worst american cars reviews

29+ Cars That Missed The Mark According to Critics, Ranked


| LAST UPDATE 04/03/2022

By Sharon Renee

The automotive industry has had a tremendous impact on civilization and pushed the lines of innovation and luxury. But some cars might've missed the mark. Here are some of the automobiles that just don't cut it, according to critics.

35.  1959 Chevrolet Impala

Despite its sleek appearance, the 1959 Chevrolet Impala caused quite an uproar in a 2009 Consumer Reports article when tested against the Chevrolet Malibu. The test was conducted to determine how advanced car safety has come; however, viewers detailed that both cars were almost entirely wrecked.

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Schlol via Getty Images

According to the reports, most people think the '59 Impala would perform better. However, the crash test dummy was stuck inside upon impact without proper seat belts and airbags and the out-of-date construction. So for the future, retrofitting a classic car with modern safety is the way to go.

34. Mercedes CLA

This German luxury brand is famous for its fast engines, cutting edge technology, and beautiful exterior and interior - but with the Mercedes CLA, Consumer Reports experts deemed this compact sedan as under investigation for many reasons. The vehicle sported 208 HP and a front-wheel-drive but still wasn't well-equipped for drivers.

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 Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

The base price for this Mercedes is $32,000, but for more acceleration, interior design comfort, and power, the price tag jumps to $40,000. The CLA does not have a lot of space in the trunk and overall has a small inside area. For a lofty $50,000, one can purchase an actual Mercedes Sedan, the E Class.

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33. Mitsubishi Mirage

Released in the U.S. in 2014, the Mitsubishi Mirage has been critiqued for its slow three-cylinder engine, small build quality, and its cheap-feeling interior. Although one of the more affordable vehicles, starting at just above $13,000, the car comes as a five-door hatchback or compact four-door sedan.

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Jim Mahoney/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

However, authorities such as Car & Driver, Road and Track, and Motor Trend have criticized the vehicle consistently. Additionally, the car has made Consumer Reports "Worst Of" list every year since it hit the market due to its interior design and slow performance.

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32. Dodge Nitro

When compact SUVs started dominating the market, the 2007-12 Dodge Nitro appeared to be the right for the moment, but car buyers were not pleased with their purchase after reviewing it. According to Consumer Reports, the interior was small, and the inside was made of materials well below the typical standard.

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Scott Olson via Getty Images

Despite its appearance, the inside was small and uncomfortable, according to buyers, making it a no-go. The performance and power also fell far from its competitors in its class, and all in all, Consumer Reports deemed it as "not recommended." However, Dodge has since introduced models that have been praised.

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31. Lexus GX 470

In 2010, Consumer Reports tested out the new Lexus GX 470 SUV, which was deemed less than desirable. It was found that the vehicle tended to roll over. Despite being built on a Land Cruiser platform, which tested well, this SUV was unreliable due to its softer suspension and extra added weight.

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 JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Because of these two components, the car held more convenient options, but as a result, it affected the handling and fell over. Lexus decided to investigate the results from Consumer Reports, and in the 2011 model of the GX 470, the car came out much safer to drive due to some changes made in the suspension system.

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30. Morris Marina 

When it comes to sales, the Morris Marina certainly hit the mark: over a million cars were sold over 13 years. But while the vehicle was a commercial success, critics believed it was plagued by problems.

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Magic Car Pics via Shutterstock

Cost-cutting by British Leyland led to several design and technical flaws. The design was compromised to use the same doors as the saloon while chassis components from the obsolete Morris Minor were used as part of the car’s suspension. The fact that the windscreen wipers were fit the wrong way round didn’t help, either.

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29. Nissan Micra C+C

When Nissan launched their Micra C+C back in 2005 critics weren’t blown away, but still praised the car’s fuel efficiency, performance, and its slick, unique folding roof. However, the car has some flaws that various critics just couldn’t seem to get past.

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otomimar via Instagram

Critics called the design a "cliché" and when Top Gear’s Richard Hammond reviewed the car, he did so with a bag over his head to avoid being seen in it. The car also had issues with its automatic gearbox, boot space, and lack of room in the rear seats. Just four years later, Nissan put the car to bed.

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28. Hummer H2

The Hummer brand quickly cemented itself as the ideal American truck. And while it went on to become incredibly popular, critics slammed the brand’s H2 vehicle, calling it “everything wrong with American motoring.” Many claimed that while the H2 looked good, it failed to pack a punch when it came to its performance.

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Scott Olson / Staff via Getty Images

While critics knocked many of the car’s bizarre design flaws, it’s the car’s performance that failed it. While it boasts a 6.0-liter V8 engine, the car goes 0-60mph in 10 seconds with critics adding that the fuel consumption was “embarrassing”. For its hefty price tag, this vehicle left critics wanting more.

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27. Smart ForTwo

When Mercedes-Benz launched the Smart brand, they believed a small, compact vehicle would be in high demand and, in some regard, they were right. However, the brand’s ForTwo failed to make a good impression. Consumer Reports explains, “This tiny two-seater is good on gas and a snap to park. After that, the positives run out.”

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Robert Alexander / Contributor via Getty Images

Critics slammed the car’s bizarre, contrasting design, small trunk, and interior many called “dated” and “old”. Luckily, the brand has since relaunched the car and seems to have learned from all of its previous mistakes. Today, the ForTwo is one of Smart’s most popular models.

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26. Suzuki Samurai

When Suzuki launched the Samurai in 1985, the affordable 4x4 became a commercial success. However, a 1988 Consumer Reports test considered the car unsafe for American roads, calling on Suzuki to recall all 150,000 vehicles which were already sold and replace them with safer models.

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Sermac.gr via Wikimedia Commons

A deeper look into the report found the magazine altered the results of their rollover testing and Suzuki dragged them to court for the effect the report had on their brand. Years later, Suzuki and Consumer Reports settled out of court but the impact it had on the brand saw them finally exit the American market in 2012.

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25. 1967 Renault 10

Interestingly, the 1967 Renault 10 was once one of the most popular imports in America. However, despite being a hit with consumers, critics believed that the car would have packed a much stronger punch if it focused on the finer details.

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Jeremy via Wikimedia Commons

In an in-depth look at the vehicle by Consumer Reports, the magazine found that the vehicle skimped on some important aspects – including brakes that faded faster than normal, erratic handling, screeching tires, and a design that made it difficult for passengers to get in and out of the car.

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24. Peugeot 1007

When Peugeot launched the Peugeot 1007 in 2005, they believed it would be a game-changer thanks to its unique sliding door function. However, critics and buyers were left disappointed by the extra cost this function had, considering the lackluster performance of the vehicle itself.

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peugeot_gmars via Instagram

The doors meant the car was significantly heavier, coming in at approximately 1,300kg. This meant that the engine needed a lot more power to move the car. And that factor made the car louder and harmed its fuel consumption, too. Peugeot eventually pulled the plug on the 1007 in 2009.

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23. 1980 Chevrolet Citation

Chevrolet proved to be one of the most popular vehicles in the early 1980s, selling over 800,000 models of the Chevrolet Citation in its first year. However, despite it being a commercial success and winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award, its lifespan was short-lived thanks to several technical flaws.

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o1eg4torr via Instagram

Consumer Reports noted that the car had many “dangerous engineering flaws,” adding that its boxy design and shoddy build made it a hazard. After its successful first year, dealers were left with tons of stock and by 1985, the car was pulled from the market entirely.

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22. 2015 Tesla Model S

When Tesla launched their range of cars, critics and fans of the brand around the world praised the company for its out-the-box thinking when it came to innovation. In fact, when the brand launched its Model S range, it aced its Consumer Reports test scoring a whopping 103 out of 100!

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sams.auto via Instagram

However, things quickly took a turn when consumers started to experience reliability problems a few months after purchasing the vehicle. This forced Consumer Reports to change the car’s rating to “Not Recommended.” Luckily, the new Model S has rectified the issues in newer models of the car – and buyers can’t seem to get enough.

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21. 2001 Mitsubishi Montero

On first impression, Mitsubishi’s 2001 Montero SUV seemed to impress critics. Not only was the car praised for its size, durability, and safety, but it was also celebrated for its design. However, upon closer inspection, Consumer Reports revealed that when the car took turns at over 37mph, it had a dangerously high rollover rate.

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smokymountainautosales via Instagram

The popular magazine ultimately gave the car a “Not Acceptable” rating which made customers wary of purchasing the vehicle. Mitsubishi ultimately pulled the plug on the vehicle in 2006 and it became known as one of Mitsubishi’s biggest commercial flops ever.

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20. 2014 Honda Fit

When Honda first launched their Honda Fit, it quickly became a success story for the brand. Critics called the car “one of the most reliable, economical, and fun-to-drive subcompacts on the market” – and Consumer Reports seemed to agree. This was until the 2014 remodel was released.

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joecd928 via Instagram

When the 2014 scored poorly on a crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Consumer Reports was forced to remove the car from its “Recommended” list. Honda quickly went into crisis mode and made all the necessary changes to the vehicle. A year later, in 2015, the car was back to its former glory.

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19. 2010 Lexus GX 460

When the 2010 Lexus GX 460 dropped, buyers were excited to get their hands on the SUV. However, in one of their thorough tests, Consumer Reports found that the car had an affinity to roll over and bought another car to run the test again. Finding the same result, the magazine slapped a “Safety Risk: Don’t Buy” rating on the car.

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MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images / Contributor via Getty Images

Alarmed by the magazine’s findings, Toyota quickly recalled the vehicles for a stability control adjustment before putting it back into the market. Once the fix was made, Consumer Reports changed their rating of the vehicle to "safe," but buyers seemed to steer clear of the car.

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18. 1957 Dodge Royal

The 1957 Dodge Royal was a turning point in Chrysler’s forward-thinking approach to design and quickly became a global phenomenon. The car was unlike anything else on the market and forced competitor brands like Ford and GM to play catch up. However, consumers soon started experiencing a number of problems with their vehicles.

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62falcon.classics.crc via Instagram

Consumer Reports started receiving several complaints from buyers about water leakage inside the car and in its trunk, missing bolts, squeaks and rattles, and rusty suspension components. After publishing their report, the brand was tainted with an unreliable reputation for decades to come.

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17. SsangYong Rodius 

In the early 2000s, Korean manufacturer SsangYong needed to do something drastic to boost sales. They eventually came up with the Rodius, a car they believed would help them compete with their larger competitors. However, according to critics, the car ended up being one of the most bizarre-looking vehicles on the market.

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tristanfukuoka via Instagram

Designed by Ken Greenley, the model was inspired by luxury yachts. While it sounds great on paper, the result proved to be an eyesore and turned many buyers away. The car was also rather heavy which meant that its performance was limited. Ultimately, SsangYong failed to make the impact it had hoped with the Rodius.

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16. Subaru 360

After seeing the success the Volkswagen Beetle had, buyers were excited to see that Subaru had released their competitive product, the Subaru 360, into the American market. This car, the first in the market for the brand, was smaller and lighter than the Beetle, weighing just over 400kg and coming in at just three meters long.

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kaz3166 via Instagram

However, after a thorough investigation, Consumer Reports called it “the most unsafe car in America.” The vehicle went on to become an unprecedented ordeal and saw dealers putting together ridiculous deals to get rid of their stock on hand. Fast-forward to today, Subaru has changed its tone and remains popular in the region.

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15. 1975 Zagato Zele/Elcar 2000

While not widely available, Zagato has built some of the most reliable and distinctive cars in the world. Ahead of its time, Zagato created the world’s first electric production cars, dubbed the Zagato Zele, or Elcar 2000 in America. However, while it proved to be a massive step forward, critics said the design was plagued with flaws.

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extinctcars via Instagram

Consumer Reports discovered that the car’s 32km range per charge plummeted down to just 18km when the weather found itself below 4°C. This proved to be challenging since each charge required an 8-hour charge. This, and the fact that the car didn’t have any other significant safety features, caused the brand to pull the plug.

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14. REVA G-Wiz

REVA’s G-Wiz made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The compact electric vehicle actually qualified as a quadricycle in the UK, with space for two adults and two kids. But the car barely had enough power to move one person. While later models improved on performance, critics couldn’t get over the lack of safety features.

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LEON NEAL / Staff via Getty Images

Critics called the vehicle a “potential rolling coffin at any speed over 30mph” and it was only by 2008 that the manufacturer started spending more time improving this. That said, it became a hit in London and cemented itself as the best-selling electric car in the world until 2009.

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13. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible

At a time when the Volkswagen Beetle was one of the most popular cars in the world, other brands wanted to jump on board. One manufacturer that critics thought got it wrong was Chrysler, who launched their PT Cruiser Convertible. When the brand opted for a more retro look, they chose to remove the roof and were left with an unsavory design.

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coolcarspot via Instagram

However, removing the roof also meant that any structural support the roof gave the car disappeared entirely. This meant that the brand needed to install a roll hoop in the center of the car. Buyers weren’t fond of this and Chrysler eventually discontinued the car after just two years.

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12. 1968 AMC Ambassador SST

When AMC, an independent car manufacturer, announced its Ambassador SST, critics were expecting big things. It became the first American car in history to offer standard air conditioning and popularity meant the brand fast-tracked the production process to ensure this demand was met.

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raharrington_art via Instagram

However, this proved disastrous as the first few vehicles off the production line were poorly built. Consumer Reports found that an installed fuel filler neck spilled gasoline out of the car during heavy brake testing, and scored the car “Not Acceptable.” The brand never recovered and was ultimately bought by Chrysler in 1988.

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11. Reliant Robin 

The Reliant Robin three-wheeler was catapulted to mainstream fame in series like Mr Bean and was a driving force in the success of the Reliant brand in the early 1970s. Its lightweight design meant that it could reach high speeds fast and, despite what was shown on TV, it didn’t have a problem taking turns.

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Christopher Furlong / Staff via Getty Images

In 2013, the “plastic pig,” as it was dubbed, was named the worst British car of all time. The car was plagued with problems – the biggest being the steering wheel kept falling off. However, it was a hit with buyers, even catching the eye of Princess Anne at one point.

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10. 1986 Yugo GV

Piggybacking off the idea of selling a cheap and compact car like the Subaru 360, businessman Malcolm Bricklin imported the Yugo GV and sold it as the cheapest car in America. However, the car quickly earned a name for itself as one of the most dangerous vehicles on sale.

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dlangshoopties via Instagram

In its review, Consumer Reports tore the car to shreds calling it “a barely assembled bag of nuts and bolts.” Despite the cheap price tag, it was clear that safety was still an important factor for buyers who steered clear from this model.

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9. 1978 Dodge Omni

Despite being one of the worst cars ever made, the 1978 Dodge Omni was a commercial success, saving the Chrysler group from bankruptcy. The car made a name for itself as the first American front-wheel drive hatchback and won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award. However, critics weren’t impressed.

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magnum05_yt via Instagram

Consumer Reports rated the Omni “Not Acceptable” after their tests highlighted the car’s poor production materials, terrible safety record, and ambiguous steering. However, despite the magazine’s warnings, over 3 million cars were sold between 1977 and 1990.

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8. Suzuki X-90

When Suzuki released their X-90 between 1995 and 1997, they believed that it would fill the gap when it came to affordable, durable two-seater vehicles. However, thanks to its awkward styling, the car was deemed a flop for the brand with critics calling it one of the worst cars to ever exist.

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suzukix90lovers via Instagram

Critics slammed its 1.6-liter petrol engine, four or rear-wheel drive, and five-speed manual or automatic transmissions, adding the way the car swerved through corners and its tiny trunk space left drivers with a lot to be desired. Unsurprisingly, the car was discontinued after just 18 months.

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7. 1957 Buick Roadmaster

Buicks have become an American icon and remain incredibly popular even today. However, while the 1957 Buick Roadmaster was praised for its unique design and sleek interior, the model fell behind other vehicles making major moves in the automotive industry at the time.

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b_royal_classics via Instagram

Calling out its “lackluster build quality and too-soft ride,” Consumer Reports felt that the model didn’t evolve fast enough to compete with other cars in the “High-Priced Car Group”. Despite this, the car remains one of the most iconic vintage vehicles in history so it seems it did something right.

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6. Cadillac Escalade

When it comes to big SUVs, the Cadillac Escalade is a vehicle that quickly comes to mind. Its luxury trimmings, big grill, and V8-powered engine make this a car buyers flock to when wanting to purchase an SUV. However, Consumer Reports has put this Cadillac on its list of SUVs buyers should steer clear of.

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Gregory Bojorquez / Contributor via Getty Images

Consumer Reports explained that the car’s “lack of refinement and an interior that’s not known to take wear-and-tear well” makes it a hard sell – considering the other options available in the same price range. Still, the car remains popular among buyers.

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5. Pontiac Aztek

While the Pontiac Aztek has been around for almost two decades, it’s racked up a horrible reputation amongst car buyers and critics alike. Apart from its high sale price, the car’s design and interior are also so bad that it has been rated as one of the biggest bombs in automotive history.

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Magic Car Pics via Shutterstock

In fact, Consumer Reports once said that they were so embarrassed to be seen driving this car, that they did most of their road tests at night. Time Magazine also didn’t have amazing things to say about the car, adding it to its list of the worst inventions ever made. Ouch!

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4. 1963 DAF Daffodil

Haven’t heard of the Daffodil? There’s a very good reason for that! While this Dutch vehicle changed the game by being the first car in history to have a Continuously Variable Transmission (technology that has since been adapted into almost every car manufacturer today), the microcar wasn’t pleasant to drive.

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Michel Porro / Contributor via Getty Images

When putting the car through the wringer, Consumer Reports documented an acceleration speed of 28.9 seconds when pushing the car from 0-60mph. This holds the title as the slowest accelerating car the magazine has ever tested – which makes it a disaster to take out on the roads.

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3. Ferrari Mondial 8

Ferrari has cemented itself as a leader in the luxury car space, but even this Italian superbrand makes mistakes every now and then. However, none were as bad as the Ferrari Mondial 8. When compared to other luxury sports cars, the Mondial 8 recorded a terrible power-to-weight ratio and reached 60mph in a dismal 10 seconds.

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HH/Bournemouth News via Shutterstock

The car was also plagued by shoddy electrical work, which saw the system fail – often with the smell of burning wires. The car was marketed as a cheaper alternative to its other sports car but ended up doing more harm than good for the luxury sports car brand.

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2. Cimarron by Cadillac

At a time when luxury small cars became a trend in the early 1980s, General Motors thought they would get in on the action by adding a few extra elements to their J-platform sedans. They spruced up the interior and threw in some swanky accessories and called the cars Cimarron by Cadillac.

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williamrubano via Instagram

However, this luxury vehicle just couldn’t compete with other small cars in the range. With an average engine and standard performance materials, the Cimarron failed to convince critics and buyers that this was, in fact, as luxurious and powerful as a Cadillac would be. Unsurprisingly, the car failed to impress and was discontinued in 1988.

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1. Ford Pinto

Ford is certainly a brand that changed the automotive industry, and while they created some remarkable vehicles throughout the years, they’ve had some misses as well. The biggest of these was the Ford Pinto. The car was made with some cheap materials and caught the attention of critics.

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Magic Car Pics via Shutterstock

The car makes the list as one of the worst automobiles ever made because of its volatile nature. Throughout its time on sale, the car became famous for combusting into flames in rear-end collisions. This sparked the Ford Pinto memo – the motor industry’s “most notorious paper trails.”

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