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Hooniverse Asks- So Far, What’s The Worst Car or Truck of the 21st Century?

Robert Emslie December 17, 2012 Hooniverse Asks

We’re about to close the books on the 12th year of the 21st Century, an era that in dog years that can mean the better part of a lifetime. In the automotive world that often times means an intro and refresh, or even two full product cycles. That’s a lot of new metal that has hit the road the past 12 years, even with the stumble that was the global economic downturn a few back delaying or killing a number of introductions, and along the way there must have been some turkeys.

With out a doubt, the cars of today are far and away the best vehicles ever offered to a buying public. They are immensely safer, more efficient, and far more feature rich than even those which were available at the close of the last century. But while the bar has been set far higher, that still means that there are a number of makes and models that fall below. Statistically, there simply has to be.

Today we want to consider the 21st Century so far and first lament that we don’t have the hover cars or moon bases that were the promise of this era. We then need to evaluate the automotive landscape and take stock of what cars these days don’t seem to meet our modern expectations. Sure the crappiest cars and trucks may be better than the best ones of 30 years ago, but by today’s standards they’re still crappy. Which ones do you put in that category? So far, what’s the worst car or truck of the 21st Century?

Image: [vroomgirls]

Currently there are "150 comments" on this Article:

    • JayP2112 says:

      The later models came with a real LS engine and could be had with a manual transmission.
      Still a long way from me owning one.

      • CABEZAGRANDE says:

        I always viewed SSRs as only valuable as a ready source of used LS2s and triple cone synchro T56s. Great place to get an awesome drivetrain for a car that actually deserves it.

    • Scandinavian Flick says:

      5000 pounds, 2 seats, 350hp, impractical as a car, and completely worthless as a truck… Yeah, I'd say this qualifies.

      • muthalovin says:

        Once upon a time, my roommate and I were out driving and caught a light with a yellow SSR. It was our first time to see one in person, and I snapped a picture. The lady driver (blond, big knockers) rolls down the window and her yappy dog goes nuts. She tells us it looks great with the top down. Heh. She then proceeds to race us from the light. It was cute, because she probably thought we were just cruising some shitty ricebox. The Evo smoked her. 'Twas awesome.

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

        it does qualify, I look for a good deal on a used one online every now and then.

  1. $kaycog says:

    The Pontiac Aztek surpasses all in ugliness IMO.

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/01_Pontiac_Aztek.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    Image: Wikipedia

  2. lilpoindexter says:

    Chrysler 200, or whatever its called.

    • LTDScott says:

      My wife has an irrational but understandable hate of Chrysler Sebrings. Apparently she rented one a few years back and it broke down, plus someone who she used to know but now hates owned one, so she just hates them.

      On our honeymoon in Maui back in March, we rented a convertible. Got to the rental car lot and all they had were a few left over Sebrings and a bunch of 200s. My wife saw the Sebrings and immediately picked a 200 instead. I told her that in reality the 200 is just a warmed over Sebring, and she was clearly not happy. We were about to leave when she saw a Mustang convertible being returned, so she jumped out and made a bee-line to the return area to see if we could get the Stang instead. We had to wait about 30 mins while it was being cleaned/gassed up, but both of us were happy to wait. I was so damn proud of her haha.

      • colorblinded says:

        My friend and I were discussing the Sebring (and thus the 200 because as far as I'm aware it's basically a Sebring) and I described them as acceptably terrible or something to that effect. They're awful cars, undesirable, unlovable and you wouldn't really want one but they're not necessarily completely worthless. I reserve that judgement for the current bland and awful North American VW Jetta. Good lord what have they done?

    • Maymar says:

      I'd be willing to accept the Sebring, but as much as the 200 is a tarted up Sebring, they tarted the hell out of it. Between the Pentastar, and the new exterior and interior, it's at least passable until they can come up with an all new car.

      Don't get me wrong, the last time I rented a car, the moment I saw the Chrysler key (not the nub key of the 300), I started asking about the Mustang they had on the lot.

  3. jtk2 says:

    I'll nominate the early 2000s Kia Spectra/Sephia. I rented one once while my car was being repaired. I returned it early and walked instead. It was seriously awful.

  4. Joe Dunlap says:

    PT Cruiser, Any Hummer, so many choices, so many choices….

    • Stuckinsnow says:

      There is much worse out there.

    • erikgrad says:

      This car can only squeak out the same highly fuel economy as the much larger Ford Focus, requires the use of premium fuel to manage that, and has a transmission from hell.

      Worldwide, it may have more to offer (diesel)… however, with regard to the USA, it deserves consideration as a 'worst car'.

      • Scandinavian Flick says:

        I got your back on this one. These things seriously suck. When I first sat in one, I couldn't believe it cost as much as it did, and is produced by Mercedes. The interior felt like some clapped together concept car. Also, as you say, the transmission licks, and the fuel economy is inexcusable for what it is. In the US, this is probably up there with the biggest wastes of money available.

      • Maymar says:

        Everyone talks about how the Smart "only gets the same fuel economy as x compact," when it's a total distortion of the truth. Find me a North American Focus that gets 34 city mpg.

        No, until Toyota brought along the iQ, there wasn't a gas-powered car that got better city or combined fuel economy. And given the smart's very singular mission as a city car, that's not so bad. It's absolutely flawed – rough riding, narrow inside, and the aforementioned transmission from hell (it's better if you keep it out of automatic so you can at least anticipate the shifts). But it's also surprisingly roomy, has plenty of cargo space for two, has great visibility, it's incredibly easy to slot into small gaps in traffic or minuscule parking spots, and most importantly, it has character. It's this light, nimble, over-eager little thing, it hasn't been stuffed with needless refinement, or built to emulate 17 identical cars. It's so willfully different, I'm glad it exists.

    • bhtooefr says:

      Agreed, my dad had one.

      It had awfully overboosted-yet-no-feel power steering (I'd actually have liked to have tried a base model, with manual steering) that was extremely fatiguing to drive, the suspension was extremely harsh on Ohio roads (and I like firmish suspension!), the fuel economy wasn't that good (you could get high 30s from most of the econobox hatchbacks at the time), the transmission was atrocious, and maintenance costs were comparable to any other Mercedes product.

  5. PotbellyJoe says:

    I'm going to go with the 2004-08 Nissan Maxima.

    "But that engine.." you'll say. Well, it was available in the Altima, so no worries. The car was terrible for what a Maxima was supposed to be. It was too long in the wheel base, the interior was crap warmed over and the longitudinal glass pane was just weird. This car had a turning radius that would rival a crew-cab, long-bed dually. The exterior was entirely uninspired and they had to put ridiculous paint on it just to grab attention. I look at the 2003-2008 Nissan design as the weakest of years for Nissan.

    This was the model that took the Maxima out of the mainstream conversation of worthy 4-doors.

    <img src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/03q1/267344/2004-nissan-maxima-35se-photo-5921-s-429×262.jpg"&gt;

  6. Irishzombieman says:

    The 2002-2005 Ford Thunderbird POS.

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ec/2002-2005_Ford_Thunderbird.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • Mad_Science says:

      Aside from not being what people wanted them to be, were they really that bad?

      Decent power, modern chassis, but questionable styling.

      • Irishzombieman says:

        I take issue with your use of the word "questionable" and answer your initial query with an unqualified affirmative for styling alone.

        /wink

      • PotbellyJoe says:

        The ride and drive was great for a day-trip roadster for two. However, the best part of driving the T-bird was that you didn't have to look at it while you behind the wheel…

        • Irishzombieman says:

          Exactly! A car's goodness or even greatness is severely diminished when walking up to the car bothers me as much as this would.

          Pastels? Who thought that was a good idea?

    • JayP2112 says:

      Spotted one on the road yesterday. A good looking car.

      But I'll submit the entire DEW98 platform.
      S-Type was a nightmare. Been there, got the shirt.
      The LS wasn't much better.

      It says volumes when you see a 'premium' car running with trash bags over the busted windows and bungee cords holding down the trunk lid.

      • CABEZAGRANDE says:

        I've really enjoyed all the DEW98 cars I've driven so far. The S-Type R I've driven was very fun, and has been a champ of a car for my friend, with no major issues in 2 years of ownership. My friend in college had an old LS-V8, and besides some minor electrical issues was a great car. And the XF is based of the 98 platform as well, and it's a TON of fun. They all handle very well, are very safe, nice and roomy, and if you cherry pick the models in each line that didn't have electrical issues (STR, LS-V6 manual), they were all decent lines. I very much disagree with the DEW98 hate.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      Dang there are a lot of people recommending cars I like! I liked the interior on these, colorful. The price was wrong was the biggest trouble for me.

      Also I thumbed you back up, I just assume someone missed before, not that there are militant t-bird readers here.

      • Irishzombieman says:

        Gracias, hombre. Surprising bit of dislike for me today, as a couple of these comments have zeroed out at one point or another. P'rhaps I'm coming off as more vitriolic than I mean to be. If that's the case, I'm genuinely sorry, folks.

        But I still don't like this car.

  7. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    Great news!

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/92/Dacia_Sandero_front_20090722.jpg/280px-Dacia_Sandero_front_20090722.jpg"&gt;

    Who gave me a thumbs down for the classic Dacia Sandero?!

  8. Devin says:

    <img src="http://images.thecarconnection.com/sml/2010-dodge-caliber-4-door-hb-mainstreet-angular-front-exterior-view_100309946_s.jpg"&gt;
    Slow, badly put together out of cheap and unpleasant parts, uncomfortable, hard to see out of, and with a transmission that felt like it was completely broken.

    • KevinKiley says:

      Everyone is so quick to point out that the tbird isnot actually that bad, the smart fortwo isnt actually that bad…then I must defend the Prius, a car superior to both I previously mentioned.

      • POLAЯ says:

        Oh, I don't have anything against the Prius, I just don't like their breeding techniques.

      • jeepjeff says:

        I've got to say that the original second gen cars are terrible. The horrible, mushy handling, numb lack of feedback and moped like acceleration of the second generation Prius (particularly before they slightly stiffened up the suspension at all with the 'touring' package) are so bad that the fact that the car will never fall apart or give any trouble (aside from possibly the battery) is actually a negative. If your significant other likes it, it will never give you an excuse to sell it.

        As far as things like 'comfort' and 'interior quality' or 'fit and finish': those things seem to be the only real, indisputable positives of the Prius. Frankly, I really don't care about those things. I really don't. I like the crappy hard-plastic interior of my Jeep about as much as the very well finished and comfortable interior of my wife's Civic.

        So I guess the only positive of the car that I'll actually count for it is interior space and cargo room. You can haul a decent amount of stuff with it. But you can't haul ass.

  9. Van_Sarockin says:

    I've gotta go with any four door car that calls itself a coupe. You think that combover is fooling anyone?

  10. Tanshanomi says:

    Sure, there are some homely and unimpressive modern cars, but they don't compare to some of the truly horrible cars from before dynamic modeling software and Finite Element Analysis.

    <img src="http://www.legendendertechnik.de/Autos/Renault/RenaultDauphine/RenaultDauphine.JPG"&gt;

    • mdharrell says:

      True, although I don't see what that delightful photo has to do with your comment.

    • Van_Sarockin says:

      People have thought the same about every era of cars. Design, technology and materials continue to advance, rendering yesterday's state of the art mundane. Sadly few modern cars can be hand cranked to start, however.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq says:

      You mess with the little girl here, be careful that PV in the back is watching you, watching you when you sleep, and he punches above his weight.

  11. Mad_Science says:

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Jeep-Compass.jpg&quot; width=500>

    Ugly
    Lousy mechanical bits
    Brand dilution

    It's one thing to be a bad car, it's another to be a bad car wearing a Jeep skin suit.

  12. muthalovin says:

    As a hoon, I can defend just about any "worst car." I see a lot of cars here that were either panned by critics or generally disliked by the public, but us hoons can find some value in bad cars, right?

    • engineerd says:

      I know they get a lot of hate, and I wouldn't buy one, but these things fascinate me. Almost to the point of liking them. I mean, what mad genius though of dropping the top on a crossover?

      • Tanshanomi says:

        I agree. The chopped off C-pillars need some work, but other than that, it's kinda…um…understandable?

      • muthalovin says:

        I almost wrecked my truck commuting home on Friday because of one of these. I could not look away. Also, all 4 seats were occupied by bodacious blonds.

      • jeepjeff says:

        I think this is high on the list of "we're going to love this car in 20 years". It's awful looking, and there are much better looking convertible SUVs, but seriously? This is one of the great automotive weirdos of our day, and we're going to be sad that more people didn't buy them new in a couple decades. Nissan has a couple of those on its books these days (like the Juke).

    • Jeff_Glucker says:

      A probably candidate for HCOTY 2063 when someone races one at LeMons: The World's Greatest Motor Race

  13. wisc47 says:

    I don't think I've ever hated a car more than this. It's ugly, not as practical as any other crossover, and had no off-roading ability whatsoever so basically it was useless as an SUV.
    <img src="http://www.chevrolet.com/content/dam/Chevrolet/northamerica/usa/nscwebsite/en/Home/Tools/Discontinued%20Vehicles/HHR/01_images/2012-chevrolet-discontinued-vehicles-hhr-482×260.jpg"&gt;

    • PotbellyJoe says:

      Not surprisingly designed by the same guy that did the PT Cruiser, Brian Nesbitt.

      To be fair, it got decent gas mileage (32 mpg hwy) and had some of the most storage in its class. And the SS was a monster.

      But yeah, a copy of something already on its way out was a bad place to start…

    • Senior Frog says:

      I don't think it was ever marketed as an SUV, or made any claims of off-road capability.

    • FuzzyPlushroom says:

      I'd have an SS panel-van variant, but only just.

      We got one as a rental once. The seats were made of old tarps and the lump in the ceiling (rollover protection? airbag?) made this already-tall vehicle cramped for headroom… and I'm 6'.

    • RegalRegalia says:

      Remember that the Honda Odyssey started out as an "MPV" and then became a minivan. This is like that but a devolution of sorts.

  14. Tomsk says:

    <img src="http://www.thetorquereport.com/2009_pontiac_g3.jpg&quot; width="500" />

    "Hells yeah we're serious about breathing new life into Pontiac! Just look at the Solstice and the G8…what? You're wondering how the G3 fits into this plan? Ummmm…LOOK OVER THERE! Is that Ford phoning it in with another new Mercury?"

    • Tanshanomi says:

      I have a perverse fascination with the G3. The B-P-GMC dealer near my house had a bunch of them on the lot when Pontiac got axed and advertised them for $12,250 and 0.9%. I almost could have gone for that deal just to have such a weird-Alice badge derivative. But than I realized that I'd be stuck having to drive the confounded thing for the next five years.

  15. Mr. Smee says:

    Badge-engineering, how you know a huge corporation that wants lots of your money also has utter contempt for you.

  16. engineerd says:

    <img width=500 src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/jpg/201009/topspeed-s-15-worst–6w.jpg"&gt;

    When I want to crush the souls of the working class, I want to look like I'm in something more than a stretched S-klasse.

    • Marto says:

      I didn't know Hyundai made a car that big…
      oh.

    • Rover1 says:

      How to get so wrong what Bentley and( particularly ) Rolls Royce get so right .So bad that the car that launches the brand kills it.

    • Maymar says:

      On the other hand, I can't fault Benz for wanting to amortize the hell out of the development costs for the W140 (plus, it kept a better S-Klasse than the W220 in production).

  17. Jeff_Glucker says:

    Nissan.Versa.

    Those fuckers will get you fired…

  18. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    Are we talking Worst, Most Hated or Least Favourite?

    Either way; my choice ticks at least two of the above boxes, maybe three. It's this:

    <img src="http://www.bmwdrives.com/gallery/BMWcars/e83/e83_1.jpg&quot; width="450/">

    The first generation (E83) BMW X3 defined, for me, the moment that BMW jumped the shark. We had already witnessed the first X5 which had syphoned a load of splendid technology from Zee Chermans rape 'n pillage session with Land Rover but which retained enough BMWness to be let off the hook. It even looked like an over-inflated E39 if you squinted.

    The X3 had none of that appeal. It was supposed to be related to the 3-Series and share a lot of that car's zeal and excitement and, to be fair to it the handling was very good indeed. But that was literally the only thing that about it that bore scrutiny. The X3 was rattly, felt cheap, was expensive and rode badly. There was nothing Bangle-Contraversial about the styling mainly because there was no styling. It was just generic compact SUV with a double kidney nailed to the nose. Then they foisted it with the previous generation 3er turbodiesel 2.0 litre engine and the car forever reminded me of an old Leyland Freight-Rover.

    This came at a time when I was selling BMWs for a living. The X3 did more to stretch my faith in the brand than any other product I've ever had any involvement with. I felt used. I feel like I should apologise to everyone I sold one to.

    I genuinely hate that car.

    • Jay says:

      Plus they never did manage to get the tailgate to line up properly with the taillights, it was always like 5 inches off, like it came off some other car or somethin.'

      Prolly just a shoddy assembly issue ::sigh::

    • Rover1 says:

      And it arrived long enough after the 4 cyl Z4s that we thought they had learnt that in order to have a strong enough brand identity for people to want your cars,the cars themselves must be desirable.

  19. Felis_Concolor says:

    The high levels of owner love for the Aztek have already dq'ed it from worst status.

    Having said that, and seeing the multiplicity of offerings already displayed on this site, I'm not certain there truly is a "worst of the 21st century" available in the US. Styling is a purely subjective call, so that's out, and as the polarizing Pontiac has demonstrated, many vehicles are much better looking once you're in the driver's seat. It's going to take some serious qualifications in order to properly separate wheat from chaff this time.

    However, I do support the nomination of the abysmally executed Maybach project, which so completely failed to exude any air of luxury even Paris Hilton threw a fit when someone made the mistake of sending one to pick her up. Even my own interest in Maybach's promotions was limited to saying, "hey, that's a Skycrane!" when one was transported from a luxury yacht to shore using the venerable heavy lifter. Its last gasp was viewed by millions during a brief cameo in a Transformers movie, where the occupant hit his marks and said his lines with robotic precision. Really, Mercedes? That was the best you could do? No wonder you're desperate to kill off the brand.

    The Tata Nano got off to a rocky start, and sales have tanked this year, but the jury is still out as the promised diesel version is on the horizon and Tata hopes it has a better long game with its low buck offering.We'll know in a year or 2 if the Nano has what it takes to survive in the market where its entry price will net you a decent scooter – or if it reached too far and offered too little.

    Pontiac's GTO/G8 has become a textbook example of how to kill your sales via internal bickering and fiefdom disputes; had it launched 2-3 years earlier when the initial buzz was fresh, Pontiac might have had a hit on its hands. Instead, it ended up as a footnote in the automaker's history when the plug was pulled.

    My own nomination is for a vehicle that was announced with lots of hype from the blogosphere while delivering nothing more than bad feelings so far. Mahindra's Pik-Up was supposed to be the compact truck fanatic's grail; comparable in size to the minitrucks which dominated the 80s, fitted with an efficient yet powerful diesel engine and sporting both 2 and 4 seat cab versions, the vehicle had already sold itself to legions of adoring fans. But a distributorship deal which turned sour in a very noisy, nasty and public way, coupled with released fuel economy ratings which forced many people to adjust their scales downward (from abysmal to abyssal, perhaps?), and now Mahindra has established a poor reputation in its target market even before it had a product to sell.

    • scott says:

      The GTO's biggest problem was the sudden currency shift that increased the Aussie dollar by 50 percent against the US dollar.

    • bhtooefr says:

      And the Mahindra pickup was a shoddily built piece of crap, in addition to being inefficient, from what I've heard from people that actually saw it. (And it was ugly.)

  20. Maymar says:

    <img src="http://wot.motortrend.com/files/2012/10/2012-Toyota-Corolla-front-three-quarter-view.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    I know it's really low hanging fruit, but the Toyota Corolla's a pretty abysmal car. I know, it's economical and reliable and all that, but so's a Honda Civic, and as lambasted as the 9th gen car is, it's still streets ahead of the depression-inducing Corolla.

  21. RegalRegalia says:

    The days before Versa:
    "MOM!!! Drive me to the internet!"

  22. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    Anything made by Geeley.

    Alternatively, the Suzuki Grand Vitara. I had the body-on-frame version of this trucklet, first and only brand-new car, in 1999, and it soured me, permanently.

    • bhtooefr says:

      The BOF Suzuki compact SUVs were actually quite good for offroading, though.

      As far as Geely, though, that does include every current Volvo product. :P But, I'll specifically nominate the Geely Hifun Hybrid.

      A few of us TDI fans went to the Detroit Auto Show in 2008… and saw it. A couple 300 pound guys sitting in it broke the seat, the hood latch was busted before, the entire pedal cluster moved when depressing the clutch pedal, the hybrid system was a bunch of lead acid batteries in the trunk, looked like the whole setup came from Harbor Freight… what a horrible car.

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