If you ever look at U.S. autos sales, you might be surprised to see how many poorly reviewed vehicles log tens of thousands of sales in a year.
How is it that these vehicles can pull in somewhat decent sales records but become the most hated cars of all time?
It defies logic.
Remember, Americans will turn on ugly cars quickly, but an attractive ride that’s dangerous to drive could take years to lose favor. However, a true lemon won’t be able to escape its problems for long. Inevitably, everything shakes out and the most hated cars eventually earn their stripes.
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who can easily identify cars by glancing at them, you can probably conjure up a vivid image of the Pontiac Aztek. The plastic-heavy lemon from GM had a particularly polarizing design at the time.
While GM likely expected the Aztek would be considered edgy, the vehicle wasn’t received well by American consumers. It also suffered from a multitude of problems ranging from transmission issues to various fluid leaks.
You’d think it would be obvious what you’re getting into when you buy a car called “Gremlin,” but many consumers in the 1970s did it anyway. Those unfortunate souls discovered a classic 20th century corporate money-saving scheme in the form of a motor vehicle.
Hollywood had other ideas for the Gremlin and over the years it has often been featured in TV and film, from “Wayne’s World” to “Family Guy” to “Blow,” making it one of the campiest and one of the best unpopular cars with a massive cult following.
Still, everything about the Gremlin was cheap, from its sawed-off shape to its windshield wipers. It was the least expensive car on the market, and buyers somehow got even less than what they paid for. Although AMC did make some really rad cars like the AMC Eagle and the CJ Jeep, the Gremlin just wasn’t one of them.
If you hate recalls, you could never love the Chevrolet HHR.This retro-styled recall-ridden thing managed to sell about a million units in its six years on the market, but it generated over 6 million recall notices during that time. Those forced to drive one as a rental car knew to never approach HHR again; those who bought one likely endured a tumultuous ownership experience. The HHR is easily one of the most hated cars ever made.
The rise of Toyota, Honda, and other Japanese automakers didn’t happen overnight. Along the way, there were growing pains, which might be the kindest way to talk about one the most hated cars ever made, the Toyota Tercel.
Even for an econo-box, Tercel oozed boredom from every sharp angle. Later models did not win Toyota many new fans in America, and in 1999 Tercel waved goodbye to the automotive landscape. Unlike many other automakers, Toyota survived making one of the most hated cars of all time and still dominates in the American market today, despite the Tercel.
At a time when SUVs are all the rage, the Chevy Spark offers a package that lacks utility, power, and style. Sales just about died in 2017, with the minicar finding just 19,510 buyers through November. That figure represented a 38 percent drop over the previous year and a sign GM could very well give the axe to its smallest ride sometime in the future.
The Jeep Compass was meant to serve as a massive upgrade over the Patriot and Compass models it replaced for 2018. However, the new edition did not leave behind the horrendous reliability ratings and owner satisfaction levels of its predecessors.
Reviews and customer feedback, paint a clear picture of the Jeep Compass as a strong contender for one of the most hated cars of all time.
The Nissan Juke wasn’t the first time Nissan tried to get “funky” and ended up with one of the most hated cars of all time.
However, Juke’s general premise — it’s a small, affordable crossover — was something consumers wanted. In practice, it became something that turned people off with bug-eyed styling and ugly flourishes. Late in 2017, Nissan decided to kill the poorly selling Juke in favor of a new, more boring model called “Kicks.” In this case, boring might be a good thing.
As with any hated car, the Dodge Omni had some fans, and the debut model sold well as Chrysler teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. However, once people settled into their Omnis, they began seeing the econo-box’s many weaknesses. Consumer Reports slammed it for terrible build quality and frighteningly low safety standards, making Omni one of its worst-rated and ugly Dodge cars of all time. Millions learned to hate this car through the 1980s, and we suggest running away in the unlikely event you see one on the street.
It’s not unusual for a car to have a bad resale value and while that’s disappointing, it’s not enough for it to earn a reputation as one of the most hated cars of all time. The Kia Spectra also suffered from a terrible safety record, which is a much bigger concern for drivers. Those who bought into the Spectra had to deal with a less-than-stellar drivetrain and a terrible fuel economy, which ultimately made it expensive to maintain. Kia’s problem-riddled Spectra ultimately defeated the purpose of buying a Kia in the first place (read: affordability) and Americans stopped buying the car by 2004. The manufacturer ultimately replaced the car with superior Forte.
To see a Yugo was to hate it. Still, driving one of these cars lowered your opinion of the Yugoslavian auto industry even more. At $3,990, Americans considered them disposable contraptions — like something bought in a dollar store — thus ensuring they were never loved. After all, there was no point changing the oil regularly when you would ditch the car at your earliest convenience. The Yugo was doomed to fail and destined to be hated which begs the question, what was the point?
To be fair, there were a lot of Hummer loyalists, and some still remain to this day, who are enjoying the spoils of their loyalty with the Hummer EV. But even most of them couldn’t love the H2. For those that hated Hummers all together, the list of things to loathe about the H2 was miles long starting with fuel economy and ending with probably a lot of choice words.
For those that loved the Hummer brand, it felt like Hummer was apologizing for the space the H1 took up. While the H2 was longer than its predecessor, it had less ground clearance, and it wasn’t as wide.
When GM took over Daewoo in 2002, it grabbed the automaker’s Kalos and slapped a Chevy badge on it, dubbing it Aveo. That word is Latin for “desire,” but the primary emotion Aveo inspired was anything but. Maybe it was the 14-inch wheels, or the world’s-worst transmission, or just the sight of the car in profile. Later, Aveo changed a bit for the better and eventually became Sonic.
For many upwardly mobile Americans citizens of the world, buying a BMW is a symbol you’ve made it. In the case of a BMW X6, you probably need to keep climbing. This Sport Activity Coupe (or “SAC”) had the worst styling of any BMW in recent history and the personality disorder to match. Sure, making an SUV feel like a coupe eventually became a normal practice, but BMW was still in the trial-and-error stages when it released X6 in 2008. With the trial part out of the way, the verdict on X6 was “error.”
With all of the decoration on the Dodge Coronet, this was the car for attention-seekers because you certainly weren’t going to be flying under the radar ever. The back fins went out of style almost as soon as it rolled off the production line and by the end of the 1950s, the Coronet was a joke. Much like the red-colored cars of today, the Coronet was going to draw the attention of police so if you had a lead foot or otherwise wanted to avoid unwanted attention, this wasn’t the car for you.
When you search for rental cars using the “lowest price” filter, Kia Rio pops up first. The reason is no one can drive this car for more than a few days before tiring of it. Many years ago, Rio cooked up the formula of cheap, boring, lackluster on the highway, and insanely dangerous. Kia didn’t give up on its budget offering and appears to possible corrected problems present in older model years. So far, minimal complaints have been reported in newer model years according to consumer reporting sites. Is it enough to erase such a horrible reputation? Only time will tell.
If cars could speak, Nissan Cube would ask, “Why was I born?” There was no need to put such a bulbous contraption between two straight lines, and anyone who drives one is usually subject to ridicule. Nissan seemed to anticipate the hate when its marketing department described Cube’s front end as inspired by “a bulldog wearing shades.” Fittingly, Americans voted it one of the most embarrassing cars on Earth in 2013.
In 2013, Americans said the Smart fortwo was the most embarrassing car on the market. People considered its shape a joke, as if half the car had been surgically removed. Those who actually drove the car learned it was one of the poorest performers out there, too, as you’d suffer minor trauma every time you crossed a pothole. So maybe this dud of a half-car was truly economical? Actually, it had a base price of $14,000 and wasn’t especially good on gas, either.
By the end of the 1950s, American culture was all about excess and opulence. Ford made a big promise to deliver the most excessive vehicles America had ever seen with the Edsel line. When a big name like Ford makes such a grandiose promise, people expect the automaker to actually deliver. After all of the money that went into developing the line and all of the hype that went into promoting it, the Edsel turned out to be nothing more than a less-attractive Mercury. Today, the Edsel seems at home among the more absurd cars of the period. But people flat out refused to buy when it was first released.
Saturn may have started out as an ambitious concept from GM executives, but cars like the Ion ensured it would not stick around for long. Its dull looks were nothing compared to the grating driving experience or countless quality issues. Among the many questionable things found in an Ion, the speedometer’s spot above the center console really stands out. It forced you to look about 18 inches to the right to see how fast you were going.
Throw in a dozen recalls and the brand became a punchline by the time of its death in 2009. Justin Bieber even took a stab at the brand during his Comedy Central roast in 2015: “I’ve been driving recklessly, getting arrested, smoking weed, abandoning monkeys, and urinating publicly. But my biggest regret is plowing my Maserati into Jeff Ross’s Saturn in the parking lot.”
Short of fuel economy, pick a car metric and the Mitsubishi Mirage will disappoint. Many people see the Mirage as an ugly, under-powered, and joyless car that is fully at home on this list of most annoying cars.
Even though the Mitsubishi Mirage averages around 35 mpg, it still doesn’t assuage the hate from the automotive world. There are plenty of cars with great gas mileage that don’t look like the Mirage.
Even still, this “great” gas mileage only happens if you keep your foot out of the throttle. Given the utter lack of power, this is often literally impossible, making that fuel-economy difficult to actually get in the real world.
Eric Schaal and Bridget DeMeis also contributed to this post.