LOS ANGELES – Americans are buying cars at the fastest pace in years and automakers are bringing out new vehicles that get rave reviews for safety and fuel economy. Some analysts say the post-recession period may represent a new age for the industry.
In that vein, the Los Angeles Times asked the editors at auto information company Edmunds.com to put together a list of the 10 worst cars ever sold in America. The Times also asked David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ automotive test center, to weigh in.
2001 Pontiac Aztek: This was the consensus pick for the worst car of all time.
“It’s undeniable that the Aztek’s utter hideousness drove the biggest and last nails into Pontiac’s heavily side-clad, plastic coffin,” said Edmunds.com Editor in Chief Scott Oldham.
Champion noted that the Aztek’s odd design made visibility especially poor. He said the interior was particularly flimsy, the ride was uncomfortable and the handling cumbersome.
1974 Ford Mustang II: Oldham calls this essentially a rebadged Pinto. He said it was something of an abomination to the Mustang fans who identified the name with power and panache, calling it a “shrunken, malformed pony.”
1987 Yugo: The low-price leader when it hit the U.S. market, this was a knockoff of a Fiat that already had a terrible reputation for reliability.
1971 Chevrolet Vega: Should have had the name of another Chevy model, the Nova, which in Spanish means, “doesn’t go.” Oldham recalls that the Vega’s engine couldn’t hold oil. It’s “a car built with contempt for its buyers.”
2003 Saturn Ion: Here’s another GM product that still elicits scorn from the auto cognoscenti. Champion said it had “a cramped interior, uncomfortable seats, insubstantial cabin furnishings, and uneven steering feel.”
1958 Edsel Corsair: Edmunds labeled this vehicle “the legendary flop of all automotive flops,” though you would have to be about retirement age to remember the vehicle.
1982 Cadillac Cimarron: This was Caddy’s attempt to fake a BMW-style sports sedan with a front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Chevrolet Cavalier.
1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme diesel: An all-around poor car that contributed to the negative consumer perceptions of diesel engines that automakers are still attempting to reverse.
1975 AMC Pacer: Oldham offers a qualified opinion. AMC wasn’t known for great products but “we felt the Pacer had a little bit of an interesting design. It stood out from the crowd and that was worth a half a point.”
1971 Ford Pinto: No list of the worst cars in America would be complete without this subcompact Ford. The automaker did everything it could to make it cheap. One of the cost-cutting moves was to not design adequate protection for its rear-mounted fuel tank.
Los Angeles Times