No magazine quite has the capacity to piss people off like Consumer Reports. American car fans are notable sworn enemies of the organization, often accusing it of taking bribes from high-performing Japanese companies, but as always, there’s a method to its madness.
“Consumer Reports’ road testing is one of the most thorough and punishing automotive tests in the world,” we’ve said in the past. “Its in-depth and impartial methods separate the serious contenders from the also-rans, and gives an unvarnished view of a car’s real-world performance. Because of this, the magazine has the unique position of being able to make or break a new car in a way that no other publication has. On top of the report card-like rating system, everything from the quality of interior trim to a car’s handling in emergency situations can be summed up in their five-point rating system ranging from excellent to poor.”
These five vehicles are likely wishing that there was some varnish in the reviews, but not everyone can excel at everything. Some of these underachievers were rather expected. Others, perhaps not as much. Read on to see the five vehicles that Consumer Reports strongly recommends avoiding for 2016.
1. Jeep Wrangler
A hallmark of rural America and an iconic symbol of U.S. ruggedness and patriotism, the Jeep Wrangler is the ultimate throwback that’s both modern and also deeply rooted in traditionalism. It’s endlessly customizable, boasts a cult-like following, and you can take it damn near anywhere, but that comes to the detriment of on-road civility. If you live down a rocky dirt road or regularly ford rivers and streams, the Wrangler is always a solid bet. If you spend most of your time on asphalt between supermarkets and the gym, Consumer Reports believes you’re better off looking for something less primal.
2. Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi’s poor Mirage has been the whipping boy for everything wrong in the industry from just about everybody. Despite a world-class warranty (and some of the lowest warranty expense rates in Mitsubishi’s lineup, according to vice prez Don Swearingen at last year’s LA Auto Show), it’s “weak, vibrating and noisy engine provides sluggish acceleration,” and to make matters worse, the “handling is disconcerting and the cabin is depressingly low-rent.” Fortunately, a slightly more powerful re-tooled model is coming for 2017 to try its chances with Consumer Reports again.
3. Chevrolet Spark
Cute and peppy, Chevy’s Spark is everything you’d want in a city car, except its 31 miles per gallon is behind the times, and it has loud, slow acceleration and a “stiff, jittery” ride, per Consumer Reports. Other than that, you’re golden! If you didn’t dig the 2015’s excited insect-like looks, Chevy is out with a toned down model for 2016 — whether it’ll make better on Consumer Reports’ complaints has yet to be seen.
4. Scion tC
“Despite its racy, sporty coupe looks, the tC’s handling is quite mundane,” Consumer Reports said. “Noisy and stiff riding makes it an unpleasant driving companion.” Though it’s admittedly aged well, the tC’s sporty pretensions have been let down by its engine and platform, which it shares with the ubiquitous Camry and the international Avensis, respectively. For its next generation, Toyota should consider moving the tC to the same platform that underpins the FR-S, and kill all of Consumer Reports’ complaints with one stone.
5. Toyota Yaris
Say what you want about the Toyota Yaris, you can’t say it’s trying to be something it isn’t. The Yaris offers ground-floor transportation starting at under $15,000, but that alone wasn’t enough to save it from Consumer Reports’ wrath. “Despite a recent facelift, the Yaris remains a slow, noisy, and tinny subcompact with a choppy ride and an awkward driving position,” they said. Fortunately, there are several other cars to choose from in the same bracket.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.