Ten Worst Cars for 2006 – Truth About Cars
- November 9, 2006
- Awards, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, More Categories...
- Posted by George Peterson
- 5 Comments
OK, on this one VehicleVoice is just the messenger. The Truth About Cars website has taken it on itself to identify the ten worst cars and trucks sold in the USA in 2006. Not really sure what their credentials are, but here is their press release… When we feel like commenting, see our notes following the press release writeup.
The Truth About Cars Website Names Its Ten Worst Automobiles for 2006
November 8, 2006 – PROVIDENCE, R.I.: The Truth About Cars website (TTAC) has revealed the ten winners of its first annual “Ten Worst Automobiles Today” awards. According to the site’s readers, the very worst vehicles sold in America today are… GM’s minivans.
For voting purposes, TTAC lumped all four of GM’s virtually identical people movers together: the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6.
In his description of the “winner,” reviewer William C. Montgomery slated GM’s minivans for their “antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition.” In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these ridiculously-named ‘Crossover Sport Vans.'”
The automotive website’s readers voted the new Jeep Compass America’s second worst vehicle: a lackluster vehicle that betrays its storied brand’s heritage. According to TTAC’s description, it’s an “ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed” that “staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or heaven forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons.” The Compass “stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles.”
The rest of TTAC’s Ten Worst are the Jeep Compass (2), Buick Rendezvous (3), Chrysler Aspen (4), Hummer H2 (5), Chevrolet Monte Carlo (6), Subaru B9 Tribeca (7), Saab 9-7x (8), Lincoln Mark LT (9) and Chevrolet Aveo (10). Capsule reviews are below.
To create the list, The Truth About Cars asked its 40k daily readers to nominate the worst vehicles for sale in the United States during the 2006 calendar year. A selection committee comprised of ten TTAC writers selected 20 finalists from the readers’ nominations. Finalists were chosen for their crimes against aesthetics, engineering, ergonomics, driving dynamics and/or brand authenticity. The final ten “winners” were chosen by readers via an electronic poll.
Site publisher Robert Farago said his team created The Ten Worst awards as an antidote to the annual “love ins” provided by the mainstream automotive media. “The profusion of ‘best of’ automotive awards reflects the fact that the manufacturer-sponsored magazines and websites can’t tell it like it is,” Farago said. “TTAC is the home of take-no-prisoners automotive journalism. Our Ten Worst list says we’re not afraid to tell the truth about cars.”
10. Chevrolet Aveo
“Chevy likes to tout the Aveo as the “lowest-priced (new) car in America” and in spite of their warning “content may vary,” it’s easy to see how they achieved that goal. From the hollow-sounding doors, bargain-basement plastics and skinny tires to the coarse-sounding engine that strains when faced with even the slightest incline, it exudes “cheap” from every ounce of its being. The Aveo also refutes the smart shopper’s mantra “you get what you pay for.” In the case of this captive Korean import, you pay little and get even less.”
9. Lincoln Mark LT
“Lincoln’s badge engineered Ford F-150 is an unholy degradation of the world-famous Lincoln Mark nomenclature. While Brother Navigator sets the luxo-truck standard for wikkid beat boxes, wood-trimmed tillers, ventilated seats and power running boards, the LT went the adhesive-backed bling route, hit the showers and called it a day. From the richly textured but rock-hard interior plastics to the exterior’s mega-dose of bottom-dollar spizzarkle, the Mark LT is a rolling testament to Dearborn’s short-term, suicidal reliance on bean-counted engineering.”
VehicleVoice Comment: Agree somewhat, but Lincoln Mark LT is selling surprisingly well and each one brings Ford nice profits. Agree that there is too much adhesively applied bling, but Lincoln’s dismal failure with the ill-fated Blackwood (actually a pretty good pickup but priced in nose-bleed territory) should have proven that the market for that type of pickup is thin indeed.
8. Saab 9-7x
“The Saab 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. Moreover, the Saab 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. I can’t stand the fact that the Saab 9-7X is nothing more than a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. And when you stop and think about it, the Saab 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats. Who did GM think they were fooling when they released the Saab 9-7X, which is nothing more than a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats? You know what I hate most about the Saab 9-7X? It’s a Chevy Trailblazer with the ignition key between the seats.”
VehicleVoice Comment: Oh be silent ye with the vehicle dynamics perceptions of a spoilt grapefruit! The only reason the writer with the ignition placement obsession believes the 9-7 to be nothing more than a Trailblazer is that said individual never actually turned the key and drove the vehicle. Dynamically the 9-7x is appreciably different (better) than a cooking Trailblazer and every other GMT360 variant (Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy and Isuzu Ascender). Riding lower with appreciably enhanced wheel control and steering feel, the 9-7 both rides and handles better than its kin-under-the-skin. Like its 360 bretheren, it is kneecapped in the adhesion department by its clunky solid rear axle that is prone to bump-steer when the pavements gets wonky in the corners. But again in comparison with the Trailblazer, Envoy, Rainier and Ascender the 97-is a standout. You wanna talk about the weak sister of the group, don’t rag on the Saab but commence the whuppin’ on the Isuzu.
7. Subaru B9 Tribeca
“Subaru execs may have been stony-faced when TTAC’s “flying vagina” description of their new SUV’s grill treatment started making the rounds, but at least they didn’t turn to stone. Given the unrelenting hideousness of the Tribeca’s design– from its genital front end to its fallopian dash to its alien eyes rear end — they should count themselves lucky. The fact that the B9 is also slow, thirsty and cramped proves that repulsiveness can be more than skin deep. Why Subaru felt the need to enter the SUV segment when it offers such a wide range of superb four wheel-drive sedans and wagons is anybody’s guess. Clearly, they shouldn’t have bothered. ”
VehicleVoice Comment: Disagree Wholeheartedly! The “Benign” Tribeca is a very nice crossover SUV. It rides and handles well, it has a knock-out gorgeous driver’s compartment, the instrumentation is first rate, and it has adequate performance. The controversial front end sets B9 away from all its competition and it is a brave move like this that often is criticized by folks until they begin to see it more frequently.
6. Chevrolet Monte Carlo
“The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is a wrong wheel-drive engineering joke from the late ’80’s. But that’s not the Monte Carlo’s only/best claim to shame. It’s the merciless butchering of its once decadent “personal luxury” lines. In one fell swoop, the baroque fenders went from tacky-posh to adolescently unrefined. From the front, the Asian-inspired headlights assault the muscle car values once associated with this famous coupe. At the rear, sacrilege takes the form of taillights that look like a two-way bookshelf speaker that met the business end of a heat gun. Factor in various grades of interior panel gapping, Wal-Mart spec’d polymers and parts bin swapping with zero integration and you’re done. ”
VehicleVoice comment: We have to agree here. There is nothing the Monte Carlo does well enough to make it a worthwhile choice in today’s competitive marketplace. The buyer’s image has devolved into that of a poser-wannabe who thinks a storied name on a wimped-out, mediocre package is enough to fool their friends into believing they are cool. On the average, we’re not convinced that Monte Carlo owners have a clue as to what good styling, handling, and quality would look like. For all the whining that was done about Pontiac’s perversion in putting the GTO name on a car that didn’t “look” enough like a GTO, it’s amazing that the same crew cuts Chevy slack for using the Monte Carlo name on such a non-enthusiastic package. At least under the looks, the GTO was nice piece to drive!
5. Hummer H2
“The Hummer H2 is a rebodied last-generation Yukon that’s so damn heavy the IRS will give you a tax break because you just bought a piece of commercial farm equipment. It looks like a school bus from behind and a morbidly obese Cherokee from every other angle. It doesn’t handle. Braking distances are straight from 1956. It gets less than 10mpg and takes longer than 10 seconds to reach 60. Only a handful of non-journalists have ever taken it off-road. Even the name sucks (literally): the H2 is a sad simulacrum of the first Gulf War winning off-road champ HUMVEE. While the H2 doesn’t come with hair plugs, it tells the world that the man behind the wheel has a small penis, or brain, or both.”
VehicleVoice Comment: Don’t dump on a piece of commercial farm equipment unless you grow your own Porterhouses. In which case you probably own an H2. To go with your H1. Oh yes, the H1. Now that’s one of the ten worst vehicles of 2006. But the H2 is far off the list.
4. Chrysler Aspen
“To quote Simon and Garfunkel, every way you look at this you lose. The Chrysler Aspen is a badge engineered Dodge Durango– an Olde School SUV at a time when its competition has either gone to work at McDonald’s or headed for college. It’s ugly. It’s thirsty. It’s slow. It’s badly built. It’s cramped. It’s expensive. Chrysler is trying to flog this monstrosity as a blingmobile– which is like trying to sell cocaine as a sleep aid. Although the Aspen was an inexpensive– make that “cheap” way for the Dark Lords of DCX to expand the Chrysler brand portfolio, it’s a perfect example of the old adage “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”
VehicleVoice comment: Actually, Aspen’s introduction makes the Durango one of the worst on sale this year. They drive much the same, but Aspen does have a better interior; looks are subjective, but we think it looks better than Durango. “Better interior” doesn’t mean “great,” but the Aspen can be pleasant while Durango feels like punishment. Aspen was developed for Chrysler loyalists, who presumably have already accepted the brand’s characteristics, both the good and the bad, as well as weak residual values. And why is it wrong to offer loyal customers an option to stay?
We have to agree that the launch ad campaign is terrible. It tries far too hard to make people believe it has a bling image, but that image is one that buyers give a product, not the other way around. Buyers will establish if the Aspen truly has Chrysler 300-type bling or does not. 300’s reputation and image started from the grassroots, real-world buyer level and Aspen’s needs to do the same.
3. Buick Rendezvous
“Based on a 1997 minivan, the Rendezvous is a platform partner to the Chevrolet Venture, Pontiac Montana and Oldsmobile Silhouette, and a twin-under-the-skin to the gruesome Pontiac Aztek. It’s outlasted them all, creaking along for almost 10 years with nothing more than a few trim changes and corporate-wide mechanical updates. The ungainly Rendezvous’ ride, handling and performance are on par with… a 10-year-old minivan. In fact, the Rendezvous embodies everything that’s brought GM to the brink: penny pinching, brand dilution and chronic neglect. It’s set to be replaced by the Enclave, and not a moment too soon.”
VehicleVoice comment: Auto industry paranoids have long postulated a conspiratorial reason for the existence of the retina-dissolving styling of the now-discontinued Pontiac Aztek… so that its platform sibling the aforementioned Buick Rendezvous would look good by comparison. The paranoid pundits were right about this one. Now that the Aztek is gone the Rendezvous can be finally seen in the Pure Light Of Reason. And it is ghastly. When the 3.6L DOHC Rendezvous Ultra was offered, GM demonstrated that a great engine in an underdeveloped chassis does no one any favors. It drove as ghastly as it looked. Buick! Send in the Enclave Stat!
2. Jeep Compass
“Props to DCX for trying to introduce an economical model for fans of the storied Jeep brand.. In this horror story, Dr. Frankenstein (played by the mustache-twirling Doktor Z) grafts round headlights and a seven-slot grill onto the face of a mediocre high-riding sedan (a.k.a. the Dodge Caliber). He throws the switch and an ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed staggers into the light, turning all who see it– or heaven forbid buy it– into grotesque, bobble-headed morons. The Compass stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles. It’s time to get your pitchfork.”
VehicleVoice comment: Blah, blah, blah. Growth is expansion into new areas, and as most people don’t drive the Rubicon, getting new buyers for Jeep means building vehicles for the real-world duty cycle, not just the extreme. If Wrangler had gotten weak with its 2007MY redesign, Jeep could be fairly accused of abandoning its values. But adding softer vehicles with a Jeep look gives the ability to expand the customer base. The Compass’s problem is not one of strategy. It is fine for Jeep to do a soft crossover that can’t ford rivers or climb Rubicon and the powertrain is not a problem, compared with its real competition. The problem is that it is ugly. And those bobblehead ads are not helping. Who are they supposed to appeal to? Having those plastic heads bobbing around doesn’t inspire interest or confidence in the vehicle.
1. GM Minivans
“Talk about retro-design. Rather than simply cop styling cues from bygone classics, GM built the Chevrolet Uplander, Saturn Relay, Buick Terraza and Pontiac SV6 using 25-year-old engineering. (Though not literally true, it’s true enough.) In terms of dreadful driving dynamics, contemptible aesthetics and torturous ergonomics, no other vehicles sold in America can compete with these so-called “Crossover Sport Vans.” For their antique engineering, woeful looks, cancerous effect on not one but four GM brands and their abject inability to hold a candle to their foreign-owned competition, GM’s minivans earn The Truth About Cars’ accolade as the worst vehicles currently for sale in America.”
The Truth About Cars is a Forbes’ “Best of the Web” automotive website, available at http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com.
The Truth About Cars
Robert Farago, 401-521-5789