Knowing which cars to buy is important, but perhaps almost equally important is know which cars not to buy, considering it’s such a big purchase for many people. Fortunately, Consumer Reports, one of the most respected reviewers of products in the United States, has us covered on both fronts.
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that these days, there isn’t necessarily a “bad” car — some are worse than others, but comparatively speaking, for the average consumer, there are few bad choices of vehicles compared to, say, the 1970s or 1980s. Cars have come a long, long way in terms of safety, build quality, reliability, efficiency, and just about every other measure.
Nonetheless, some cars do have their strengths and all cars have their weaknesses, so depending on what you’re shopping for, those are good to keep in mind. Consumer Reports has listed what it believes should be the cars best left alone for 2014, and here are the SUVs and crossovers from that list that didn’t make it up to par. They are ranked in terms of size and category, not by best to worst.
1. Jeep Compass
Though its Wrangler and Grand Cherokee continue to do quite well, Jeep’s (FIATY.PK) smaller offerings have struggled at the hands of reviewers and critics. Some of that might be image — the smaller cars shed Jeep’s renowned off-road reputation for a more urban and comfort-oriented approach, which many feel doesn’t fit the brand. Consumer Reports apparently thought so, and it listed Jeep’s smallest offering as one to stay clear of for this year.
2. Jeep Patriot
Like the Compass, the Patriot falls into an odd niche for Jeep that tries to blend a rugged appearance with a diminutive footprint that’s better suited to the concrete jungle than the real one. Despite its utility vehicle-classification, Edmunds pointed out that the Patriot doesn’t offer much cargo space and has sluggish acceleration and disappointing fuel economy on models equipped with the CVT.
3. Jeep Cherokee with 2.4-liter engine
Presumably, the Cherokee loaded with Jeep’s 3.2-liter V6 is a fine car, but the 2.4-liter inline four apparently poses problems. Despite its polarizing looks, the Cherokee has been selling very well and was the driving force behind Jeep’s solid sales performance in January. The 2.4-liter engine’s 184 horsepower is on the anemic side for a midsize crossover, but the Pentastar V6′s 271 horsepower should be more than sufficient for accomplishing day-to-day tasks.
4. Mitsubishi Outlander
Mitsubishi really needed a winning SUV, but Consumer Reports seems to think that the 2014 Outlander isn’t it. It’s hard to beat as far as value goes, with a starting price under $20,000, but it’s fairly underpowered for its segment and already looks decidedly dated despite only being on the market for a few months. What started about 10 years ago as a viable competitor to Subaru’s Outback has now slid to near the back of the pack of a different class of vehicle that’s more heavy on the SUV and less of an off-road wagon. Additionally, the cargo space has been described as cramped, as is the third row seat, and Edmunds called the performance “underwhelming.”
5. Ford Edge
If you were thinking of buying the 2014 Ford (NYSE:F) Edge, it may be in your best interest to wait until Ford reveals the 2015 model. This entry surprised us, as the Edge has been a fairly well-loved vehicle since it debuted in 2007. It’s large enough to be practical and spacious but small enough to navigate through urban areas and cities with ease. However, Consumer Reports warns of this year’s model, and we’d bet at least part of it is due to Ford’s troubled MyFord Touch infotainment system.
6. Nissan Armada
This Nissan (NSANY.PK) is one of the few truck-based SUV options from Japan, taking after the Nissan Titan pickup. Unfortunately, both of those vehicles are well past their due dates and are heavily in need of an upgrade, which is coming in the next couple of years. It’s not that the Armada is a bad vehicle, but it is less fuel efficient than its competitors and really hasn’t seen any changes for the last decade or so. It has limited power train options, is less powerful than you’d expect, and doesn’t possess as much cargo space compared to its rivals.
7. Dodge Journey
It’s unclear as to why the Dodge Journey is on this list, though we’d assume it’s not a bad car — it’s just not as good as its competition. Its fuel economy is so-so and it doesn’t offer anything notably impressive that its rivals won’t have or can’t be optioned with. The Crossroad model (pictured) promises a special trim level that offers chrome exterior trim on its roof rails and side sills, a new front and rear fascia, smoked headlights and taillights, and black 19-inch wheels, so that may help the Journey establish more of its own identity.
8. Volvo XC90
Take a moment to appreciate and respect the Volvo (VOLVY.PK) XC90. More than a decade after its original release with virtually no changes aside from some minor cosmetic work, the Swedish SUV is still selling units — meaning consumers are still choosing a 10-year-old design over the new models in showrooms today. At the same time, this is also a problem with the XC90: it’s 10 years old, and its beginning to show it. Fortunately, Volvo has its replacement waiting in the wings for a release later this year, so stay tuned.
9. Lincoln MKX
Like the Ford Edge, the Lincoln MKX is starting to show its age. While the new Lincolns are more their own car now — instead of rebranded Fords — than they have been for many years, the MKX hasn’t seen its due redesign yet, but it likely will when the Edge gets its replacement later this year. Like the Edge, it’s hard to point to what Consumer Reports found so repelling about the MKX. We would imagine it had to do with a hefty premium for a car that, beneath the leather and trim, isn’t necessarily worth the $10,000 premium over the Edge.
10. Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque has been one of Land Rover’s (NYSE:TTM) fastest-selling vehicles to date, and true to its brand, it combines a luxurious and well-appointed interior with off-road capabilities that belie its smaller stature. However, Land Rovers have a reputation for being plagued with reliability issues and are often in need of a repair shop for one reason or another, which is likely why Consumer Reports has thrown it on its warning list.