Editors' Picks: The Ugliest Cars On The Road
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's what makes it so much fun to talk about car design. While some may see a gorgeous glimmering study in sheetmetal, others may see an absolute dog.
A little while ago, we brought you the cars each editor at AOL Autos and Autoblog picked as the most beautiful on the road. Today, we're bringing you the exact opposite.
We polled the people that think about, talk about and argue about cars every single day on the the vehicles that they think are, simply put, hideous. The question resulted in some heated debate from within our ranks and some surprising selections. Head on through to see our picks for the ugliest cars on the road today for yourself.
Mike Harley (West Coast Editor, Autoblog) - Lincoln MKTAcquiring a new car, truck or sport utility for personal use is mostly an emotional transaction - the vehicle has to be attractive enough to appeal to the heart. Automakers such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and Jaguar have long understood that the easiest way to the heart is through the eyes, and their sculpted vehicle offerings - for the most part - answer that call.
Then we have the Lincoln Motor Company, a division of Ford that has been selling cars for nearly a century and is currently struggling to create its own unique identity - differentiating itself from its parent - as the brand loses luster.
Visually, Lincoln's current design language slaps a "baleen whale" grille across its entire lineup. While each of its vehicles brings tears to the eyes, the model at the top of the podium, and my choice for the Ugliest Car on the Road, is the MKT crossover. It looks best when shielded by an opaque car cover.
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Chris McGraw (Associate Multimedia Editor, AOL Autos) - Jeep CherokeeI don’t want to be taken the wrong way, but the new Jeep Cherokee is U-G-L-Y.
The best description I’ve heard thus far is that "it looks like a minivan in need of an orthodontist." With a grille that appears to have been based off the movie Predator and LED headlights that are really barely there, it was no wonder the unveiling left a few Cherokee-enthusiasts less than happy.
Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles has been defending the style of the Cherokee from the beginning, calling the design “very contemporary,” which, I suppose, no one can argue with. Who knows, I may be eating my words in a few years when all vehicle design turns the way of the Cherokee. I just hope that it doesn’t.
All of that said, I’m still looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Cherokee Trailhawk, because what it is lacking in looks, it is said to make up for in off-road capability. And to me that’s what matters most.
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Chris Tutor (Associate Editor, Autoblog) - Chevrolet VoltChevrolet’s Volt is no Pontiac Aztek, generally considered to be the ugliest production car since the AMC Pacer. So why would I put General Motors' hybrid sedan on a list of the most abhorrent autos? Mostly because of what it could have been.
The radical-looking Volt concept was unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show to gigawatts of positive press. It sat low and long, had short side windows and promised green drivers they would not be sentenced to a lifetime of cars that look like the sleep-inducing Prius.
Almost two years later, the production Volt was unveiled looked nothing like the concept. Its high-powered promise had been short circuited, GM says, by aerodynamic changes. And we believed that. Well, we believed until the gorgeously-styled, Volt-based Cadillac ELR zapped into existence. Apparently aerodynamics work differently when paired with a Cadillac badge. Or Tesla. Both of which overwhelmingly prove energy-efficient transportation doesn't have to be ugly. Expensive, maybe. But certainly not ugly.
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Chris Paukert (Executive Editor, Autoblog) - Fiat 500LRemember the dreaded "Freshman 15?" Fiat's 500L does.
That unflattering expression has commonly been reserved for the amount of weight gain young men and women suffer after going away to college and consuming ill-advised quantities of cheap pizza and cheaper beer. The extra pounds seldom do flattering things for the figures of young coeds, and the same applies to this Serbian-built wagon. Only in the case of this Fiat, it's more like the Freshman 50.
Fiat wants us to believe the 500L is simply a pumped-up and more practical version of its adorable 500 microcar. It's given us the same "whiskers and logo" face, googly round-eye headlamps, and so on. But it's a farce – the attributes don’t scale up attractively. The 500L's larger bodyform, with its immense Popemobile greenhouse and too-tall bodysides looks funhouse-mirror grotesque. The front end looks startled and malformed. It has exactly zero of the Cinquecento's rounded, retro-steeped charm.
Funny thing is, the 500L is actually a better all-around vehicle to drive than the standard 500. What a shame.
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Erin Marquis (Associate Editor, AOL Autos) - Toyota 4RunnerIf the alien from the 1980s action film Predator needed a car, the Toyota 4runner would be it. And not only because it's great at handling off-road conditions and could cut through jungle terrain. It's that the 4Runner and the alien look so much alike. The squished grille and narrow headlights give the entire front fascia a menacing, antagonistic appearance. The headlights and turn signals are small and carved deep into the front end like angry, focused eyes.
The rest of the 4Runner's design reminds me of the old joke about the disgruntled customer at the restaurant who cries "the food here is terrible! And the portions are so small!" We don’t see the odd geometry carried through to the rest of the car. The aggressive front melts into a boring body that could be switched out with any SUV in the last decade. The rear isn't much better. The tail lights are misaligned and stick out at the sides, making no sense on a car where the headlights are cut deeply into the body of the car. The entire SUV looks like a monster sewn together from the parts of three separate vehicles.
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Michael Zak (Consumer Editor, AOL Autos) - Mitsubishi i-MiEV
There are a lot of problems with the i-MiEV. It doesn't hold a very large charge, it drives horribly and the interior is about as luxurious and modern as the Flintstone's house. But let's take a minute and focus on the most obvious issue: Its exterior design.
I understand that automobile designers are trying to give their electric cars a cuter, more unique look so they stand out on the road. After all, surveys have suggested that people are buying green cars because of the way it allows them to differentiate themselves as the more eco-conscious and stylish drivers on the road. Plus, the egg-shape that you see many of them employ makes them much more aerodynamic.
But the strategy failed miserably here. The i-MiEV, which is about the size of a golf cart, has bulging headlights, itty bitty wheels and is completely devoid of any interesting lines or edges. Somehow this is the most boring, yet most absurdly designed car on the road. At the same time. That's pretty incredible.
The i-MiEV, depending on the color, either looks like a huge cartoon insect (especially when it's in its Smucker's grape jelly color) or some sort of future sentient transport pod that takes us away from our computers three times a day so we can be injected with food. Neither of those are things I'd ever want to associate myself with.
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Steve Ewing (Senior Editor, Autoblog) - Honda CrosstourAsk American auto enthusiasts what we want more of, and we'll say "wagons." But ask the general public – you know, the folks who actually buy new cars – what they're looking for, and the answer is "crossovers." We've seen practically every automaker buff up their CUV offerings in recent years, and in late 2009, Honda gave us this: the Crosstour.
Actually, back then, it was the Accord Crosstour – make no mistake what architecture lies beneath that skin. And when it launched, we didn't know what to make of it. Sure, it drove plenty well, and had a relatively nice interior, but it wasn't all that functional, and man, was it ugly. Really ugly.
This displeased and confused Honda, whose executives were openly baffled by the unsuccessfulness of the Crosstour in our market, once describing it as having "very beautiful styling." And in an effort to make its weird CUV a bit more butch, we got the 2013 model year refresh that somehow made things worse.
The Crosstour is now an oft-forgotten member of the Honda lineup, and could easily be axed without many people caring. Blame the bad styling, or the more functional (and cheaper) CR-V sitting alongside it at Honda dealers. In any case, this eyesore won't be something we miss if it eventually goes away.
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Pete Bigelow (Associate Editor, AOL Autos) - Nissan LEAF
The Nissan LEAF looks like a partially squashed minivan. It’s too bad designers didn’t fully put it out of its misery.
The lower rear of the vehicle protrudes outward, like a bulging disc in an aching back. Its front has the appearance of a frumpy alien from another planet. In fairness, so do a lot of alternate-powertrain cars, and the LEAF looks only marginally worse than the rest of an uninspiring lot.
Chevy Volt. Toyota Prius. The Nissan LEAF. So many green cars, so many ugly vehicles.
The only logical conclusion can be that auto-industry titans, resistant to the idea of fuel-efficient cars for decades, collectively schemed to make hybrids and electrics ugly on purpose, so when they tanked in showrooms, they could then proclaim the American public isn’t ready for them.
No, the American public just isn’t ready for ugly cars.
If automotive outsider Elon Musk has shown us anything, it’s that if you build an attractive electric car, consumers will buy it. So many in fact, that the frightened automotive establishment will band together to prohibit it from even being sold.
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