Hooniverse Asks: What Car or Truck Has the Most Useless Cupholders?

I’ve been fighting with a couple of the cup holders in our recently acquired Audi—mostly the console flipper and one of the sliders in the rear seat squab—and that got me thinking that automotive beverage containment is one place where the American manufacturers excel over their European and Asian counterparts. We do love a good Big Gulp or whatever enormous coffee cup happens along.
That also got me thinking that, while there are a lot of good cup holders out there—some that will even heat or cool your drink while you drive—there’s plenty more that, like my Audi’s, just plain suck. What are some of the worst ones you’ve encountered?
Image: AliExpress

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64 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Car or Truck Has the Most Useless Cupholders?”

  1. Borkwagen Avatar

    Any car with these idiotic glovebox lid indentations. This is out of a BMW of some sort; I had a 1990 Nissan Maxima with the same half-assed mehs.

    1. kogashiwa Avatar

      I remember our ’78 Corona had the same.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Those things go way back; my ’66 Corvair had them.

    2. babyivan Avatar

      I think these were designed for when you were pulled over and enjoying some fast food. For that they work quite well.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        It depends on the car. I had one with a very sloped dashboard face. The glovebox lid would open level, and would hold a 12 ounce can or coffee cup, but a 16 ounce bottle or big cup would be too tall for it.

      2. Infamous007 Avatar

        In the old days, they were drinkholders for when the young lovebirds made out at the drive in movie

      3. P161911 Avatar

        Back when fast food meant a drive in restaurant vs. a drive through window.

  2. sluggyjunx Avatar

    My previous car, B6 Audi S4, had the worst cup holder. I nicknamed it “the drink launcher.” One day I managed to dump a coffee mug onto the lap of my neighbor who was riding shotgun as I accelerated from a stop. Not only did the coffee do a number on his lap, but it ruined the documents he was holding. (I later learned they were signed, notarized paperwork) That was not a good morning.

  3. Kiefmo Avatar

    The worst cupholders are those which were never there in the first place.

  4. GTXcellent Avatar

    I’ve ridiculed the Saab’s gimmicky cup holder before so I won’t bother with that again. However, my personal very, very worst was the in-dash cup holder in my 1997 Dodge Ram. It was strong enough to actually hold a beverage (unlike the Saab) but it was placed in the very worst spot possible. That wicked awesome 5.9L Magnum provided such wicked awesome g-forces (hah hah hah) that even a low speed corner would cause your adult beverage soda can to fly out of the holster and splash everywhere.

    1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
      Frank T. Cat

      I had to dig through my Tumblr to find this picture:
      If you couldn’t tell, that’s an OG9-5.

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    My ’13 Tacoma has five(!) cupholders in the center console. It has these two useless ones in front, using rubber inserts that stick to your cup and pull out along with the cup:
    then one behind the shifter that’s small, and a bit awkward to reach:
    and then the ones for the rear seat passengers, also small:

  6. 0A5599 Avatar

    Way out of reach from the passenger compartment, useless with the tailgste up, and will certainly dump your drink if you tap the brakes.

    1. ptschett Avatar

      They’re great for that thing where people stand in the parking lot and barbecue / snack / drink before a sporting event, though.

    2. babyivan Avatar

      haha, troll bate

    3. Alff Avatar

      I use the Dodge’s tailgate as a work bench all the time. Those offer a convenient excuse to always do so with a beer at hand.

  7. engineerd Avatar

    My 1987 Ford Crown Vic had no cup holders, but plenty of room to add an aftermarket console with cup holders. Therefore, it isn’t the worst. Nope. The worst is my E90 BMW. They don’t hold cups very stable, so they spill and leak. And the one on the far right is exactly where the passenger’s knee needs to be while getting into and out of the car.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      The Germans believed (maybe not today) that cars were for driving, not for dining. Most Bimmers are stingy on the cupholders.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Exactly. Just the term “Cupholder” is actually a constant way of making fun of Americans in Germany.

    2. Lokki Avatar

      I came here to post those exact bast*rds. There is nothing made by man which holds liquid that sits securely in those things.

  8. 0A5599 Avatar

    Mini, apparently. Two girls, one cup holder? WTF is up with that?

  9. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    9-7x. The retractable cupholder is a neat Saaby gimmick, but worthless for anything larger than a 12oz can. The only other front seat cup holder is placed so close to the dash, it is worthless for anything larger than a 12oz can, but they couldn’t move it back any, because you would already hit anything larger than a 12oz can while shifting into park, and thanks to the other Saaby gimmick (the console mounted ignition), there is no open small item storage, so the cupholder defaults to being occupied by miscellaneous other crap, so it’s even more useless for holding a cup.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      A comparable Trailblazer has THREE front cup holders. One large useful one where the ignition key is there, and two smaller, marginally useful ones in front of the shifter.

  10. Batshitbox Avatar

    None of the 10 or so automobiles I’ve owned have had cup holders, so I’ll use this opportunity instead to rail against whatever idiot decided, sometime in the 1990s, that the best way to improve a plastic coffee cup lid was to put a hole in it. I’m gonna kick that design school dropout’s ass some day.
    The lid is there to keep the coffee in, why would you put a hole in it?!?

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      Redneck Tech Edition:

    2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      The hole is so you can drink it, because travel mugs are sippy cups for adults.

      1. Batshitbox Avatar

        The hole is there to let the coffee out onto your pants, your fingers, down your sleeve, all over the cardboard tray they give you to carry 4 coffees back to your crew, which then dissolves and lets the cups go all over hell. F—- the hole.

        1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

          Stock up on some of those plugs Starbucks has to fill the hole, problem solved.

  11. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

    This, in a car that can pull 1.2g on factory tires and suspension:

    1. Alff Avatar

      Why are you pulling 1.2g with an open container?

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        How come I’m the first to post it – and I’m not even into that stuff?

        1. crank_case Avatar

          It’s not a cup holder, it’s a the Japanese version of the Jackie Stewart analogue G-meter.

      2. Lokki Avatar

        Cause the cops are in the rear view mirror?

      3. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

        Unless this is a physics problem, in which case, I wouldn’t be pulling 1.2g with an open container, I would be pulling 1.2g while the container declined to share in my enthusiasm (and change in angular velocity). Do I have to show my work for full credit?

      4. AlexG55 Avatar

        No open container laws in the UK.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      I do love how passive aggressive Lotus was to the small handful of Elise owners that must have complained about cupholders, by just making a leather and aluminum chastity belt for one very tiny drink.

  12. Gregg Collins Avatar
    Gregg Collins

    I installed a gimboled cup holder to the dash of my 79 Dodge pickup. It would swing NS KEEP A CUP LEVEL.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      They don’t look like they are supposed to be cup holders, or is that a GM photo? The thing I’ve circled in red looks more like a flip-out cup holder.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        They’re Autoblog photos, but there really are genuine, intentionally designed cup holder wells molded into these storage bins.

    2. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      The Solstice convertible isn’t a whole lot better. It’s really difficult to contort yourself to reach these while driving.

  13. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    Apparently cheap cars do it better. One of the better thought out features of my Saturn SL2 is a pair of cup holders that are sized to hold bicycle water bottles and have a small light to make them easy to find in the dark. Our old Ford Ranger with automatic also had 2 good sized holders in the mini console on the floor, although manual transmission rangers have a slightly less convenient setup on the gearshift base

  14. Infamous007 Avatar

    Second generation s-10 from 1994 onward. Too tight at the bottom for a 1/2 liter bottle and too loose for an aluminum coca cola can. Both would rotate at a turn and spill drink.

  15. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    E39 5-series, designed to accept drinks vessels no wider than a Red Bull, and “holds” them right at the base. The flexible plastic that “grips” the drink then goes brittle three days outside warranty, rendering them functionless forever.

  16. jeepjeff Avatar

    I understand the VW Phaeton has cup holders that slide out of the dash at an uneven rate after only a tiny bit of wear.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      And fixing it is financial non-viable based on the value of the car.

    2. 0A5599 Avatar

      That’s one I had considered, but upon further review, they were ashtrays.

  17. CraigSu Avatar

    Others have referenced it but I will state it for the record. Pick a Saab, any Saab.

  18. Ayreonaut Avatar

    Old zj grand cherokee cupholders suck. NOTHING fits in them correctly. Also the original xj cherokee never had cupholders but there was a dealer add on you could get that clipped them into the shift bezel on the passenger side. They were like 1 inch deep so a light touch would knock a bottle out. Or the passengers knee would break the holder because of the lack of legroom.

  19. jeepjeff Avatar

    Slightly more seriously. Jeep Wrangler cup holders. They’re a fine mechanical design, but thanks to the suspension, they’re only useful when the vehicle is parked.

    1. Guest Avatar

      Which generation Wrangler are you talking about?

      The stock YJ ones are extremely useless, as they are too small to fit anything bigger than a pop can.

      Add in a relatively low depth, and the lack of rubber fingers to hold a can, as well as the the suspension you mentioned, and one finds out quickly that even a can can’t be kept in there when undergoing motion.

      The console they are molded into to is even worse, as it is made up of a hard, brittle plastic that cracks around the hinge and the four screws that hold it to the floor.


      After market consoles, such as the one in my dad’s YJ are an almost essential upgrade.


      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        I’ve got a TJ. They’re significantly better, but even with the coil spring suspension, still not usable in motion. That console box looks pretty great. The console on my TJ is getting pretty ragged: Chrysler didn’t use particularly better plastics for mine.

        1. Guest Avatar

          The TJ or an LJ would probably be my choice for a daily driver Wrangler as well.

          The console box does seem pretty great. I ordered it as a Father’s Day present, and it only came last week. It’s all welded powdercoated steel, and comes with a vinyl armrest, which is actually at a useable hight, unlike the factory one.


          The company that made it is called Tuffy, and they seem to have a pretty good reputations. The stuff they make has an emphasis on security, like locking consoles and whatnot, and they seem to have a good selection of Jeep stuff (YJ and TJ).

          Their website is worth checking out, as they do have some neat products. It’s expensive stuff, but can likely be expected to last longer than the whatever they are mounted to.

          I know it sounds like I work for them, but I don’t. I’m just really happy with the console I did buy.

  20. P161911 Avatar

    C4 Corvette. Worked fine with an automatic, nearly useless with a stick shift.

  21. Maymar Avatar

    The most useless ones I’ve ever owned were in my ’93 Escort – plastic indentations just over an inch deep hold pretty much nothing in place. It mostly worked better just wedging a drink between the seat and hand brake. I’m pretty sure most older compact cars (the ones that even bothered to have cupholders) would dominate this list.

    1. Stefe Avatar

      We all know the most useless cup holders were in the BMW e39s. Didn’t hold anything and broke instantly

      1. Maymar Avatar

        If I had money to blow, I’d totally be down with staging a battle royale of inability to hold cups. The ones in my Escort were never going to break, but it looks like the BMW is capable of holding a cup closer to its centre of gravity, and like it might be able to get through a corner (once) without spilling. I mean, BMW definitely put more effort into a useless cupholder.

    2. salguod Avatar

      I was going to post a second generation Escort too. I also had a 1993. Wells deep enough to suggest actual holding but in reality only a lever to dump the contents into the footwell at the first turn.

  22. ptschett Avatar

    My ’96 Thunderbird’s cupholders have always been annoying. They’re in the center console storage bin under the lid, which has hinges on the passenger side; the reach to the drink from the driver’s position is awkward & the passenger has the additional hurdle of reaching over the console bin’s lid.
    My dad has two early-mid-’90’s Dodge Dakotas that both have an identical, typical-for-the-era drawer that pulls out of the dash to reveal two cup/bottle/can/potato/etc.-sized holes with a component that falls by the force of gravity to support the bottom of the object. Problem was, the part that should fall would sometimes get stuck. So my dad once took a sip or two from his well-earned can of Coke Zero or whatever it was, went to put it in the cupholder, then got to watch the can fall straight through the hole and empty itself on the front passenger floor mat.

  23. crank_case Avatar

    “Cup-a holders? Why you-a need cup holders? You drink the espresso then you go? eh? You gonna drink that coffee or make a love to it?”
    That was clearly the logic behind the 1990s Fiat Cinquecento, which was a far more honest and basic car than the current handbag on wheels 500, more like the current Panda in character. The one flaw in an otherwise perfect city car. At least the simple interior is easy to clean when you ambitiously thought you could make the 5 minute drive from the local service station to work by balancing it on the dashboard “shelf”
    Let me tell you people, no cup holder plus manual transmission plus speed bumps do not mix.

  24. countersteer Avatar

    Early 2000’s Mercedes… Transformers edition. They can only hold a “small” cup (poorly). Fold/collapse. Push button and voila. And then they break.

  25. salguod Avatar

    My former boss had a first generation Boxter and the cup holders were delicate folding contraptions that clipped into the AC vent and only held 12 oz cans.