Vellum Venom Vignette: Ghastly Entry-Level Luxury Design

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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vellum venom vignette ghastly entry level luxury design
Robert writes:

Have you seen a more ghastly DLO (daylight opening) fail than the new Avalon? (note the nicely highlighted black plastic sections in the photo sent by the OP- SM)

Sajeev answers:

Gather ’round the warm glow of your collective computer screens, let’s tell the tale of three Entry-Level Luxury Sedans of the year 2013 with very different DLOs. A tale with plastic triangles and fixed window panes told by me, but the ending lies at the end of the comment section.

Yes, the Avalon is pretty shameful. Note little chrome + black plastic triangle at the front of the doors, and how it has little “flow” with the top of the fender as it sweeps back to the A-pillar. But the huge plastic triangle (instead of a more logical pillar design) in the rear door; that’s a big problem.

When you make a roofline/C-pillar so long and “sweepy” (technical term, don’t try this at home) that the rear door needs a large black plastic triangle to make the window roll down, you’ve failed your DLO. Why do Entry-Level Luxury Cars suck so hard at the basics of car design?

But wait, it gets worse.

The new Lincoln MKZ, a vehicle from a brand trying to be significantly better than any Toyota, is distinctly worse in the realm of Entry-Level Luxury DLO FAIL. Why? Because it needs both the plastic triangles and fixed window panes to carry out “the look.”

Note the plastic triangle in the front, it’s a solid chrome bit that stands out far more than the Avalon. The B-pillar looks shorter/fatter/thicker relative to the rest of the body, and the rear door’s black plastic triangle area is not only large, it fights the natural, voluptuous curve of the door’s rear cutline into the quarter panel.

But that’s not enough to make it much worse than the Toyota Avalon. Behold, and click to expand:

There’s plenty of DLO fail, and yet there’s also a fixed window pane on the front door? If you’re gonna artificially extend the DLO to need a FAIL point, don’t have both a plastic triangle and a hunk of glass! To think of the money spent just to make this poseur-luxury stuff…when you could have…

Wait for it…

Indeed. The superior DLO of the 2013 Lexus ES. When Entry-Level Luxury is done right, you get one of the most popular, most appealing examples of the bunch. No stupid plastic triangles, black or chrome. And because that roof line is super sleek (too sleek, but that’s another story) Lexus spent the money to have a fixed piece of glass on the rear door. The way we’ve done car design for decades…before it was okay to mask our problems with rapid prototype’d plastic triangles.

Note to Entry-Level Lexus wannabes from all around the world: don’t cut corners in such obvious places and you might topple The King.

But still…I still yearn for a car with no triangles, no fixed window panes:

This is one of the most logical, most elegant DLOs in an Entry-Level Luxury car. Logical pillars with no plastic triangles, making elegant transitions into the door’s cut lines with the body. A roof line that doesn’t think it’s a Ferrari. And just to tell everyone else they can go suck a lemon, there’s a floating C-pillar completely encased in glass.

Replace that flying thing in the background with one of the Obama-drones and this could almost pass for a new car. What I wouldn’t give if Ford made the 1986 Sable instead of the 2013 MKZ.

And while it shared the roof and windshield (and the inner door structure) with the similarly incredible Taurus, this is how you make an Entry-Level Luxury sedan without resorting to the cheap triangles and fixed glass common in today’s badge engineered Luxury sedans.

“Out of the ordinary but not out of range” indeed.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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5 of 89 comments
  • 300zx_guy 300zx_guy on Mar 05, 2013

    I usually agree with Sajeev (aka Sanjeev), this time I have to go 50-50. First, where I agree: the triangles at the front door - they are so small, especially on the MKZ, that they don't need to be there at all. By adding the triangles, they call attention to the fact that they couldn't come up with an elegant design solution to get the exact look they wanted. Just round off the front edge of the door a little and it looks fine, plenty examples of that exist, Audi CUVs are one that jumps to mind. Worst front DLO-fail: the current Honda Civic. Where I disagree: I think the rear black triangles are not so offensive in these examples. I both the Avalon and MKZ, they are done in gloss black, similar to the b-pillars (I can't understand why so many cars use flat or textured plastic, that always looks horrible to me). If the blacked out b-pillars are ok as part of the DLO, its hard to argue that it is unacceptable for a small corner of the window. The alternative is to do a larger fixed piece of glass, which still adds a cutline to the greenhouse. As already discussed, the long, oddly shaped door of the ES may look pleasing, but creates some functional issues, so there's a tradeoff. Still, I do understand why, to a designer or anyone who appreciates good design, it is frustrating not to have a more elegant solution to these styling issues.

    • See 2 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Mar 06, 2013

      @300zx_guy Oh come on those little plastic numbers are PURE class. Everyone knows model name badges go at the top of the back door!

  • Swilliams41 Swilliams41 on Apr 01, 2013

    I hate it when the door line has that up sweep at the rear like the new Lexus ES. IMO the Avalon and the MKZ both have a nice profile because they do not suffer with this design element. It just looks awkward to me. Barf.

  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.
  • Jeff The car itself is in really good shape and it is worth the money. It has lots of life left in it and can easily go over 200k.
  • IBx1 Awww my first comment got deletedTake your “millennial anti theft device” trope and wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones keeping manuals around.
  • ToolGuy "Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC; Mercedes-Benz"• I bet I can tell you which is which.