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12 Car Duds To Avoid

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On: Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 11:10AM | By: Chris Weiss

12 Car Duds To Avoid

The Consumer Reports Annual April Auto Issue is filled with all kinds of helpful car-buying advice, reports and hints. Within that handy info is a look at the best and worst cars, new and used, to spend your hard earned money on, which includes the "disappointing dozen," 12 new car models that "fail miserably." 

If we didn't know any better (and we really don't), we'd say that Consumer Reports has a beef with mini-cars, trucks and off-roaders. Nearly every pick on the list fits into one of those three categories, assuming you're okay with calling Jeep models like the Compass and Patriot "off-roaders."

Even the list of complaints seems a little biased against those types of vehicles: items like high step-ins (yeah, it's a high truck), ride (vehicles meant for off-roading tend to have bumpier on-road rides) and seats only two (it is the ForTwo) seem a bit skewed. People buying some of those cars would be aware of some of those inherent shortcomings. For instance, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara buyers probably aren't worried that much about wind noise and on-road ride. And the rancher looking to put a Ram 1500 Laramie to work can probably deal with the complicated (optional) radio.

Consumer Reports alludes to this in its blog: "Many of these models have versatile utility, an eye-catching design, or are novel in other ways—tough to argue with the popularity and iconic looks of the Wrangler. Personality often goes a long way, as well. If you are interested in a car that performs poorly in our tests, take special care with the test drive and make sure you can live with the cited flaws before you purchase. Otherwise, don't say we didn't warn you."

The list might be useful to some, but we think it should have focused solely on more mainstream cars, rather than niche vehicles like electric minis and special-edition Jeeps. To organize things and highlight potential biases, we break it down into jeeps and trucks, small cars and other.

Futility in Utility: Jeeps and Trucks
Along with the aforementioned issues, Consumer Reports knocks the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara for handling, braking, access, driving position, seat comfort, fit and finish, visibility, fuel economy and reliability. The Toyota FJ Cruiser suffers from several of the same complaints, as does the Toyota Tacoma, which also gets knocked for a high step-in and low rear seat.

The Jeep Compass Latitude and Patriot Latitude are dinged for engine noise, acceleration, driving position and a number of other complaints, while the Ram 2500 Laramie gets red-inked for everything from ride and handling to the complicated optional radio.

Size Does Matter: Small Cars
In addition to the head-scratching "seats only two" complaint, Consumer Reports isn't impressed with the transmission, acceleration, ride, agility, noise and premium fuel requirement of the SmartForTwo Passion. The Scion iQ gets ripped for ride, noise, acceleration, steering, driving position, fit and finish, radio controls, blind spots and a tiny rear seat. Proving that it's not biased against gas models, CR throws the Mitsubishi i SE on the list for a variety of electric-specific problems (e.g. short range), plus some standard problems such asacceleration, ride, agility and seating only four (again, it's a tiny car). Other subcompacts to earn Consumer Reports' ire include the Toyota Yaris LE and Chevrolet Spark 1LT.

Last Man Standing: Other
The Dodge Avenger SXT earns its place on the list with engine noise, acceleration, braking, handling, rear visibility, transmission, driving position and fuel economy. And, yep, if you've been counting, the Avenger sedan is the only member of this unfortunate "dirty dozen" that isn't a truck, jeep or mini.

Click the link to read all the complaints about each individual model.

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