Small SUVs dominate CR’s list of least-satisfying cars to own

Consumer Reports‘ annual satisfaction survey results are often trumpeted by the automakers whose entries top the list. But there’s a dark side to these rankings too. Down here, in the dregs of the list, we find cars that most owners say they wouldn’t buy again, and this list is dominated by the sub- and midcompact SUVs that have slowly been replacing budget-oriented sedans and hatchbacks. 

These 10 new models were rated by CR subscribers who were asked whether they’d make the same purchase again under the same circumstances with the benefit of hindsight, meaning it’s not just a straightforward measurement of brand or model loyalty. The sheer quantity of small SUVs on this list suggests that owners may be unsatisfied with “big” options that aren’t really big. Even the most satisfying car on this list, the Kia Forte, only managed to win over 47% of owners. For those in the #1 and #2 slots (we won’t spoil them for you), the number of owners who would buy the same car again drops to fewer than 1 in 3. Yikes. 

So, without further ado, here they are: the 10 least-satisfying new cars to own in the United States. 

10 – Kia Forte

 

Kia’s second-smallest model is due for upgrades, and customers seem to have noticed. We appreciate its enthusiast-friendly GT Line and GT offerings, but customers don’t appear to be taking to it as an everyday car. 

9 – Cadillac XT4

 

We have our own misgivings about the XT4’s value proposition, and it appears buyers find it lacking as well. It’s not particularly fun to drive, the interior is a bit of a letdown and it’s not priced as aggressively we we’d like. Maybe the secret to success lies in tweaking that formula. 

8 – Jeep Renegade

 

The Jeep Renegade has always been a hatchback in disguise, and the early manual-transmission, all-wheel-drive models were a ton of fun to throw around a narrow backroad, but that combination hasn’t been offered in years. What’s left is a Fiat 5-door with a Jeep badge, and that doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard with current owners. 

7 – Jeep Compass

 

We’d say “see above,” but that doesn’t seem fair. The Compass addresses the Renegade’s dimensional shortcomings, but we suspect its lack of powertrain diversity combined with the lazy nine-speed gearbox contribute to owners’ dissatisfaction. Updates are on the way, and Europe’s 4xe plug-in hybrid may make its way stateside eventually.  

6 – Infiniti QX50

 

Nissan and Infiniti had a rough showing on this list, with three vehicles appearing between them. A QX55 “coupe” model was just added to the line and the QX50 received some content updates for 2022, but there’s not much else visible on the horizon for Infiniti’s small SUV. 

5 – Nissan Rogue Sport

 

Prior to the regular Rogue’s redesign, the Rogue Sport actually had some advantages over its larger sibling in terms of refinement and styling. That the Rogue didn’t make this list speaks to the scope of its redesign, but that doesn’t help the Rogue Sport’s cause any. 

4 – Infiniti Q50

 

Rounding out the Nissan/Infiniti section is the Q50 sedan. This descendant of the enthusiast-friendly G35 and G37 failed to capture the magic of its predecessors and has obviously left its buyers unfulfilled. 

3 – Chevy Trax

 

A former Autoblogger referred to the Trax as a “homely little jelly bean” that wasn’t a particularly good value and offered a subpar driving experience. It appears buyers have noticed.

2 – Ford EcoSport

Ford’s subcompact stopgap was long in the tooth when it arrived on U.S. shores back in 2017, and things haven’t improved since. This rental-fleet staple is cheap for a reason. We’re frankly amazed the EcoSport didn’t take first place in this “contest” by a significant margin, and this was likely its final opportunity to do so, as Ford is axing the model from its U.S. lineup this year. Good riddance. 

1 – Toyota C-HR

 

Toyota is no stranger to topping Consumer Reports lists, but we suspect this is one honor they’d sooner hand off to the competition. The C-HR was initially panned as one of the most egregious SUV pretenders on the market given its lack of all-wheel-drive even as an option. The lack of decent cargo space (thanks in no small part to that sporty small-hatchback roof taper) probably doesn’t help. We’re surprised the C-HR edged out the EcoSport, but we’re not that surprised. Only 29% of buyers would pull the trigger on the little Toyota again, CR says. 

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