10. TOYOTA TACOMA
Seemingly built for off-road use only, the Toyota Tacoma doesn’t handle well on the pavement. Every bump seems to throw the vehicle a little off course, and you can feel each bump as you drive over it, which can be a jarring experience.
Engine performance is unimpressive; with a 159 horsepower engine, the Toyota Tacoma doesn’t have a great deal of power. The gas mileage isn’t anything special, with 21 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. It doesn’t seem that bad, but other larger trucks get the same, if not better, mileage.
9. MITSUBISHI MIRAGE
The Mitsubishi Mirage seems to have been built for city use only. The Mirage’s 1.2 liter, 3-cylinder engine only puts out 74 horsepower, making driving a chore if you need to pass, drive uphill, or do a lot of highway driving. The power steering has a numb area in the center, allowing the car to wander if the driver doesn’t stay alert. The suspension suffers from severe body roll on sharp turns or lane changes. The Mitsubishi Mirage does get great gas mileage, with 37 mpg city and 44 mpg highway due to the continuously variable transmission. Gas mileage aside, the Mitsubishi Mirage’s handling, performance, and comfort faults rank it lower than other vehicles in its class.
8. NISSAN VERSA
When looking at the Nissan Versa, one of the glaring issues with the 2015 model is its safety ranking. With a ranking of “poor” for small overlap frontal protection from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and three stars from the federal government for frontal impact, the Nissan Versa ranks lower than every car in its class. Most cars on the market rank four stars or more in all areas. The interior looks and feels cheap, with hard plastic everywhere. The Versa’s transmission is sluggish to respond when pushing it, causing it to hang before finally shifting. The Nissan Versa is a competent vehicle, but with all other options available at a similar price, it doesn’t offer a good reason to choose it over the competition.
When it comes to a minivan, the main priority is safety. This is a vehicle that your family will be in as it travels down the road. The Mazda5 failed the small overlap front crash test and received a marginal on the side impact test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Specifics listed in the report include: driver’s space being compromised by intruding structure; left thigh and lower leg injury likelihood is high; driver door unlatched during the crash; and side curtain airbag failed to deploy because the steering column shifted during the crash. The airbag partially missed the dummy and the seat belt allowed excessive forward excursion, resulting in the dummy’s head striking the instrument panel. All the positive features of the Mazda5 are moot when stacked up against the dismal safety rating it received.
6. CHEVROLET SPARK
Due to its small size, the Chevrolet Spark’s ride is one reason it was rated poorly. Every bump, pothole, or other road imperfection can be felt when driving the vehicle. Body roll is very noticeable when changing lanes or making hard turns. The 84 horsepower, 1.2 liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine gets decent gas mileage, with 31 mpg city and 39 mpg highway, but the small engine doesn’t perform well under pressure. One nice feature of the Chevrolet Spark is that it can accommodate four adults, something many cars of similar size can’t do comfortably. The Chevrolet Spark isn’t a bad car by any means, but compared to competitors like the Honda Fit, the Spark doesn’t impress.
5. TOYOTA YARIS
The Toyota Yaris ranks average in most aspects, which isn’t a bad thing, but isn’t a good thing either. The gas mileage of 30 mpg city and 37 mpg highway are decent, but lower than others in the same class. The safety ratings are moderate for a car this size, but scored marginal on the small-overlap front impact test. The 106 horsepower engine performs like a 90’s era econo car, with high rpms needed to reach the power band and a great deal of engine noise. Acceleration is slow, and the Yaris has difficulty with hills. The suspension holds up well against body roll, and you don’t feel every bump in the road. With all the options for a small affordable car, the Toyota Yaris doesn’t stand out among the herd.
4. NISSAN JUKE
The Nissan Juke is an odd mixture of rally-racer and crossover. It has strong performance marks, with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 188 horsepower, which makes the Juke feel like a sports car when driving. Unfortunately, the Nissan Juke falls flat in other areas. The all-wheel drive system isn’t meant for inclimate weather and is more a performance option, as the Juke has issues in the snow. While it may look like an all-terrain vehicle, you wouldn’t want to take it on harsh dirt roads like you would other SUVs. The Nissan Juke ranked “good” in most aspects of its safety rating, but did score a “poor” in the small front overlap test. Gas mileage on the Juke is also lower than other vehicles in the same class.
3. TOYOTA PRIUS C
The Toyota Prius C is the smallest and least expensive model in the Prius line. While it does get the same 50 mpg average gas mileage of the other Prius models, The Prius C has some drawbacks. Due to the smaller engine, the Prius C has difficulty getting up to speed, with strained acceleration and engine noise at higher speeds. The interior is inexpensive and tacky looking as well. Being a small car classified as “subcompact”, the leg room in the back seat is limited, requiring adjustments from the front passengers to make room. The Prius C has a good safety score, much like the other Prius models, which is a plus. The ride is a bit stiff when going down the road, causing the driver to feel each bump and pothole.
2. FIAT 500
Being such a small car, the Fiat 500 suffers from a lack of room. Limited headspace and legroom, as well as short firm seats, cause discomfort for taller drivers. The Fiat 500 scored decent safety ratings in most areas, but received a “poor” rating in the small overlap frontal test. Absent from the Fiat 500 are safety features like adaptive cruise control or lane-departure warnings that can be found in similar vehicles. The base model Fiat 500 gets good gas mileage, 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, but for such a small car it seems like it should get more. On the plus side, the Fiat 500 does handle well and has a responsive, quick engine. The Fiat 500 is a decent vehicle but for the price, others in its class rank higher.
1. SCION IQ
If you don’t intend to drive much faster than 40-45 mph, the Scion iQ isn’t so bad. The largest drawback to the Scion iQ is the engine performance. The 94 horsepower, 1.3 liter engine mated to a CVT transmission has difficulty handling any real stress. Steep hills, highway speeds, and merges that require quick acceleration all tax the iQ’s small engine. The Scion iQ has good gas mileage, but not as good as comparably priced hybrids. The small size allows the Scion iQ to fit into tight parking spaces usually found in big cities, which is the kind of setting the Scion iQ was built for. For the price, the Scion xD is a much better vehicle than the iQ, a fact that probably lead to Scion discontinuing the iQ for the next model year.