Sixth-worst: 2003 Saturn Ion
Saturn got off to a good start. Many reporters trooped to Spring Hill, Tenn., in the late 1990s as GM showed off the new symbol of its ability to compete. Every company with the slightest connection to Saturn felt it had something to brag about.
But by the start of the millennium, Saturn needed to be refreshed. Unfortunately, it came out with the 2003 Saturn Ion.
Oldham recalls that he drove one of the first Ions, at a GM press event. "I was astounded by how bad it was in every way. I said, 'I think this is the worst car I've ever driven and GM should be embarrassed,'" he recalls. "And history has proven me correct."The Ion was uncomfortable and noisy and production quality was poor. It was tough to drive and had "a stupid interior to match," Edmunds.com says. "Kick it and your foot could get stuck in the gaps between the plastic body panels." Moreover, the competition was extremely tough at the time because Toyota (TM - Get Report) and Honda (HMC - Get Report) had excellent products in the small-car market. The Ion "was far behind the competition on the day it was introduced," Oldham says. "It was the second-worst car of the millennium and was so bad it killed Saturn." Saturn, once an inspiring symbol of the U.S. auto industry's ability to compete with the Japanese, shut down in 2009.