turn in the road, rain, air…) and would turn itself off for about 5 minutes, it became a car without cruise. And I hate cars without cruise, especially when on a long trip.

    The other was the Pontiac Vibe. Some think it’s a step away from Aztek ugly, but that never bothered me. I had a 2003, and it looks like fun… playful. Then you hop in, and unless you have the GT (and maybe even if you have the GT, I’ve never driven one) it’s just an appliance. It’s not tossable, it’s not “fun at 9/10ths”… just bland, boring beige from Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Ive driven the Matrix myself and I didnt care for the dash. Toyota could’ve simply used the nicer Corolla dash from that time but went for something weird instead.

      The rest of the car was okay, but as you said quite dull. The “whatcarshouldibuy” section of reddit loves these things and I cannot understand why.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Wife had a 2005 Vibe (base) with 5 speed manual – owned from new to 145,000 miles.

        I actually enjoyed whipping it hard and throwing it into a corner at over the legal limit. I thought that there was “potential” in the chassis.

        Driving it at normal speeds within the traffic laws? Meh…

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          I don’t want to get crude, but a friend of mine’s wife has a vibe, and he said it shakes and rattles so much the only reason she likes it is because she gets to drive around all day in her “Vibe” “Rator”

  • avatar
    ptschett

    My 2010 Challenger R/T’s manual transmission.
    From one launch to the next, the clutch bite point would be randomly half an inch further up or down from the floor. I never could get 100% comfortable that the clutch would do the same thing each day or even each launch. I traded it for a 2015 with the 8-speed, because it was the right car for me overall but I was sick and tired of that transmission.

  • avatar
    arach

    1. Any 70s muscle or sports car
    2. Mazda Miatas

    1- I dreampt of a 2nd Gen Camaro z28… Fast, pretty, wonderfully dreamy cars. As I aged and started uncovering something called “money”, I finally was able to make it happen. I bought my specific dream car- a 4 spd manual transmission Z28 with the 350 (a car that never actually existed- the manual was swapped in).

    This was the best of all worlds- the manual transmission, the huge 350, the Z28….

    5 years later I accepted reality. It drives like a boat on land. It accelerates about as fast as my 5 year old on a scooter, and its as comfortable as a tractor pulling hay. Seriously, its awful. $2k beaters from 2002 are more powerful, better handling, and more fun to own.

    HUGE buzzkill. Here I was, realizing my dream and I hated it. I was in denial for 5 years, but it was awful. No fun at all.

    2. Mazda Miata. As much as “Miata is the answer” is engrained in my head, when I actually got behind the wheel of one, my first question was “I think there’s something wrong with the engine”. I get that its more like a gokart than a sports car, but it did not resonate with me at all. I’d rather have a 2010 camaro SS.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Considering your income bracket you could probably have a pretty nice 2nd gen Camaro built for you.
      FWIW, having driven a restored ’71 Z/28 (admittedly wasn’t totally stock) and a new Zeta Camaro SS back-to-back, I had more fun in the one with classic plates. Really, the 5G Camaro would end up on my “disappointing” list.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I’m surprised the 5g is on your disappointing list. It was the first car to ever “WOW” me. Absolutely beautiful- Compared to the competition in 2009/2010, it was like a major leap in innovation. More power than you could really use, handles really well, a blast to drive, incredibly comfortable… I liked it so much I bought two of them, a V6 LT and a 2SS, and raced both of them! I was so impressed by them I also bought a Cadillac CTS STP, which is pretty much a 4 door camaro… haha.

        I wholly respect you having a different experience. What about them puts them on your disappointing list?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Way back around 87 my wife and I traded cars. Wifey took over the 84 Caprice, and I drove her 81 Monte Carlo for a couple of years. The Monte looked good, but was was past its “best before” ..I gathered up some OT money, and the Monte, plonked it all down on a 89 S15 4×4 reg cab long box. With the exception of the tall aluminum alloy wheels, and the two tone paint the truck was pretty close to “Ace of Base” I managed , for the first time in my life to scrape up enough to actually pay cash.

      For the first 6 months I just didn’t like it . A hard ride , goofy steering, a rough running 4.3, and an uncomfortable bench seat. After the first year I went from dislike to out right hatred !

      I can’t list the things that went wrong with it. The tall alloy wheels oxidized within a year. The beautiful two tone paint suffered from paint de -lamination . I swear the dealer used a rattle can for the paint repair.

      By this time, both girls were in university, and it was wifeys turn for a new vehicle. As a consequence, I was stuck with the S Truck …Let me add 3 more letters in front of that S.. !

      I drove that rolling T!&X# for 9 years, and hated it more with each passing day. Had it not bean for the GM logo on my pay cheque that POS would have been my very last GM. ever. I eventually traded it on a new 97 full size and enjoyed 7 years problem free driving.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Haha I got to drive my friend’s father’s cheaply-restored-ish ’73 Z28 (4spd, tired 350 under the hood) for a bit when we were tooling around the shop one weekend. Yes in any objective measurement, it is crude and not fast. But it feels “special” to drive and looks and sounds fantastic. The perfect car to pull into the gravel parking lot of a smoky working class bar for a burger and a cold one.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Arach, You lost me when you wrote “huge 350”. With 454, 427, 396 big block engines available in various Chevs, the 350 was not ‘huge’. And Chev also offered their small block in 327, 302 and 289 cid. The 350 was often not the first choice of enthusiasts. Although those with a 307 generally has the least bragging rights.

      My most disappointing vehicle, in retrospect, would be my C3 Corvette with a 350. Even with the L82 package and ‘short throw’ shifter, it can in now way be considered ‘fast’ compared to modern vehicles. And the interior was a dog’s breakfast of bad ergonomics and cheap materials.

      However it cost just over $10k new and would probably sell for more than that now. And back in the Disco Era, it certainly ‘did its job’.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I still want to buy a ’78 or ’79 Corvette as a fun car. The look is killer and it’s not like I’m going to race it or need it every day. But yes, it will certainly cost me more than $10k.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        @Arthur Dailey:

        Its all relative. around 1980, The 350 was “huge” for the z28 It wasn’t even an option on the MT z28… you had to settle for the 305. Compared to the V6, it seemed like an improvement on such a heavy car, but the 350 was definitely the one you wanted… I get that there were other better motors, but none of the bigger engines you mentioned were an option on the Camaro.

        I can appreciate your experience with the C3 Vette! Even if it is a beautiful car… it certainly didn’t feel like it.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Hence the birth or growing whatever you want to call it of rest-mods.

          Take the beautiful styling of late 60’s or 70’s (in my case 57′) and add modern handling, stopping, powertrains, HVAC, & interiors and voila you then have the perfect car.

          But from a bone stock point of view, yes muscle cars of the bygone era are a huge disappointment when compared to the HP and handling you can get today in the most basic and bland of car.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I guess, when I was testing 2019 Rav4 Adventure, I expected more from $34K car. I still don’t understand what do they sell for this price? It doesn’t even have leather steering wheel. If they sell standard nannies – I don’t want them even free. That buzzy engine and somewhat harsh suspension (was supposed to be softer for off road), + snappy transmission, killed my interest in the hurry. Also, I am not big fan of their electronic dash. They had all the colors on it – red, blue, yellow, green… something was blinking on it, I couldn’t follow what was going on with the car. Give me a break.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Looking back on my cheap cars, my biggest disappointment was my 1991 Volvo 740 Turbo, “its so kuch better than a 240!”.

    Until the turbo kicks in its a slug around town, steerings mediocre, but more than anything it just seemed very cheaply assembled.

    I can forgive some of the interiors issues because of age. But when 90% of these have broken door panels, handles, gas caps, sagging headliners, and HVAC issues due to bad vacuum routing (which they never fixed in that cars +10 year run), I can safely say theres some quality issues. Heck my 84 Marquis seemed more solid on the inside.

    On the outside the car sits low with a low roof, kinda awkward to get in and out of vs a 240. Often the plastic bumper covers will be broken at their corners, or the corner blinker lights will be gone due to Volvos trademark acme disintegrating plastic.

    The low ride height impacts the safety too if you look into it, an older Vanagon (let alone virtually all CUVs) can cripple these due to their low weak bumpers. They’re notoriously weak in offset collisions too (you’re safer in a first generation Yaris).

    As far as cars simply driven, I found the Focus to be a disappointment. Annoying chimes, bad interior design that intrudes into my space, no map lights (!!!) and flakey automatics. I was hoping to buy one some day but I dont see that happening.

    Theres the 2010 Sonata, had to clean plenty of these as a porter. Their dimensions are awkward and cramped, not thrilling to drive either, even the turbo model. Had Pontiac kept making the Grand Prix this is what it would have become if not the most recent Camry. The interior paint is quite flakey as well. Heck the steering wheels actually look better once the cheap paint coating peels off!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I had a ’92 740 non-turbo wagon, and I actually liked it. Slow as f**k, but the thing was a tank. Great seats. I wish my ex hadn’t given it away during our divorce – I’d loved to have given it the Mustang engine treatment.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Some vehicles exist simply to be engine swapped. ;-)

        I lust after old Fox Platform non-Mustang vehicles just to do silly Mustang things to them.

        I’d love to get my hands on a LTD II Wagon to turn it into a sleeper GT underneath.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        In terms of comfort the seats are nice yes, the materials are a different matter though. Then you have silly details like Volvo not including the lever required for certain seat adjustments.

        I forgot to mention that aspect of the cheapness, the missing features, the blanks. My turbocharged “luxury” wagon didnt even have door-mounted speakers! At least the wiring was there though and a spot, but still,

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We had a brand new Toyota RAV-4 LE FWD with no options rental back in 2017 and we hated it. My wife, in particular, was very excited as she likes (liked) the RAV-4 and she saw this as an opportunity to scout a potential replacement vehicle for her Subbie.

    The front seats were torture devices with no lumbar support and no adjusters. We were wrecked after the drive from LA to Death Valley. Hard plastic everywhere in the interior, trim pieces with different colors and finishes. The infotainment system was a sad joke even for a base model, ergonomics were terrible, 80s grade button blanks screamed cheap, loud, underpowered at highway speeds where standing on the gas pedal produced a lot of sound and fury but not a lot of acceleration.

    We were both left puzzled on how Toyota sells so many of these. Maybe higher level trims are better, base models that aren’t “Ace of Base” tend to leave bad impressions. The RAV-4 was scratched off her list.

    The ironic part, so people don’t think I’m hating for the sake of hating, I had to express sound and fury at the Hertz rental counter that a Chevy Trax is not a compact SUV and not acceptable to fulfill our reservation. I wanted nothing to do with the Trax. We were very excited to get the RAV-4 because of their reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “We were both left puzzled on how Toyota sells so many of these.”

      I think you’ve answered you’re own question, they’re Toyotas, and that badge can sell dang near everything, tis why Mazda and BMW are working with them. Tis how they got away with using 3-speed autos for decades, and selling the Yaris way past its expiration date.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      The RAV4 without the V6 has nothing special to differentiate it from other CUVs.
      Yes with current engine transmission combo you will get sound and no fury.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky D

        That has not been our experience. The 2.5L is buzzy, but it will chirp the front tires on demand. Surprisingly quick and torquey.

        • 0 avatar
          volvo

          My only experience with the IL4 RAV4 has been as a short term rental.

          My 09 V6AWD has never had tires break traction on hard acceleration (frightening torque steer is another question). but that may be because of the AWD and more weight over the front tires.

          I also imagine the overall drivetrain and suspension has improved on the RAV4 since mine rolled off the assembly line.

          I got the V6 since in the intermountain west you need all the power you can get to pass RVs and trailer towing rigs on two lane uphill roads. Interestingly since the V6 is geared longer it just loafs under most driving conditions and sticker combined MPG is just 2 less than the I4.

          Anyway since Toyota eliminated the V6 option on the RAV4 I would look at a lot of other brands should mine need to be replaced

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      didn’t I just said same thing few comments up?
      2-0

  • avatar
    EGSE

    A 1999 Saturn coupe-something with the vestigial 3rd door behind the drivers door. Crude, cramped, noisy and uncomfortable. Owned by a former squeeze so it wasn’t my money. Any road trip longer than an hour made it feel like Torquemada’s penalty box. Any road trip with her made it doubly so. It was fairly reliable so I’ll give it that.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    COREY! WHY IS THERE A PICTURE OF A GTI ON THIS ARTICLE?!?!?!

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Disappointments? I had a few – some of these are old, old but still stick in my mind.

    Used 1997 Toyota Avalon with 90k miles. For an engine with 200hp, it always felt more stately than powerful. That transmission just never seemed to kick down when you hammered the gas pedal, so the car just ended up coasting faster. Okay – it was the 90s so no surprises but the worst aspect was the lack of sound dampening. Perhaps it was the stripper model but I would feel deaf after a two hour stint on the highway. Lots of raising of voices to be heard over the road rumble. My wife was so happy when it was replaced.

    Used white 2001 Grand Marquis LS with 70k miles – actually a competent car and very reliable. But I had a 1994 Buick Roadmaster sitting next to it, and the RM had a more comfortable ride and a much better engine. The MGM, however, handled a little better and could knock out some better mileage. RM was fun in a 1970s movie kind of way. The MGM was good for scaring people at night (or longer distances in the day) who thought it was a cop car.

    used 2009 MINI Cooper Clubman S with a 6-speed manual and 58k miles – car ended up being a total bucket of bolts; felt like it had been put together on the Friday afternoon shift by a bunch of drunkards. Had a lot of Lucas-like electrical issues, oil burning issues, and it didn’t handle as well as my wife’s ’03 MINI hardtop.

    used 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman S with a 6-speed manual and 62k miles. The engine felt underpowered for the extra weight – especially once you added passengers and luggage. And the entire point of owning a MINI – that go-kart handling – was gone. It felt more like a mini-van than a MINI. The interior room was actually pretty good – lots of legroom for the driver – but the lack of space in the hatch area made for some crowded vacations since there was never enough space for luggage and other items.

    Both MINIs were traded in on a ’14 Mustang V6 which feels like a luxury car in comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      ” For an engine with 200hp, it always felt more stately than powerful.”

      I can relate, I had the same engine in my ’96 ES300, although mine had no issues kicking down the very smooth transmission when called for. It was a smooth and satisfying drivetrain in its own way, but having previously driven a VQ30 Maxima (222hp rating with variable intake tract), the ES300 just felt like a bit of a slug off the line.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Were you running premium or regular in that Avalon? IIRC that engine calls for premium when its in the ES300.

      The lack of sound dampening is shocking though, given that the Avalon of that time was supposed to be a nicer and more expensive Camry for older folk.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        It’s been a few years and it was mostly my wife’s car, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we were running 87 in there.

        And yes, I was expecting a more quiet car. It was a replacement for a ’91 Caprice (305 baby!) which was a better highway vehicle. Who knows – stripper version was my guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Oreguy

      We owned a 2007 Mini Cooper S, and felt the pain.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      My wife and I had the exact same realization when we test drove, I believe a 12′ Countryman S 6 MT.

      I never articulated it, but yes, it was more like a minivan than a Mini.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    2018 Lexus RX – cramped rear seat, suspension that was both harsh on bumps, but wallowed in turns. Garish styling and very expensive for what it is

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Several years back, I had an early Chrysler 200 (the rebodied Sebring, not the FCA-designed 2nd gen) as a rental, and initially figured it’d be…fine? I knew it wasn’t beloved, but figured it’d at least be acceptable transportation. But I found the seats oddly shaped and uncomfortable, the dead pedal stuck out too far, visibility was poor (small mirrors and a huge c-pillar), and worst of all, it was simultaneously gutless and thirsty (low 20’s mpgs in driving conditions where I would have expected more like 30).

  • avatar
    volvo

    My biggest disappointment was a rental 1st gen civic hybrid. The series ICE/Electric drivetrain with CVT was horrible. Every time the gas/electric switched or started to work together you could feel it through the entire drivetrain. I don’t know how that model got so many glowing reviews.

    At the time I was excited to try this hybrid but that experience resulted in me not considering any Honda hybrid.

    I don’t know if Honda now has a parallel system like Toyota where the driving experience is not bad at all.

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    The disappointment that I felt the most was with a Pantera. In the 80’s our next door neighbor owned one for a period. I was in high-school then, and I lusted after the combination of Italian styling, Ford V8 power, and addictive exhaust note. Some day I’ll own one, I thought.

    About 7 or 8 years ago, I happened upon a 74 Pantera L for sale. It was a beautiful red, all-original example. Unfortunately, it had a couple of major mechanical issues the seller refused to acknowledge. As a result, we couldn’t agree on a sale price.

    I was shocked by how uncomfortable it was to drive. I recall my feet being jammed to the left of the tunnel in a really cramped footwell. It made operating the pedals a challenge. I came away with a strong impression that there was no way I could enjoy driving the car given how uncomfortable it was.

    It hurts knowing what the car would be worth today. Should have bought it anyway.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    2019 Jetta for only 2 reasons. The base stereo is pa-thetic. It’s like listening to music through 4 Emerson alarm clocks from the mid 80’s. VW should be embarrassed, but they’ve had bigger things to be embarrassed of recently. I’m sure the alarm clock speakers doesn’t even register on the shame-o-meter.

    The other issue is the greasy windshield. Granted, this was an Enterprise rental car, but with only a few thousand miles, how can the wipers already be toast?

  • avatar

    F30 BMW. I got one as a loaner in the late stages of my E46’s life-went to dealer for a wheel alignment. I was excited to have a sport package so I could compare to my sport e46. The F30 was a “328i” so it had the four.

    Numb steering….clattery engine. I literally got back into my 300k mile car with relief. I was amazed BMW could lose the thread so badly on the icon car. This is/was not a unique opinion.

    Honda CR-Z. It looked SO cool, and I got one as a loaner when my MDX got a new valve belt (at that price shoulda been a chain, but whatever). The CRV had a tiny engine with a horrid CVT. I didn’t know how Honda engineers signed off on that drivetrain…the car was so pretty, and had the worst drivetrain I’ve probably ever suffered.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      This brings back memories. I felt exactly the same way when I would get back into my 13 year old E46 after driving the F30 loaner for few hundred miles. I think it wasn’t so much F30 being a terrible car but rather the E46 being such an exceptional one. That car was truly the best car in the world for me.

  • avatar
    thekevinmonster

    Nissan Juke. Stick shift, FWD. Legitimately fun to drive.

    Did I dislike it because it was ugly? No, I bought it because it was ugly. It was ugly cool. I don’t care if people say it was just ugly, it was ugly cool.

    My disappointments became unbearably irritating after a year and a half. the boost threshold was right where you wanted to shift when driving casually, so you would end up getting your head knocked back into the headrest only to bob forward as you put in the clutch and got off the gas to upshift. If you tried to keep it under 2.8k, you had 0 power. If you kept it above 3k, you were just roaring around town.

    the high h-point and short wheelbase meant driving over swells/humps/parking lot ramps totally bobbled you around in the car.

    and I couldn’t put a week’s groceries in the back without putting the seat down, it seemed. Which was just weird.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    19 VW Jetta S…my 17 Jetta SE is in for service and I got a 3000-mile Jetta loaner…interior door trim is softer/nicer in the new one, that’s about all I can say positive about it. Start-Stop function is obnoxious, but at least it can be killed with a button on the console (which is still the hard plastic that scratches too easily). ECO button on the console seems to just KILL throttle response. Toggle switch for the parking brake seems to work OK, but why doesn’t it release when the car is taken out of PARK and I wonder how well it will work at the car ages. The interior feels smaller/narrower but that may be a function of the all-black interior…my 17 has the cornsilk beige. The back window is smaller so I see a LOT of rear parcel shelf and rear headrests through the rearview mirror.
    It has a pseudo-Ford-Fusion look to it on the outside but overall I’m not impressed. And when did Falken tires become OE?

  • avatar

    test drove an abarth 124 spider. wanted to like it but it is kinda ugly. its gearbox was awkward, which was the first surprise. the killer was its dead steering wheel. how fiat could take the lively mx-5 chassis and deaden it was a surprising disappointment.

    have to hope that mooted boatload of mazda roadsters heading to los angeles is true cuz my lease is almost up ….


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Hatch struts still work? W T Fudge? My sawed off broomstick handle was always in the back.
  • kosmo: “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter,...
  • dividebytube: When I’m down south I’m taken aback by the number of decent looking old trucks and even G...
  • redapple: RED…. Great catch. Love it.
  • teddyc73: What an ugly rear end.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States