Sunday, March 16, 2014

Auto Countdown: Worst Cars I Drove In 2013

In 2011, I focused on the cars I saw at the various Houston auto events. In 2012, I started test driving cars, 16 test drives in all. In 2013, I test drove over 100 cars, most of them coming during the five days of the Houston Auto Show. So, why not start off with the worst cars that I drove. So here are the worst cars I drove in 2013. Also, one car per brand.

Dishonorable mentions: Buick Encore, Honda Insight, Lexus IS 250, Scion xB, Toyota Prius V, Toyota RAV4, Volvo XC60

10. Cadillac CTS

Out of all eight Cadillacs I drove, this one was the worst. This was the only Cadillac that was uncomfortable to sit in. It is not bad in the performance category with its 3.6L V6 that puts out 318 hp. But if I am not comfortable in a car, then what is the point. The Cadillac CTS has been redesigned for 2014. It is on my list of cars to test drive along with Alfa Romeo 4C and 2015 Chrsyler 200, which is based on an Alfa Romeo.

9. GMC Sierra

Let me get this out of the way, this car has a great interior. It is comfortable and roomy. It does come with a 6.2L V8 that gets over 400 hp. Here is why it is on this list. One, I could notice that there is low power output at low RPMs. You have to get into the higher RPMs to feel the power of the V8. Also, the steering could be much better. I had to work the steering wheel just to get the vehicle to turn left or right. If I were to spend the money on a high end truck, I would want responsive steering and good power throughout the entire RPM range.

8. Volkswagen Tiguan

This was a hard one to pick. I also was not impressed with the Passat, Beetle Turbo, or the CC. But I limited myself to one car per brand and I felt that the Tiguan was the least impressive vehicle out of all the Volkswagen I have driven. First, I felt there was some lag from the 2.0L turbocharged engine. Also, the Tiguan has a rough ride quality. And for a SUV, I did not feel like I had a lot of space. I was disappointed with the Tiguan after I drove it. But at least it was quiet inside while I was driving it, keeping it from being in the bottom seven (this is a worst of list, not a best of list.)

7. Kia Soul

The Kia Soul was one of the first test drives I did at the 2013 Houston Auto Show. Now, the box shape styling gives it some popularity with younger drivers. The interior does feature some interesting items. The version I drove came with a 2.0L I4 engine that produces 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. That is impressive compared to later entries on this list. What hurts this vehicle is ride quality. It is not the most responsive when it comes to handling. The big issue I had with this vehicle is the rough ride. I could feel every bump on the road when I was behind the wheel. If it were not for poor ride quality, the Soul would not have even been considered for this list.

6. Mini Cooper Countryman

I was not impressed when I sat in a Mini Cooper Countryman at the 2011 Houston Auto Show. I did not like having the speedometer on the center console. And after test driving it, I was really not impressed. Remember, this is not the Countryman S, this is the standard Countryman with a 1.6L I4 engine that produces 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. This is the same engine found on the Mini Cooper Hardtop, but the added weight hurts this vehicle's performance. Plus I felt cramped and uncomfortable behind the wheel. On the plus side, at least it competent when it comes to handling.

5. Scion iQ

Scion markets the iQ as the smallest four seater. That is nothing to brag about because I felt cramped behind the wheel. Unless you have short people in the driver and passenger seats, there is no legroom for rear passengers. Also, the iQ gets 94 hp and 89 lb-ft of torque from its 1.3L I4 engine. And I felt there was a delay in shifting with the CVT transmission. Plus, it is noisy behind the wheel. But I will give it this, it has a smoother ride and handles better than some of the later entries on this list. Plus, the interior does not feel as cheap as the next vehicle on this list.

4. Nissan Versa

One word to describe this vehicle is cheap. The Versa is the least expensive cars you can bay in the United States. The interior just feels cheap. There is nothing special or interesting about the interior of the Versa. Powering this cheap car is a 1.6L I4 engine that produces 109 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. That is just underpowered. You do not get much for $11,999. Plus there are much better looking cars on the road today than the Versa. It is cheap, underpowered, and ugly. 

3. Smart ForTwo

I have seen less Smart ForTwos on the road, and for good reasons. This is the smallest car you can buy in the United States. It also has small wheels and a very short wheelbase. I could feel the wind push this car around while on the freeway. Not to mention it only gets 70 hp from a 1.0L I3 engine, the smallest and least powerful engine you can get in any new car in the United States. But even with those flaws, it was not as noisy or as unresponsive as the two worst cars I drove in 2013.

2. Hyundai Veloster

The only good thing about the Veloster is the design. It does have a sleek coupe design, but I also like how the single rear door has been integrated into the design. Now for where it fails. It only gets 138 hp from a 1.6L I4 engine. There is a turbo version of the Veloster, but I consider that a different car. The Veloster Turbo gets power and performance from its turbocharged 1.6L I4 engine and has decent handling. The Veloster has horrible steering wheel response. I really had to turn the wheel just for the car to slightly turn. That is bad, especially for a small sports car. This is just a failed attempt at a sports car. It is underpowered and has unresponsive steering. Two things that should not be on a sports car. At least Hyundai got it right with the Genesis Coupe. Just avoid the standard Veloster and go with the Veloster Turbo.

1. Toyota Prius C

The Prius C is just bad. If you know me, you know that I dislike the Prius. I found it slow, boring, and just ugly. But one thing the Prius had was a quiet ride. The Toyota Prius C is just bad. It only gets 99 hp from its hybrid drivetrain. That is just low, especially when this car has a curb weight of 2,500 lbs. It has poor acceleration. But the worst part of all, why is it so noisy inside. There is no need for this car to be so noisy, especially with a 1.5L I4 engine as part of the hybrid drive train. Also, I find this car to be ugly. The standard Prius is better looking than this car. It is very underpowered, noisy, cramped, and is just ugly. And for those reasons, this is the worst car I drove in 2013.

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