By Daily News |
5 Worst Chevrolet Trucks and SUVs of All Time - NY Daily News
There is no sense in debating it. Chevrolet regularly surprises and delights truck and SUV buyers with rugged capabilities, spacious interiors, and thoughtful designs. But then again, it can occasionally surprise and dismay, with abjectly horrid badge engineering, poor engine choices, and failed experiments.
Trucks like the SSR, the Trailblazer, and the mysterious Captiva Sport are the result.
It’s as though Chevrolet excels at opportunities to reflect its own brand values, but stumbles when the question becomes more about adopting technology, adapting to a new demand, or delivering on the practical and not just the extraordinary.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. And, truth be told, today’s Chevy Traverse is staunchly competitive in its class. A benchmark, even.
So, let’s take a look back and maybe wince a bit over the five worst Chevrolet trucks and SUVs of all time, based on the following qualifications: they had to be either terrible, dull, weird, or all of the above. They’re listed below in chronological order.
1978 Chevrolet C/K Diesel
Good truck/scary engine: the 1978 Chevrolet C/K Diesel got a bad reputation as a diesel failure. (favcars.com)
From the book “Ten Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Awesome Truck,” GM engineers decided to go straight to #1 and bolt in the infamous Oldsmobile diesel engine, obscuring the truck in clouds of noxious black smoke and causing plenty of heartache over vehicle repair.
Basically, built like a gasoline engine, the diesel power plant couldn’t withstand the increased pressure required for diesel ignition and became known for major head gasket issues. It also suffered from engine corrosion, and, well, total failure. This engine was so bad that it helped launch lemon laws in several states.
All this for 125 horsepower. And oh, yes, a way around new emissions and fuel economy laws. Go figure.
1999 to 2004 Chevrolet Tracker
The 1999 Chevrolet Tracker was an indifferent replacement for the first-gen Geo Tracker. (favcars.com)
Calm down, Sidekick fans (and obscure Geo enthusiasts). This is about the second-gen Tracker – the one otherwise known as a Suzuki Vitara. Given GM’s penchant for badge engineering, it was probably also known by another 37 names around the world.
Make no mistake: The first-gen Geo Tracker could and probably should be on this list. There was that little rollover problem with Consumer Reports, apparently resolved in 1996, and the ute’s general inability to compete with Honda and Toyota.
But no. The Geo Tracker/Suzuki Sidekick was fun to drive off-road, which counts for smiles and satisfaction over the years. It was also loaded with personality, equipped with a jaunty face and cute fender flares. The convertible top made it a perfect beach buggy, too.
The second try was just boring. Ugh. And that made this SUV’s faults, like its embarrassingly slow acceleration courtesy of just 95 hp and utter lack of refinement, all the more obvious.
2002 to 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer
The Chevrolet Trailblazer lasted just seven years. (favcars.com)
My buddy owned one of these beauties back during the glory days. He’d ride it low, like a gangsta, smoking cloves (not inhaling), and blasting Morrissey. That man had strange tastes, to be sure, which is probably why he ended up working at Tesla.
Ha. Slow clap.
As for the Trailblazer, actually…well I was never quite sure if I was looking at a Chevy or an Isuzu Ascender, or a Saab 9-7x, or a GMC Envoy. Not that the badge mattered. They all sucked.
Even when new, the Trailblazer and its brethren were clumsy SUVs that sat on an old platform and suffered from slipshod interior quality. To make matters worse, GM stretched the Trailblazer into the awkward EXT configuration, which added a third row but bogged down performance with too much extra weight, and made sudden evasive maneuvers downright frightening.
The EXT version didn’t last long (RIP: 2006), and while the Trailblazer would hang in for a few more model years, it was just simply too old, uninspired, and unloved to compete.
Except perhaps for the SS variant, with its Corvette LS2 V8 engine, stiff suspension, and new tires. This was a true exception to the rule of GM’s badge-engineered misery.
2003 to 2006 Chevrolet SSR
The Chevrolet SSR was cancelled after three short years. (favcars.com)
Psst, automakers: Stop trying to mass-produce individuality.
Leave the custom rods to the experts, the enthusiasts who wrench and fabricate in garages from California to Maine. The entire point of the endeavor is useless if someone can simply walk into a dealership and plop down some cash on a “like-custom” machine.
Something like the Chevrolet SSR.
Produced from 2003 to 2006 and based on, of all things, the Trailblazer platform, the SSR was not really a truck, not really a convertible, and not really a rod. Instead, it was conflicted, hard to live with, and a ridiculously expensive rattlebox.
At around $40,000 for the SSR with the 390-hp V8 engine, it was the perfect Baby Boomer mid-life crisis car.
2012 to 2014 Chevrolet Captiva Sport
The Chevrolet Captiva Sport was sold in the U.S. as a fleet-only compact SUV. (Chevrolet)
Quick: Name a compact SUV that was never sold to the U.S. public, lasted just two years, and came with a plethora of confusing names and brands.
You got it: The Chevrolet Captiva Sport.
Otherwise known as Chevy’s Ghost SUV, the Captiva Sport was a fleet-sale-only sweetheart for just two years. That means it got dumped into rental fleets, and ultimately wound up on the used car market.
A global design, the SUV was sold successfully as the Opel Antara, the Vauxhall Antara, the Daewoo Winstorm MaXX, and more. It was even the Saturn Vue before the brand got yanked in 2009.
At the time, the good old Vue-tiva was lined up for all sorts of cool new technology. There was a Green Line hybrid, and a Red Line sport model. A plug-in hybrid version was planned, too. But they all died when Saturn did.
Years later, the Vue showed up with a Chevy grille at the Avis lot.
When a company hasn’t got the confidence to sell a vehicle to consumers, it absolutely qualifies as a worst-ever flop. And that describes the Captiva Sport.
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