Negativity — isn’t it just everywhere these days? Perhaps, but you can’t ignore the importance of pointing out negative things about a politician, athlete, or restaurant. You probably want to know before you cast your vote or take your family out to dinner somewhere appalling. The same holds for the cars and trucks on the market that might put you in a bad spot for safety, cost of ownership, reliability, or all of the above.
As little as anyone wants to hear more negativity, we bet you’d like to buy a car that will crumble within a few years even less. So we present this year’s collection of worst reviewed vehicles as a public service announcement, in the hopes you spend your hard-earned money on something of better value and overall build in 2016. Here are 10 cars and trucks that have gotten some of the industry’s worst reviews, in no particular order.
1. Dodge Journey
There were a number of positives found by Micah Wright in our review of the 2016 Dodge Journey here, including the power and transmission of the top-of-the-line model he tested. Then there were the cons, which included some flimsy plastic interior pieces and the very awkward Sport mode. Consumer Reports testers were much less merciful when they panned the family SUV.
Citing the terrible fuel economy (16 miles per gallon), “confining” interior, bad crash test ratings, and overall lackluster value, Consumer Reports named it the worst model in the large SUV segment with a score of 45 out of 100. How much did the CR gang hate this car? It even recommended passing Journey by at an airport rental counter. That’s cold.
2. Mitsubishi Lancer
You might call the 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer the consensus pick for worst-reviewed car of 2016. Edmunds.com gave it a “D,” the lowest score of any car it reviewed, noting its “cheap” feel and lack of standard features. Reviewers also remarked on Lancer’s utterly mediocre drive character, calling it barely serviceable as a means of traveling from one place to another.
Car Scoops, for its part, accused Mitsubishi of trying to bore its staff to death with the Lancer’s 2016 facelift. It didn’t score any points with reviewers for tech options, comfort, or reliability, either.
3. Cadillac Escalade
Have you noticed all that traffic downtown? It’s probably because many Uber fleets are made up of bloated Chevy Suburbans, Tahoes, and Cadillac Escalades these days. How else would an app-wielding consumer get back and forth from a chic ice cream parlor? Any mayor out there wondering about vehicle emissions spikes in your city might want to explore this concept.
Anyway, the $72,970 starting price for the 2016 Escalade has not been worth it to reviewers. Consumer Reports dubbed it worst in class when it came to reliability and knocked the behemoth for its infotainment system, stiff ride, and — you won’t believe it — “cramped” third row of seating. Our humble recommendation: If you build a car that takes up most of a city block, please make sure the interior is spacious.
4. Jeep Patriot
If you’re looking for a loud, uncomfortable vehicle with bad acceleration and frightening crash test scores, the Jeep Patriot is the ride for you. The folks at JD Power & Associates gave it a two out of five (40/100) in powertrain quality, comfort, style, and performance. Reliability and ability to retain value are also poor with the Patriot. Nearly all of the above also applies to the Jeep Compass, which could have been included on this list but was left off to avoid repetition.
5. Mitsubishi Mirage
While some reviewers held back in their lashings of the Lancer, they didn’t spare for the 2016 Mitsubishi Mirage, a car that seems stuck in a bygone era of cheap, Eastern European imports. Car and Driver described the mini car as the “fast food” of automobiles and “basic five-door transportation” en route to awarding it one star out of five.
While giving it one of its lowest scores of the year (34 out of 100), Consumer Reports hurled a slew of negative-connotation adjectives the Mirage’s way, including (but not limited to) “cheap,” “insubstantial,” “tinny,” “depressing,” sluggish,” and “drab.” In a subcompact segment where it’s tough to lose, the 2016 Mirage managed to get the lowest ranking of the bunch.
6. Fiat 500L
Say what you will about the bloated, odd design behind the Fiat 500L; it’s nothing compared to the performance of this clunker. It was the worst car in Consumer Reports reliability rankings for the 2016 model year and was panned by reviewers and consumers alike for its grating drive character. To make matters worse, the 2016 500L had poor crash-test scores in the front overlap review by IIHS, so you can add dangerous to the list.
7. Nissan Sentra
If you’re playing Jeopardy! and the clue is Nissan Sentra, you couldn’t go wrong with, “What is the last car the rental agency had available?” Out of 20 compacts on the market, Car and Driver ranked Sentra 19th, one ahead of the much-maligned Lancer. Whereas our Autos Cheat Sheet reviewer absorbed the “predictable and mundane” experience of Sentra with grace, Car and Driver lashed out at its “infuriating” CVT, its “dated” and “poorly implemented” features, and its “unsettling” handling.
8. Chrysler 200
In JD Power’s annual Initial Quality Study, the 2016 Chrysler 200 was subpar in nearly every category. Whereas Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Ford, and Chevy continued pushing the envelope in the midsize segment, Chrysler swung and missed with the 200 and never recovered. Hence the death knell that sounded earlier in 2016 for this car. Soon, there will be no more Chrysler 200, and reviewers will not cry about that. Nor will consumers, who ranked it among the worst in reliability.
9. Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover is known for its poor reliability, so when Consumer Reports got its hands on the 2016 Discovery Sport, it was amazed how weak the drive character and plain interior were. As a result, the testing agency considered it inferior to many mass-market SUVs and named it worst in the luxury compact SUV segment. Out of a possible score of 100, Discovery Sport managed a mere 47. For a “stiff-legged” ride starting around $40,000, consumers could do a lot better.
10. Dodge Dart
Like its equally unappealing corporate cousin, the Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart will no longer be a problem for U.S. consumers as of September 2016. Unfortunately, that still leaves dealerships with the opportunity to hoodwink unsuspecting consumers with incentives, flashy colors, tech packages, and other ways of putting lipstick on the Dart. For this review, we defer to Car and Driver, which tested each of the drivetrains and transmissions and gave them all the thumbs-down. It offered advice to those who like fun cars: “Keep shopping.”
Follow Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY