When the SUV was launched, many buyers viewed it as a pickup truck with seven seats and a closed bed. Not so much separated the two vehicles. They could trudge through the same terrain, hit the same performance numbers, and spontaneously roll over when pushed too hard around a corner.
But when SUVs started clocking bigger profit margins in the ‘90s, automakers turned their attention to a hitherto stale automotive segment. That is when the luxury SUV and urban SUVs rolled into the market. Buyers now had the flexibility to buy a vehicle that could butcher countryside terrain while driving comfortably in the city streets.
Today, the numbers speak for themselves. But that success has been hard to replicate consistently. As you will see with these 10 SUVs, checking all the consumers' boxes is a real challenge for most SUV automakers.
10 2001 Pontiac Aztek
The Pontiac Aztek was perennially ranked as one of the worst SUVs ever made. Its looks were so repulsive that even Hollywood thought of a chemistry teacher turned drug dealer as the best buyer.
Pontiac went all quirky with the Aztek’s design. The same can be said of its very pitiful performance. The 2001 Pontiac Aztek could only cough 185hp from a V6 bolted under the hood. Its inefficient motor meant that sprinting from 0-60mph would take longer than waiting for a New York subway to go empty.
9 2002 Hummer H2
The Hummer H1 was a mega hit. Diehard petrolheads finally had the SUV of their fantasies. It could fight a war, take a girl out, and help tow your caravan anywhere you wanted to go for an adventure. But that was not the case for the Hummer H2.
Dubbed one of the worst cars of all time, the Hummer H2 was not the bad-boy military protégé petrolheads expected from it. Rather, it was a measly marque with a terrible suspension, rough transmission, and faux toughness. It couldn’t even pull its own weight.
8 2003 Mitsubishi Outlander
The Mitsubishi Outlander has survived to become a respectable crossover anyone shopping for an SUV should consider. However, the 2003 Outlander almost buried the nameplate in petrolhead cemetery.
This marque was designed to replace the rugged and very capable Montero SUV. However, it was weak-willed, hideously styled, and underpowered.
The motor at the front could only develop 140hp. To make matters worse, that weakling power unit was a buzzer. It was deafening listening to it scream inside the cabin while the rest of the panels rattled as the marque tried to build some torque to go over a bump.
7 2006 Saab 9-7x
The 2006 Saab 9-7x almost sounds like a marque whose equation to its name was left unsolved. Well, 9-7x equals Trailblazer. This American-Swedish marque was a rebadged Chevrolet Trailblazer built in the same soil Chevy builds its cars.
The Saab 9-7x was born when Chevy owned Saab. It made history as the only Saab vehicle ever built in the United States. Compared to the Trailblazer it shamelessly copied most elements from, the Saab 9-7x was skinnier and more underpowered than the already hated parent car.
6 2007 Jeep Compass
Critics were left with no sense of creative direction after looking at the 2007 Jeep Compass. The Jeep had no heading whatsoever on the interior and exterior.
From the outside, you’d confuse the Jeep Compass with a plastic appliance someone would buy alone in the closing hours of the day before regretting their purchase decision and condemning the appliance to the pantry for the rest of its life.
But it gets worse. The 2007 Jeep Compass had no off-road capabilities. And even on the tarmac where you expected it to behave, it drove worse.
5 2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP
This is probably the blandest and most ungainly crossover ever built. Yet again, Pontiac shook the world with an SUV so ugly, Walter White would trade his Aztek back instead of it. Apart from being unbothered with the looks, Pontiac didn’t care whether a pebble would make the marque undrivable.
The 2008 Pontiac Torrent GXP suffered a stiffened suspension. To make matters worse, they bolted a tired Suzuki V6 to the marque that couldn’t pull it to 60mph in a light year. They finally covered all that botched engineering with bad finishing and sold it to the public.
4 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
There was a point when the term hybrid threatened the American way of life. The idea of not having a gas-guzzling car puzzled hardcore, base-ball loving petrolheads from the West. During that period, Chevy launched the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. It became a case of diplomacy tried at the wrong time.
The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid had everything an SUV enthusiast would want. It had four-wheel drive, seating for up to eight, 8200lbs of towing capacity, and a 6.0L V8. However, it couldn’t pull as hard compared to its gasoline-powered twin, and it weighed 350lbs more.
3 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid
This was also the Dodge Durango hybrid but in a different badge. And when it was launched, it was dead on arrival. The Chrysler Aspen Hybrid was no different from the second-generation Dodge Durango no petrolhead wanted to be associated with.
It was just Chrysler’s project to get us back in love with the Durango filled with fake wood and plastic chrome. It only took two months before this model went extinct. To make matters worse, Chrysler was building it at a loss, the same way it was doing for other hybrid cars in its lineup at the time.
2 GMC Envoy XUV
In the beginning, the SUV was born out of the pickup truck. As years went by, each car radically evolved into its own beast. Well, GMC wanted to change that. On paper, the company’s plan was ingenious. It was to build a retractable roof with a moveable, watertight partition right into the back half.
You could seamlessly move from having a lockable, covered cargo space to hauling Christmas trees in the back half of the car that you converted into a bed. Sadly, this pickup-SUV mashup did not go well with consumers, just like the Chevrolet Avalanche.
1 Hyundai Terracan
This marque was launched in India back in 2003. It ended up being one of Hyundai’s most regrettable SUVs. The Terracan was not built to be a small car. Hyundai built a full-size SUV with massive proportions unlike anything seen from the company back in the day.
Under the hood, the Terracan packed a 2.9L CRDi diesel engine that developed 148hp and 343nNm of torque. Sadly, the numbers and looks never stacked up to proper competition, such as the Mitsubishi Pajero and Ford Endeavor, which offered better full-size SUV experiences.