Thanksgiving is upon us, when Americans give thanks for their blessings by feasting on turkey and watching – or suffering through – football.
The meal is often the centerpiece of this annual celebration with the components, such as turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and more, providing a way for chefs across America to personalize their holiday event. However, the if the bird is bad, then the rest of the dinner will be sad. However, it’s not just the dining table that sees turkeys that create “special” moments.
What of the many four-wheeled turkeys that create so many memories? The auto industry has given us many, and today is their day to shine. So let us give thanks that these featherless foul friends with a feast of a different sort.
Some of the industry’s “turkeys” have included:
Acura RLX: A perfectly anonymous car with an equally anonymous name, the RLX proves that Honda hasn’t had any luck peddling its sophisticated flagship sedans since it started favoring alphanumeric names over proper ones like the Legend and Integra. The RLX remains a solid sedan in search of an identity, proof that automakers still fail to understand the power of a popular model name.
BMW i8: You’d think a gas-electric hybrid as attractive as the BMW i8, with handling to match, would succeed. After all, why use an electric motor’s overwhelming abundance of torque simply to save fuel? It was a brilliant idea, one ahead of its time. But its look was as much a high-school student’s doodle as it was a serious sports car. Then there is the value proposition. Never a high priority for German OEMs, the i8 costs $147,500 for a car powered by the Mini’s 3-cylinder engine. You’re kidding, right?
Buick Regal: Buick’s past is littered with cool names like Invicta and Electra. So it’s utterly inconceivable as to why this Opel import was assigned a blue-hair name that doomed its chances of success outside of the early bird crowd. Based on the European-market Opel Insignia, its remarkably unremarkable personality lacks the athleticism you’d expect given its European genetics, while its looks seemed to mimic those of the less-expensive Chevrolet Malibu, a vehicle equally devoid of character despite its good looks.
Cadillac XT6: Slotting below the Escalade, Cadillac’s new car-based, three-row crossover is handsomely styled and its cabin offers some fine design details. But look closer and you might be surprised to discover that most of the XT6’s impressive tech package is optional, while its 310-horsepower V-6 engine and 9-speed automatic transmission is the same one used in less-expensive GM models. Where’s the luxury? Aside from a new suit of clothes, it doesn’t feel indulgent or special, a Cadillac problem for far too many years, but finally addressed in the new Escalade.
Dodge Journey: Boasting a low price and an archaic – and notorious – Ultradrive 4-speed automatic transmission, this sad DaimlerChrysler remnant is bereft of personality or desirable driving dynamics. Yes, it is practical, but so is every other crossover utility vehicle. Thankfully, its journey is coming to an end this year, and not a minute too soon.
Fiat 500L: So what is this exactly? Is it as wagon? A compact crossover? Given that it defies easy market categorization, 500L struggles to attract buyer interest despite a cavernous interior and hatchback configuration in a market where SUVs and crossovers are huge hits. Maybe it’s due to the 500L’s sluggish driveline, and low-rent interior. Then again, it might have something to do with its dowdy appearance, wearing looks only the Pope could love. It simply lacks the SUV facade that moves metal.
Ford EcoSport: This little trucklet began life as a cheap SUV for the Brazilian market, and that DNA makes itself felt in its harsh ride, interior quality and anemic engine while its nose-heavy styling and tiny tires result in a look that’s unfortunate. Its tailgate swings open, not up and it lacks some of the advanced safety features found on its subcompact competitors. To its credit, it can tow 2,000 pounds, and is surprisingly nimble. But is that enough in an increasingly crowded segment?
Jeep Compass: How come it’s always the good-looking ones who break your heart? With looks that resemble the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s kid brother, its handsome styling is quite enticing. So is its price, which starts at a reasonable $22,280. And you can load it up with goodies. But it comes with an unremarkable 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine laughably named the Tigershark. It’s anything but, responding sluggishly through a 9-speed slushbox. Even the availability of the off-road-oriented Trailhawk model isn’t enough to overcome its listless heart.
Mercedes-Benz GLA: This good-looking compact crossover has a sporty look that’s easy to love, but its demeanor isn’t that of a Mercedes-Benz. No, it doesn’t have the bank-vault solidity and quiet cabin one expects of products wearing the three-pointed star. Instead, the overly firm ride and austere cabin reaffirms you paid less for your Mercedes-Benz, reinforcing the lack standard luxury amenities. Here, lavishness is optional – unless you prefer living a life of austerity. If you do, there are far cheaper ways to do it.
Mitsubishi Mirage: Not only is this one of the least expensive cars you can buy, it’s one of the smallest, at a mere 148.8 inches long. Its three-cylinder engine returns 36 mpg with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, 39 mpg with the CVT transmission – not bad. And there are plenty of tempting features that look good on paper, but people drive cars, not paper. Unluckily, this Mitsubishi’s overall quality, handling and performance is what its name implies.