10 Of The Worst Cars Ever Made: The Automotive Hall of Shame

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A look at the industry's biggest failures.

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What is the worst car in the world right now? Is it an electric car by default, simply because so many people don't like the concept or the associated pollution? Or is it a bare-bones utility car built down to a cost, like the Mitsubishi Mirage?

Nope, it's neither. Choosing a list of the worst cars is deeply subjective because if you're on this page, there's a good chance you're an enthusiast. That means the biggest sin a car can commit is being boring. A dull car is a bad car, at least in this author's eyes.

If I had to choose the worst car on sale today, it would be the Toyota Corolla Cross. It's not a particularly bad car, hitting about 90% of its targets. But it's just 176 inches of generic design that offers nothing to car enthusiasts. If you want a compact, reliable, spacious, and frugal quasi-crossover, it's brilliant, but here, it just ranks as one of the worst cars ever. And yet, it doesn't crack our top 10...

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The Worst Cars Ever Made

There are many bad cars to choose from if we include all of automotive history. The Ford Pinto comes to mind. It was the OG burning car before the electric vehicle (unjustly) picked up the torch. People also tend to overlook the VW Beetle, which is both an icon and possibly the worst car model ever.

The problem is that VW didn't know when to stop selling the original people's car. VW kept producing the Beetle in third-world countries until 2003. By then, the four-speed manual transmission was outdated, not to mention that these countries deserved safer cars. The Ford Mustang II also belongs on the list for being a disappointing second album. And perhaps even the Ford Model T because it's nearly impossible to drive. But we'll let it slide because Ford kick-started mass production and is responsible for the automotive industry being the colossus it is today.

Wikipedia Commons

Then there's everyone's favorite dead horse. We'll flog the Pontiac Aztek one more time because what the hell were the car designers thinking? How the Aztek got approved to run down an assembly line remains one of life's biggest mysteries. General Motors had no excuse. At least the East German manufacturers had multiple forces working against them, so we can let cars like the Trabant slide.

As we just demonstrated, it's far too easy to pick on classic cars like the Ford Pinto and one of the ugliest cars ever made, the Pontiac Aztek.

We'd much rather take a look at the (relatively) modern auto industry to provide an answer to what are the worst the worst cars made recently.

Pontiac

The Worst Car: A Modern-ish List

There are multiple examples to choose from. There are horrendous subcompact cars, oddly proportioned cars, and cars that claim to be sports sedans without even a hint of athleticism. Car design might also be subjective, but sometimes, everyone can agree that a vehicle is simply ugly. The BMW XM is a prime example.

With that in mind, let's look at 10 horrifying cars in no particular order.

BMW

1. Chrysler Crossfire

The Crossfire is one of the most curiously proportioned cars ever, but that's not why it's on this list. We get what Chrysler was going for since it came along when retro was the hottest design trend. The Crossfire also promised so much. An engine in the front, two seats in the middle, and all the power going to the rear axle.

But it was a car constructed on an old platform, an archaic naturally aspirated heavy six-cylinder motor, and one of those steering wheels that wouldn't look out of place in a semi-truck.

We can bash it even more, so we shall. The 3.2-liter Mercedes-sourced engine only produced 215 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque. You can work with these kinds of figures if the car is light or the engine is rev-happy, but the Crossfire hit neither of these targets. The V6 produced maximum power at 5,700 rpm.

2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Front Angle View Chrysler 2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Rear Angle View Chrysler 2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Exterior Details Chrysler
2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Front Angle View
2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Rear Angle View
2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Exterior Details

The top speed was electronically limited to 155 mph, but you had to have the patience of a monk to get there. The interior was slathered in poor-fitting plastic made to look like metal, but the paint faded over time, leaving a basic air-conditioning unit wrapped around plastic you wouldn't even use to make one of those push-carts you can rent for your kid at the mall.

Does it have any redeeming qualities? Well, because it was one of the worst cars ever made in America, you can get it for cheap. We know from the SRT model that the V6 is easy to supercharge, and many aftermarket parts are available for the first-generation SLK platform. Still, we'd rather buy a Nissan 350Z from the same period. Same sort of car, but Nissan actually understood the assignment.

Dashboard Chrysler Center Stack Chrysler 2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Gearbox Controls Chrysler
Dashboard
Center Stack
2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire Coupe Gearbox Controls

2. Dodge Caliber

The Dodge Caliber could have been great. It came along before the crossover became a thing, and it could have been a dominant subcompact car. Dodge gave it styling inspired by its muscle cars, which left us thinking that it was going to be a family car that you could enter in a drag race. Dodge even dubbed a V8 soundtrack over the Caliber's TV spots, and it got into some legal trouble because of it.

In reality, the Caliber was equipped with a horribly underpowered 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-pot that only produced 158 hp and 141 lb-ft. The top-spec model was equipped with a CVT transmission, but maximum torque was only available from 5,000 rpm.

2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Forward View Dodge 2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Rear Angle View Dodge 2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Dashboard Dodge
2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Forward View
2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Rear Angle View
2007-2012 Dodge Caliber Dashboard

As we've discovered in the years since the Caliber's launch, CVT transmissions only really work when you have a decent amount of torque available from 2,000 rpm or less. A five-speed manual transmission was available on lesser models, and you had to do a lot of shifting to keep the engine within its power band. It could have been fun, but the shifter felt like it was set in a bowl of Cheerios that had been standing for a decade. As a result, the fuel economy was terrible.

Dodge tried to remedy the problem with the SRT4, which had a turbocharged four-pot, but all it ended up with was one of the most underwhelming hot hatches ever. It had nearly 300 hp going through the front wheels only, so the car tended to torque steer wherever it wanted to go.

Honestly, it was better to just buy a traditional sports sedan.

2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Driving Front Angle Dodge 2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Driving Back View Dodge 2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Engine Dodge
2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Driving Front Angle
2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Driving Back View
2008-2009 Dodge Caliber SRT4 Engine

3. Hummer H2

The story of how the military-spec Humvee became a civilian car is well-known. These military vehicles became famous thanks to the invention of the 24-hour news cycle and the Gulf War. It was the kind of free exposure automotive companies would kill for, on par with Princess Diana owning an Audi convertible.

Noting demand from civilians, AM General began building the Hummer H1. It had the same basic bones as the military-spec Humvee but with some comfort features thrown in.

General Motors purchased the brand in 1999, seeing an opportunity to cash in on national pride. Unfortunately, the H2 was pretty much useless off-road as it was built on the GMT820 platform, also used by the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. It had a permanent four-wheel-drive system with a transfer case and a locking rear differential, but Jeep could sell you a much better 4x4 for much less.

In 2006, the Hummer H3 came along as a cheaper alternative but had the same inherent problems as the H2.

2008-2010 Hummer H2 Front Angle View Hummer 2008-2010 Hummer H2 Rear Angle View Hummer 2008-2010 Hummer H2 Rear View Hummer
2008-2010 Hummer H2 Front Angle View
2008-2010 Hummer H2 Rear Angle View
2008-2010 Hummer H2 Rear View

The main issue was a lack of decent engine options. Pre-facelifted H2s were equipped with a 6.0-liter V8 producing 325 hp. General Motors facelifted the car in 2008, adding a 393-hp 6.2-liter V8. Combine that with a 6,600-pound curb weight (facelifted models), and the best you could hope for was 10 mpg combined. The H3 was available with an inline-five cylinder and a 5.3-liter V8. The H3 weighed 100 lbs shy of 5,000 lbs with the latter engine. This model could at least achieve 13 mpg.

Why did Hummer fail? It was a combination of two things which are connected. The war in Iraq became increasingly less popular as time went on, and it increased the price of fuel. In 2007, the Great Recession hit, which was the final nail in Hummer's coffin.

Whether you like the Hummer's supersize all the things image is good or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that it became an obsolete, oversized, gas-guzzling SUV overnight. It was a car deeply out of touch with the times, on par with driving a Mercedes S-Class in front of East Germans before the wall came tumbling down.

Hummer Hummer

Owners got nothing in return for the terrible fuel efficiency. This so-called Sports Utility Vehicle was no longer aspirational but a symbol of inconspicuous consumption. Fill up the fuel tank; a day later, all that fossil fuel was gone. The rise of the electric car also started around the time the brand died, making owners look even sillier.

But we don't care much about politics. The Hummer is here because it was a terrible car offering only style and no substance.

You'd think GMC would use a different tactic when reinventing Hummer as an all-electric brand. To get a decent range, GMC had to equip the Hummer with a 205 kWh battery pack, which is the vehicle's heaviest component. It weighs 9,000 lbs in total (3,000 of which are the battery), and you can only imagine what it would do to the world's smallest car, the Peel P50. A more realistic scenario is a crash between the Hummer EV and the Toyota Camry.

Crash test agencies have already expressed concerns about the Hummer's weight, and, as it turns out, it's also not as frugal as you'd expect. Basically, GMC is just repeating history without the V8.

2008-2010 Hummer H3 Front Angle View Hummer 2008-2010 Hummer H3 Rear Angle View Hummer 2008-2010 Hummer H3 Dashboard Hummer 2008-2010 Hummer H3 Front Seats Hummer
2008-2010 Hummer H3 Front Angle View
2008-2010 Hummer H3 Rear Angle View
2008-2010 Hummer H3 Dashboard
2008-2010 Hummer H3 Front Seats

4. Maybach 57 And 62

After BMW purchased the Rolls-Royce brand, it wanted to make a statement. The result was the Phantom VII, produced from 2003 to 2017. BMW left the masters of luxury alone to do their job, and the result was sublime.

Rolls-Royce used to understand that luxury had nothing to do with technology or fitting a touchscreen interface to every available surface. Luxury is silence, effortless progress, simplicity, light and air, and a general sense of well-being.

Mercedes-Benz decided to bring Maybach back as a standalone brand to compete with the Phantom. You could buy the 57 (short-wheelbase) or 62 (long-wheelbase). Both were equipped with a 6.0-liter V12 engine producing 600 horses. It had screens for the driver and rear passengers, impressive acceleration times, and champagne flutes, but it could not disguise what it was underneath.

2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Front Angle View Daimler AG 2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Side View Daimler AG 2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear View Daimler AG 2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Engine Daimler AG
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Front Angle View
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Side View
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear View
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Engine

While the Phantom was bespoke, the Maybach was an elongated S-Class. Mercedes also committed the cardinal sin of sharing components between the two cars, leaving many customers wondering why they should pay more than double for a car based on the S-Class. The fact that the S-Class was already so good at being an ultra-luxury car didn't help the cause.

Slow sales eventually killed Maybach as a standalone brand, and it wasn't because of the recession. Rolls-Royce continually outsold Maybach, even though the Phantom was less technologically advanced.

Maybach still exists, but now it's an ultra-luxury trim that still falls underneath the broader Mercedes-Benz brand.

2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Dashboard Daimler AG 2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear Passenger Seats Daimler AG 2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear Passenger Seats Daimler AG Maybach
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Dashboard
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear Passenger Seats
2008-2012 Maybach Maybach 62 Rear Passenger Seats

5. Smart ForTwo

In many ways, the Smart ForTwo is the antidote to the Hummer H2 mentioned earlier, so why is it possibly the worst car ever?

Well, you haven't known genuine fear until you've driven a ForTwo on the freeway or tried to find the limits of adhesion the front tires provide. Both these activities are beyond what the ForTwo's designers had in mind, but any decent car should work in various settings. The ForTwo's primary issue is that it only worked in the city.

The OG ForTwo was only available with a series of turbocharged three-cylinder engines mated to a six-speed automated manual gearbox. It did a fine job in a congested city like London or New York, where street parking is scarce. Sure, you noticed the stupid gearbox, but it didn't matter because you could drive around, smug about your tiny car that could park in the tightest spots.

But things started to fall apart once you took it on the freeway, trying to hit the top speed of whatever it was (I never got there because I chickened out). As it turns out, having a car nearly as wide as long is not a good idea.

2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Frontal Aspect smart 2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Rear Angle View smart 2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Dashboard smart
2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Frontal Aspect
2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Rear Angle View
2008-2010 smart fortwo Coupe Dashboard

You're also aware that the diminutive car riding on a set of tires no bigger than a kid's bicycle wheels is much smaller than everything else. Driving a ForTwo in a country where the Ford F Series is the best-selling car is intimidating. That tiny plastic body offered almost no protection, and the rear bumper was within a few inches of your butt. Basically, you were the crumple zone. To date, it's the only car that scared me due to a lack of speed.

But the handling was far worse, also because of the unique chassis. You didn't have to push hard to get the thing to understeer. You could turn that steering wheel as much as you wanted, but the ForTwo plowed on straight and true. And don't even think about lifting because that short wheelbase would snap around into oversteer faster than any average human can catch it.

Thankfully, the ForTwo has been killed, and these days, Smart simply produces two relatively anonymous EVs with a wheelbase long enough not to want to kill you all the time.

2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Open Top smart 2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Rear Angle View smart 2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Lateral View smart
2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Open Top
2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Rear Angle View
2008-2010 smart fortwo Convertible Lateral View

6. Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Choosing the most offensive convertible wasn't easy because the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet and Range Rover Evoque Convertible also exist. While these cars deserve an honorable mention on a list answering the question of what the worst cars are, they at least had something going for them. The Nissan and Range Rover at least succeeded in the primary goal of getting other road users looking at whoever purchased them, which we suppose makes them semi-successful.

With the Chrysler Sebring Convertible, you simply showcased to other road users that you wanted a drop-top but knew nothing about cars. And that's why you purchased something from the nearest dealership to your house, which just happened to be a Chrysler. There's no other reason we can think of why you'd buy this car.

The Sebring Convertible looks wrong from every angle. You have that massive overbite at the front and that massive swollen rear end to accommodate the folding hardtop. To this day, we can't decide whether it looks worse with the roof up or down. At least with the top-up, other people can't see you.

2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Front Angle View Chrysler 2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top Chrysler 2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top Chrysler 2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top Chrysler
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Front Angle View
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Open Top

Three engine options were available, none of them good. The 2.4-liter NA four-pot didn't have enough power to overcome the 3,700 lbs curb weight. The 2.7-liter V6 had the same problem and was mated to a terrible four-speed automatic. Like many older cars, it would kick down a gear and make more noise without providing more momentum. The 3.5-liter V6 produced 235 hp and was mated to a six-speed automatic. It was the best available engine, which isn't saying much. It's like choosing between getting kicked in the shin or the testicles.

The cheapest model cost roughly $28,000 during its final model year (2010). An NC Miata in Touring trim cost $3,000 less that same year. The NC Miata may not be the best version of the Miata, but it ran circles around the Sebring. Sure, the Sebring had rear seats, but you could drop the kids off at the nearest orphanage and buy the Mazda.

You may suffer some heartache from losing your kids, but it's nothing compared to the pain of walking out of your house and finding a Sebring Convertible in the driveway.

2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Dashboard Chrysler 2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Front Seats Chrysler 2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Engine Chrysler
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Dashboard
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Front Seats
2008-2010 Chrysler Sebring Convertible Engine

7. Ford EcoSport

The Kia Soul, Mazda CX-30, Buick Encore, and Hyundai Kona are perfect examples of how to design and build a subcompact crossover for a first-world country. Instead of designing a new model from scratch, Ford adapted a third-world model and sold it in America.

We're talking about the EcoSport, which was first introduced in 2012. It was sold in India, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, certain parts of Europe, and South Africa when it was new. It was a big hit, so Ford decided in 2016 to adapt the car for the American market.

Bringing the EcoSport here wasn't just a case of loading a few on a ship in India and sending the shipment stateside. We've driven the original third-world EcoSport, a terrible car that outsells several rivals because of brand loyalty.

To prepare the EcoSport for the USA, Ford had to equip the car with a rearview camera, which is why the touchscreen interface looks like an afterthought. Ford also had to include traction and stability control across the entire range. However, developing advanced driver assistance features would have cost too much, so it only has blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert on top-spec models.

Ford Ford

You can still tell, however. Some interior trimmings are hard and scratchy, and despite Ford adding some funky orange decals, it still looks dated.

Only a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-pot is available, making 166 hp and 149 lb-ft. It's just not good enough and needs to go away.

The sub-compact category wouldn't be complete without two honorable mentions. The first is the Chevrolet Aveo, a car Chevy would rather everyone forget. It was essentially a Daewoo with a Chevy badge pasted to the front. It was like a car but designed by someone who had only seen a car on television.

The Mitsubishi Mirage also deserves a heap of scorn. It's 151.4 inches of meh, symbolizing how far this once revered brand has fallen.

Ford Ford

8. Aston Martin Cygnet

If Aston Martin had been honest about the Cygnet from the start, it would not be such an insult to the automotive community.

According to Aston Martin's marketing department, the Cygnet "was designed as a luxury solution to urban mobility" and is an "extension to Aston Martin's range of acclaimed luxury sports cars."

The real reason for the Cygnet's existence is the 2012 European Union Fleet Average Emissions Regulations. The EU imposed an emissions limit across an automaker's entire fleet, and since Aston Martin was only producing V8 and V12-powered models at the time, there was no way it would pass.

Instead of designing a new car to meet these silly regulations, Aston Martin purchased a few Toyota IQs and removed the badges.

Aston Martin Aston Martin

The British brand then pasted its badge to the front, gave it the iconic grille, and added some luxuries to the interior. And it charged three times the price.

This would have been fine, if Aston Martin was just honest. We would have applauded Aston Martin for being honest. The press release should have said, "We're using the Cygnet to get around emissions regulations set by politicians who have no idea how the automotive industry works. If we sell a few of these, we can keep on selling beautiful grand tourers, and we might even be able to slap a set of turbochargers to a V12 to see what happens."

Instead, it stuck with the silly marketing quotes mentioned earlier. Thankfully, we got the DB11 and DB12 out of it.

Aston Martin Aston Martin

9. Suzuki Jimny

The third-generation Suzuki Jimny was introduced in Japan in late 1998, which means you'll be able to import one to the USA next year.

Many of you will have seen this tiny off-roader embarrass much larger machines in YouTube videos, and we're here to tell you that it does indeed punch well above its weight. If you fit aftermarket lockers on the front and rear axle, it will pretty much go anywhere.

But there's another side to the Jimny that few road tests mention. It's dreadfully slow and doesn't come standard with handling. It has something resembling handling, but not quite.

For the first two years of its life, the third generation was only available with the three-cylinder K6A engine, with or without a turbocharger.

Suzuki Suzuki Suzuki

The naturally aspirated 658 cc engine produced 53 hp and 46 lb-ft of torque while adding a boosty boi took these figures up to 63 hp and 80 lb-ft.

The Jimny is magnificent off-road, but the bits in between will drive you crazy. Keeping it at 60 mph is arduous, even if you opt for the later 1.3-liter NA four-pot. Alternative means of transport that are more comfortable include walking, taking the bus, or getting a lift from a dodgy stranger who will 100% stab you as soon as you fall asleep.

There is a proviso, however. If you intend to import a Jimny as a workhorse, all will be good. Using it to drive around on a ranch or a wildlife sanctuary falls right in the sweet spot of what the Jimny is capable of. Ask it to do anything else, and it falls apart.

Suzuki Suzuki

10. Jeep Compass (First Gen)

Jeep has made several terrible cars in the past. Examples include the Patriot, Jeep's take on the Dodge Caliber mentioned earlier. The Liberty and Commander were also outdated before they went on sale. The latter was produced during the era when Jeep struggled with interior quality, which is no longer the case.

But the biggest stinker of them all was the first-generation Compass, made between 2006 and 2016. It also used the same platform and engines as the Patriot and Caliber, but Jeep tweaked the marketing for the Compass. It was designed to be more youthful to lure younger buyers to the brand. Instead, the Compass scared many young people off.

Allow us to explain.

Jeep Jeep

The first problem was the CVT transmission. This was in the early days of CVTs when manufacturers promised that they would save fuel and have no downside. As anyone who has ever driven the 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter models will tell you, that's not the case. It feels like the clutch is constantly slipping, the whine is unbearable, and you must give it some stick to make any meaningful progress. This actually increases fuel consumption, so you're stuck with a car that's horrible to drive and not as frugal as the salesperson promised.

Manual modes were equipped with Freedom Drive I, a helpful permanent four-wheel-drive system. But if you wanted a 4WD Compass with a CVT, Jeep fitted it with Freedom Drive II, a 19:1 gear reduction meant to simulate low range.

It was a terrible car with a horrid interior. Instead of luring younger customers in, the Compass scared people right into a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.

Jeep Jeep

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