Top 10 Cars That Don't Get the Respect They Deserve

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Like the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield said, some cars don’t get no respect.

Whatever the reason, there’s a select group of misfit vehicles that most people have given up on, ignored or never gave a fair chance to in the first place. Do they all deserve such disrespect? A few definitely do, but others do not. Some of the shunned automobiles are quite good and don’t warrant the unfortunate connotation that’s been applied to them. We’re talking about vehicles like the 10 listed below. These top 10 most underrated cars are actually quite good and don’t get the respect they deserve, regardless of what you might have heard.

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid

The Acura RLX is one of the most forgotten large luxury cars on the market. It’s the brainy, yet plain looking person in the corner at the high school dance. Lacking any real style or high-end performance, the RLX looks noncompetitive on paper. But the Sport Hybrid has a lot to offer. With 377 total system horsepower and torque vectoring all-wheel drive, the RLX can carry five adults in luxury while still achieving 28 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway; all at a price starting just more than $60,000.

Buick Verano Turbo

The poor Buick Verano is the unloved middle child. Some look at it as an overpriced Chevrolet Cruze, while others see it as a compact that can’t compete with the luxury heavyweights. In reality, the Verano is neither. It’s a premium compact car like the Acura ILX that for just over $30,000 comes with a 250-hp turbocharged engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission. Add in a stylish interior and sophisticated exterior, and the Verano really should be on more buyers shopping lists.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Cars You Probably Forgot Are Still For Sale

Cadillac XTS

With Cadillac’s onslaught of performance-oriented, rear-wheel-drive-based vehicles of late; the XTS has been lost in the wash. It may be the most passenger-orientated Cadillac in the lineup, but that’s the point. Having ridden in as many XTS sedans as I’ve driven, it’s a great option for drivers who routinely carry passengers as well as a stylish alternative for fleet companies over some other ungainly coach options. But it’s not the grandparent-approved DTS reincarnated. It’s full of technology and there’s still a 420-hp, all-wheel drive V-Sport option for those looking to up the performance.

Dodge Journey

The Dodge Journey is old – Pontiac and Mercury still sold cars when it was introduced. And after eight years on the market, many write the Journey off as being out of date and obsolete. But over its life cycle, there have been a host of updates including the addition of the much more powerful Pentastar V6 a few years ago. It seems not all consumers ignore the Journey, however, as sales continue to be strong despite its age. Why? It offers seven-passenger seating in a package that’s smaller and cheaper than almost every other three-row crossover out there.

Honda Ridgeline

The Ridgeline is a “love it or hate it” vehicle. The so-called “real truck guys” would never, ever give this unibody, crossover-with-a-bed a second look. But there is a large market out there for such a vehicle, as not everyone needs a big, half-ton pickup truck. Now entering its second generation of production, it appears it might have some competition from other car-based pickups soon and I’m sure the haters will despise them just as much, but the reality is that many people don’t really need more truck than this.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Ridgeline Video, First Look

Honda CR-Z

Maybe Honda never should have marketed the CR-Z as a spiritual successor to the CR-X. With such a rabid CR-X fan base, the CR-Z was doomed for failure the second it was announced that it would feature a hybrid drivetrain. Fun, quirky and efficient, the CR-Z isn’t a bad car – far from it actually. It’s quite an entertaining car on its own merits. But that didn’t matter to those hoping for a reasonably priced, smiling-inducing rebirth of the CR-X. The CR-Z’s high price point and low power figures just didn’t do it for them.

Infiniti QX50

Another vehicle that’s seemingly been around forever, the QX50 is, without a doubt, dated. But that’s makes it so good. While a lot of its competitors have gone to turbocharged four-cylinders and/or front-wheel drive-bias platforms, the QX50 has not. The Infiniti’s big, brawny V6 delivers a ton of smooth power primarily to the rear wheels through a proper torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. So what if it has poor fuel economy and the interior switch gear is from when George W. was in office? The QX50 is still a fun-to-drive crossover, and this year, it is a bit longer, so passengers can now actually fit in the back seat.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Infiniti QX50 AWD Review

Lincoln Navigator

You know the deal. The Navigator is a rap-video-starring dinosaur. A relic from a bygone era of large, body-on-frame SUV monsters. Well, that all may be true, but the Navigator still has a lot to offer. Now equipped with the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine, the Navi makes a ton of power while using slightly less fuel. Best of all, it can still tow a boat, carry eight passengers and a ton of cargo all in quiet, serene comfort.

Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi has been having a tough time in North America lately and many assume it’s because the brand’s products are not very good. That isn’t exactly accurate, as a few models are decently competitive, like the Outlander, for example. Along with the Dodge Journey, it’s the only small crossover to offer three-row seating and a V6 engine option. The exterior has been refreshed to look less polarizing and some of the options available are downright fantastic – like the Rockford Fosgate Audio system that will blow third row passengers right out of the rear hatch. Is the Outlander a class leader? No, but it’s nowhere near the worst, either.

Smart Fortwo

No car in recent history has probably been the butt of more jokes than the Smart Fortwo – it’s like the Justin Bieber of the automotive world. When it comes to the first two generations of the Fortwo, some of those jokes are warranted. But with the all-new 2016 model, forget everything you thought you knew about the smart car. Better in every conceivable way the smart has gone from city car novelty to subcompact car alternative.

SEE ALSO: We Took a 2016 Smart Fortwo on a Long-Distance Road Trip in a Snow Storm

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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3 of 21 comments
  • Dankbeamz Dankbeamz on Oct 30, 2016

    the Mazda 6 100% deserves to be on this list. scratch all the american piece of shit on this list that are noncompetitive and bought by absolutely no one and put some real cars on this list

  • David Whitney David Whitney on Sep 13, 2017

    As long as your goal is to clear dealer lots of really lousy cars, this article makes sense; the ONLY one that you can make some case for would be the Buick and, of course, the Navigator if you really need to tow a boat and routinely carry the boatload of people that are going with you to have a ride in your two boats. Otherwise, the American buyer obviously knows what they are about, at least compared to this nitwit!