Car redesign failures

CNBC

In December 2011, Kelley Blue Book ran a feature about the best redesigned cars for 2012. The automobiles varied from Mercedes-Benz convertibles to Honda SUV’s to Volkswagen Beetles, and the descriptions were festooned with words like “bolder” and “sexier” and even “grrrr.”

This kind of language is what car companies hope to hear when an automobile is redesigned. They want to hear that old flaws have been addressed and new elements have been introduced that will make it more desirable to the consumer.

Unfortunately, not all redesigns win accolades. In fact, some garner outright hostility for their “improvements.” What follows is a list of redesigned cars, provided by Karl Brauer, CEO and editor-in-chief of TotalCarScore.com, an online review aggregator and information resource for cars currently on the market.

The redesigns on this list not only didn’t improve on the existing models, but may have made buyers wish they could have the old models back, according to TotalCarScore.com. Far from including words like “bold” or “sexy,” the list was dotted with less desirable terms, such as “uninspired” and “thud.”

Read ahead and see which cars made TotalCarScore.com’s list of car redesign failures.


Honda Civic

The 2012 Honda Civic was late reaching the marketplace. Its design team had scrapped plans to make it larger midway through production, and went back to the slender design for which it was known.

According to Brauer, the delay wasn’t worth it. The Civic still offers the same comfortable ride and respectable fuel economy but those attributes are offset by what he calls “uninspired styling and dated equipment,” leading to sales he describes as “lackluster.”



Chrysler 200

The Chrysler Sebring changed its name to the 200 in 2011. According to reviews on the TotalCarScore.com site, more than just the name has changed and there have been big improvements in comfort, design and styling.

According to Brauer, the redesign is nothing more than a stopgap measure to keep the Sebring competitive while Chrysler prepares a new sedan for release next year. In the meantime, people looking for a midsized sedan will have to be satisfied with the 200’s “unrefined drivetrain and mediocre interior.”



Nissan Quest

The Nissan Quest has none of the basic attributes consumers expect from a minivan such as sufficient seating for eight passengers, above-average fuel economy and a third-row seat that can fold down and create extra storage space. The Quest fits no more than seven passengers, and it has a “lower cargo space relative to competitors,” according to TotalCarScore.com.



Jeep Compass

In 2011, the American people spoke and Jeep listened. Consumers had numerous issues with the Jeep Compass, so it underwent a complete overhaul that included improvements to its interior, its drivetrain and its styling, including a refurbishment of its exterior to make it look more macho.

Unfortunately, the company failed to address other issues with the vehicle, most of which were probably more important than its looks. “Reviewers note less-than-comfortable seats, less-than-ideal visibility and a noisy cabin,” according to TotalCarScore.com. “The continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the sole automatic option and that doesn't find many fans, either.”



Nissan Versa

Customers looking for an inexpensive and roomy sedan that gets decent fuel economy could do worse than the 2012 Nissan Versa. However, critics on TotalCarScore.com want more than that, and they characterized the current model as a step backwards. They offered a litany of complaints about everything including the noisy cabin, clunky handling and “blatantly cheap” interior.

Brauer was equally unimpressed by the vehicle. In addition to the cabin noise and a “lack of drivetrain refinement,” he also described the handling as “tippy,” an alarming word that is exactly what buyers don’t want to hear when shopping for a new vehicle.

View Comments