QOTD: The Worst Factory-New Car You've Ever Driven?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

We didn't snag an invite to the Vinfast VF8 first drive, but I did read some reviews over the end of last week and during the weekend. They were some of the harshest reviews I've ever read.

They were serious, too, about how bad the VF8 is -- not even the playful evisceration of a bad vehicle that I'd occasionally see as I was coming of age. Some of them went so far as to suggest that the car wasn't safe for sale.

That got me wondering -- what is the worst factory-new car you've ever driven? In the 15-ish years I've been doing this, I think the very first Smart ForTwo takes the cake, not because of its diminutive size but because of its terrible transmission. The late, unlamented Dodge Caliber that was a long-term test vehicle at my first job in automotive journalism is another candidate -- it was full of interior panels that didn't match, color-wise.

What say you, folks?

Sound off below.

[Image: Vinfast]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 86 comments
  • Fah-Que Fah-Que on May 17, 2023

    I actually drove one, so I am delivering an informed opinion. If its working out for your daughter, good for her. Hopefully you don't act like a keyboard warrior to her like you do to total strangers.

    See? I didnt ignore you. Happy now, or do you have any other insults that'll only make me laugh and hope you have better days ahead.

  • Fah-Que Fah-Que on May 17, 2023

    To Mr. Arthur Dailey:

    Very well stated, sir. No disagreement with you and thank you for responding like an adult.

  • Varezhka Varezhka on May 18, 2023

    2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. I didn't think GM was capable of building cars worse than the Cavalier preceding it, but they managed to duck under that terribly low bar. Every time I made a turn or went above 50mph, the entire car groaned like a U-Boat whose hull was just about to crush. The brake assistance was never consistent either. Quite a nerve wracking experience. Wasn't "factory fresh" per se, but it had all of 2300 miles on the odometer when I got it at the rental counter.

  • GenesisCoupe380GT GenesisCoupe380GT on Nov 09, 2023

    2020 Corolla. Underpowered, overpriced slab of miserable plastic fodder.

    Saddled with the noisy, malnourished 1.8 they should've gotten rid of 10 YEARS AGO.

    A Tupperware-quality interior that will make you say "THIS is a Toyota? Did they even try?"

    The worst automatic trans a car can ever subject its driver to(I know Civic has a CVT too but at least they tried to make theirs not suck. This one seems to have the overriding purpose of making the car as depressing to drive as possible)

    It's so woeful to drive that it might have been inspired by one of GM's many malaise era shitpiles.

    It's clear that Toyota's best years for this nameplate have passed it by and it's merely living off of its reputation. Even the Hyundai/Kia twins have better cars than this pitiful old-man car. If Toyota dumps this car from their lineup I will dance a Irish Jig like Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout(1991 movie where he punches Damon Wayans while destroying a whole vodka bottle)