Automotive Turkeys from Consumer Reports
Disappointing cars and tires that landed at the bottom of the organization’s ratings barrel.
As Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday in which they consider what they have to be thankful for, Consumer Reports is out with its list of automotive turkeys, highlighting tires and cars that fell short in its current ratings.
The Jeep Wrangler JK has the dubious honors of topping the turkey list, netting the worst score overall, which combines owners' satisfaction, road test, and reliability into a single rating. While beloved by its owners, the Wrangler's overall score takes hits in the form of a poor-road test and "middling reliability."
The Wrangler lags most SUVs as an everyday vehicle but excels for off-road use. The vehicle rocks, jiggles and handles poorly, while wind noise is quite loud at highway speeds. Making matters worse, getting in and out of the Wrangler is awkward, and the interior is not comfortable. Still, its off-road performance "remains legendary," according to Consumer Reports, which notes that the Rubicon version tested better in the category than the Unlimited Sahara did.
The Jeep Wrangler also drew the distinction of having the worst road-test score, for reasons already mentioned.
When it comes to the least reliable, Consumer Reports found a two-way tie between the Cadillac Escalade shown below and the Tesla Model X.
Power equipment, transmission, and climate system are all trouble spots for the Escalade, which doesn't live up to its billing as a luxury SUV when it comes to fundamentals. It rides too stiffly and does not stop or handle as well as its peers, and while it looks big, is not terribly roomy inside, Consumer Reports found. It also found the vehicle's Cue infotainment system "confounding."
Problem areas for the Tesla Model X include body hardware, paint and trim, and the climate system. Consumer Reports finds the Model X to be more flash than substance, noting the rear doors that open up and out of the way to give access to the rear seats take their time to open and shut. On the positive side, the Model X "is very quick and handles well," according to Consumer Reports, which noted that the 90 kilowatt-hour version it tested had a realistic 230-mile range.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Acura ILX is the worst. Just 41 percent of Acura ILX owners said they would purchase the same car again. The ILX's ride is hard, its cabin loud, and its $30,000 sticker price is "total chutzpah on Honda's part," concludes Consumer Reports.
When it comes to fuel economy, and excluding heavy-duty pickup trucks, Consumer Reports found another tie for the worst: the Nissan Armada and Toyota Land Cruiser, with 14 miles-per-gallon overall.
"Clumsy-yet-secure handling and a voracious appetite for fuel are among the Armada’s demerits," said Consumer Reports, which added that points in its favor include a smooth, powerful powertrain, quiet cabin and 8,500 towing ability.
Quick, plush and refined, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a capable off-road vehicle, but "it's fuel-thirsty and lacks agility," found Consumer Reports, which concludes there are many alternatives that perform just as well that cost significantly less.
The Toyota Tundra drew the worst accident-avoidance score. The Tundra handles alright with normal driving, but its steering "lacks feel," Consumer Reports found. "With so much power coming from the 5.7-liter V8 engine, the rear wheels spin easily, even on dry surfaces."
When it comes to winter driving, the Ford Focus rated the worst. While the Focus gets good fuel economy, its PowerShift automatic transmission stumbles at low speeds.
The lowest rated all-season tire is the GT Radial Champiro VP1, which drew especially poor marks for engine traction and ice breaking. It tested good or better in other categories, and Consumer Reports engineers found the tire to be comfortable and quiet. "This is more a three-season, rather than an all-season, tire," Consumer Reports concluded.
The Firestone WinterForce finished dead last in the winter-snow category. It drew a poor score for noise and wet breaking while getting a fair rating for dry braking, handling, ice breaking and rolling resistance. The WinterForce did excel in hydroplaning, snow traction and ride comfort reviews. "There are clearly better-all-around tires available," offered Consumer Reports.