These Car Models Have Gotten Worse Over The Years

These Car Models Have Gotten Worse Over The Years

Not every car model improves with age, and these are some of the worst offenders.

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A graphic showing a 1990s Mitsubishi Eclipse and 2022 Eclipse
Would you rather a car with pop-up headlamps, or another boring SUV?
Photo: Mitsubishi

Many successful cars have proven their worth over countless iterations that have been on sale for decades. But while plenty of models are given generational improvements, others are destroyed by facelifts, updates and tweaks over the years.

So, to find out which cars have gotten a whole heap worse since launch, we asked you for the models that are a shadow of their former selves.

After many arguments in the comments section, these are some of the top responses we received.

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2 / 12

Dodge Dakota

Dodge Dakota

A blue Dodge Dakota pickup truck.
Photo: Dodge

“The first gen was a smash hit, using nothing but a lethargic 2.2 or a V6 made out of 6/8's of a 318 V8. It was bigger than the competition, and when they decided to stuff the V8's in it, sales skyrocketed.

“Until 2005. Then the bloated, a couple inches from full-size, ND body style came out with engines designed in the 1980's that barely got better fuel efficiency then the 1500's were getting, all for a very similar price.

“The emergency refresh just updated the styling, acting like that and that alone was the issue. It definitely wasn’t.”

First released in 1987, the Dodge Dakota spawned three generations. Developed as a mid-size pickup, the final model shared a platform with the Dodge Durango SUV.

The final truck rolled off the production line on August 23, 2011.

Suggested by: turnworld

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3 / 12

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Two Jeep SUVs parked on sand
Photo: Jeep

“The Jeep Wrangler. What was once a small, fun, inexpensive, off-road/utility vehicle that was stone-axe reliable and simple to work on is now an overpriced, outsized, glorified minivan — especially the four-door version — prone to suspension issues and shoddy factory welds, more likely to be seen at the mall than anywhere else. Sure, you can take them off road — and do fairly well at it — but for the price, would you? With the crowd driving Wranglers these days, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’

“The influx of people that don’t ‘get’ the Jeep thing has really hurt the Jeep community as well. Wrangler owners barely wave to other owners these days, while back in the small-Wrangler days, everyone waved.”

This sounds like both a demise of the car itself and a demise in the quality of people buying Wranglers. Any and all ideas on the best way to combat this are more than welcome.

Suggested by: Josh Tolbert (Facebook)

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4 / 12

Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet Malibu

A photo of a Chevrolet Malibu sedan.
Photo: Chevrolet

“Watching the downward spiral of the Chevelle/Malibu is a tough one. The car really peaked in 1970 and everything from 1964-1972 looked awesome (IMHO). Bumper regulations made them awkward in the mid-70's, the boxy Malibu of the 80's lacked character, and the boring fleet car of the 90's is something I don’t like to think about.”

The Chevrolet Malibu started its life as a trim level on the Chevrolet Chevelle before graduating to its own model line. The latest model seems to be eternally stuck on the chopping block as its aging sedan styling slowly goes out of fashion.

Suggested by: sidbridge

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5 / 12

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan Pathfinder

A red Nissan Pathfinder SUV driving on sand.
Photo: Nissan

“It went from a legitimate contender in the body-on-frame rough & tumble SUV arena to just another blobby GMC Acadia-sized crossover.

“The 2022 might be a decent vehicle (finally) but it’s a far cry from what it started out as.”

In 1985, the Nissan Pathfinder was an honest, two-door, body-on-frame SUV that shared a lot of similarities to the Nissan trucks of the day. Now, it’s just another cut and paste SUV based on an aging platform.

Suggested by: oldmanmckenna

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VW Golf

A blue VW golf hatchback parked on a salt flat.
Photo: Volkswagen

“I’ll say the same for the VW Golf/Jetta. Love the third generation with the VR6 in particular. Simple, crisp, timeless lines and a nice German starkness all around that seems to have been lost over the years.”

The third generation Golf premiered in 1991 and housed the narrow-angle, 2.8-liter VR6 engine that this poster is such a fan of.

VW now markets the eight iteration of its small hatchback and has produced more than 35 million examples since the car first launched.

Suggested by: Kirk Bressler (Facebook)

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7 / 12

Pontiac GTO

Pontiac GTO

A photo of a silver Pontiac GTO
Photo: Pontiac

“The mid 60s GTO is iconic and then they made another great with the Judge, but by the time they brought back the GTO nameplate, they didn’t even both to make a car, they just slapped some body panels and badges on a Holden.

“The Holden was/is a great car, but it’s not a GTO.

“Honestly, Pontiac in general just got worse and worse as a whole, turning many of their once great cars into pretty boring and pathetic shells of themselves.”

From its heyday in the 1960s, the Pontiac GTO fell from grace when it became a re-badged Holden Monaro. The repackaged Aussie coupe lasted for three years before the final model rolled off the production line on June 14, 2006.

Suggested by: slicks30r

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8 / 12

Mercury Cougar

Mercury Cougar

A silver Mercury Cougar coupe.
Photo: Mercury

“Do you want steady decline or wild yoyo? Because the best Mercury Cougar was the first one, without question, but the car kept shifting body style and market position so it’s hard to say it always got worse, but it did get dramatically worse multiple times.”

Mercury dreamt up eight different iterations of the Cougar between 1967 and 2002. Over the years, it tried its hand at being a pony car, mid-size, coupe and a compact before it was finally killed off.

Suggested by: citricola

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9 / 12

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

A red Ford Ranger pickup truck.
Photo: Ford

“The Ford Ranger. What was once a capable spartan compact truck became an F-150 with different badging.

“Heck, the F-150 fits this bill too. As do most other trucks.

“Mechanically, modern models may be more reliable (usually, anyways) but their style, the pleasure of driving, their capability, that all changes.

“Sure, I’d take a 2022 Ford Ranger over a beat-up 1982 for reliability and economy, but I’d miss that style and size terribly.”

Take any modern truck, and it’s a great hulking behemoth when compared to its vintage inspiration. As well as the Ranger, there were suggestions for the F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram trucks.

Suggested by: Steven Taylor (Facebook)

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10 / 12

Peugeot 206

Peugeot 206

A red Peugeot 206 hatchback.
Photo: Peugeot

“Peugeot 206, had a revolutionary design in 1998 when it came out, then it just cheaped out facelift after facelift. The last one in 2009 mimicking the 207 was pretty tragic.”

This poster might not like the Peugeot 206, but it garnered a lot of fans over the years. In fact, it is the most-produced Peugeot car ever after the French firm saw 8,358,217 examples of the car roll off its production line by the end of 2012.

Suggested by: mx5kev

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11 / 12

Mitsubishi Eclipse

Mitsubishi Eclipse

A red Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV
Photo: Mitsubishi

“The first generation was a cool little sports car with popup headlights and a top of the line turbocharged and AWD model. The second generation improved on it with updated styling that still holds up today (OK, maybe not in everyone’s opinion) and a slight bump in performance.

“Then the third generation came out. The turbo and AWD were gone. The bland styling would blend in with anything in an early 2000s parking lot. The car got bigger and heavier. The fourth generation was at least a step in the right direction, becoming slightly smaller again with a more powerful V6. But it just never was the same as the originals.

“And now? Now it’s a crossover.”

One of the greatest falls from grace you might find in the automotive world. Imagine, re-launching an elegant and angular sports car as a big, boxy SUV? The worst part? It doesn’t even have pop-up headlamps anymore.

Suggested by: skuhnphoto

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