Email’s top 10 biggest auto failures of the past decade (photos)

Jul 24, 2013

Photographers take pictures during the p

Photographers take pictures during the presentation of “MIEV” (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle), the new electric and ecological vehicle for Latin America by Mitsubishi Motors, in San Jose on February 25, 2011. ; Credit: YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

The folks at recently listed the top 10 auto failures of the past decade, using criteria like sales performance, design, and practicality.

They stayed away from the easy task of simply listing the most aesthetically challenged vehicles, instead taking into account sales data from April 2013 to judge which cars didn’t quite live up to the hype. Scott Oldham of says it wasn’t difficult to come up with a list of auto failures. 

“Car companies are always trying new things, and in the last 20 years there’s been a real trend to try and find some white space in the market and launch a niche car,” said Oldham on AirTalk. “It doesn’t work out too well. There are a lot of examples of this kind of thing, and ten is really just scraping the tip of the iceberg.”

Scroll down for the full list of auto failures and read what Oldham says qualified each for a spot on this the not-so-coveted list. 

10.) Honda Insight (67,128 sold)
“This is an interesting case, the first Insight was sort of a two-seat little hatchback sports car, which prevented it from really catching on despite its high mileage. It was just too impractical to really capture the heart of the market. Then of course the Prius came out and showed the world that there is a market for a hybrid if its in a body style that is also useful, practical and universal.

Then they came out with the second generation Insight that basically mimics that package. But it had other problems and it just wasn’t as good as the Prius. Therefore the Insight has been relegated to a very distant second place, and it really isn’t a factor anymore.” 

9.) Ford Thunderbird (59,200 sold)
“This is a great looking car. If you see one on the freeway they still do look good. The problem with this car was its price, it was expensive, but also the interior didn’t really reinforce the retro high style design like the exterior did. Once you got inside it was kind of generic Ford, that just kept it from being desirable. Plus, honestly, it didn’t drive very well.”

8.) Chrystler Crossfire (52,217 sold)
“This was one of these cars like the Thunderbird that was just really cool to look at, kind of a design exercise that everybody said you’ve got to build it, so they did. The issue with this car is that it was built on an old Mercedes SLK platform, which meant it was extremely cramped on the inside and it cost a lot of money.

It was a very expensive car, especially with the Chrystler brand on it. And while they never really expected to sell many of these, it was sort of a small, little sporty car product, it did even worse than that. So they moved on pretty quickly and there was no second generation of a Crossfire.”

7.) Chevrolet SSR (23,479 sold)
“I always call this the margarita method of car building, where you just throw a bunch of stuff into a blender, you hit puree and hope something that comes out it cool. Some people like the SSRs, but those people probably have never driven one. They are big, heavy, cumbersome. A convertible pick up trucks with two seats is a problem nobody asked for the answer to. One of those things where you wonder what they were thinking.”

6.) Lexus HS 250H (20,875 sold)
“This is Toyota saying, ‘Everyone wants a Prius, why don’t we take the Prius and turn it into a Lexus?’ They did that, but in the execution it became one of the worst-driving, hideously ugly vehicles of all time. Surprise, nobody wants one. They sit on dealer lots for quite a while and they’ve only sold 20,000 of them over several years now. Again, it’s an exercise in spreadsheet car design that just didn’t really pan out.”

5.) Cadillac XLR (13,302 sold)
“It’s not a bad-looking vehicle. The problem with this is there’s so much better product out in the market, especially the Mercedes SL, which has obviously dominated that luxury two-seat convertible space since the 60s.

Cadillac said how could we make our own so they took a Corvette and they made it into a Cadillac is what they did there. Surprise, when you do something half-in, then you get half the success and it just didn’t really work for them.”  

4.) Acura ZDX  (5,828 sold)
“They made an incredibly ugly crossover with no utility. You can’t fit anything or anyone in it, and its disgusting to look at. I’m pretty sure they don’t remember what they were thinking either.”

3.) Lexus LS 600h L (2,055 sold)
“This is a hybrid version of the LS 460, it’s supposed to compete with the 12-cylinder versions of the BMW 7-series and Audi A8, the problem with this is it doesn’t perform as well as them, and it gets worse fuel mileage than the LS 460 without the hybrid. And it costs a ton of money. So this is one of those vehicles that I think the marketing team got ahead of the engineering team and it just didn’t turn into a very good product.”

2.) Mitsubishi i MiEV (1,420 sold)
“It’s actually pronounces “Meev”, which is one of the problems. This is a tiny little electrically powered pod that is hard to believe anyone would want it, all you need to do is take a look at a photo of it and it’s not hard to figure out why people weren’t clamoring to buy these things. Essentially its a little electric car with very little range. It doesn’t go very far on a charge and that would make it sales proof regardless of its styling.”

1.) Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (1,078 sold)
“I was up in the San Jose area a month ago and I actually saw one of these driving down the road. I saw the guy that bought one. It was quite a moment. This is a strange vehicle, and its not the first time a company has experimented with a convertible version of a crossover SUV, but it is sort of the latest. There are parts of this vehicle that are actually pretty cool. It drives very well, the interior is beautiful.

What’s held it back, besides that it’s just an oddity, that you’ve got to wonder do you really want an SUV with very little utility? It is very unattractive. I don’t think anyone would tell you that this is a beautiful car, they obviously took a four-door crossover and turned it into a two-door convertible, and it just didn’t work in translation. Worse than that it is very expensive, because they only did plan on selling not that many, it is over $50,000 for one of these things. I don’t think anyone at Nissan thought that this was going to be the best selling vehicle in America, but I think they thought they were going to find a little niche for it.”

Read the Full Story at KPCC Blogs

Comments are closed