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The disappointing dozen: Cars that fail to measure up

These vehicles underperformed in Consumer Reports' testing

Last updated: March 04, 2014 09:00 AM

There are many great car choices today, just as there are many models that are not competitive with the best the market has to offer. Such vehicles score below our threshold to be recommended in our comprehensive road tests. And while these underperformers can sometimes be relatively popular models, perhaps with their own distinct virtues, there are better alternatives for most shoppers.

To that, we highlight here our disappointing dozen—the cars Consumer Reports has recently tested with the lowest test scores.

In perusing these models, you'll find a wide range of car types, counting small cars, sedans, SUVs, and pickups. Likewise, there are several brands represented, with Jeep and Toyota each appearing three times. Our criticisms of these vehicles are often similar, with common shortcomings being poor ride, sloppy handling, tepid acceleration, too much engine noise, and an uncomfortable driving position. Sure, these models may be better than the old junker you're looking to trade in, but they do not hold up against the latest competition. Simply stated: There are many better vehicles available for comparable prices.

We understand that many people buy these vehicles, and others, even though they don't meet our criteria to be recommended. To reach that pinnacle, cars must do well in our tests, attain average-or-better predicted reliability, and must not have failed any government and/or insurance industry crash tests.

Whatever your car-buying budget may be, the key is to make an informed purchase decision, and we're here to tell you, there are better choices than these models.

Below, we present this year's disappointing dozen with accompanying highlights where they came up short.

Make & model Test score Low points
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 20 Ride, handling, braking, wind noise, access, driving position, seat comfort, fit and finish, visibility, fuel economy, reliability.
Smart ForTwo Passion 28 Transmission, acceleration, ride, agility, noise, seats only two, premium fuel.
Scion iQ 29 Ride, noise, acceleration, steering, driving position, fit and finish, radio controls, blind spots, tiny rear seat.
Mitsubishi i-Miev 31 Short range, long charging time, weak cabin heat, Spartan accommodations, acceleration, ride, agility, seats only four, complicated radio, headlights.
Chevrolet Spark 1LT 36 Acceleration, transmission, ride, noise, front-seat comfort, complicated radio.
Toyota FJ Cruiser 36 Visibility, ride, handling, noise, fuel economy, fit and finish, access.
Toyota Yaris LE 41 Noise, ride, agility, driving position, front-seat comfort, fit and finish, radio controls, rear visibility.
Dodge Avenger SXT (4-cyl.) 43 Engine noise, acceleration, braking, handling, rear visibility, transmission, driving position, fuel economy.
Jeep Compass Latitude 49 Engine noise, acceleration, driving position, front-seat comfort, rear visibility, cornering limits, braking, reliability.
Toyota Tacoma (V6) 50 Ride, handling, driving position, high step-in, low rear seat.
Jeep Patriot Latitude 52 Engine noise, acceleration, driving position, front-seat comfort, complicated optional radio.
Chrysler 200 (V6) 52 Handling, transmission, driving position, braking, optional radio controls.

Our mission is to help our subscribers make informed purchase decisions, whatever they may be. Many of these models have versatile utility, an eye-catching design, or are novel in other ways—tough to argue with the popularity and iconic looks of the Wrangler. Personality often goes a long way, as well. If you are interested in a car that performs poorly in our tests, take special care with the test drive and make sure you can live with the cited flaws before you purchase. Otherwise, don't say we didn't warn you.

To find the best vehicle for your needs, see our car Ratings. Plus, check out the 2014 Autos Spotlight with our Top Picks, best and worst lists, car brand report cards and more.

Liza Barth

 

2014 Autos Spotlight

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