25 Of The Worst-Rated Cars On The Market
Here are the cars experts would tell you to avoid.
Whether in the market for a flashy luxury sedan or a sturdy family vehicle, all car shoppers have one thing in common: They don’t want to drive a lemon off the lot. That’s why Consumer Reports and other automotive publications carefully analyze and rate every car that comes on the market, and car owners would do well to heed their findings.
Here, we’ve rounded up 25 cars (in no particular order) that scored terribly low with Consumer Reports, journalists and everyday drivers like yourself so you can stride into the dealership knowing exactly what not to buy.
Budget-minded car shoppers will likely be enticed by the Mitsubishi Mirage’s low price tag (less than $14,000), but buyers beware: Neither new nor used models of this car come highly recommended. The 2019 model made Car Connection’s list of the lowest-rated cars of the year, and the site actually gave the Mirage a 3.3 out of 10 — one of the lowest ratings it gave to any new car. Their review of the car deemed it small, slow and unsafe — even calling its highway handling “scary.”
Used models should also be avoided, according to U.S. News and World Report, which declared that “the Mirage has very little to offer, and once these cars hit the used market, they start to deteriorate quickly due to cheap build quality and poor reliability.”
Honda’s ambitious hybrid entry comes in three energy-efficient options: pure electric, plug-in and hydrogen fuel cell. Any one of them will lower your carbon footprint, but they may also give you a headache. The Clarity was named worst in class by both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power with drivers reporting tech glitches that muddled their Clarity experiences. We can only assume the Clarity will not be receiving one of J.D. Power’s coveted awards any time soon.
Due to declining reliability, Consumer Reports has removed the Dodge Charger from its list of recommended vehicles, specifying in its review of the 2019 model that while this is a large, powerful car with a vibrant personality, “reliability has been its Achilles heel.”
The 2019 Dodge Charger has also been recalled twice recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) — once for air bags and again for the instrument cluster failing to properly illuminate, which prevents drivers from seeing system warnings and increases the risk of a crash.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Dodge Charger was included in the U.S. News and World Report’s list of used cars to avoid because “its below-average reliability scores should be of concern. There are better, more-reliable cars on the market that offer similar performance.”
Nissan Titan XD
On Consumer Reports’ list of worst cars overall, there are various “winners” (or losers, really) in specific categories (worst compact car, worst minivan, etc.). And then there’s a worst car overall at the very bottom of the heap. This year, the vehicle with that distinction is the Nissan Titan XD.
As the “heavy-duty” version of the Nissan Titan, which CR rates much higher than the XD, the XD doesn’t seem to actually deliver on the promise to have better towing and hauling capacity than its competition. The CR review of the 2019 XD, which could be summed up as “unimpressed,” concludes with these thoughts: “In the end, it’s hard to see what Nissan has achieved here. … Driving the Nissan is just as ponderous as driving a Ford, GM or Ram heavy-duty truck, and fuel economy isn’t much better.”
Mini / Mini Cooper
As cute and zippy as Minis seem, the Mini is a classic example of style over substance, as the sporty exterior is appealing, but the reliability and practicality of this car are subpar. Its adorable little size, for example, means that backseat passengers are cramped and uncomfortable, and the trunk space is hilariously limited.
In U.S. News and World Report‘s lengthy list of the worst cars to buy used, many variations of the Mini appear, with low reliability ratings across the board. Many Mini owners have reported engine failure and other maintenance issues that make upkeep of this car expensive over the years. According to Autofile, the Mini is a fun car to lease but a real headache to own.
The slogan for the 2019 Dodge Journey is “Stand in Defiance.” For car buyers, that would mean defying lackluster reviews from the nation’s leading automotive journals. The SUV gains high marks for its affordability and “intuitive” infotainment system from scribes at U.S. News & World Report. However, the Journey’s poor handling and lack of modern safety features puts this family vehicle behind the competition.
Or as Car and Driver indelicately put it, the Journey is “practical enough for families on a budget, but not worth reaching for unless it’s in the bargain bin.”
Unless you’ve got some money to burn, it’s best to steer clear of the Jaguar XE. The 2019 Jaguar XE, specifically, was named the worst compact luxury sedan by Consumer Reports, and the publication’s review of the car mentions a “raspy” engine and a cheap interior that seems low-quality for a car of this caliber. In the luxury compact sedan class, there are better options.
The 2019 Jeep Compass was named the worst compact SUV by Consumer Reports, and the CR review of the vehicle includes almost nothing positive about it. In addition to its poor reliability and low ratings pretty much across the board, the Jeep Compass has been recalled for issues with the brakes.
In its roundup of used cars to avoid, U.S. News and World Report minces no words in the entry about the Jeep Compass, explaining, “As the entry-level model in the Jeep lineup, the Compass was marked by obvious cost-cutting measures such as cheap trim and upholstery, a mushy suspension, and dull engine options. Its reliability wasn’t good when it was new, and it’s even worse now. This is definitely one used SUV to avoid.”
Tesla Model X
Arguably one of the more interesting and “buzzy” cars available, the pricey Tesla Model X offers a neat, futuristic appearance, but most of its other features and capabilities are simply “meh.”
Consumer Reports included the 2019 Tesla Model X on its list of least reliable cars, deeming the electric vehicle “more showy than practical.” As Motor Biscuit points out, the Tesla X also came in dead last in 2018, with the worst reliability rating of any vehicle that year.
The 2016 and 2017 versions of the Model X also made CR’s recommendations for used cars to avoid buying due to its “much-worse-than-average reliability.”
Not only did Consumer Reports include the 2019 Buick Enclave on its list of the least reliable cars of the year, the publication also discourages shoppers from buying a used model of the Enclave, citing, again, reliability issues.
Owner surveys have pointed to mechanical woes and interior problems with this SUV, and the CR review notes that the Enclave is disappointing as a luxury vehicle and it offers very little bang for your many, many bucks. “Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are available only on top trims,” writes the CR reviewer. “They should be standard, particularly in a vehicle this pricey.”
Dodge Grand Caravan
The minivan is a classic family car, meant to safely transport frazzled parents and their most precious cargo: kids. So, in seeking out a family vehicle that ensures safety and comfort, it’s probably best to pass over the Dodge Grand Caravan. The 2019 model is included in Car Connection’s list of the lowest-rated vehicles of the year, and the site notes, among other things, that the minivan’s safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are among the lowest of all vehicles.
Even used models should be avoided, as U.S. News and World Report warns, “Parents should also be concerned about the Grand Caravan’s low safety scores, and while its low-rent cabin materials aren’t a deal-breaker on their own, cheap upholstery and plastics mean that your new acquisition will probably already be showing its age.”
Land Rover Discovery / Land Rover LR2
Despite boasting a contemporary redesign, including third-row seating, the 2019 Discovery was voted the worst luxury SUV overall by Consumer Reports. It may have something to do with the SUV facing a recall due to engine failure, which is kind of a big deal as far as car functionality goes.
For those in the market for a pre-owned SUV, certain years of Land Rover’s compact alternative, the LR2, doesn’t fare much better. U.S. News & World Report ranks the 2013 edition among its list of used cars to avoid, noting issues with the car’s handling and fuel economy, and suggesting that buyers should “consider looking elsewhere.”
Fiat 500 / Fiat 500L
The Italian automaker, which merged with Chrysler in 2009, has crafted two stylish compacts in its 500 and larger 500L. However, neither model’s performance has lived up to expectations. Consumer Reports has listed the 500L as worst in its class for 2019, and even referred to the 500L in its review as “a huge disappointment.” Older models do not fare any better, as both the 2014 and 2015 versions of the sporty Fiat 500 are listed among used cars to avoid.
Rated the worst minivan overall by Consumer Reports, the 2019 Honda Odyssey has already been recalled six times by the NHTSA. Between defective timing belts that cause engine failure, anti-lock brakes that fail to live up to their name and power train issues that leave the family vehicle prone to rolling while parked, this Odyssey is one epic fail.
Dodge Ram 3500
Whether you work in construction or just need to haul your family away on a camping trip, you need a reliable truck to get the job done, so you should probably look past the Dodge Ram 3500. In 2018, Motor Biscuit declared that the Ram 3500 received so many complaints, it’s actually time-consuming to absorb them all.
Owners have reported problems with everything from the transmission to the fuel system to the body integrity of the truck. There have also been seven product recalls associated with the Ram 3500.
The 2019 Chevy Spark was included in Car Connection’s list of lowest-rated cars of 2019, while U.S. News and World Report warned used-car buyers against purchasing older models of the electric car (2013-2015), citing poor reliability ratings.
In its review, Car Connection gave the Chevy Spark a dismal rating of 3.8 out of 10, noting the “pokey engine” of this “cheap car.” The reviewer tactfully added that “comfort is not one of its priorities.”
The 2019 Tiguan is one of the larger SUVs in the “compact” class. The German auto grew almost a foot this year, offering more interior space, while also handling better than some of its competitors. While that sounds promising there are some reasons to be leery. The SUV has found its way onto at least one list of cars to avoid this year.
This model is also subject to three product recalls by the NHTSA. Issues with the rear suspension and electrical instrument panel have drawn the ire of the safety organization. The Tiguan has also been found to have inaccurate equipment labels, which can lead to incorrect and unsafe tire maintenance.
This year, Consumer Reports could no longer recommend the Acura RDX due to its declining reliability. Bloomberg writer Hannah Elliott put it more bluntly in a list of the worst luxury cars of 2018, writing, “I can’t imagine a reason you’d buy the Acura RDX.” Yikes. Elliott’s write-up expressed dismay at the luxury SUV’s “lackluster handling,” “robotic exterior appearance” and “weirdness of design.”
Given Toyota’s reputation for reliability, it may come as a surprise to see the Tacoma on this list, but the 2019 edition is actually the latest in a long line of redesigns that have failed to impress.
Transmission issues are chief among reviewers’ concerns — so much so that the pick-up has landed on Consumer Reports’ list of worst cars overall, falling behind its competition in the compact truck category.
Between 2018 and 2019, the Chrysler 300 fell from grace in the Consumer Reports rankings due to issues with the sedan’s transmission and in-car electronics. Chrysler 300 models from 2013 and 2014 should also be avoided, according to Consumer Reports.
In its own review of the 2019 model, Car Connection praised the “charming” 300’s crisp styling and comfortable seating, but gave it a very low score (3 out of 10) for safety, stating, “The 2019 Chrysler 300 has slipped into crash-test purgatory.”
The Chevrolet Trax is a crossover SUV that gets high marks for affordability and low marks for almost everything else. It made it onto Consumer Reports’ list of the 10 least satisfying cars to own (according to customer satisfaction) as well as Car Connection’s list of the lowest-rated cars of 2019. The Chevy Trax review on Car Connection notes that the Trax “comes up short in terms of refinement, styling and safety” (oh, is that all?).
The SUV’s safety features are not great, but it scores low in the looks department, too, with the Car Connection describing it thusly: “The 2019 Chevrolet Trax has all the style of a pair of Velcro shoes. It’s functional, but it clearly didn’t come from an Italian design house.”
The Nissan Armada might be one of the least problematic vehicles on this list, but it’s included here because of its incredibly poor gas mileage. In 2016, MarketWatch included the Armada on a list of cars with the worst gas mileage, noting that the 2015 model “gets worse mileage than any other vehicle in its class.”
Now, three years later, here we are again, with the Armada being ranked by Consumer Reports as the least fuel-efficient mid-sized/large SUV with an overall mpg of 14. With so many other options on the market, there’s not much reason to invest in such a gas-guzzler.
Once considered a serious status symbol, the Escalade might seem like a slick, imposing luxury SUV, but Consumer Reports couldn’t be more clear about its disdain for this vehicle. Included on CR’s 2019 list of the 10 least reliable cars, the entry for the Escalade praises its powerful engine and towing capabilities, but says it falls short as a luxury SUV because it “rides too stiffly and can’t stop or handle with the grace of its peers.”
Ford won’t be making any new models of the Fiesta after 2019 anyway, but it’s worth mentioning that this wouldn’t be a great pick as a used car in the future, either. Included on Car Connection’s list of the lowest-rated cars of 2019, the Fiesta earned a 3.7 out of 10 in that website’s review because of its cramped, uncomfortable interior (even for a subcompact car) and abysmal safety scores. The Fiesta can apparently be as fun to drive as a go-kart, and about as safe on the road as a go-kart, too.
Adding yet more drama to the Fiesta’s tale of woe: Models from 2011-2016 were caught up in a class-action settlement surrounding the glitchy “PowerShift” dual clutch transmissions. Looks like the Fiesta’s over, amigos.
The classic, athletic Wrangler might be beloved by Jeep fans, but it gets no love from Consumer Reports, which lists it as the worst two-row mid-sized SUV of the year. In 2014, CR deemed it the “worst value” in its category, noting that the Wrangler was “hard-riding, ponderous, uncomfortable and unreliable.” And during graduation season 2018, Jalopnik posted an essay on why the Jeep Wrangler is a terrible idea for a teen’s first car, as the car is particularly unsafe when piloted by an inexperienced driver.
With all of these considerations, plus two recent recalls, the Wrangler certainly seems like a car to avoid.