The SUV is dominating not only America but all over the globe. It is such a huge segment now that most US vehicle manufacturers have dumped their car lines to make more SUVs and pickups. Nobody saw that coming except the beancounters. They saw the rise and decided it was more profitable to make SUVs over cars. But as much as the SUV is beloved there were some SUVs that sucked. They were crappy vehicles-they didn’t do anything right. That, or they looked ridiculous. You probably won’t remember some of these and that’s why we’re here; to remind you of the bad in all of this goodness. So here are the Top 10 SUVs that nobody in their right mind would want in their driveways today.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
With as much trouble as Nissan is having to update its entire vehicle line, it sure squandered precious development time over the CrossCabriolet. We believe this was pushed through by the CEO himself; Carlos Ghosn. He had a hunch that combining an SUV with a convertible would create a whole new segment. He was right. It created a segment called “What Were They Thinking?” Even though this started as a pedestrian Murano, Nissan had to tool up all of the body except for the front end. That’s an expensive proposition. It had to have lost money on everyone it built, which was under 6,000 over three years. Then it was mercifully killed.
This one is not so much that it was a dud as most examples are in this fun post. It was more that nobody was buying anything with “Saab” on it. GM was about to pull the plug on a bad idea of buying Saab by washing its hands of it. This was right after the 9-4X debuted. It was built on the Cadillac SRX platform. This gave GM the chance it always loves; to build another version on a platform it already has other versions built on. But alas, GM killed Saab so only about 800 9-4X SUVs were ever built making them a rare sight.
The Torrent was basically a Chevy Equinox with a split grille and boring interior. That was pretty much GM’s approach to all Pontiacs. It would pick a Chevy, put on a Pontiac split grille, some cheap ribbed cladding, and add more plastic to the interior. Just like that, it had a Pontiac Whatever. And, “whatever” was usually how people reacted to GM’s play. The last time Pontiac tried to innovate it came up with the Aztek. That’s how bad things were at the time. While the torrent is much better than an Aztek, its problem was it was anonymous in the SUV world. Debuting in 2006, it soldiered on through the early stages of GM’s bankruptcy, dying when GM pulled the plug on Pontiac in 2010.
Our take on why the ZDX was so ugly is that Acura’s designers never stood back and looked at it. Instead, we think they labored over it in a dark corner of a styling studio and somebody signed off on it accidentally. We think that because if you’ve ever seen one in the wild you are amazed at how awkward it looks. Awkward from either a front view or rearview. The weird concave area running through the beltline and haunched rear fenders just fight each other like a mongoose trying to kill a snake. It’s just a mess. And we’re still wondering why anyone wants an SUV sedan. It makes no sense. Obviously, buyers felt the same as these are rare sights today as Acura was only able to peddle just over 7,000 of them in three years. Next time guys, stand back and look at your work. Once you’ve come upon one you’ll see the mess right away.
We always liked how the Nitro looked. It was based on the 2013 Nitro pickup concept, which we think would be a killer vehicle to bring out right now. But there’s this thing about that ear of Chrysler product and it goes by the name of Cheap. While most were high style and engineered well, the cheap plastic interiors smothered you with cheapness. Like sub-base. It’s how some companies get development money. The money is in developing the drivetrain and bodies, and when it comes time for the interiors there’s no more budget. So they rationalize that if it sells well they’ll upgrade the interior after a couple of years. But, those couple years slog on and the product usually dies. That’s what happened with the Nitro. They might as well have called it the Nitro Cheap, then at least everyone is forewarned. But, we do like how it looks.
The situation with the Compass is somewhat similar to the Nitro; at least in some respects. The difference was that anything with Jeep bonked onto it usually sells like Purell in a coronavirus outbreak. You could see that the designers were trying to get a new direction for Jeep. Sort of muscular/chiseled in some ways. We commend them for trying. But the door gaps and overall quality, not to mention the whole interior looked like it was dipped in plastic, made for a crappy little SUV. In its last year or two Jeep did a refresh that slightly improved its looks. We can’t remember whether they even bothered to upgrade the interior; it was that forgettable. Still, Jeep was smokin’ and so the more the merrier was the motto in the hallways at Jeep. Jeep has done some really interesting and unique concepts over the years that we hope it might look back on to consider in the same regard as the marginal Compass.
Fiat should have called this “Slug.” Or maybe “Slipped” like “we slipped up and made this for you.” Or “Sluggish.” Whatever you choose it pretty much describes this abysmal appliance. There was no reason for it to exist because there were other examples in the segment from other companies that were way ahead on a number of fronts. Whether it be engineering, styling, quality, interior features; it didn’t matter. There was nothing the 500X did that was better than any other vehicle for maybe even $2,000 less. It was an improvement upon nothing.
We should say right off that we think Suzuki should give it another go in the US. Its quirky, funky products would do well in this age of sameness. That said, we’ll focus on a model it developed that was trying to fit in when it should have been trying to stand out. The XL7 on paper was the right move. Bigger, more spacious, and slightly more mainstream. If Suzuki were to break out this was their breakout model. But it looked like it was a Chevy. Or maybe a Honda. The problem with that is nobody looking for either a Chevy or Honda SUV would go near a Suzuki dealer. That is if you could even find one. Suzuki was dying on the vine here, and this was its last gasp. In some ways it was like the Fiat 500X; it did nothing better than anything else in the segment. It wasn’t even Suzuki quirky. Without something to hang its hat on it was just like bland wallpaper. Soon Suzuki left our shores but it continues to produce quirky stuff for other countries.
I was voted down on this because I like it. The only thing that I would change is to move the rear wheel centerline back a few inches. With that one change, I would actually own one of these. Yeah, it’s a bit strange for some. But The graphic break of the plastic cladding and painted surfaces looks great. And the copious amounts of the plastic cladding was ballsy. Pontiac caught Hell for using a third of what the VehiCross had. Isuzu tried to load the VehiCross with state-of-the-art off-road technology and components. The V6 had the power. It was a solid combination on all fronts. It just didn’t sell. Maybe it was weird, or nobody could pronounce or spell its name, or who knows? 2001 was the last year it was sold here. RIP VehiCross.
GMC Envoy XUV
Ugh, what a dud. Most couldn’t get over its pinheaded look. It had cigar-like proportions, and rattled and clanged after only a few months. GMC hated it too. With its Studebaker-like sliding top, it was a mess of warranty issues for GMC. Leaking, failing, however one could imagine that sliding top could fail, it did that and more. Plus, the ability to convert into a pickup meant more weight, less handling, more gas consumption, and an overall marginalized vehicle that was already marginal looking. In many ways, this represents everything that was wrong with GM at that time. Even GM knew it was horrible and discontinued it after one year.