For the most part, 2017 has brought the Auto Mentality team good fortune when it comes to the cars we’ve borrowed, begged or stolen (okay, maybe we didn’t commit any felonies). With all those good cars come the bad. Here’s a list of the top four cars we’ve driven the past year that were complete crap boxes or lacked any sort of automotive awesomeness in the automotive design/engineering areas where, clearly, things should have been better. In other words, these cars were Auto Mentality’s biggest turkeys:
Turkey #1: 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Anything with a continually variable transmission (CVT) I drove this year was complete crap. I loathe CVTs. I loathe the people who designed them, their moms, and any puppies they own. Their babies are ugly to me.
That said, it was actually a non-CVT vehicle which made me rethink my automotive editorial passion. Of all the 100-plus cars I’ve driven this year, I’d say it was a 2016 Mitsubishi i-MiEV that took the top step of displeasure. So, what was it like to drive Mitsubishi’s DOT approved EV golf cart? Well, a bulleted list of inadequacies is in order:
- At highway speeds (65 to 75 mph), the i-MiEV feels like it is driving over a pack of warmed Twizzler sticks; it does not deal well with crosswinds at-speed, either.
- Extensive use of hard plastics on the dashboard and door cards create an overall feeling of cheapness and may cut you (it happened to me)
- Real-world EV range: I was only able to get 51 miles per charge. That’s a far cry from the century number claimed by Mitsu, and it’s the reason I got stranded at the mall and had to call my wife to pick me up.
- The seats were manufactured by Nerf. I don’t care what Mitsubishi says.
- No tilt steering. Seriously?
But the worst thing about the i-MiEV wasn’t all the skin-cutting cheapness and crappy build quality—it was the abysmal depreciation a sucker consumer experienced if they bought it new. Case and point: A used i-MiEV can be purchased for almost half of its original MSRP after just a few months and miles on the odometer. Search the interwebs to see what I mean.
-Ryan Morris, Executive Editor
Turkey #2: 2013 Nissan Versa
For me, it was a 2013 Nissan Versa with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed gearbox.
With 200,000 miles on the clock, the four-pot felt like it belonged in a Dyson vacuum cleaner and the gearbox had seen some serious abuse. Going through the gears felt like a tube of toothpaste in a toaster. Clutch feel could be summed up by saying it was like stepping on a loaf of fresh bread. Everything shook and rattled at 60 mph and the rearview mirror fell off after the first encounter with a pothole (and continued to do so over every following pothole). Oh, and did I mention the A/C was shot and the cloth interior smelled like a cat who rolled in its own litter box?
-Ian Bourne, Motorsports Editor
Turkey #3: 2017 Ford Focus RS
Aside from the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the 2017 Ford Focus RS was the car I was most excited to drive this year. While it was fun to drive and highly engaging, I was disappointed with pretty much everything else about the car, from “Drift Mode” to the horrendously sharp rear interior door pulls.
As a whole, the cabin was a poorly thought out ergonomic disaster. The RECARO seats, for example, were uncomfortable and physically too large for the cabin, causing them to rub against the center console and squeak constantly. Maybe I was naïve, but I was expecting the RS to be special, something more than just a base Focus with a big engine, body kit, silly seats and an (overly complicated) AWD system. On the bright side, the Focus RS totally sold me on the Golf R.
-Terran Ray, Photo Editor, and Focus RS Hater
Turkey #4: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
The Mercedes-Benz GLA250. Where do we start? Well, there was a big sunroof. The end.
When you turn off a Mercedes-Benz, a notice on the dash reminds you not to forget your key. I soooo wanted to forget the key. You know what was so confusing about the GLA250? How did they get the brilliant GLA45 out of it? Someone at AMG just proved you could get a diamond if you polish, ahem, “a meadow muffin” long enough. The AMG version was so fun and engaging to drive. The cabin materials and design were great. Aside from the big sunroof, the GLA250’s big interior selling point was a cup holder designed for “gi-normous” Dunkin iced coffee cups. I did like that I could at least get a rush from a big coffee because the car wasn’t providing any. In auto journalist nightmares, dual clutch transmissions feel like CVTs, Toyota Land Cruisers beat small sporty SUVs to 60 by half a second, and Kia builds world-class cars. Well, the GLA250 nightmare was apparently real, because Kia built the Stinger and the other two statements completely applied to the GLA250.
-David Bilger, Publisher