Have you ever felt unfairly dismissed? Written off, cast out, ignored? Then you may find some solidarity in today’s answers: These are the cars that deserved better. Yesterday, we asked you for the cars you think were unfairly dismissed on release, and you gave us a ton of great answers. Here are some of the best.
2015-2017 Chrysler 200
Said it before and I’ll say it again: 2015-2017 Chrysler 200.
$21,000 base price, up to 40mpg, optional AWD, optional 300hp Pentastar V6, spectacular crash test ratings, objectively attractive interior and exterior design. Killed because of the crossover craze.
Bring it on, critics. You’re in my swamp now
The more I gaze into the face of the late Chrysler 200, the more I see echoes of an entirely different form of luxury: Chinese-market Buick. Look at this car, then one of those, and tell me I’m wrong.
2004-2006 Pontiac GTO
2004-2006 GTO. The automotive press was fairly kind, but the public response was mostly “It doesn’t look like I think a GTO should look.”
In the mid-aughts, this was simply how cars looked. A GTO from that era was always going to look like a car from that era. People may not have liked it, but it still performed.
The Final Saab 9-5
The final generation Saab 9-5.
It was—still is—handsome as fuck, seemed to be pretty damn Saab-ish, had decent powertrain options, and generally seemed promising for Saab as a brand.
I’d say Saab as a whole deserved better than ending up in the hands of that snake-oil salesman known as Victor Muller. I always wonder what would have happened if Koenigsegg had gotten their hands on it...
Saab as a whole deserved so, so much better. If any eccentric billionaires are looking to rehabilitate their image, they should just bring back Saab. It’s a sure hit.
11th Gen Ford Thunderbird. Could have had a better run if they had used a Ford platform, gave it a better quality interior, and used a version of the Ford 4.6L 4V. They could have tried to give Mercedes a run for their money with a personal luxury convertible, but instead they just went for the geriatric “back in my day” crowd.
Not all cars on this list were treated unfairly by buyers or enthusiasts. Sometimes, it’s the company’s fault — like Ford’s treatment of the late-model Thunderbird.
Fiat 500 Abarth
Fiat 500 Abarth. Small, yes, but so much fun and reliable, yes, reliable. Personal experience talking. I have mine, bought new, since 2012. The only issue for all this time was to replace a burnt brake light bulb last week, a 5$ item - and didn’t have to take the bumper off to do it. It was a 10 minutes job.
Abarths seem a little hit-or-miss in terms of reliability. Some people have had no problems with theirs, some have nothing but problems. They’re a blast to drive, but caveat emptor.
Without a doubt, the Chevy SS. Never marketed, hidden away from the public, and they couldn’t even be bothered to give it a real name. The only reason we got it stateside was so GM could deliver on its promise to the Aussies to export a certain amount.
V8. RWD. Manual. MagRide. Killed off unceremoniously after 4 model years. Yet one of the best sports sedans of its time. Just a travesty.
The SS was a fantastic vehicle, but built for a market that’s incredibly slim. Plus, it was only available with a stick shift for its first year on U.S. dealer lots — not what that niche market wanted.
One of the most beautiful cars of the 21st Century; actually fun to drive in SRT guise; the interior didn’t live up to the exterior and nobody was buying 2-seat coupes. But my God, it’s an art deco masterpiece.
Until this comment, I had entirely forgotten about the Crossfire SRT. I’m now making it my life’s goal to drive one, just to see what that was like. Who bought these new? I want to know.
Jaguar XJ220. The fact that buyers got so pissy that their still-fastest-production-car-in-the-world had a twin-turbo V6 rather than an NA V12, that they cancelled orders is the pinnacle of rich boy dick swinging.
I know, I know, it only had six measly cylinders, but the XJ220 was still a bona-fide supercar. It truly deserved better treatment on its launch.
The Dodge Caliber, yes, it was a cheaply built piece of shit, however, Dodge should have stuck with idea and actually worked on executing it properly. The Caliber is what most entry level cars have all morphed into now, Dodge is just now getting back into the segment with the Hornet,a segment they could’ve been cashing in on at the whole while. The PT Cruiser also got done wrong, too long without a major update and again, is what most entry-level cars have become (and the GT was a pretty solid petformer).
The Caliber, like the Thunderbird, was mistreated by the company that produced it. Imagine another generation of Caliber, with a nicer interior and some better styling — a hot hatch/wagon that still didn’t break the bank.
Yea, it’s a BMW underneath it all. Despite that, it’s one hell of a performer. The first few years of being automatic only kind of left a bad taste most people’s mouths. The continuous improvements probably pissed off a bunch of year one owners. But maybe with the manual, it’ll get the recognition it deserves. That being said, I STILL wish it was an all-Toyota car. And I can’t get past its looks. It’s starting to grow on me a little bit, but that’s because there’s a manual option now.
Everyone praised it, no one bought it. It was overshadowed by the Focus RS, Civic Type R, and Golf R/GTI. Understandable considering that it has zero pedigree and had asymmetric doors. Not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you care about badges. Dealers can also be blamed for its eventual death with their stupid markups even before post-COVID events. Lord knows what the markups are for the remaining stock. But it’s one hell of a hot hatch. I own one. It’s track ready from the get go. Doesn’t overheat and go to limp mode after a few laps like the Focus RS and CTR on track. Easy to drive, lift-off oversteer, loud, raucous, quick enough in a straight line, even faster through corners, surprisingly easy to work on and modify. It feels more like the DC2 Type R due to its driving dynamics. It’s a track junkie’s dream. No it won’t make ridiculous power numbers on the dyno, but that’s not what the car is for. Throw some 200TW tires on it, take it to a track day and have fun chucking it around. It can chase Porsches and Corvettes, and outright demolish S2000s and Miatas in corners due to its fancy electronically actuated plated limited slip differential. There’s so much traction that I can get on the gas very, very early. Hyundai did one hell of a job with the VN. There are probably 4-5000 VNs in the USA. Hyundai could have sold even more if dealers didn’t price gouge.
You all know my opinion about the current-generation Supra and how it’s a better car than it gets credit for. I stand by that opinion, and likely always will.
Ford Focus RS
Ford Focus RS was basically killed because nobody was going to pay $10k of stealership markup. So Ford couldn’t move as many units then killed the whole thing.
The Focus RS had a couple fatal flaws. There was the dealer markup, the head gasket recall, and the incredibly bouncy stock suspension. But those could be fixed — the car’s discontinuation can’t.
I’ll name the same car that I always name when this question comes up:
It was a great car! Looked good, drove well. The interior was nice, it was quiet, and generally felt higher quality than it’s price let on. Standard AWD and not a Subaru. I very nearly bought one.
BUT. It was a bit of a tweener. It was close to the size of a compact car, just a little bigger than the Mazda3 I had. And it was as expensive as a full mid-sizer. If the sales guy didn’t pull the “I wouldn’t come to your place of business and ask for a discount, so why are you doing that to me?” trick, I probably would have bought one. (Never mind that in software, I have sales guys asking for 30% discounts all the time)
I was introduced to the Kizashi through a What Car Should You Buy blog on this very website, which set my baseline thoughts for that car forever. Anonymous Everycar, that you rarely see.
If I could name the perfect sports/super car for the ‘car enthusiast’, a car with a manual transmission, bare necessities to be street legal, a driver focused attitude, a car that wants you to push it as far as you can go because it’s got even greater limits itself, what car would that be?
You’ll hear every car imaginable. Except one.
It was never built to be a volume seller. It was never built to be a normal person’s car. From the Viper teams’ original goal to its discontinuation, it’s focus was being the ultimate enthusiast car.
And car enthusiasts HATED it. With exception to the 5th generation cars, the Viper never had fancy interiors, it never featured the latest technology, it never featured an automatic transmission. Ever year it only kept getting better and better in terms of performance..... But it’s a Dodge. It has an OHV engine. It’s brash. It’s a brute. It doesn’t ride like a S-Class, nor does it rev to 9,000 rpm. No traction control, ABS only when it became a requirement by the feds. It was too skittish, too much of a “handful” ......
Yet 25,000 were sold over 20+ years, but that number feels so small to everyone who’s talks the talk only. It’s always been slammed for any little thing, and for what? People to buy automatic hot hatches? To buy automatic sports cars? But #savethemanuals”!
It’s overlooked simply because it’s what the car enthusiast wanted. They were too busy chit-chatting and doing some bs to actually go out and buy exactly what they wanted.
The Viper was a fantastic enthusiast car, except for one key — the price. The Viper was always an expensive car, one that stayed out of reach of many of those same enthusiasts that loved it.
The Toyobaru Twins
The Gen 1 Toyobaru twins. Sure, most critics loved them- but the sales figures and internet forum comments prove that a large portion of the buying public missed the whole point of them.
Here was a pair of affordably priced, pure driver’s cars that had the best chassis and handling balance this side of a Porsche Cayman. Great steering, low kerb weight, a high revving naturally aspirated IC engine, rear wheel drive, an excellent six speed manual, with a standard Torsen limited slip diff. They were inexpensive to run, and you could use them every day. That’s the platonic ideal of a sports car.
Sure, the engine needed to be wound out to get the best from it- but once upon a time, that used to be the entire point of driving a sports car- you had to be deliberate, and make an effort to drive them in a spirited manner to get the most rewards. The BRZ/86 were increasingly sublime the harder you drove them. Instead all we got from forum jockeys were complaints about how the cars didn’t achieve arbitrary 0-60 or horsepower numbers.
If you complain about the lack of power on those things, chance are you just can’t drive well enough to enjoy them, or have missed the point and would be better off in an automatic turbocharged AWD German saloon. The Toyobaru twins were- and in the Gen 2, still are- made with a singular focus on delivering high-end chassis dynamics at an affordable price, and that makes them truly great cars, with a genuine sense of purpose and engineering purity few cars achieve in this day and age. No turbos, no AWD, no complication- just a clear engineering vision and the conviction to stick to it. I admire that.
Sometimes I think most car enthusiasts are a bunch of hypocrites who never put their money where their mouth is. Always something to nitpick.
The Toyobaru was great in many aspects, but the oiling issues always scared me. Not enough to not buy the car, but enough to sell it. Look, no one said I was good at purchasing vehicles.
A Series of Unfortunate Kias
I got a three-fer
All three underappreciated for the same reasons
Lack of corporate marketing, overwhelmingly strong competition and of course the fact that sedans are a dying breed.
Plus being overshadowed in their own showroom by the excellent Optima.
Also, having a Kia badge on the nose doesn’t help since a lot of people still associate Kia with economy cars.
Your comment reminded three separate Jalopnik staffers that the Cadenza existed, and sparked a debate as to what “Cadenza” means. None of us are willing to Google it and ruin the mystery.