To Americans, foreign vehicles usually scream luxury and class. Take brands like Mercedes and Jaguar, for example. Both brands are held in high regard in the States, and people love them. Then there are the more down-to-earth foreign brands like Kia, Toyota, and Nissan that everyday drivers love. Americans, of course, have their cult favorites like the classic Toyota Camry, SubaruOutback, and Honda Odyssey, to name a few.
Fiats are little cars with big reputations…for being terrible. The 500E is Fiat’s attempt at an electric version of their car in response to growing demand. Unfortunately, this little car has fallen flat. Insurance agencies often claim the vehicle totaled in the lightest of fender benders. These cars also often suffer from a choppy ride, noisy interior, and the driving position is usually considered awkward among drivers. Fiat’s CEO doesn’t even like this car.
Another Fiat makes it onto the list. The big brother to the 500E, this car has only gotten worse every year on Consumer Reports‘s overall reliability rating. This tiny car packs a massive headache of problems with the brakes, in-car electronics, power equipment, and mechanical parts being particular problems.
Mini Cooper Clubman
The Mini Cooper is a fun car that people around the world adored, so they released the Clubman version about seven years after the original. The Clubman is essentially a stretched-out version of the original with a couple of extra doors slapped on it. Add that on to a high price, poor gas mileage, and the usual mini problems (transmission failure, particularly), and it’s unsurprising this car makes this list.
Chery is a Chinese brand that’s known for putting out cars made from cheap, low-quality parts that are usually severely underpowered. The QQ3 is the lowest of the low for this brand. In 2008, this was the cheapest new car in the world and could be purchased for $4,000 in 2012. Just don’t expect anything over 70 horsepower from its three engine options or any type of safety features that usually come standard on American cars.
Released in the U.S. in the early ’90s, the Sportage was seen as a lightweight, affordable SUV with minimal comforts and a severely underpowered engine (though it had four-wheel drive, so that’s something). Even now, with a few more bells and whistles, this car continues to underperform, and many find its competitors more fun to drive. It also has considerably less cargo space and worse fuel economy than its rivals.
The Cadenza is Kia’s response to the Chevrolet Impala and the Toyota Avalon. On the plus side, the Cadenza is roomy and quiet with easy handling. On the other hand, it’s really only an average car. The Cadenza is known for issues with engine cooling, the climate system, and emissions/fueling systems. Studies have also found that owners of Cadenzas had to bring their car in for unscheduled repairs twice as often as other full-size cars.
The SUV craze sweeping the nation resulted in the Volkswagen Touareg, which debuted in the U.S. back in 2002. Its powerful engine resulted in a complex layout that requires the entire block to be removed in order to fix even the simplest problem. To us, that seems like a design flaw. Plus, it ups the price of any repair work that’s needed.
Volkswagen Golf TDI
The peppy Golf TDI often has transmission problems at higher mileages (mostly in older models). The rear brakes have also been known to wear out quickly, and there’s a whole host of other problems. We recommend looking elsewhere.
The GV was made in the former Yugoslavia. When it arrived in the U.S., the goal was to market the car as the cheapest vehicle on the market. What Americans got, however, was headache instead of an economic deal. The GV had terribly build quality, and Consumer Reports called it “a barely assembled bag of nuts and bolts”.
With a rotary engine that allows for well-balanced power, you would think that this car would be a dream, right? Wrong. Rotary engine seals wear out quickly, and even those with way under 100,000 miles can lose a lot of compression. There’s also a risk of mixing oil with gas in the combustions chamber. Welcome to engine problems galore.
The Mirage entered the U.S. in 2014 and was met with only a lukewarm reception. The car is known for its bargain price, but that’s the only compliment it’ll receive. The car’s handling has been described as weak and clumsy, the interior is cheap, and the car, in general, is noisy with sluggish acceleration. It often ranks at the bottom of all major car review lists.
You would expect better from Mercedes. We did. The GLA received the lowest owner satisfaction score on a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, and only 44% said they’d ever consider purchasing another GLA. This car is small, cramped, and expensive with a stiff ride, a loud interior, poor visibility, and a bad gearbox. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of complaints.
When this car was introduced to the U.S. market, it was marketed for its 38 miles per gallon fuel economy, but even that wasn’t enough to save this tiny thing. This car’s transmission is known for being one of the worst in the world, coupled with horrendous design and absolutely minimal storage space. In our eyes (and lots of others, apparently), this car is in no way worth it.
This one’s an older car, but it’s worth talking about because of just how bad it flopped. Originally introduced in 1985, the Samurai was actually successful until 1998 when Consumer Reports absolutely annihilated it. Consumer Reports found that the Samurai was dangerously unsafe for American roads. The car was ultimately recalled and abandoned.
Toyota is normally known for its durability and reliability, but here sits the Tacoma. Consumer Reports has found that this truck has a worse than average reliability, stiff rides, a noisy cabin, and uncomfortable seats. Good thing a facelift is coming in 2020.