There is something undeniably discouraging about seeing a new model of a vehicle on TV and realizing that it looks worse than its predecessor. It is even more disheartening when all of the media reports state that it has poor fuel-efficiency, blind spots the size of small sofas, brakes that are spongier than a pink loofah, and the collective handling of a soggy bean burrito. And while automotive manufacturers continuously try to best one another in one way or another, the end results from their latest reincarnation of a particular chassis can be utterly laughable at times.
Meanwhile, their competition continues to play it safe and act like nothing has changed in the last 20 years and that the styling cues commonly found in 1995 continue to be considered adequate in today’s modern world. So pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show, because it’s time to watch, “The Tired, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
1. BMW 7 Series
When Forbes released its list of 15 New Cars to Avoid, we were a bit aghast by the fact that the BMW land-yacht know commonly as the 7 Series was listed. But after digging deeper it became obvious that many of Forbes’s findings were right on the money, and that indeed this car needs some serious help. From its tired face, to the car’s sloppy handling characteristics, to its poor fuel economy (even with the help of an electric-assist motor), the modern 7 series is just a shadow of its former self. Throw in an outrageous price tag and poor scores from JD Power, and this ship needs to be brought back to harbor for one serious overhaul.
2. Nissan Frontier
While certainly not a horrible performer in the practicality department, the Nissan Frontier does continue to succeed in being about as stale as that Triscuit that rolled under the couch last month. With exterior styling that remains stuck in 2005, and an interior that feels a lot like a hospital cafeteria, this simplistic pick-up continues to underwhelm critics and consumers alike. While it isn’t the world’s worst vehicle by any means, Nissan needs to redesign the interior and exterior to help the truck stand out by offering more than just the same old set-up it has had since day one, and offer more off-road-ready features like locking differentials and better torque numbers for towing. A professional review by Edmunds.com perhaps said it best: “the Frontier hasn’t received a major overhaul since 2005, and compared with newer trucks, it feels pretty rudimentary.”
3. Honda CRZ
It pains us to say it, but Honda’s little hybrid hatchback needs a bit of help too. Maybe not so much in the styling department (which remains a heated topic of contention here at the office), but in the power and handling department for sure. The little pipsqueak of a 1.5 liter engine only churns out 130 horsepower, and the car’s cumbersome hybrid battery and technology-filled interior counteract any power gains that have been made over previous models. Throw some traction-less hybrid tires in the mix and this car is a real recipe for disaster in the snow. What Honda really needs to do is make the CRZ all-wheel-drive, slap its new turbocharged Type-R engine in it, and rebadge it as a modern incarnation of the classic CRX Si.
4. Toyota Sequoia
Oh, where to begin on this car. From its tired styling, to its burdensome sticker price, to the fact that its fuel economy equals that of a Panzer tank, the Toyota Sequoia is a real bummer to own. Toyota claims that the car is “Anything but ordinary,” but deep down it must surely know that this lumbering Goliath needs a complete overhaul. While the car’s interior is practical, it does seem a tad outdated, and according to Kelley Blue Book, “those seeking a more modern, upscale interior might be happier in a GMC Yukon or Chevrolet Suburban.” But it is that tired front end coupled with atrocious fuel economy that worry us the most; and that massive gas-guzzler of a 5.7 liter V8 engine doesn’t even deliver the goods when the chips are down. “If you need to tow more than 7,400 pounds, the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition are the best choices,” says Kelley Blue Book.
5. Lincoln MKS
“If the sensational styling of a beached whale doesn’t grab the consumer’s attention, maybe an outrageous $50,000 price tag will!” This surely must have been the general consensus at Ford when they opted to roll out the Lincoln MKS back in 2009. Sure, a base model is available for about $38,000, but sane people don’t buy luxury vehicles just so that they can save money and purchase a base model. The aforementioned Forbes report claims that the MKS “gets a below-average performance rating from J.D. Power and a below-average residual value ranking from ALG,” and then they proceeded to cite it as “one of the worst values among new cars.” Throw the ludicrous MyLincoln Touch driver interface system into the pot, stir, and voila! A huge serving of overpriced whale soup that is sure to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Lincoln needs a large sedan — just a better one than this.
6. Chevrolet Malibu
The most recent reports on the Chevrolet Malibu are sub-par at best, with Car and Driver hitting the nail on the head by stating that the car’s “steering is numb, which is actually a metaphor for the whole car,” and that it’s “competent, but not compelling.” With the Malibu’s notorious cramped rear seating, underwhelming four-cylinder powerplants, and uninspired styling at the forefront, there is no denying the fact that GM needs to do a healthy overhaul on this cardboard cut-out offering. Fortunately, one is on the way and we can only hope it lives up to the new standards that GM has set for itself.
7. Nissan Armada
There is no denying the fact that the Armada is a big SUV with a big 5.6 liter engine to balance out all of its weight. It is also impossible to ignore the fact that the EPA has declared that the E85 ready version of the engine sports an abysmal 9 miles per gallon around town, and according to Kelley Blue Book, the Armada came in dead last for fuel economy out of the 31 large vehicles tested. With uninspired interior and exterior styling reminiscent of the Frontier, and clunky steering, KBB says that “there’s no escaping that this is an 11-year-old vehicle, and many of the controls feel dated.”
8. Scion tC
The tC is another car that needs some cosmetic surgery more than anything else. While Scion may have thought they were taking a step in the right direction by giving the tC more lines than Keith Richards’s face, critics and consumers alike have been a bit confused by what Scion was thinking. And even equipped with the optional nine-speaker audio upgrade, the tC’s inferior interior isn’t going to win any awards anytime soon. A professional review by Edmunds.com summed it up adequately by saying, “almost every interior surface seems to be flimsy, hollow and made from cheap plastic.” Not sporting a back-up camera like its popular Honda Civic rival doesn’t do the tC any favors either.
9. Mitsubishi Lancer
There is a certain level of disappointment that is evoked when looking at base model Lancer. Maybe it’s the knowing of what the car is capable of with an all-wheel-drive layout and a turbo; or perhaps it is the car’s ubiquitous styling, which is just modern enough to pass as acceptable, but not memorable enough to be deemed exciting. The car’s interior brings more of the same, and according to a review by Kelley Blue Book,”the Lancer is showing its age, and bland, cheap plastic doesn’t help.” The Lancer scored dead last in the fuel-efficiency category as well, and scored a lack-luster rating of 5.5 out of 10 after KBB reviewed the car’s design, value, driving dynamics, and comfort.
10. Scion iQ
Wrapping up this sad list of atrocities is a car so ridiculously impractical that a full grown adult even has issues getting in and out of the car. Yes, we are speaking of the micro-machine known as the Scion iQ, which was recently crowned as one of the worst new cars on the market by Consumer Reports after it “scored below average ratings across the board for residual value from ALG and initial quality, performance and reliability from J.D. Power,” according to a report done by Forbes. Consumer Reports went further by saying that “the rear seat is awful, the cabin is loud and acceleration is molasses-like.”
What is even more preposterous is the fact that the energy efficient little 1.3 liter, four-cylinder engine found in the iQ only cranks out a measly 94 horsepower compared to the 128 horsepower xD, and under heavy braking its stopping system fades faster than sidewalk chalk murals caught in monsoon season. So between its overly obnoxious transmission, under-powered engine, and top-heavy cabin that gets buffeted around on the interstate worse than a balloon in a Texas twister, the Scion iQ needs to go back to the drawing board for a complete redesign.