Many things in life simply don’t live up to the hype. The new Godzilla movie, Mountain Dew Code Red, and Hulu Plus are all worthy examples of things that we’ve all heard so much about but come away a tad disappointed with the finished product. Of course, disappointment doesn’t only run rampant through food and entertainment choices — it is also quite common when it comes to big purchases like real estate, appliances, and automobiles.
Car companies pour millions and millions of dollars into advertising and marketing campaigns, all in an effort to move their latest and greatest products off assembly lines and dealers’ lots. While many vehicles are accurately represented and well received by consumers, there are also those vehicles that never really catch on. They didn’t have what it takes to become a mainstay in the current car economy, and eventually fade away. These are the cars that didn’t quite live up to the hype.
The fine folks at Consumer Reports are known for digging into a variety of consumer products and separating the quality choices from the rest. They recently took a look at some of the world’s more popular car models and compiled a small list of vehicles that ultimately came to disappoint. The experts on the Consumer Reports team tested vehicles on professional tracks, running them through the ultimate wringer to see which cars stand out and which fall flat.
From Consumer Reports‘ results, here are six vehicles that fall short of expectations and that consumers should probably avoid based on the publication’s recommendations.
1. Mitsubishi Outlander
The Outlander is an all-purpose SUV produced by Mitsubishi. The vehicle’s strengths lie in its expansive interior: three rows of seats, plenty of cargo space, and room to kick back and relax during a long road trip. Add in decent fuel economy, and that’s where the praise for the Outlander seems to end.
Critics knock Mitsubishi’s SUV for sluggish performance. This big SUV is equipped with a lackluster four-cylinder engine that doesn’t quite get the job done, especially with a full cabin of seven passengers. The transmission doesn’t help, adding even more drag to the vehicle’s quickness. On top of that, the Outlander doesn’t offer much in terms of comfort thanks to a loud interior and shaky suspension.
Some viable competitors to the Outlander recommended by Consumer Reports would be the Mazda (MAZDY.PK) CX-5 or Honda’s (NYSE:HMC) CR-V, both of which rank higher with consumers and deliver better overall driving experiences.
2. Volkswagen Beetle
Say it ain’t so! Volkswagen’s (VLKAY.PK) Beetle, although a cute and popular car that has spanned decades, really doesn’t live up to the excitement around it. The days of flower power have long passed, and the Beetle now comes off as more gimmicky than anything else. The Beetle did receive a recent redesign, giving it a sleeker, more aerodynamic aesthetic, but even the redesign itself further distances it from its roots.
A common complaint about the Beetle is that it can be far from reliable, piling up extensive repair costs through its lifespan. It also provides a fairly cramped ride for passengers in the back seat, as well as a lack of adequate leg room up front thanks to a large center console. Add on that the Beetle can be hard to see out of, with restrictive roof pillars and small side windows.
The Beetle does garner some praise for a fun driving experience, with composed and adequately precise handling. However, it falls short of its rivals on most other fronts. Some good alternates to take a look at include the Volkswagen Golf or the Mazda3, according to Consumer Reports.
3. Scion tC
Equipped with a sporty look and advertised as a smooth handler, the Scion (NYSE:TM) tC just doesn’t really live up to expectations. The tC can be a good fit for those looking for a simple commuter car, as the car really comes up short in performance. There are some good things about it, like an incredible sound system and a sizable back seat. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg either, with a price tag of around $21,000.
But the negatives really start to weigh in when the tC hits the open road. Limited visibility is one of the most obvious drawbacks, and the interior doesn’t stay very quiet thanks to a loud engine. Speaking of the engine, considering that it’s a Scion model, the tC doesn’t deliver nearly as good of fuel economy as you might expect, with around 26 miles per gallon combined. In earnest, this car just doesn’t live up to its styling when it comes to performance.
There can be numerous alternatives to the tC, with some Scion models possibly filling the void for disappointed consumers. Numerous models from Subaru or Mazda could be a good choice, or even a Honda hatchback.
4. Nissan Versa Sedan
The Nissan (NSANY.PK) Versa has garnered lots of praise for its practicality and economical upsides, but those things are ultimately its downfall, as well. The Versa sedan comes with a price tag of $16,000, a paltry sum that allows for high affordability. Its fuel economy also helps drivers save quite a bit on gas expenses, but all of those cut expenses do add up down the road.
The Versa doesn’t look too bad from the outside, but drivers have reported that the car has a “cheap” feeling to it. It scored low in crash test ratings, and consumer satisfaction surveys have ranked it pretty low among its competitors. It doesn’t pack a lot in the way of power, either, producing only 109 horsepower from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. That, of course, is also what helps the Versa achieve high fuel economy numbers of roughly 37 miles per gallon combined.
The Versa sedan can be an excellent choice for consumers sticking to a tight budget or who want a car whose strength lies in fuel economy. However, if performance is on your list of priorities, this isn’t the car for you. Rival vehicles like the Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Sonic or a model from Hyundai may be a better bet.
5. Mercedes-Benz CLA
It’s not often that Mercedes (DDAIF.PK) disappoints, but the CLA is proof that it can happen. Of course, the CLA is a model that Mercedes released to be more affordable to consumers, but that affordability comes at a cost in terms of performance. The CLA still may be out of price range for many, clocking in at more than $30,000 for the base model (far more with options). For the overall price and the end result on the road, critics are determining that it may not be worth it.
Common criticisms are that the interior is cramped, there’s a lack of room for both passengers and cargo, and the driving experience simply doesn’t live up to what one might expect from a Mercedes. Think of the CLA as a more costly Mercedes-Benz model with most of the guts ripped out. Not that the car is all bad — it’s still a gorgeous vehicle that gets pretty decent fuel economy — it just really doesn’t live up to the expectations you might have when purchasing a Mercedes.
The CLA may not be a terrible car by any means, but consumers expect a lot when going with the Mercedes nameplate. Other models from the company’s lineup may be a good alternative, although it’s likely to cost you. Models from Acura or Lexus could also be worthy contenders.
6. Honda Crosstour
The Crosstour hasn’t yet become a household name, and unlike most Hondas, it may not gain a foothold in the consumer market. The Crosstour is a wagon in the vein of Subaru’s Outback or Toyota’s Venza, but it doesn’t quite match up with those other models. It’s rigged with a four-cylinder, five-speed automatic transmission and also comes in a V6 version. The four-cylinder may not give you the performance you were hoping for, but the V6 is an improvement.
Where does the Crosstour fall short? For starters, the interior is a bit disappointing. The dash can be cluttered, and there isn’t as much cargo space as one might think. The design of the car is different and stylish (though many would disagree), but it also cuts out some elements of visibility and space from the interior. Other complaints have circled around the steering and handling, which can make navigating tight parking lots or cramped streets difficult.
The Crosstour is sure to capture the hearts of some consumers, but it really can’t live up to the high benchmarks put up by other wagons in its class. With some design improvements, though, Honda can make the Crosstour a more viable choice in coming model years.