The Worst Cars
By Dan Lienert
Click Here For SlideShow of the Cars on the List
Making a list of the worst cars of all time, which we compiled last year, is easier than making a list of the worst cars currently on the market because, frankly, all cars are built pretty well these days.
However, even now in the early days of the 2005 model year, several vehicles stand out for subpar performance in several important categories--in some cases, matters of life and death such as safety.
What follows is a roundup of the ten worst cars on the market, based on three criteria: the worst crash test scores, the lowest projected reliability and the lowest projected residual values. We thought about castigating cars for multiple recalls, but the 2005 model year is too young to do so (most recalled '05 models have been recalled only once so far). Furthermore, consumers often ignore such issues as recalls--unless they are for universally dangerous reasons, such as spontaneously exploding gas tanks--in favor of style, sex appeal or raw power.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cars in the slide show are not particularly sexy. Several of them are among the cheapest cars on the market.
In the interest of fairness, we excluded from consideration all cars that are in the process of being killed, such as General Motors' (NYSE:GM - News) Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire, both of which have horrendous crash test scores. Excluding lame ducks, there are no cars currently sold in the U.S. that suffer the indignity of a one-star crash test rating. Out of a possible five stars, several achieved two-star ratings, and we included all of those models.
The source for all crash test scores is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation that administers vehicular safety laws.
Whatever your current political leanings, we advise you to trust the government when it says you and your kids could have a 21% to 25% chance of serious injury in a particular car--at least trust it enough not to buy that car.
For reliability, we looked to Consumer Reports. For projected residual value, we went to the bible of the automotive resale world: the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide.
Read on to see which vehicles earned warnings from the government, and to see the rest of the worst 2005-model cars.