Consumer Reports tests a lot of cars, and as one of the only publications that buys its own vehicles, it has the freedom to evaluate them in exactly the manner it wants. After putting dozens upon dozens of cars per year through the ringer at its test facility in Connecticut, some emerge as clear winners while others emerge as clear losers.
These are the four losers for 2015.
4. Chrysler 200
Compared to the car it replaced, the widely-panned Sebring, the current generation Chrysler 200 is an amazing car. It’s almost unbelievable that the same company could build two cars that are so vastly different. Yes, the original 200 was nothing more than a rebadged Sebring, but when it finally received a proper redesign, Chrysler actually had a midsize sedan in its lineup that felt like a modern car.
Unfortunately, just because the 200 is significantly better than the Sebring doesn’t mean it’s better than the rest of its midsize competition. Its four-cylinder is unrefined, the handling isn’t great, and the back seat is seriously cramped. That wouldn’t be a big deal to drivers interested in the V6 and who don’t need the back seat, especially considering the number of available features, but the 200 is also hobbled with Chrysler’s problem-plagued transmission.
Midsize sedan buyers deserve better.
3. Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover has a storied history of building exceptionally-capable off-roaders, and while the Discovery has never come with quite the brand cache that the more expensive Range Rover family has, it’s still a vehicle with a reputation for its rugged abilities. With a new look that borrows heavily from those much-more-expensive Range Rovers, you might be tempted by the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but that might not be the best use of your $40,000.
Consumer Reports found that its engine feels weak, and the transmission often ends up in the wrong gear. It then went onto describe how the Discovery Sport drives by saying, “Handling is lumbering, and the wheels ride as though made of concrete.” That’s not exactly glowing praise, and to make it worse, the infotainment system is dated, as well.
In that price range, maybe consider a BMW X3 or and Audi Q5 unless you definitely need the Discovery Sport’s off-road capability.
2. Lexus NX
Toyota has been hitting it out of the park for years with the RAV4, which has made the rise in compact crossover sales extremely profitable for the Japanese company. Unfortunately, while the luxury compact crossover segment has also taken off, Toyota’s luxury brand has been forced to sit by the sidelines and watch while vehicles like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 sold incredibly successfully.
The Lexus NX was supposed to change that, but sadly, the NX can’t entirely escape its RAV4 roots. Consumer Reports found that the ride was harsh and that its handling was outclassed by its German competitors. Its interior is nice, but some bits feel cheap. It’s not that the NX is necessarily bad. It’s that the competition offers more for the money, and Lexus could have done better.
1. Kia Sedona
After testing the new Kia Sorento, Consumer Reports came away extremely impressed with the Korean company’s crossover SUV. In fact, the Sorento was impressive enough to earn a spot on Consumer Reports’ “Best of 2015″ list. The Kia Sedona, on the other hand, receives much less praise. The minivan segment isn’t nearly as large as it used to be, but it still takes a lot to challenge leaders like the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna.
The Kia Sedona certainly has some style, and it even manages to look sporty, but a minivan needs more than a little swagger to be great. The second row seats can’t be removed, limiting the practicality of the Sedona. The ride is also stiff and unrefined. Perhaps most disappointingly, however, the testers experienced quite a few squeaks and rattles in the cabin.
It’s still probably a better choice than the Chrysler Town & Country, but for now, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna still reign supreme.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.