21 Worst Cars of the 21st Century
Everyone, even Maserati, makes mistakes.
You’d think that, by the sleek sunrise of the 21st century, car companies would have learned how to steer clear of making shoddy vehicles. After all, they’ve had more than a century of practice. But alas, even with the futuristic dawning of a post Y2K world, car companies around the world still rolled out some seriously subpar cars. In fact, the past decade-and-change has seen some of the worst cars ever: uninspired designs, pathetic performance, shoddy quality, questionable materials galore. Herein, we’ve rounded up the worst of the worst, the modern equivalents to the legendarily and laughably horrible Ford Edsel and Chevy Chevette.
2007 Jeep Compass
This abomination was an affront to die-hard Jeep lovers everywhere. It looked like an as-seen-on-TV plastic appliance that one buys in a late-night stupor and condemns to the pantry for the rest of existence. Plus, in the ultimate insult to Jeepsters, this vehicle had no off-road prowess (to say nothing of how it handled on-road).
2002 Chevrolet Aveo
Chevrolet just couldn’t leave the Chevette without a worthy—and equally as horrible—successor in the aughts, so they tossed out the tinny, weak, and boring Aveo, which looks as if designers merely jotted some sketches down on a coffee-stained napkin and called it a day.
2001 Pontiac Aztek/Buick Rendevous
Perennially ranked, in publication after publication, as one of the worst cars ever, the Aztek is so bad it’s actually becoming kind of cool again. The styling was, to put it diplomatically, quirky. But its performance (a 185HP V6) was downright pitiful.
2001 Jaguar X-Type
The name Jaguar brings to mind upper-crust British style and performance (and that engine roar, in newer models), but when you let Ford get their hands on a storied brand, you get the X-Type, which was little more than a gussied up Mondeo.
2004 Chrysler Crossfire
The designers at Chrysler attempted to make a cool two-door sports car. Unfortunately, it was heavy to work, and even if it weren’t, 215HP does not a performance car make. (Though the design, at least, is intriguing.)
2006 Pontiac Solstice
Say what you will about Pontiac: at least they tried some novel ideas in the aughts. Though, like the Solstice, here, they were regularly hampered by bad ergonomics, terrible engineering, and poor performance.
2002 Hummer H2
One of the worst vehicles of all time, the Hummer H2 promised off-road skills and a bad-boy military heritage but offered up only faux toughness, a horrible transmission, and more cheap plastic than the Great Pacific garbage patch.
2003 Chevrolet SSR
In the aughts, Chevy’s team was stacked with engineers raised on the hot rods of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. This odd duck is their attempt to rekindle some of that midcentury appeal, but it fell flat. The retro styling was too kitschy, and the performance (290HP) was underwhelming for a real tire twister.
2008 Smart ForTwo
Small, compact, and perfect for city dwellers looking for cheap and efficient transportation, the ForTwo was a hit in Europe. But when it came stateside, few Americans were impressed with the shoddy build quality and clunky transmission.
2006 Saab 9-7x/Chevrolet TrailBlazer
Conceived when Chevy owned Saab (it’s also the only model of the Swedish company built in the the states), the 9-7x is basically a rebadged and re-skinned TrailBlazer, which was itself a regrettable and forgettable SUV. So, it’s a knockoff of a knockoff.
2008 Dodge Caliber SRT-4
Though it pumped out a decent 285HP from a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the boxy and frog-like Caliber was a flop because nobody wanted to drive a harsh and ugly hatchback, no matter how snappy it could be.
2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP
As far as bland and ungainly crossovers go, this one might be the blandest and most ungainly. In a feeble attempt to make garbage enticing, Pontiac stiffened up the suspension and added a weak, forgettable Suzuki V6 to the GXP. But covering up a bad product with bad finishing touches is never a good marketing strategy.
2011 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Jumping on the e-vehicle bandwagon, Mitsubishi released this electrified blob in 2011. But with a pitiful range of 62 miles and charge time that could take up to a 14 hours charge time, this poorly thought-out car barely sold 2,000 units in America.
2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx SS
Chevy went through a spate of slapping the once-hallowed “SS” performance moniker on sub-standard cars in the ’90s and ’00s, but putting it on this weird vehicular tragedy of a hatchback-wagon blend was just shameless.
2001 Chrysler Sebring Convertible
The entire Sebring line-up, which ran an improbably long 15 years, is a not-so-shining example of subpar car design and execution. But the early aughts iterations were inferior and clunky, and it always stung when rental car reps offered the vehicle as a “sporty” option.
2011 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Here’s one of the worst ideas in car design history: Take a bland, bean-shaped crossover and chop the roof off, turning it from merely unappealing and boring car into an expensive and poorly handling beast with hardly any cargo space.
2003 Mitsubishi Outlander
Introduced as a replacement for the off-road capable and rugged Montero SUV, this pathetic and weak-willed compact crossover was hideously styled, underpowered with 140 hp, and (worst of all) loud inside.
2015 Maserati Ghibli
It’s a good bet that, when you hear “Maserati,” you instantly think of Italian luxury and unmatched performance. But insiders know full well that the modern versions of these once-coveted beauties are poor facsimiles, and the Ghibli and the worst offender. For $80,000, you’re getting a a sports car with horrible build quality that also happens to be loaded with interior bits from Dodge. Frankly, the vehicle isn’t even worth half of its MSRP.
2003 Saturn Ion
Saturn was a bold departure for GM in the ’80s, small cars made semi-independently (with bodies made of plastic) to compete with Japanese brands. But models like the Ion—which rocked a subpar interior, poor overall quality, and rough, harsh drivetrains—helped kill the experimental company in 2010.
2005 BMW 7 Series
Probably the most loathed BMW of all time, 2005 introduced the first of this series that included loads of confusing tech (like the much-panned iDrive system), a controversial restyling of the exterior sheet metal, and a faulty timing chain that would blow the engine when it failed.
2007 Scion xB
The original Scion xB dropped in 2003 and it was an odd delight, with surprisingly nimble handling and a quietly cavernous and useful interior. But the 2007 redesign turned it from quirky, cool, and supremely useful to lumpen and leaden, thanks to a poorly conceived series of design decisions: a longer wheelbase, lower headroom, and a whopping 600-pound increase in weight.