• Jan 26, 2009
Each and every year, the major auto buff mags roll out their "best of" lists. Car of the Year, 10 Best, All-Stars – each publication has a different formula for picking the best of the best, and while we don't like every choice, most are spot-on. There are, however, times when we see a pick and wonder what the editors were drinking when they made their decision. Car and Driver, which has admittedly made its fair share of mistakes, has come up with a list of the 10 worst auto award winners of all time, and we thought it would be fun to share.
A quick look through C&D's bottom 10 shows some serious stinkers. The 1997 Chevy Malibu? The 1983 Renault Alliance? Ouch. How about the 1981 Chevy Citation? Hit the read link below to check out Car and Driver's bottom 10. While you're over there, check out the discrepancy between 10 Best winners and Motor Trend CotY winners. MT made the list six times, while C&D entered the hall of shame with three entries. Then again, C&D were the ones who made the list. Interestingly, they somehow also managed to ignore entries like the 1989 Dodge Colt, the 1994 Eagle Vision, and the 1987 Pontiac Bonneville, but they did ding the Merkur XR4Ti, a pretty entertaining (if odd and poor selling) driver's coupe. Hmmm...

[Source: Car and Driver]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      ‘Americanized versions of Europe’s CRAMPED Mondeo never stood a chance.’

      Stigs American cousin.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it would be more telling if they showed us who paid how much for advertisments in the same years...Or maybe show us how they manipulate the "Gotta have it factor"... LOL
      • 6 Years Ago
      I like how Motor Trend gets thrown under the bus... er Town Car... er Citation... you get my point. Hey, nobody's perfect.
      • 6 Years Ago
      There are some really embarrassing ones on the list (and as I expected, a number from MT). I disagree with the Counter/Mystique though, as it was a good car for a "domestic". Yes, it was smaller than an Accord/Camry but so was the BMW 3. It sacrificed space for better dynamics.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I can't believe the Ford Contour won ANYTHING....EVER
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Contour was a good car. C&D weren't the only ones to think so either. It was an Automobile Magazine all-star multiple times in a row, because it was easily the best handling car in its class. It just didn't have a big enough back seat for Americans
        • 5 Years Ago
        I loved the Contour, one of the best handling FWD cars I have ever driven. I used to scare the hell out of my kid sister and her boyfriend on the back roads when I drove them around in it. No time for kissy kissy when you're being thrown around the back seat (Hey, I told them to buckle up). It was pretty reliable and was good on gas, too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Contour was not a bad car. My parents still have the one I had back in college and, in fact, prefer it over their much newer Camry.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Have to chime in with other commenters--the Contour was a dynamically strong car. It was a little small, but man could it handle. I had a '96 Contour that ended up getting a cracked head gasket, and as much as I bashed the car when I owned it, I now seriously miss its handling character.

      It had replaced a '93 Accord, and it was about half an inch shorter than that car--but a '96 Accord had put on 4" in overall length and a considerable bit of weight. The Contour was a great midsized sedan that stayed midsized. Now even a compact (a Civic) is a foot shorter than the old midsized, and midsizes are a foot longer...

      Make midsized midsized again! Or just give me an almost-new Contour/Mystique/fourth-gen Accord.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My first car was an XR4Ti. I miss that thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        XR4Ti was amazing for its time! Sure the styling left something to be desired (especially for mainstream America) and it should never have been shilled by Lincoln dealers, but hey it was a great piece of German engineering.

        Coincidentally, I just passed one on the road yesterday! It was painted a horrific two-tone blue and purple with flames going down the flanks pinstriped in red and orange. Wow. Just wow.
        • 6 Years Ago
        This car handled so well, I also miss mine. Turbo power with RWD in a light, agile package made for such a fun-driving car. I raced it constantly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Merkur was a great car. My friend in college had one, I've always said that it was possibly the most underrated car ever, and I felt rather validated knowing that it was on the 10 best list. So it didnt sell well, there have been plenty or great cars that didnt sell, like the RX-7, a car too good for the US.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Pinto engine they saddled these cars with for the US market was crappy, but they did drive and handle really well. Drove a euro model once with the 2.8 V6 and I remembered it as a solid BMW alternative back then. The US market is notoriously conservative, so the avant guarde styling dictated by aerodynamics didn't go over too well. I for one, loved it! It was truly unique and sophisticated.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey Car & Driver, waffle much?

        "The XR4Ti was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 1985."
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkur_XR4Ti
        • 5 Years Ago
        the sierra was an awesome car. from the list in the only one i disagree. in europe it was a monster in touring car and in south america it was every bachelors dream together with the coupe "taunus". love it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a truly dumb article. Many of these choices have to be placed within the context of the field of cars offered at that time. Each had a reason they represented a new direction, even if long-term reliability (or even short-term) turned out to be a missing link. And the writers really exaggerate to come up with some of the criticism (lackluster Lincoln LS parts bin?...this was a car universally praised, until Lincoln let it languish).

      Given all the givens, the Alliance was a good choice at the time. I don't think standing the test of time is something that even full-witted auto testers can easily get right before any of that time has passed. These are just cheap shots at what was perceived as an innovation or clever engineering some years ago.
      • 6 Years Ago
      C&D should also apologize for their steady decline in content and readership. I used to give them a pass for being unabashedly pro-Japanese back in the 90's because their writers were otherwise a solid bunch, but lately the magazine is just crap. I know print media is going the way of the dinosaur, but these guys will also have trouble keeping their website afloat with the current staff.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the counter was based on the mondeo which c&d praises nonstop so why the hate now? the catera was not as competitive but it set cadillac up for the cts. finally, motor trend has for years awarded coty to domestics and had an import coty. i believe the practice stopped after 99 with the new beetle (how is that not mentioned, can you believe mt didnt give it to the new bmw 3?) therefore, the malibu probably would not have won in 97, same for the town car and many others. however, the 97 malibu was a good car for its time. the also new 97 camry was better but the first few years the malibu was fairly competitive for those years..everyone had 4 speed autos in those days.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Catera was a good car. The Catera Sport was a very good car. The XR4Ti was a good car.

      The Citation has to be the worst one on this list, with the Alliance close 2nd. And yes, I know the Vega is on the list.

      This list doesn't have the Caprice Classic, which was Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1991. It's definitely a worse vehicle than the 1995 Contour/Mystique or 1997 Malibu.
        • 6 Years Ago
        quote from ajmalzx: -
        "and a 302 engine with 129bhp?!! My cousin stock 20 year old Honda with 1.6l engine makes more power than that. That is a new standard of sheer "crappiness"." -

        You've apparently never looked at the power level of most every vehicle of that timeframe.

        The onslaught of the(then still fairly new) emissions regulations had an absolutely devestating effect on the auto industry until technology caught up to the regulations and allowed powerful engines that met the emissions regulations(and offered better efficiency) while not sacrificing power. Until that happened though, we were stuck with wheezy, underpowered cars that were incredibly weak compared to their musclecar forefathers of only a few years prior.

        The mid-70's were not a fun time to be a car enthusiast I'm sure.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I disagree. My sister has a 2000 Catera, and it's a piece of junk. It's had electrical systems issues since she bought it, and it seems to mysteriously shut down nearly every 6 months. This car has spent more times in the shop than anyone cares to count. The only reason she hasn't gotten rid of it is because her husband loves the car, and she plans to give it to him when she buys a new one this month.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I beg to differ. I think the Mustang II is the worst on the list. A rebodied pinto?!! and a 302 engine with 129bhp?!! My cousin stock 20 year old Honda with 1.6l engine makes more power than that. That is a new standard of sheer "crappiness".
      • 6 Years Ago
      i'm kinda pissed at this list. i don't think it's fair to go back with 20/20 hindsight and rethink these choices too much, especially by editors that weren't there the first time. many of these cars, for the times they were conceived and built in, Renault Alliance included, were the right choice then. GMs X cars, the Citation etc, were groundbreaking FWD platforms. sure they had problems, what completely new technology doesn't? the same with the Vega. it was a very cool car for the early 1970s.


        • 6 Years Ago
        I drive an X-Body and it's still alive. It's pushing 25 years now, that isn't too bad for something that has been called shoddy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If you're pissed because someone puts down a GM X-body for being a sub-standard car then you might have anger management problems. I remember riding in more than one and they were junk. The X-bodies exposed a lot of people to GM's shoddy design and build quality of the time. A lot of people haven't forgiven them for it.
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