Driving an old car is a coming-of-age moment in one's life. For many, it comes as their first vehicle in high school; however, it is still possible to buy a new car that is just as bad. A recent online discussion shares motorists' choices for their worst-ever car — here is what made the list.
2008 Chevrolet Uplander
This car sounds like an oil tanker, so the driving was poor. “Hit a pothole and it felt like you were in a whirly pop,” jokes a previous owner. “Coming to a complete stop before turning was required. Worse, the seat configuration needed a family of six working in unison to re-arrange the seats.”
To enhance the driving experience of the 2008 Chevrolet Uplander, Chevrolet could have focused on improving its suspension and handling, reducing road noise, and offering more comfortable seating configurations. A redesign could have addressed these issues, making it a more appealing option for families.
2010 Ford Focus SE
“The dual-clutch gearbox in the 2012 Focus was so, so, so bad,” says a regretful one-time owner. “It even had a complete transmission failure in the middle of an intersection.” The driver claims this was the worst car they have ever driven. Moreover, at 10,000 miles, he had to buy a new transition.
For a better driver experience, Ford could have avoided the dual-clutch transmission issues in the 2010 Focus SE by offering a more reliable transmission system. Improved quality control and transmission durability would have prevented costly transmission failures and enhanced overall satisfaction.
2017 Chevrolet Trax 4WD
One commenter reveals how borrowing one of these cars from a friend once prompted him never to buy one himself. “A rattly engine, cheap interior, and the ‘feels-like-you're-gonna-tip-over' handling led to a less enjoyable driving experience,” the one-time Chevy Trax driver claims.
Chevrolet could have improved the Chevrolet Trax 4WD by addressing its engine noise and interior quality. Enhanced sound insulation and upgraded interior materials would have provided a quieter and more comfortable driving experience, making it a more attractive choice for potential buyers.
Any Smart Car
While environmentalists may decry such an inclusion, this list concerns low-performance cars. Nothing says low performance more than a Smart Car — or, as a commenter puts it, “Ah, the Smart Car; AKA the go-kart with an airbag.”
While the Smart Car serves a specific niche, potential improvements could include enhancing its ride comfort, expanding its safety features, and offering a more versatile engine option. These enhancements would make it more competitive in the low-performance car market.
2000 Dodge Dakota 2WD
“I couldn't believe how gutless it was and how awful it drove,” laments a former owner. “It was brand new, and at 2,500 feet elevation, it couldn't break a tire loose on gravel.” With allegedly wooden steering and weak brakes, the driver felt the brand-new vehicle “had already done 200,000 miles.”
Dodge could have improved the 2000 Dakota 2WD by focusing on engine performance and overall drivability. A more powerful engine and refined steering and braking systems would have made it feel less underpowered and provided a more enjoyable driving experience.
2013 Nissan Sentra
With the central variable transition (CVT) a problem for many owners (and an almost $4,000 fee for replacing it), the Nissan Sentra makes the cut. My buddy still has one, and I had to suffer through a rental,” claims a contributor. “The suspension and interior are so bad, it feels like tumbling down a gravel road in a pine coffin.”
Nissan could have improved the 2013 Sentra by addressing the issues with its CVT transmission. A more reliable transmission system or offering alternative transmission options would have enhanced its reputation for reliability and reduced maintenance costs. Additionally, attention to suspension tuning and interior quality would have provided a smoother and more comfortable ride.
1986 Chevrolet Chevette
Cars are similar to fashion; sometimes, you look back at old photos, wondering what you saw in that horrid design. The 1986 Chevy Chevette sits in this time warp category. “What a miserable piece that was,” recalls the commenter. “The driving position was horrid, with the steering wheel seeming to be three inches right of center of the seat.”
Chevrolet could have improved the 1986 Chevette by enhancing its overall design and driving ergonomics. Better steering wheel positioning, improved seating comfort, and more modern interior features would have made it a more enjoyable and user-friendly car.
2004 Ford Escape Hybrid
“This is one of the taxis I hated to get in New York,” explains someone who has been getting cabs for twenty years. “Even with lots of practice, cabbies couldn't keep the thing from lurching around crazily — and the ride was awful.” They do look rather cool, though.
Ford could have improved the 2004 Escape Hybrid by addressing the reported issues with ride quality and handling. Better suspension tuning and more refined hybrid powertrain technology would have reduced the “lurching” sensation and provided a smoother ride for taxi drivers and passengers.
2021 Chevrolet Cavalier
“As a brand new car, the last generation Cavalier,” starts the next thread. “It drove like a car with 100k miles on it, the materials were so cheap and flimsy — even amongst its entry level peers at the time.” Chevrolet, we need to talk.
Chevrolet could have improved the 2021 Cavalier by investing in better materials for the interior and improving the overall build quality. By raising the bar in terms of interior comfort and refinement, the Cavalier could have been a more competitive choice among entry-level vehicles.
1986 Hyundai Pony
The next contributor recalls buying a Hyundai Pony “back when Hyundai did not have the reputation it has now.” His description sounds like something from the Wacky Racers. “Rusted almost immediately, had a manual choke (joke?), and with 68 horsepower, barely enough power to get out of its own way.” Scathing.
Hyundai could have improved the 1986 Pony by focusing on rust-resistant materials and improving its powertrain. Better rust protection and a more robust engine would have extended the car's longevity and performance. Plus, addressing the manual choke issue would have made it more user-friendly.
2006 Chevrolet HHR
Although it looked like something out of 1920s Chicago, with its rather oversized front grill giving it a vintage look, the Chevy HHR has a bad reputation. “I didn't feel safe driving it,” complains a former owner. “Everything about the way it drove and the way it worked flat out sucked.”
Chevrolet could have improved the 2006 HHR by enhancing its safety features and overall driving dynamics. Addressing safety concerns and refining its handling and performance would have made it a more secure and enjoyable car to drive.
1985 Renault Alliance
The 1980s was not a great time for low-budget motorists, especially in America. Some motorists think the US Government didn't want “good versions” of foreign cars in the market — hence the Renault Alliance . “I've never driven a car that gave me such a feeling that I could rip it apart with my bare hands, and probably should, if only as a favor to others,” someone jokes.
Renault could have improved the 1985 Alliance by focusing on build quality and durability. Better materials and manufacturing processes would have made it a more reliable and long-lasting vehicle. Additionally, attention to design and interior comfort would have enhanced the overall driving experience.
1998 Plymouth Neon Expresso
With such a flowery name, car buyers might have expected the worst with the Plymouth Neon Expresso. “It made it to about 125K before we finally gave up on it,” says an observer. “The transmission (which had been repaired many times) was going again. It was leaking oil all over the place.” Expresso sounds like the most ironic car name ever after this description.
Plymouth could have improved the 1998 Neon Expresso by addressing issues with the transmission and oil leaks. Improved transmission durability and better-quality gaskets would have reduced maintenance headaches. Additionally, investing in better oil sealing technology would have prevented oil leaks.
2009 Vauxhall Agila
Someone who once visited the United Kingdom warns of one car still circulating — the Vauxhall Agila. “I've driven cars that felt unstable cornering before, but that was the first time I ever drove a car that felt unstable sitting still on level ground,” writes the observer. “It was the dumbest car I ever drove.” This car has another ironic title: ‘agila' means ‘agile' in Spanish.
Vauxhall could have improved the 2009 Agila by addressing its stability and handling issues. Suspension improvements and better weight distribution would have made it feel more secure on the road. Additionally, focusing on overall build quality and materials would have enhanced its reputation for reliability.
2012 Mitsubishi Galant
“You could idle, or you could run the A/C, but not both,” recalls a contributor with bad memories of the Japanese model. “The engine would die if you tried to idle and the A/C kicked on.” Furthermore, with an interior looking like it was “made out of plastic,” and an engine with “no power at all,” we can safely tuck the Galant into the past.
Mitsubishi could have improved the 2012 Galant by addressing issues with engine performance and interior quality. A more robust engine with better idling capabilities and improved interior materials would have elevated its appeal among buyers seeking reliability and comfort.
2012 Dodge Avenger
One driver thought this car was boring in all the worst ways. He told his story in great detail: “What a boring and generic looking sedan.” I thought as I climbed into that classic, cheap Dodge plastic interior…”
He continued to say, “acceleration wasn’t sharp, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to gun it to get on the freeway. It gave just enough. Same with braking. And, everything else. It didn’t do anything bad, but it didn’t do anything well, either.”
Dodge could have improved the 2012 Avenger by focusing on its performance and interior quality. Enhancements to acceleration and steering responsiveness would have made it more engaging to drive. Additionally, using higher-quality materials for the interior would have improved the overall comfort and perception of the car.
1981 Dodge Omni
According to one user, this car had way too many rust issues.
He said, “first thing I noticed was the rust bubbles around the side view mirror and antenna mounts, the condensation in the tail lights and the rubber strip peeling off the front bumper. A closer inspection revealed more rust bubbles on the bottom of the rear doors.”
Dodge could have improved the 1981 Omni by addressing rust issues through better rust protection and materials. Corrosion-resistant materials and improved quality control would have prevented early rust problems, ensuring the car's longevity and resale value.
Driving this car might make you feel like you're driving Play-Doh. One driver noted his experience, “While I wasn’t expecting much, never have I experienced such poor roll stiffness and spectacularly horrible understeer in a modern vehicle. It was as if the front suspension was made of equal parts Jello and rubber bands. I even stopped to check the tire inflation to be sure I wasn’t running around with 12 psi.”
Buick could have improved the Rendezvous by addressing its handling and suspension issues. Enhancing roll stiffness and reducing understeer would have improved the car's overall driving dynamics and road handling. A more solid and precise suspension system would have made it a more enjoyable and stable ride.
Mid ‘60s Opel Kadett Wagon
One driver retold his hilarious encounter with this car, “I borrowed the car to help a buddy move a moped to the shore. With me, my buddy and a moped in the back (maybe 600 lbs total weights) the car struggled to get to 50mph, the whole car shook (bad front shocks) and there was an exhaust leak that nearly made us pass out.The ride home was worse, stop and go traffic on the AC expressway, by the time we got home there was no clutch left.”
Opel could have improved the mid-'60s Kadett Wagon by addressing its power and exhaust issues. Offering a more powerful engine and resolving the exhaust leak would have improved the car's performance and overall driving experience. Plus, ensuring the clutch's durability would have prevented reliability issues during heavy use.
1974 Land-Rover Series III 88
This car looks cool, but apparently looks aren't everything. One user shared, “in the open road, the terrible suspension allied to the low-torque diesel engine meant that your foot on the gas pedal could get shaken in sync with the suspension bumps, causing a resonance that essentially turned your driving into galloping, which was not good for the passengers stomachs.”
This doesn't sound like a fun ride.
Land Rover could have improved the 1974 Series III 88 by addressing suspension issues and engine performance. Enhancing suspension tuning and providing a more torque-rich diesel engine would have improved ride comfort and performance. A smoother driving experience would have made it more enjoyable for both drivers and passengers.
1974 Chevrolet C10
This truck had rust, rust, and more rust. One user shared, “This one had basically no exterior sheetmetal below the tops of the wheel openings, the frame – what was left of it, at least – was at best down to body-panel thickness, several crossmembers had rusted loose on one end or the other, and the bed was held on with ratchet straps.”
Chevrolet could have improved the 1974 C10 by focusing on rust prevention and structural integrity. Utilizing corrosion-resistant materials and implementing better rust protection measures would have extended the truck's lifespan and ensured safer usage. Reinforcing the frame and crossmembers would have prevented structural issues, making it a more durable vehicle.
Mid 80's Ford Tempo
This car's owner said, “it’s the only car I’ve ever driven where the steering column moved to the left and right while you drove. The whole thing felt like it would collapse like the Blue's Mobile at the end of Blue's Brothers at any point. Terrible car terribly made.”
Ford could have improved the Tempo by addressing structural concerns and steering stability. Ensuring that the steering column and overall build quality met safety standards would have prevented issues with the column movement. Using better materials and engineering for structural integrity would have made the car more robust and secure.
2016 Kia Rio
Even when this car was brand new, its users were very unhappy with it. One driver recounted why they think this car is the worst.
“It was the literal second or more of delay for the engine to respond after hitting the throttle, then double that time for the transmission to transfer power to the wheels, which it had very little of until it hit at least 3500 rpm.”
Kia could have improved the 2016 Rio by addressing performance delays and interior quality. Reducing the engine's response time and enhancing transmission efficiency would have made the car more responsive and enjoyable to drive. Plus, investing in better materials and seat comfort would have improved the overall interior experience.
2014 Ford Focus
One user had a loaned 2014 Focus that liked to argue. He shared his experience and joked, “I’ve never had a car seem to argue with me about my throttle inputs. Like, “Are you sure you want that much throttle? Here you go. Wait, no that can’t be right. You shouldn’t need that much, I’ll take that back. Why do you keep trying to go too fast? Ok fine, I’ll give you more throttle but only because I’m feeling generous. Maybe a bit less than that.”
Ford could have improved the 2014 Focus by enhancing throttle response and overall drivability. Ensuring that the engine responds reliably to throttle inputs would make the car feel more in tune with the driver's intentions.