Most disappointing cars of 2021


Just as there can be good surprises in the car industry, there can be bad ones, or at least disappointing ones. And you can be sure that in a year of driving vehicles, we’ll run across a few. These are the cars that didn’t meet our expectations:

Lexus RC F Fuji Edition

2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Edition

News Editor Joel Stocksdale: Before I go any further, I want to note that I really do enjoy the Lexus RC F. It’s not perfect, but it looks cool and has one of the best V8s you can get now, let alone any time in history. The Fuji Edition is also fun to drive, but it’s a terrible waste of money. Yes, the carbon fiber roof, wing and hood are cool looking, as is the titanium exhaust. These weight savings also help make it technically the fastest accelerating RC F, saving just under 0.3 second in the run to 60 mph. The suspension is a little stiffer, too, and the brakes are carbon ceramic. It’s super rare, with only 60 of the 2021, and 50 of the 2022.

But the problem is that it all costs more than $30,000 extra. And on the street, it doesn’t really feel any different from a regular RC F. Even worse, you actually miss out on the trick torque-vectoring rear differential that’s available on the regular F. The Fuji may do better on the track, but you can buy a lot of track time and even upgrade parts for a regular RC F for the money you’d spend on the limited production model.

2021 Jaguar XF 

Associate Editor Byron Hurd: The updated XF left so fleeting an impression on me that it didn’t even make my initial list of cars I’d driven this year, let alone had a feeling about. I don’t know exactly what I expected from the XF, but suffice it to say, it was more than what we got. This stripped-down shell of a model still looks great (I like modern Jag design; sue me) and does a great job of basic luxury conveyance, but there’s absolutely no sense of occasion to it, no matter how much money you’re willing to spend. Jaguar and ostentation go hand-in-hand. It should feel like a Cadillac from Coventry. Instead, it’s more like a Buick from Birmingham. Not bad. Not offensive. Just not that interesting. 

Runner-up: My honorable mention for this category goes to the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1, which serves as proof that combining two awesome things (a Shelby GT350 and a Bullitt) doesn’t necessarily result in something equally awesome. I’ll let Riswick give you the long version. 

Ford Mustang Mach 1

Senior Editor James Riswick: I once dubbed the most recent Mustang Bullitt as “the perfect Mustang.” Not only that, it’s one of my all-time favorite cars, period. I would happily pay much moneys to put one in my garage someday. It’ll have to be a previously loved one, however, as the Bullitt has taken a bullet. In its place is the new Mustang Mach 1, which effectively takes the old Bullitt engine and placement above the GT in the Mustang hierarchy, but adds the also-discontinued Shelby GT 350’s gearbox and some of its performance-oriented suspension and interior modifications. Sounds good enough, and although I knew I wasn’t going to appreciate the Mach 1’s busy and garish styling flourishes as much as the subdued and classy-as-hell Bullitt, I figured I’d love driving it just as much. Nope. Its firmer suspension made for an unpleasant drive around town and on the highway — the grand-touring possibilities of the Bullitt were one of the things I loved about it. At the same time, the Mach 1 still felt too big and ponderous to be considered a true, finely tuned driver’s car. Maybe this is more about the GT 350 and Bullitt being discontinued rather than the Mach 1 existing, but nevertheless, I was very disappointed.

2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo

Road Test Editor Zac Palmer: It sure does feel weird to say that the most disappointing car I drove this year had a Ferrari engine in it, but that’s the unfortunate truth. The 2021 Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo is extremely good at two things: sounding great and accelerating quickly in a straight line. After that, things get much less exciting. Its handling is depressing, and the ride isn’t soft or plush to make up for it. The interior is cobbled together with a mix of gorgeous materials and old FCA parts bin bits. For example, the turn signal, window switches, headlight controls and more are just like the ones you’d find in a Charger. At its $142,890 price, I expected much, much more. This car needs work, as the only buyer I could see it appealing to is a diehard Ferrari enthusiast.

2022 Mazda MX-30 EV

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: This car showed potential, but was just weird and sad, like me in my early 20s.

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