We could do a “worst cars” of 2022 list, but honestly, people get all cheesed off when we do such things. This usually comes from people alive in the 1970s who remember when cars routinely wouldn’t start, rusted to dust or just caught on fire. Nothing for sale today is “worst” like that, and as such, you often hear the phrase, “There are no bad cars anymore.” To that I say, “Hogwash.” That’s like saying, “Things are going pretty well in the world right now because we have running water and antibiotics. You want to talk about ‘bad,’ try living in 1534!” The scale moves with time and progress. There are cars that do their intended jobs better than others and therefore there are cars that do their intended jobs worse than others.
But whatever, we’re not doing that list. This list is about “disappointing,” which is kind of like the worst cars we drove, but ultimately can be about expectations. We were expecting X and we got Y. We figured Z would make yet another hit, but no, they whiffed this time. We were expecting something that cost $150,000 to be great, but it just seemed like a giant waste of money. Basically, there’s lots of room for interpretation.
So, here are the cars, SUVs and trucks that most disappointed us in 2022. And yeah, there are a lot of Toyotas. On the flip side, the GR Corolla and the Prius surprised the hell out of everyone in a very good way. — Senior Editor James Riswick
2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski: There are a lot of good reasons to buy a Toyota Tacoma. Excellent predicted reliability and resale value are both top of mind, for instance. Another positive: In TRD Pro guise, as my test truck came packaged, it can tackle some legitimately challenging off-road terrain. The big problem is that it’s not enjoyable to drive anywhere else. The powertrain makes as much noise as it does horsepower, a fact exacerbated by a transmission that downshifts at the mere suggestion of an incline, the ride both feels too stiff and too wallowy, and the interior that was merely acceptable when the truck was last redesigned for the 2016 model year is now simply worst-in-class.
Perhaps most irritating of all, though, is the Tacoma’s ridiculous seating position. The bottom of the front seats are mounted so low to the floor that my legs are splayed out forward at an uncomfortable angle. Despite that glaring problem, my head is still uncomfortably close to the ceiling. All of this leads to an awkward driving position that simply cannot be rectified no matter how I adjust the seat or steering wheel. It’s terrible.
It’s worth mentioning that some of my biggest complaints are leveled specifically at the top-shelf TRD Pro. In more sedate trim levels, the Tacoma’s positives may well outweigh its negatives. And, as I mentioned at the outset, I wouldn’t fault anyone for buying the Tacoma solely due to its reputation for reliability and resale value. For me, though, driving the thing just isn’t a pleasant experience.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB 350
Road Test Editor Zac Palmer: How do you turn a great, affordable luxury vehicle — the GLB 250 — into something you don’t want? The EQB is a great formula to follow. At its approximately $40,000 starting price, the GLB is a superb value and lovely entry-level option from Mercedes-Benz. I’d go so far as saying it’s one of my favorite Benz products. Period. Meanwhile, the EQB 350 I drove this year costs just shy of $60,000, and all you have to show for the extra $20,000 is a lackluster electric powertrain.
It’s not that the EQB 350 is a poor driving vehicle by any means. The cabin is quiet; there’s a respectable amount of pep off the line for most folks, and it still looks cute. However, that electric powertrain just doesn’t come anywhere close to making you feel like the extra $20,000 over the GLB 250 was worth it. The charging tech is already outdated versus other Benz products, too. I’d be just as happy wringing out the boosted four-cylinder in the GLB. And sadly, the EQB doesn’t come loaded with a bunch of equipment that might justify its added cost. Instead, it’s equipped just like the $20,000 cheaper GLB 250. If you want basic luxuries like heated seats, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and more, you need to get checking boxes. Before you know it, the EQB 350 is over $70,000.
Even at its base price, other EVs are shockingly more compelling. A Genesis GV60, Volvo XC40 Recharge or Cadillac Lyriq are all obvious choices over the EQB. They’re better equipped, similarly priced, are way more fun to drive and feature notably advanced EV charging/battery tech. If it were priced at $45,000, the EQB would be an acceptable EV. The $60,000 (or more with necessary options) price tag turns it into the most disappointing vehicle I’ve driven this year.
2022 Volkswagen GTI
Associate Editor Byron Hurd: I love driving the new GTI. The six-speed manual is excellent and the DSG is a wonderful substitute for those who can’t/won’t do three-pedal fun cars. It rides beautifully and handles sharply and it makes all the right noises. Plus, the hatch makes it immensely practical for everyday chores. And if that were the end of the story, this entry would be in an entirely different list. But it’s not, thanks to the new Golf’s interior, which has been drastically cheapened, with many features now being controlled by a half-baked infotainment system that can take an agonizingly long time to boot up. This was not the worst car I drove in 2022, but it was certainly the biggest expectations whiff.
2023 Toyota Sequoia Capstone
Senior Editor James Riswick: We waited nearly 15 years for a new Sequoia … maybe we should’ve waited a bit longer. Rarely have I spent time with a new vehicle and thought, “that’s just not competitive.” In the face of the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition and Jeep Wagoneer, it’s very hard to identify ways in which the Sequoia has any advantage let alone isn’t in dead last. Even its fuel economy, courtesy a standard hybrid powertrain, was woefully disappointing — I barely cracked 16 mpg versus an EPA estimate of 22 mpg combined. The biggest strike against the Sequoia is its switch from an independent rear suspension to a solid rear axle — the very opposite of what GM did with its most recent generation of full-size SUVs to provide superior ride, handling and interior packaging. Specifically, a low-enough rear floor to allow for a fold-flat third-row seat with sufficient legroom. You can read more about the third-row and cargo work-around shenanigans here. Yet, that solid rear axle also results in something that also plagued GM’s last-generation of full-size SUVs: constant shimmying and vibrations when outfitted with gigantic wheels. The Sequoia Capstone I tested had 22-inch dubs, which in concert with that wagon cart suspension and body-on-frame construction made even the seemingly smoothest of roads feel like they were made of gravel. Vibrations are constant and impacts are tiresome. There was absolutely nothing luxurious about it despite the lofty $80,000 price tag. “Shocking” gets thrown around a lot, but it truly applies here. The Sequoia Capstone was shockingly disappointing.
2023 Jeep Wagoneer L
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: After spending time with the Grand Cherokee L, I was excited about Jeep’s next foray into three-row territory. The Wagoneer name rings some nostalgic bells for me, too — my family had one when I was wee. I was also pretty excited about the inline-six engine introduced along with and exclusively for the 2023 Wagoneer L. But when the Wagoneer finally arrived in my driveway, we got off on the wrong foot. The interior was beautiful and spacious, but once I got underway, there were some things that really took the luster off this thing. It was quite creaky and rattly, for one thing. The engine also made a really strange noise at just above idle speeds. When I fed in just a little bit of accelerator, there was an odd, unpleasant hooting sound that was unlike any I’ve heard before. Definitely not a thrilling turbo whoosh. Finally, it’s not as handsome in person as it comes across in photos, especially from the rear. I showed my sister, who had recently purchased a Cherokee L, and she also agreed that she wasn’t missing out on anything that would really make a difference besides the extra space. Maybe the Wagoneer S (or whatever it ends up being called) can win me over instead.
2023 Toyota Crown
News Editor Joel Stocksdale: I still don’t understand this car. I’ve driven it pretty thoroughly, I’ve talked with the man in charge of it. I just don’t get it. It’s tall and crossover-like, but it has no real additional ground clearance. It’s effectively the flagship for Toyota cars, but it has a less impressive interior than the Avalon it replaces. It’s a lot more expensive, too. The top trim with its fancy hybrid system is pretty good to drive, but if you’re looking for things that are fun, you’ve got more fun options from other automakers (albeit less efficient). The base powertrain is especially efficient, but it’s also available in stuff sporting a Lexus badge, which simply carries more cachet than Crown in the U.S. In fact, that high-output powertrain is also available in a Lexus, and it’s a Lexus crossover that’s more practical and more popular. I just don’t know who this car is for, and even for that person, I’m not sure it’s their best option. I’m hoping the promised plug-in hybrid makes a little more sense, emphasis on “little.”