The disappointing dozen: Cars that fail our tests

Consumer Reports
14 March 2013

The Consumer Reports Annual Autos Issue is a great resource for researching the best cars. Flip through the magazine or tour the website, and it is clear there are many great choices. However, just as there are many good cars available, there are also many that fail miserably. These vehicles fall way below our threshold to be recommended. Take a look at 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.

Visit our Annual Auto Issue special section for quick access to the latest Ratings, articles, and videos.

Below, we present this year's dirty 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 SE 34 Short range, long charging time, weak cabin heat, Spartan accommodations, acceleration, ride, agility, seats only four, complicated radio, headlights.
Chevrolet Spark 1LT 34 Acceleration, transmission, ride, noise, front-seat comfort, driving position, controls.
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.
Ram 2500 Laramie (6.7L, inline 6) 49 Ride, noise, handling, transmission, high step-in, complicated optional radio, 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.

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 special auto issue section with our Top Picks, best and worst lists, car brand report cards and more.



More from Consumer Reports:
2013 New Car Preview
Best & worst used cars
Complete Ratings for 200 cars and trucks

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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