For a long time, The Crew was my "zen" game. It was one of those games that I could always just throw in and play whenever I was bored. There were objectively better racing games out there, but doing missions and challenges in The Crew just felt soothing in a way that few other games did. I remember an episode of Extra Credits that brought up Destiny with regards to this, comparing it to Law & Order as something that only rarely actually excels at anything, but does everything just good enough that it's always reliable. As somebody who doesn't play many shooters, The Crew was that game for me. The map wasn't perfect (it had some big holes in it; you couldn't race down the Boston Freedom Trail, up to Cape Hatteras, or through a facsimile of Disney World), but by and large, it got the biggest parts mostly right, at least on a basic surface level.
The biggest problem I think it had was how shallow tuning was. The idea of five vehicle categories, one attached to each region, wound up being, I felt, a serious bottleneck that made tuning very restrictive, and led to some weird design decisions. (Why did street and performance cars have to be separate categories? Why did fullstock have to be its own category at all? Why were certain cars shoehorned into certain roles? Why was the East Coast, of all places, the home of dirt racing, and the South the home of the performance cars?) Plus, the system of acquiring parts was extremely dependent on random chance; sadly, I think this design decision was motivated by greed, given how friendly this system was to the most exploitative forms of microtransactions.
Also, oddly enough, I think that the graphical "upgrade" that the Wild Run expansion brought actually made the game look worse on the whole, and sucked out most of the unique texture of the different regions. The cars are more detailed, night looked more light night, and some areas like New York did look better with the new lighting and weather effects, but out in the countryside (which makes up most of the map), it ruined the aesthetic. Los Angeles and the deserts of the Southwest felt too lush. The snow-capped Rockies lacked the fog and winter conditions they had before. The weather system didn't account for the different climates of different parts of the US, meaning that Arizona is just as rainy as Louisiana.
Unfortunately, The Crew 2 simply took most of the problems I had with the first game and built on them, without doing much to build on the things I liked. The air vehicles simply offer you a great vantage point to notice the seams in the map design, like how New York and Washington are pretty much right next to each other. They added some suburban areas to flesh out the map for when you're seeing it from the air, but when you look at them from the ground and venture off the main roads into them, you can see them for the empty filler they are, slapped onto the map with little care; you can't actually race through those suburban streets unless you're a) driving a dirt vehicle, and b) crazy. Some cool areas, like the Ohio fairground and the Wisconsin military base, were removed from the map altogether, as was the Windsor skyline across the river from Detroit. Most of the snow has been removed from the Rocky Mountains, leaving the map feeling even more samey.
Overall, the impression that both games left me is that the developers were more interested in throwing cool stuff into their games for the sake of showing off what they could do than in making sure that all of those things worked together as a cohesive whole. They made a gigantic map of the US, but they didn't make it all that interesting. They created five separate ways to tune most of your cars, but they also made tuning into a grind. They added a weather system, but not a climate system to make it feel realistic. And of course, the driving model is pretty mediocre.