Top 20 Embarrassing Cars: Part 2

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

These days its too easy to find a car that looks good, drives well and makes you feel like you’ve spent your money in the right way. But it hasn’t always been that way. There’s a number of cars out there that are just embarrassing.

We shared our first 10 a while back, but now its time to see the rest. We reached out to our readers on Facebook, and read all the comments to the original post to get a better idea of what else could make the list. In fact, the first two cars you’ll click through here are actually reader suggested.

Take a read through and be sure to see our first entry in this list.

SEE ALSO: Top 20 Embarrassing Cars: Part 1

This car came suggested by one of our readers who – get this – actually owns an xB. Frequent commenter P.F. Burns had this to say about his ride:

“For a Corolla wagon with a Camry engine, it’s got great cargo space, but you can’t see out the back of it. Also, it gets mediocre gas mileage (22/28), and the dash looks like it was designed by and for Klingons with head injuries.” So it has a silly design, returns terrible fuel economy and it’s a Scion. Sorry xB, but here’s your spot in our Top 20.

Another reader suggested car, the Toyota Prius is the ultimate car if you want to look uncool. For starters, it’s a slow and unexciting hybrid. It’s quiet and has zero presence on the road. Yawning seems to be the most natural way to acknowledge a Prius.

Sure it gets fantastic fuel economy, but is there anything sexy about that? Even the interior design is strange, with the gear-stick being replaced by a tiny blue nub. One way or another, nobody is getting excited by a Prius on the road unless it’s getting out of the way.

Owners of these two cars must get a lot of looks, though none of outright respect. Sure, both of these cars are known for being smooth riding V8 powered sedans, but in the real world, you see a ton of them in service as taxis, limos or police cruisers.

Ask a Town Car driver how much he enjoys driving around the city with people frantically waving their hands to get a ride, or see if Crown Vic owners appreciate people slamming on their brakes after seeing the recognizable front end of a police-cruiser in their rear-view mirror. Of course, if you have a real P71 Police Interceptor, or even a Mercury Marauder, it might be a different story.

Since I gave the PT Cruiser a rough time back, it’s only natural to see Chevy’s answer to that Chrysler, here on the list. The HHR (which stood for Heritage High Roof) was inspired by a 1949 Chevrolet Suburban… Looking to old muscle cars, like the Camaros or Mustang, for inspiration is cool and often results in some well-designed cars, but can an old SUV really inspire some interesting design? I think the HHR answered that question with a resounding “no.”

The Echo is arguably one of the most yawn-inducing vehicles to come from Toyota in the last 25 years.

It’s cheap and looks that way inside and out. That odd center display cluster wasn’t quirky or fun, just strange and unnecessary. Furthermore, this Tercel replacement felt like it would tip over during a hard corner. While most Echoes will enjoy a long life thanks to Toyota’s reputation for outstanding reliability, it just means you get to spend more time looking at this uninspired design.

The Acura ZDX may look like a lean, sporty crossover, but the reality is that it was far from that thanks to its heavy curb weight and poor genetic makeup. Keep in mind, the ZDX was supposed to go up against the BMW X6 and the Infiniti FX, but it just couldn’t match up. That’s because the ZDX uses the same platform as the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX. Those are three-row crossovers known for being large and comfortable rather than sporty and cool.

Under the hood was a 300-hp V6 engine mated to Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive system that can send torque not just between the front and rear axles, but to the left and right as well. However, the performance equation of the ZDX really falls flat because of its 4,400-lb. curb weight. A sales flop, the car was finally discontinued in 2014.

Good things can be said about the smart fortwo! Observe: It’s small and easy to drive around town and is easy on gas.

In the real world, it’s impossible to get respect when you’re in a fortwo. Consider merging on a busy highway; will anyone slow down to let you dawdle in front of them with your 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine? Not to mention the fortwo’s atrocious single-clutch automated manual transmission.

Fortunately, things are looking up. The upcoming model looks far more interesting and features a new, modern transmission that can’t be any worse than the last one.

There’s not much we can say about the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet. It’s a failure of a crossover and a terrible convertible that compromises in too many ways. For example, the fact that it only has two doors makes it a pain to load multiple passengers and its roofless design also makes it prone to cowl shake. Finally, it’s downright ugly.

This has to be one of the biggest missteps ever in the history of Aston Martin: in order to meet the European Union’s average fleet emissions requirement in 2012, the British brand rebadged Scion iQs and sold them at almost three times the price of the car it was based on. Slated to sell 4,000, the car was discontinued after just 150.

Recognizable by its Aston Martin front end and fancy interior, the car still used Toyotas 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that put out just 94 hp. When the rest of the Aston Martin fleet are luxurious exotics with tons of horsepower and style, a rebadged Toyota just doesn’t make the cut.

The Coda EV was an old car before it was ever new. I mean, just look at it and try to not to picture a late ‘90s Mitsubishi Lancer or Daewoo Lanos. The interior is no different, with a cheap feel that’s punctuated by a Velcro fastened center armrest.

The only thing that was new about the Coda EV was its electric powertrain. Rated to deliver 88 miles of range, it was far above its rivals at the time, but that wasn’t enough to help Coda avoid bankruptcy.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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