Today, TTAC’s editors present their annual round-ups for 2015. Sajeev brings you his winners and losers in the highly subjective field of design.
Best Styled Sedan, Tesla Model S: This sedan (okay, hatch) deserves to be a repeat winner. The Model S’ clean sheet of vellum has yet to be toppled in sleekness (cab backward-ish platform, low nose, relatively low butt) and Apple-like attention to detail. Exposed door handles? No thank you!
And just like Apple, beauty comes at a steeper price. But personally witnessing people lust after this whip in the same vein of a Ferrari? It may be getting long in the tooth, but good styling conquers
Worst Styled Sedan, Jaguar XJ: Forget about the barn-door nose with that pixilated grille, the idiotic amount of C-pillar DLO FAIL makes this choice a no brainer.
Go ahead and tap on that black trim. This terribly executed flagship proves money doesn’t buy good taste.
Best Styled Coupe, Ford Mustang: With the perennial pony car’s redesign this year, the Mustang went from retro bruiser to a poor man’s Aston Martin. A bad thing when considering the “me too” grille, but the rest is the business: rear-wheel-drive proportions, muscular haunches, flowing C-pillar and a demure decklid with crystal-like taillights retaining its trademark sequential feature. Add the chrome frame on the 50th Anniversary’s taillights to the GT’s excellent posterior (i.e. no fake gas cap) and you have a stunning riff on the original Mustang with attention to detail not found on far pricier vehicles.
The taillight’s depth and complexity (yet, they look so simple!) merits this victory alone.
Worst Styled Coupe, Lexus RC: Hate the game and not the player: Lexus’ signature spindle grille is merely a natural extension of the big nose/pedestrian safe front-end phenomena of our time. But the overwrought details on an otherwise well proportioned body? Shameful. A rear-wheel-drive coupe can look cleaner without losing an ounce of macho. Not since the 1959 Cadillac has a luxury car’s over-zealousness been so clear.
Best Styled Hatch, VW Beetle: I’ve been a sucker for this ride ever since it’s Vellum Venom. Far from a raging VW fanboi, I respect the Beetle’s DNA and the latest iteration is brand correct. VW did a fantastic job being honest to the original while adding practical, modern and accommodating design for today’s consumer demands.
Worst Styled Hatch, smart fourtwo (2016): The new smart arrived this year and, well, picking another ride for this low honor is impossible. Smart cars are anything but for the vast majority of wide-open-spaced America, and the redesign lost the best thing going for it: the flat, sleek-ish nose that wasn’t Euro pedestrian safety savvy.
Add the compliant nose with the body’s design sins and it’s a slam dunk.
Best Styled CUV, Jeep Cherokee: I can hear the accusations of witchcraft in the comments section! BURN HIM U BURN HIM NOW!
Here’s the thing: Modern interpretations of classic shapes are important, especially in the world of boring CUVs. Designs that go “out there” like Jazz-Rock Fusion are truly fantastic when reigned in by solid proportioning and pleasant surfacing. Add the DLO FAIL free greenhouse, modest lighting pods and that radical grille and it’s a winner on par with that naked chick walking downstairs.
Worst Styled CUV, Lincoln MKT or Infiniti QX60: I’ve aired my grievances with the yet-to-be-restyled Infiniti QX/JX, but let’s face facts: There are plenty of punching bags in the CUV genre.
So let’s give an honorable mention to the Lincoln MKT. From it’s mostly-fake front krill filter (i.e. mostly solid and pointless grille) to the frumpy body side haunches and that hearse-ish rear, this one’s a a style and a sales dud. And once the Town Car name joined the lineup — a slap in the face to long-hood-long-deck Panther Lovers — the recognition becomes well deserved.
Best Styled SUV, Jeep Wrangler: Questioning this genre’s unquestionable icon is beyond stupid. Jeep’s attention in keeping the Wrangler as true to Willys Jeep form in our modern world is worthy of much ballyhoo. The folding windshield, exposed door/hood hinges and excellent visibility mean it’s an easy win for the brand and the eyeball.
Worst Styled SUV, Chevrolet Suburban/Tahoe: The traditional SUV market has few players, but the Chevy Tahoe/Suburban is an easy loser. Even with the properly macho rear-wheel-drive orientation, it felt the need for C-pillar DLO FAIL.
Why steal defeat from the hands of victory? This body never needed DLO FAIL to appear cooler — it was already cool! Factor the bizarre feathered headlights and this goose is cooked. Such a shame. The rest of the body is very appealing.
Best Styled Van of 2015, Honda Odyssey: While the new Kia offering comes close, there’s nothing quite as functional, well organized and funky-cool styled as the Odyssey. The jagged greenhouse, sleek-ish front grille and eye catching side slashes are the Gold Standard in Vanning Excellence.
Worst Styled Van of 2015, Ford E-series Cutaway: How the mighty have fallen! The “Econoline” was the ubiquitous choice for businesses and organizations looking to move stuff in relative comfort and safety. With a body dating back to 1992, this van sported the aerodynamic credentials of a GEN I Taurus from its (once) demure grille, gently-sculpted fender flares to a logical greenhouse with flush glass. No more!
North America’s favorite full-size van had to go as it’s highly inefficient compared to what’s on European roads. But why now, why not 10+ years ago?
Now that the Ford Transit put the last nail in its space-wasting coffin, the E-series is offered as a chassis-cab only. Sad, but necessary until RV coachbuilders learn to love F-series cutaways instead!
Best Styled Truck of 2015, RAM 1500: Another repeat winner! While there are overdone elements available, spec-ing out a tidy-looking RAM is easy. Do so and this truck has the most logical face, the cleanest body sides and even a pleasant tailgate. Very hard to find in this era of over-styled, oversexed and ‘roided-out work vehicles.
Worst Styled Truck of 2015, Chevrolet Silverado: The fenders are almost perfect squares, but the wheels are still round. And yet Chevy fit that round peg into a square hole?
Thankfully devoid of its SUV cousin’s DLO FAIL, the Silverado does have a pleasant greenhouse and a macho-yet-logical front clip. But something doesn’t add up, especially in chrome-here-painted-there Rally trim, such as those headlights crammed between the grille, fender flare and front bumper. Those lights are simplistic and unrefined, sorted for 2016.
While the (very necessary) 2016 facelift adds refinement, this Silverado’s full-body restyle cannot come soon enough. Kill those square wheel wells!
[Image credit: 1961 AMC PRfoto Designers.jpg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]