In a recent CarInsurance.com survey, 1,500 licensed drivers were asked to look at photos of 12 vehicles made in the last decade and decide if they would be embarrassed to be seen in them. Then they were asked to rank the three most cringe-worthy.
The cars they singled out as the most embarrassing were, well, not that surprising. Almost all of the vehicles on this list employ some pretty strange exterior aesthetics or come with a well-known and negative stereotype -- some much more than others.
The company then gave the cars a "Cringe Score," which represents the relative weight of all votes cast for a particular vehicle, based on a 1 to 10 scale. A single vote meant the person would be embarrassed to drive the car.
“All these cars are bold statements. You either love them or hate them,” said CarInsurance.com managing editor Des Toups.
Click through to see the cars that people actively avoid driving. Is yours on the list?
12. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Cringe Score: 0.3
The Murano CrossCabriolet is ambitious, but it doesn't work. It looks ridiculous, is far too expensive and just doesn't make any sense. We've only ever seen a couple on the road (and we think those were owned or at least driven by Nissan employees). It's not surprising that people found this undesirable.
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11. Chevrolet HHR
Cringe Score: 0.7
With a similar body style to the Chrysler PT Cruiser (yes, that's on the list, too), the Chevrolet HHR was either loved or hated before it was discontinued after the 2011 model year. Its plasticky look coupled with round lines and cheap-looking paint made it look like more of a toy than a legitimate vehicle.
10. Honda Element
Cringe Score: 0.9
Boxy and covered in plastic, it's not too shocking that people said they'd be embarrassed to drive the Honda Element. Although it's a highly versatile vehicle, especially for pet owners, there's just no getting past the fact that it looks pretty goofy. The Element was discontinued after the 2011 model year.
8. Pontiac Aztek
Cringe Score: 1.4
This is one of the ugliest cars ever made, plain and simple. In fact, we're surprised this isn't up higher on the list of cars people would be embarrassed to drive. Just look at it: Its bizarre headlights, awkward rear end and gag-inducing paint job combine to create a Frankenstein's Monster of a vehicle.
Unsurprisingly, the Aztek only lasted from 2001 to 2005.
7. Lincoln Town Car
Cringe Score: 1.6
Although it's a classic luxury vehicle, the Lincoln Town Car just screams "senior citizen," which factors in greatly in its place on the list of cars people would be embarrassed to drive. The Town Car may be one of the most comfortable cars on the planet, but it's understandable that not many people want to be associated with its reputation.
The Town Car was discontinued after the 2011 model year.
6. Subaru Baja
Cringe Score: 1.6
The Subaru Baja is pretty weird. Half-pickup, half-car, it looks like someone took a chainsaw to the back of an Outback. There's no question that it's a useful piece of machinery, but Baja owners should prepare to be subject to some pointing and laughing.
5. Volkswagen New Beetle
Cringe Score: 1.9
Volkswagen reintroduced the iconic Beetle in 1997, and it had a pretty good run, winning some awards and becoming one of the most recognizable cars on the road. The main problem was, and continues to be, the fact that many see it as being feminine, even in darker and more neutral colors. The redesigned Volkswagen Beetle has addressed these concerns, employing a much more aggressive look.
4. Chevrolet SSR
Cringe Score: 2.1
The Chevrolet SSR, which was discontinued back in 2006, is an open-top, hot rod truck that employs a giant 6.0L V8 engine along with some truly bizarre aesthetics. Sure, it's fast, but with a front end that looks like the face of an offended robot, it's easy to see that people would be embarrassed to drive it.
3. Hummer H2
Cringe Score: 3.5
The Hummer H2 is likely unloved due to the fact that it portrays a couple of undesirable qualities: disregard for the environment and, um, overcompensation. According to the survey, the H2 scored especially bad with women, likely because of its ludicrously overblown masculine design.
2. Nissan Cube
Cringe Score: 3.6
The Nissan Cube is pretty weird, and it's not surprising to see it on this list. What is surprising, however, is that the older you are, the less likely you are to consider it embarrassing to drive one, according to the study. That's bad news for Nissan, as the Japanese automaker designed and marketed this car for a younger generation.
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1. smart fortwo
Cringe Score: 7.6
The poor smart fortwo can't get any love. Although it's a pretty good car in the city, it's really not well-suited to much else, including looking cool on the road. Participants in the survey thought the fortwo made drivers look "like they couldn't afford a full-size car," also calling the car "dorky" and "ugly." Apparently, the smart fortwo is the most embarrassing car to drive.
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