These SUVs should never have left the drawing board

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The recipe for a good SUV is quite simple: a decent engine, plenty of cargo and passenger space, and high ground clearance. However, for some manufacturers this is simply not enough.

Over the years, the segment has evolved from simple workhorses or utility vehicles to the luxurious, feature-rich family haulers we see on the roads today. With better features, comfort and fuel economy, demand for this segment grew, and brands started trying too hard to make their SUVs stand out from the pack. As a result, some ridiculously unusual or just plain hideous SUVs have hit the market.

From mildly off-putting and unpopular SUVs to ones that are absolute failures in both design and performance, these 10 models probably should never have hit the streets.

9 Ford Flex

The Ford Flex wasn’t as bad as the other cars on this list, but it needed a lot more work. The appearance confused people, as the SUV looked like an odd mish-mash of a pickup truck, limo, and station wagon.

Performance wasn’t bad, but it was plagued by a dozen recalls ranging from water leaks to engine misfires, parking brake failure, poor seating, and more. Ford sold an average of 22,000 models of the Flex a year, but for every customer who said they liked it, there were a few more who slammed it. With more work from looks to performance, the Flex could still be a fun ride.

8 Fiat 500X

Regularly topping the lists of some of the least reliable SUVs on the market, the Fiat 500X already “brags” a bad design that looks more like a sedan than an SUV. It is two-wheel drive only, which makes it almost useless when off-roading or in adverse weather conditions. The 177bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder doesn’t help either.

It’s also overpriced considering its low mileage, unimpressive interiors, cramped seats and inferior cargo. How it continues is amazing, as the 500X needs a major overhaul to compete in the market.

seven Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Although it has been improved with later models, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport still has some issues. No matter how hard the company tries, it just can’t avoid problems with the compact SUV, which range from heat/AC not working to engine overheating, and automatic transmission failing…and c That’s without mentioning the weak 2.4-liter 166-hp four-cylinder base engine.

Its towing power is less than its cheaper competitors and its handling is slower. It has a decent cargo capacity, but the many issues should have been fixed long ago for the Sport.

Related: 5 Best & 5 Worst Ford SUVs You Can Buy Used

6 Ford Excursion

The recent revival of the Excursion has put more emphasis on the model, which was perhaps just too strong for its own good. At the time, it was the longest and heaviest production SUV at 8,900 pounds, which could be heavier with a more powerful engine.

It had plenty of power, with V8 options ranging in the 6.8 or 7.1 liter range. But this frame, better suited to a flatbed truck, was simply too much for it to reach high speeds and the longer shape made parking difficult. This huge energy guzzler has no place in today’s market.


5 Suzuki X-90

One of the biggest flops in Suzuki history, the X-90 barely sold seven thousand models in the United States. It’s amazing they got so many since the model was flawed from the start with the bizarre attempt to merge a sedan and an SUV into one ugly boxy package that made a Mini-Cooper look like a Rolls-Royce.

There was a weak 1.6-liter four-cylinder that didn’t even push out 100bhp, and the cargo space was barely enough to speak of. Maybe it doesn’t deserve Jeremy Clarkson’s “worst car ever” claim, but there’s no denying that the X-90 needed a lot more work in the design stages before it was put on. in production.

Related: 15 Luxury SUVs You Should Never Buy Used

4 GMC Envoy XUV

The GMC Envoy XUV concept wasn’t a bad idea. An SUV with a convertible option could work with the right frame and development. But GMC rushed in too quickly, so the roof became, as then-GM president Bob Lux put it, “a towering wedding cake.”

It didn’t help that after all the hype, the XUV could barely hold the same cargo as a conventional Envoy, especially since the frame was weak and prone to breaking a lot. They barely sold all 13,000 models, which goes to show that mixing good ideas doesn’t always make for a good car.


3 Range Rover Evoque

The Evoque is a decent seller, but it’s also one of the least reliable SUVs currently on the market. The 2020 version ranked 41 out of 100 for reliability, due to recalls about the airbags, brakes, wipes and even the frame prone to falling apart.

That’s without issues with the engine, poor handling and cramped interiors. The 2022 model gets slightly better reviews but still scores poorly against the competition.

Related: 12 SUVs From The ’90s That Live Forever (& 11 That Constantly Break Down)

2 Dodge Nitro

The first reason the Nitro failed is obvious: that front end. It looks like a 1940s truck somehow welded onto an early 90s SUV, the square front end too short and the styling off-kilter. Nothing lines up, not the front, the grille, the wheels or the headlights. Everything is completely offbeat and unattractive.

This disadvantage could have been compensated for if it could drive well, but the Nitro also failed there. A weak engine, poor handling and cheap interiors made it a problem to drive.

1 Pontiac-Aztec

Slamming the Pontiac Aztek is a low hanging fruit, but it’s still amazing what the company was looking for here. Although it has its defenders, the Aztek is best known for being one of the ugliest cars ever to hit the market as well as a performance flaw. It handled badly, had a slow engine, and just wasn’t fun to drive.

There were a few touches like a cooler and the pop-up tent option, but for the most part there’s a good reason why the Aztek was a sell-out flop and contributed to Pontiac’s demise as a brand. Despite all the “cult” it has today, the fact remains that the Aztek should have been better developed.


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