The Worst Cars You Can Buy in Every Category

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

Consumer Reports has released its latest list of worst cars per category.

With hundreds of vehicles available in today’s marketplace, picking the right car is no easy task. To avoid getting behind the wheel of a subpar vehicle, Consumer Reports has highlighted which models have the lowest overall scores in their respective categories. The publication calculates the score by combining its road test score, reliability, owner satisfaction and safety, including government and insurance industry crash test results.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Worst Automakers of 2016: Consumer Reports

Here are the worst cars for each category, according to Consumer Reports.

Subcompact: Mitsubishi Mirage

There’s a reason why the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the cheapest cars available today. The affordable subcompact has an overall score of 34 and a road test score of just 29. Hurting the Mirage is its weak, three-cylinder engine, even though the 2017 model year promises to add a bit more performance. Inside, the publication notes that the “cabin is depressing, feeling drab, cheap, and insubstantial.” Further hurting it is a Poor rating on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small-overlap crash test. It does, however, return an overall 37 mpg.

Compact: Fiat 500L

With an overall score of 31, the Fiat 500L is the lowest-scoring vehicle on the entire list. Although it has a road test score of 50, the Fiat 500L has the worst reliability of any car in Consumer Reports‘ latest survey of over 740,000 vehicles. Things worth complaining about include its stiff ride, flat seats and an odd driving position. Even more telling, owner satisfaction for the Fiat 500L is below average, which means a large percentage of owners regret purchasing the car. Like the Mirage, it also received a Poor rating on the IIHS small-overlap frontal test.

Midsize Sedan: Chrysler 200

Looks like there’s a good reason the Chrysler 200 is getting axed. The problem with the Chrysler 200 is that it’s an underwhelming option in an extremely crowded segment and Consumer Reports says it drives like it’s from a previous era. Ouch. Its overall score of 51-53 is in line with its road test score of 63-66, and hurting its performance is a weak four-cylinder engine, rough and unsettling ride and clumsy handling. The only thing the Chrysler 200 has going for it is its relatively quiet cabin. For its class, the Chrysler 200 had the lowest overall score and lowest predicted reliability rating.

Compact Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level offering is getting a facelift, but something tells us that won’t change its overall score of 53. Netting a road test score of 64, the CLA250’s engine and transmission lacks refinement, with the powertrain at times feeling unresponsive. Access to the interior is difficult, and the cabin is noisy and cramped. Additionally, reliability and owner satisfaction for the luxury entry-level Mercedes offering are well below average.

Midsize Luxury Car: Lincoln MKS

The Lincoln MKS is aging and has become outdated and outclassed. Helping the MKS earn an overall score of 59 and a road test score of 66 is its 3.7-liter V6 engine that lacks refinement and a cabin that feels “decidedly cave-like, exaggerated by the limited outward visibility.” Its ride is also neither isolating enough or adequately composed and its trunk size has a small opening, limiting its usefulness.

Family SUV: Dodge Journey

The Dodge Journey three-row SUV might look interesting on paper, but it has a confining interior, lacks agility and the V6 engine delivers the worst fuel economy in its class. It also suffers from well-below average reliability and poor performance in the IIHS small-overlap frontal crash test. The publication goes so far as to say the only time you should be getting behind the wheel of a Dodge Journey is if it’s a rental car. The Dodge Journey has an overall score of 45 and a road test score of 64.

Luxury Compact SUV: Land Rover Discovery Sport

This might come as a surprise, but the Land Rover Discovery Sport has an overall score of 47 and a road test score of 58. Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s power delivery is spiky, feeling as if there’s either too little or too much acceleration for the SUV. The transmission mated to the engine is neither smooth nor responsive and its stiff-legged ride and handling doesn’t live up to its sporty nameplate.

Large Luxury SUV: Cadillac Escalade

Despite a significant overhaul, the Cadillac Escalade isn’t being celebrated by Consumer Reports. The bulky SUV has an overall score of 44 and a road test score of 61, presenting a stiff ride and the inability to stop or handle like other vehicles in its class. Worst of all, it isn’t even that roomy inside, with the second-row seats not being very comfortable and the third row being cramped. Reliability of the redesigned Escalade has been well below average and it ranks worst in class.

Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country

There might not be very many minivans to choose from, but the current Chrysler Town & Country shouldn’t even be considered, according to CR. With an overall score of 62 and a road test score of 72, the Town & Country does have some good points, but there are a few shortcomings. The second-row seats are thin, low and uncomfortable, while fuel economy is simply atrocious at 17 mpg. The minivan also received a Poor rating in the IIHS small-overlap frontal crash test. Of course, the American automaker has introduced the new Pacifica, so it will be interesting to see if improvements have been made.

Green Car: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

The green car segment is starting to have more options, which means there are some you should avoid. One of the worst cars in the segment is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV netting an overall score of 45 and a road test score of 35. Consumer Reports calls it a “half-step up from a golf cart” with slow, clumsy and stiff riding. The cabin is bare bones and noisy and the as-tested range of 56 miles isn’t exactly reassuring.

Don’t forget to Check Out AutoGuide’s Lemon List for details on which brands have the most and least reported lemons.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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3 of 34 comments
  • Tunafacialistic Tunafacialistic on Mar 30, 2018

    Very surprised Volkswagen didn't make the list in every catergory...only a mahu would drive one.

  • Harry Callahan Harry Callahan on Jun 21, 2018

    The distinction, of course, is that these are not objectively BAD the early Hyundai Excel and Yugo were...these cars are simply not truly competitive in their segments, as a value proposition--according to somebody's opinion. For a dyed-in-the-wool Mopar guy, or a fleet owner, the 200 will likely be fine, and for a bargain shopper who absolutely believes a NEW car is the only way to go, Mirage will be fine too.