Worst-Made Cars on the Road

Forbes

If you want to drive something dependable and long-lasting, steer clear of these vehicles.

With a 22% improvement in sales last month, and despite the six-month, $4.3 billion loss it announced Wednesday, General Motors is likely to have its strongest spring and summer in years. Plus, the automaker had critically acclaimed new products at the recent New York Auto Show and the much-anticipated Chevrolet Volt is due out this fall.

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Year-over-year sales of GM's Cadillac division alone are up almost 76%; sales in the Buick, Chevrolet and GMC divisions were each up more than 40% for March. The industry as a whole was up 24.3%.

Unfortunately just because GM's cars are selling well now doesn't mean they're the best bet for durability or value -- yet. It'll take awhile before GM's new direction shows up in tangible new products at the dealership.

Four of the seven vehicles on our list of the worst-made cars on the road come from GM brands. And all of the cars on the list -- including Chrysler's Dodge Nitro and Jeep Wrangler -- are made by Detroit's Big Three. Only one car on the list is made by Ford Motor (NYSE: F).

Cadillac Escalade

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Segment: Luxury SUV
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Fair
CR Value Score: Rated among the worst in value
CR Safety Score: Rated among the worst in safety.
CR Overall Score: 61 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 2 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $62,495

 

Chevrolet Aveo

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Segment: Compact Car
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Poor
CR Value Score: Not rated among the worst in overall value
CR Safety Score: Not rated among the worst in overall safety.
CR Overall Score: 36 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 2 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $11,965

 

Chevrolet Colorado

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Segment: Pickup Truck
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Poor
CR Value Score: Not rated among the worst in value
CR Safety Score: Rated among the worst in overall safety.
CR Overall Score: 41 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 2 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $16,985

 

Dodge Nitro

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Segment: SUV
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Poor
CR Value Score: Rated among the worst in overall value
CR Safety Score: Not rated among the worst in safety.
CR Overall Score: 33 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 2 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $22,335

 

Ford F-250

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Segment: Pickup Truck
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Poor
CR Value Score: Rated among the worst in overall value
CR Safety Score: Rated among the worst in overall safety.
CR Overall Score: 37 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 3 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $28,020

 

Click here to see more of the Worst-Made Cars On The Road

Behind the Numbers

To determine our list of the worst-made cars on the road, we started with the lowest-rated vehicles from four reliability and performance studies conducted this year. Those studies are all from Consumer Reports: The Most Reliable Cars Report; Best and Worst Values Report; Best and Worst Safety Performance Survey; and the CR overall scores for 2010 vehicles.

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We then added to the list any vehicles that received fewer than three out of five power circles in this year's Vehicle Dependability Study from J.D. Power and Associates. Any car, truck or SUV named among the worst in at least three of those five total studies made the final cut to be on the "Worst-Made" list.

The biggest surprise on the list, given recent automotive news: It includes no Toyota (NYSE: TM) made vehicles. In fact, Toyota reported a 40.7% gain in sales last month over March 2009; its Lexus division was up 42%. (Generous buyer incentives greatly contributed to those numbers.) And although Consumer Reports has removed its "recommended pick" distinction from Toyota vehicles involved in the current recall, many analysts are standing by their previous assessments of Toyota's well-made products.

"Toyota and Lexus both were fairly steady on their quality" in the dependability report released last month, says Dave Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of global vehicle research. "Toyota has both good quality and a high consumer perception of their quality -- so Toyota is very much in line."

GM's Chevrolet hasn't fared as well. Overall sales at Chevrolet are up, but sales of the $16,985 Chevrolet Colorado were down 21.9% year-over-year. Sales of the truck are down 32.2% for the year to date.

The $11,965 Chevrolet Aveo made our list too -- but probably won't in the very near future. When the 2012 Aveo comes out next year, it'll feature styling improvements (large vents in the front, 19" wheels, circular headlights) and performance upgrades (likely a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder turbo-boosted engine with 138 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission). Early photos and speculation from experts like Jake Fisher, the senior automotive engineer at Consumer Reports, indicate it'll hold its own against Nissan's Versa and Honda's Fit -- two reliable, affordable, strong sellers.

Tough Trucks?

Aside from the Aveo, though, most of the worst-made cars on our list aren't cars at all -- they're trucks and SUVs. Besides the Colorado, GMC's $16,985 Canyon and Ford's $28,020 F-250 received some of the lowest scores of any vehicles we considered. The Canyon SLE, for instance, was listed by Consumer Reports as one of the worst values of any 2010 vehicle and as one of the least reliable new vehicles on the market this year. It received just two out of five power circles on J.D. Power's overall dependability rating.

The F-250 Lariat earned both the "worst value" and "worst safety performance" distinctions from Consumer Reports this year. It received an overall score of just 37 out of 100 points for predicted reliability, fuel economy, depreciation, ride, owner costs, accident avoidance, front-seat comfort, acceleration and owner satisfaction.

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