The 30 Worst Cars of the Last 30 Years—Ranked
These rides will drive you nowhere but crazy.
Car lovers may love getting together and waxing poetic about the greatest autos on the planet—you know, rides like the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder and the 1969 Nissan Skyline GT-R—but one could argue that they love discussing something else even more: the worst cars ever made. Yes, there’s something truly special about terrible design and intolerable engineering that just brings out the best in us.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled the most hideous vehicular monstrosities of the last 30 years—ranked for least worst to truly abominable—so you, too, can join in on the conversation. And while we’re car shaming, don’t forget to read our amazing collection of the 20 Worst Rentals Cars of the Last 20 Years.
1996 Pontiac Grand Am
Pontiac’s plastic obsession continued with this affront to any sort of design intelligence. Doubling down on the Rubbermaid styling with plastic cladding galore, this time they paired front-wheel drive with an anemic 4-cylinder engine that putt-putted out around 150 horsepower. Oh, and for why we don’t have flying cars yet, check out the 20 Long-Predicted Technologies That Are Never Going to Happen.
1993 Ford Aspire
Basically a Ford Festiva, the Aspire was the car nobody on the planet Earth ever aspired to own. Built in the mold of orb-shaped, sub-compact boxes that peppered the ’90s car market, it had all of the hallmarks: 4-cylinder sewing machine engine with barely 60 horsepower mated to a 5-speed manual transmission surround by cheap plastic and dubious build quality.
2010 Honda Insight
Brought out by Honda as a rival to the super-popular Toyota Prius, the Insight was a rare miss by the consistently solid car maker. The hybrid never caught on with environmentally conscious buyers, mostly because of the flat, too-Prius like looks and loud interior mated with sloppy handling and weak performance. It also failed to beat the Prius on miles per gallon, only get 41 to the Toyota’s 50 mpg. And while you’re boning up on your car knowledge, don’t miss all of our great lifestyle coverage.
2010 Chevy Aveo
A pleasant break from jelly bean-shaped subcompact cars, the Aveo actually looks pretty decent, but the interior is plagued by a lack of sound-proofing and lots of flimsy plastic, and the little 1.2-liter engine won’t get you where you going with any expediency or élan. Now called the Sonic, this basic car is at least the only subcompact built in the U.S.A. ‘Murica!
1992 Subaru SVX
The company that’s synonymous with practical, dependable cars that can do almost anything also has a strange urge to buck that trend every few decades, and the SVX was a prime example. Designed by an Italian, this un-Subaru had split windows-within-windows (why?) that were hard to use, had a useless 4-speed transmission, and cost almost $10,000 more than any other Subie model.
1997 GM EV-1
Kudos to GM for producing this odd little electric car when they had no real incentive to, but the weak (but low drag coefficient) styling, low range of about 80 miles, and lease-only option may have seriously damaged the public’s perception of electric cars for years. It’s now a super rare car since GM gathered almost all of them up in 2002, when they stopped the program and had the EV1s unceremoniously crushed.
2014 Scion tC
We’re not sure why this far into humanity’s car-creation process, companies still can’t get handling dialed in, especially on small cars that are supposed to be sporty. The tC doesn’t have bad styling, but take it for a spin and you’ll get the common complaints: a weak, buzzy power plant, wallow-y, rolling handling, and a cheap and noisy interior.
1992 Ford Probe
You can add the Probe to the lengthy “bad car names” list (alien abductions were big in the ’90s, right?) and this shoe-shaped car, which was a joint venture between Mazda and Ford, also featured the common car killer combo of a weak V6 and front-wheel drive. Poor sales globally consigned the misguided and bland Probe to a relatively short eight-year run.
1989 Geo Metro
This little joint venture between Suzuki and GM was a 3-cylinder bean-shaped economy car that litters “worst car” lists all over the Internet. It was, of course, slow, since the tiny engine barely put out 50 horsepower, and interior bits are shoddy and cheap. But owners do report driving them past 250,000 miles, so maybe it’s really the best worst car of all time? Whatever it is, it’s definitely not one of These Luxurious Supercars Challenging Tesla’s Electric Supremacy.
1999 Toyota Echo
The Echo was the kind of car that left you deflated when your rental car agent singled it out to be your steed for the next few days. It looked like a fat gummy bear on tiny wheels, and drove like garage-built Kiwanis go-cart. The interior was sparse, plasticky, and tinny-sounding. And pushing on the accelerator was akin to stepping in a bowl of mashed potatoes, sans gravy.
1998 Land Rover Discovery II
The Brits are known for building iconic cars, but their main claim to vehicular fame is not knowing how to make their electrics work longer than a few weeks after production. The Discovery II, which was an off-roader befitting it’s heritage. It was also a mess of shoddy electronics and common issues like failed head gaskets, power steering pumps, and drive shafts.
2003 Chevrolet SSR
And then this vaguely hot rod-like pickup truck… Total head scratcher.
1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Convertible
The Cutlass Supreme in convertible trim looked like a Rubbermaid receptacle with wheels, and the middle B-pillar was so thick and bulky it made you want to put the top back up as quickly as possible.
1995 Chevy Monte Carlo
The Monte Carlo only flirted with being cool in the early ’70s, and since then, each generation has failed to excite anyone. And the supremely boring spaceship style of the fifth generation, which premiered in the mid ’90s, probably depressed more people than not. Put this one in the “another miscue from the big three” column as nobody wanted a lame-looking, front-wheel drive car with a poorly performing V6.
2012 Dodge Caliber
Another mediocre-to-bad Chrysler product, the Caliber is a front-wheel drive hatchback that is the very opposite of “hot.” The interior is dark and filled with blind spots, and the plastics are unyielding and cheap, while the power plant is a horrible 2.0L Frankenstein’s monster called the World Gasoline Engine made by a bunch of car companies. If you don’t think a motor built by committee is a bad thing, take a jaunt in the Caliber.
1999 Jaguar S-Type
When Jaguar revived the iconic S-Type in 1998, the world let out a collective sigh. It’s platform was shared with the yawn-inducing Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird, and the design made it look like a cruel mashup of classic bits like the oval grill and a ’90s-inpsired bland and blobby body. Instantly panned as awkward and outdated when it debuted, nevertheless the S-Type held on until 2007.
2009 Smart ForTwo
This European micro car seemed like a great idea if you lived in a big city. No more obsessively hunting for a parking space on alternate side days, you can just squeeze in to those tight spots near the fire hydrant. Well, size was about the only selling point as this little guy had a vague and searching transmission, was plagued with peeling paint, and actually had bad fuel economy for its size.
1990 Chrysler Imperial
The Imperial was designed to look like an elegant luxury sedan with it’s half vinyl landau roof on the back meant to bring visions of 1930s saloons and tycoons, but it just conjures up images of sad old men who want pillow-y seats and an equally as soft ride in their car. And with a V6 that only put out 147 horsepower, the Imperial is better left forgotten.
2016 Dodge Journey
Fitting that crappy and forgettable car brand Dodge ends this harrowing automotive journey as they have racked up quite a number of “worst” cars over the years. This dated and rough SUV is filled with old tech that works OK, but feels unrefined and has already been singled out for below-average reliability. The base comes with a 173-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine, which God help you if you attempt to haul the seven passenger maximum.
1990 Chevrolet Lumina APV
It’s tough to like a minivan (unless you can score a 1989 turbo, 5-speed Dodge Caravan,) and the Lumina was really, really bad—inside and out. It looks like an armadillo Transformer tarted up with two tons of plastic—and the long, sloping windshield made piloting this rig an unnerving adventure.
2001 Pontiac Aztek
Another top pick on all “worst car” lists, the Aztek is a true anomaly. Though it actually has some clever storage and cargo abilities like the cooler/center console, it’s just too… ugly. The Aztek, perhaps due to being featured on the meth-scapades show Breaking Bad, is now garnering a bit of a ironic, normcore-style comeback.
2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
This twist on the almost universally reviled PT Crusier is even uglier than the original design as the relatively smooth transition from the roof to the back hatch on the regular version becomes an ungainly hump on the drop top. A fat black B-pillar curves up and over the middle, basket handle-like on the two-door vehicle, destroying the cabrio cool factor and making this, by far, the worst PT Cruiser ever.
1997 Daewoo Nubira
Struggling to remember this set of sweet wheels? We don’t blame you since this compact car was from the then-fledgling South Korean car company that eventually got swallowed up by GM. Another underwhelming design collaboration between the Italians and an Asian car brand, the Nubira (how do you even pronounce that?) had a weak inline 4-cylinder engine wrapped up in nasty interior plastic sprinkled with poor build quality.
2006 Jeep Compass
Hardcore Jeep purists probably puked a little bit in their mouth when this monstrosity rolled out. Packed with a wimpy inline 4-cylinder engine with only 158 horsepower, and front-wheel drive on the base model, this Jeep also has bland styling that only hints at it’s off-road heritage and, most notably, it didn’t get the ubiquitous Jeep “Trail Rated” badge until the 2011 redesign.
1995 Suzuki X-90
This affront to SUVs only lasted for two years because nobody wanted a two-door, two-seat sub-compact car that could maybe handle some rough gravel roads. The X-90 looked like a Geo Metro that had been stretched and elongated in all of the wrong directions and slapped with sub-par all-wheel drive. Another con: it was part of an early Red Bull marketing campaign where it hoisted an oversize can of the energy drink over the tiny trunk.
1988 Eagle Premier
Remember Eagle? Probably not, as this was AMC’s (the company that brought us the Pacer) yawn song of a brand they cooked up with noted crappy car company Renault. This was their version of a “luxury” car, and though it did have a few advanced features like moisture-activated wipers and independent suspension, it looked like a mutant hybrid of an Audi and Volvo—in a bad way.
2003 Kia Amanti
Another admirable attempt from a fairly recent South Korean car contingency, this “luxury” car looks like a shunned love child of a ’90s Jaguar S-Type and Mercedes E-Class, both of which are already badly styled. Throw in some vague and floaty handling with a harsh V6 and dubious build quality and interior bits, and you’ve got a all-around bad car.
2007 Chrysler Sebring
Persistent rental car lot resident since 1997, the consistently bad Sebring was renamed the Chrysler 200, which ceased production in 2016. It was kind of the pinnacle of shoddy domestic car construction with a noisy and cheap interior coupled with a perennially poor and unreliable drivetrain that would’ve been forgettable if not so harsh and failure prone.
1987 Sterling 800
Sterling, another forgotten brand, was born from a collab between the Rover Group in the U.K. and Honda to market cars in the U.S. Seemed like a good idea, but even though it was based off of the excellent Acura Legend platform, the result was an incoherent mish-mash of horrible British build quality and electrics with great Japanese engineering. It only lasted till 1991.
1985 Yugo GV
This Eastern European import, monikered the Zatava Koral in Soviet-influenced Yugoslavia, hit the U.S. from 1985 to 1992 like a 2,000-pound brick. Starting at only $3,990, it was sparse inside—though it included carpeting!—and was filled with cheap plastic. The 1.1-liter engine pumped out only 55 horsepower and was known for crapping out quickly, sadly the Yugo didn’t go so great.
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