By on August 9, 2017

2015 Nissan Juke, Image: Nissan

Today’s Question of the Day is the inverse of one I posited back in March of this year. At that time, we took your suggestions for current vehicle designs which you thought would stand the test of time.

It’s now time to cover the other side of the ugly coin; the vehicles on sale today which will become dated-looking quicker than all others.

Now, I hinted at one example of date-happy design in that original post: the new Land Rover Discovery. My opinion on that particular vehicle hasn’t changed, but the parameters used in suggesting the design won’t age well apply to our question today. Think about these trendy design cues:

  • Sloping roofs
  • Floating C-pillars
  • Increasingly egg-shaped designs
  • Overly fussy detailing
  • Gigantic grille openings

Here are a couple of nominations to start off this celebration of bad design.

Lexus NX
2015 Lexus NX200T

A prime example of all-round wrong. The subcompact CUV segment is flaming hot right now, and Lexus has pulled the NX down from an alien outpost somewhere and shoved it onto dealer lots. The NX has the aforementioned egg shape, is needlessly aggressive, and the grille is huge. All the exterior details have to be fussy, in an attempt to cover up the underlying egg-shaped elephant in the room.

And would you just look at that fat upper lip, hanging out over the front end. The styling is only acceptable at present because of the huge demand for CUVs. In a couple of years though, the NX will be the one of the first to look like old hat.

Nissan Maxima

Created by driving enthusiasts for driving enthusiasts, the dramatically styled 2016 Nissan Maxima looks like nothing else on the road today - and drives like nothing in the segment. The all-new Nissan flagship not only resets Maxima's iconic "4-Door Sports Car" positioning, it sets a new standard for style, performance and technology in the large sedan segment.

While the NX narrowly misses the floating roof treatment (the RX is not so lucky), the Maxima embraces it with open arms. The current generation debuted for 2016, and in theory is an attempt to capture the “4DSC” magic the Maxima had through the mid-1990s. But this sporting pursuit has edged the large front-wheel drive sedan into a styling corner.

Flame surfacing and high door sills are front and center, along with a gaping corporate grille, and (on this example) very fiddly wheel design. It’s just too much, and less is usually more when it comes to ageless designs.

What are your picks for the current vehicles most eager to date themselves? (No, not like that.)

[Images: Toyota, Nissan]

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79 Comments on “QOTD: What Current Vehicle Will Become Dated Most Quickly?...”


  • avatar
    arach

    2017 Accord. It already looks outdated, but as soon as the 2018 hits the market, the 2017s will look like they are from 1995.

    Actually, I take that back. The Chrysler Pacifica. I just looked at one. have you seen one? You’d never guess that car:
    1. Still exists
    2. It actually only came out last year.

    I know it was recognized for some cool stuff, but have you actually looked at it? Like seriously, google it, you won’t be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar

      What? The Pacifica is brand-new and a modern design. Are you sure you weren’t looking at pictures of the old crossover-wagon Pacifica from the mid-00’s?

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Modern? The headlights are old school reflective, the front end resembles the Pontiac trans Sport, and the back looks giant and bulbacious with awkward windows.

        there’s nothing “modern” about it.

        https://www.chrysler.com/mediaserver/iris?client=FCAUS&market=U&brand=C&vehicle=2017_RU&paint=PW7&fabric=&sa=RUCM53,2DK,25K,APA&pov=fronthero&width=560&height=auto&bkgnd=transparent&resp=png&x2000=&y2000=&w5000=&h=6349&width=300

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          Within the constraints of the class of minivan, Pacifica is about as nice looking as it can get.

          As far as the accord goes, I’d say the Civic’s even worse. The “H design language” just isn’t working.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          What is wrong with reflective lights? They light up the road just fine and light up road signs better than projectors.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      What is wrong with you? People will remember ’17 Accord like, “remember when Accord was good a car?”

    • 0 avatar

      Funny… I think the 94-97 Accords are among the best designs from Honda and still look contemporary. The 2003-2012s? Not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Agreed.

        Also, Accord has had pretty much the same look since 1990. Its been updated over the years, but the resemblance is uncanny. Only in the years you mentioned to avoid did they stray too far from the formula.

        The Accord looks tasteful, a little classy and a bit conservative, as (almost) always. It won’t age quickly.

        Toyota’s 8,000 ribs on the front end, yeah, those will only get uglier as time goes on. They can’t help but make ugly, I mean has the Prius aged well? Hell no. Not since their more conservative designs in the 1990s have they had a lasting quality to their styling. Seems that the Echo started the ugly train that took out every Toyota it could find thereafter.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      Chevrolet Sonic already looks like a 20 year old car….

      What about cars that kept looking modern ? The original Range Rover looked more modern than its replacement. The Rover SD1 took about 15 years to look “current”.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep Renegade. Looks like a Tonka toy made from modeling clay that some six-year-old with a death grip has already played with.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I don’t know – square-ish vehicles seem to age better. The 90s/00s Landcruiser or 4Runner or Cherokee, for example, still look good to my eye.

      Whether the Renegade will hold up the same way is, of course, debatable.

    • 0 avatar

      The Renegade was a contender for suggestion in the article. It’s full of cliche retro aspects, both in styling and brand references.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        Renegades go from ok to sloppy pretty fast depending on the number of decals and red tow attachment points. Hard to disagree that it will be dated in a way that many of the ‘box’ vehicles avoid.

    • 0 avatar
      dmoan

      I concur i actually will vote for Renegade, Cherokee and Lexus NX (i got a good deal on but avoided it because of looks).

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The Renegade is one of those less likely to look dated. Why? Because it IS different. When you look at every one of Jeep’s other vehicles, especially the current Compass and Grand Cherokee, they simply look too much alike. Their only obvious differences are in their size. (The Cherokee itself escapes this somewhat with a more progressive front clip that I honestly like better than the GC or Compass.)

      Then you look at Ford; nearly every one of their vehicles is identical to the next larger vehicle with the exception of the Flex. Their CUVs all look alike, their trucks all look alike and their cars all look alike.

      GM is a little better but it’s still hard to recognize a Malibu from a Volt, much less their other models.

      FCA in general? They have an advantage with such a small selection overall. Each car is absolutely unique. The 300 and the Charger, even though they share the same body, have unique front and rear clips that clearly differentiates one from the other. The Challenger is all by itself, no shared body, and even their minivans are different enough to be recognizable at a glance.

      Toyotas? I can’t tell one from the other any more. Even their trucks suffer from this as the Tacoma and Tundra both share extremely similar noses. Lexus? Again, I can’t tell one from the other. Nissan, Kia, Hyundai… And don’t even mention the Europeans. The most identifiable cars tend to be the Fiats and the Minis (by BMW). Were it not for shared grill features within their brands, I would have difficulty knowing one brand from another for all the rest. Oh, and that hideous G350 Merc… The first time I saw one I thought it was a modified Jeep Wrangler. So much was shared from their Daimler time together that they were virtual twins until you got close enough to see the back door (as compared to pop-up window and half-door) and the more basic and boring grill. You want dated, THAT thing is dated!

      The Wrangler itself? Very unique, which is what the Renegade plays off of. We’re now working on a 10th year with the JK and it still looks reasonably fresh while the changes being made to the new JL version don’t appear, as yet, to be all that drastic or noticeable until you put the JK and JL beside each other. But then, Volkswagen got by for almost 40 years with very few obvious changes between year models.

      The point is that they’re all dated except for the distinctive few because they all look alike. If you can’t tell one from another, what good is having a different model within the same brand? If you can’t tell one brand from another, what good is having multiple brands? Guys, let’s get some individuality back into our cars!

  • avatar

    I think the current cars with very “fussy” styling are going to age badly. I’m looking at you, Honda Civic and Toyota C-HR. There’s just too much going on visually with these designs, and I foresee a backlash in a couple years to cleaner, neater styling.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      Ugh…I saw a C-HR in person a couple weeks ago. It actually makes the Civic’s styling look somewhat restrained.

      • 0 avatar
        SteveMar

        The current Civic is a prime example of how styling has gotten out of control. Honda used to make classic simple designs that had a timeless quality – early generation Civics, Accords and Preludes all had clean designs that aged well without a lot of gimmicks. Not so with the current Civic. Maybe they felt the need to compensate for the boring previous generation. However, put the current model against earlier generations and it’s just comical. Wheel arches, sloping pillars, oddly shaped exhaust outlets, trim pieces – it’s screaming look at me. And it’s a dang mass-market compact car. Why, Honda, why?!

    • 0 avatar
      Tennessee_Speed

      I second the problems with the latest Civic model. Actually the side view is quite pleasing to me, the front – not as much; but the tail lights – horrible. the tail lights ruin the car. I wouldn’t buy it for that reason only.

  • avatar

    When I see some of the busy styling on today’s cars, it makes me think of the busy/overwrought styling from the late 50’s and early 60’s. To my eye at least, designs that are simpler and cleaner are better and end up being less dated.

  • avatar
    stars9texashockey

    The current Prius.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Cars that already look dated are: CR-V, Odyssey, Sienna; almost any MB, Audi and BMW. Jeeps. But Maxima? It is great-looking machine. I wish they had one with MT.

  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    And the Renegade’s X motif tail lights look like a cat’s anus. Once you notice that, it’s all you notice.

  • avatar
    q532

    Anything currently on sale from Volkswagen. None of them have an ounc of style, besides the current CC and Toureg. The interiors will age especially bad..they’re so bland.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I disagree. I think their simple lines and demur styling features will age as well as the Volvos and MBs from the 80s.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Agree with Dave M – VW angled designs are timeless. Its the rounded cars that look old. We have some dude here with Gen4 Jetta. That thing could of been made today as far as design goes

        • 0 avatar
          q532

          I guess I’m basing my opinion on the current gen Jetta, Passat, Beattle, and the new Atlas. Some of Volkswagen’s cars just blend in to their surroundings, and in 5-10 years we’ll forget about them.

          • 0 avatar
            pinkslip

            I think you’re looking at this question backwards. The more subtle designs will age better than the out-there highly stylized models. You might not notice a 10 year old VW, but that means it has more timeless styling than, say, an NX200T.

            Basically, what is the thick beard and man-bun of the auto industry right now?

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Bland, anonymous, and forgettable are not the same as “dated.”

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            VW Jetta and Passat are on the level of great anonymous cars to use in committing a crime.

            “What was the perp driving?”

            “Ummmmmmm… it was a car.”

          • 0 avatar
            q532

            @pinkslip I guess looks are subjective, and I pointed out Volkswagen because even now their newer cars, i.e. the Tiguan, look outdated already. If we were talking about individual cars from different brands, the ones I think would age the worst are those FWD cars with that weird kink and swoop in the front fender. Example, Nissan Altima, Nissan Murano, Acura RLX, and the Toyota C-HR.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      VWs age very well, looks-wise anyway. Except for the Cc.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Someone (a member of the B&B, although I can’t recall whom) once said that VW’s look dated when new, but stylish in 5-10 years. Other cars look stylish when new, but dated in 5-10 years. I am paraphrasing, but I believe the sentiment is the same.

      I like the styling of the Atlas, the Jetta and Golf usually look just fine.

      Beetle is a chick car I wonder how/why it is still for sale. Seems like its “Best By” date was about 2004. It never should’ve been given a second generation, or at least if it had, it should have been much sooner.

      I am not a fan of the Aston grille in particular, but I think the current (inc. pre- and post-refresh) Fusion is a most VW-like car. Its not overdone like the Maxima, but it is good looking. Its understated and clean, not brash and messy.

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      VW car design seems very nicely refined to me.

  • avatar
    sheady

    I think the new Ford GT is already dated. Could partially be that Ford revealed it way too early and I saw it at the Chicago Auto Show multiple years in a row, but I think the wing looks >5years old already. The rest of the car’s design is just cold and void of personality, purely a functional design.

  • avatar
    ajla

    E-Pace.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Morgan 3 Wheeler or Plus 4.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I kind of think the last gen Sonata already looks somewhat dated, but that’s just me.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I actually like the Maxima’s looks.

    I think a lot of what Toyota and Lexus are doing will not age well at all.

    I think the grill is disproportionately large on a lot of current Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Like a dog snout. Their sedans/wagons all look nice, but the SUVs (excepting the GLS and G-Class) all are good examples of what I mean…especially the GLA.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I don’t hate the current Maxima (better than the previous two generations), it reminds me of the over-styled Nissan/Datsuns of the 70s. Its busy and excessive, yes, and there are better looking cars without a doubt. I like it for these reasons.

      It totally looks like a modern version of something like the Datsun 610 and 710. They were busy and had more style than substance, something the Maxima shares.

      I know the 810 was the Maxima’s direct relative, but it was clean and conservative compared to earlier Datsun cars. The Maxima continued that, almost to the point of becoming stodgy, until it found its mojo in the later 1980s, the 4DSC era.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This calls back to the QOTD about “what will replace the CUV” – as soon as someone figures that out almost everything we’re currently driving will look as terribly dated as the “Walter P. Chrysler” special edition Town and Country sitting in my staff parking lot.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    I nominate the Lexus RC & IS lines. To me, the styling was a tad overwrought from day 1. The Spindle grill isn’t so bad, but the swoopy character lines & lighting, along with fakey venting borders on gimmickry. That said, I wouldn’t kick one out of my garage. I also wonder how GM’s “Arts & Science” styling will age over the years. I think ANY extreme styling/design language runs the risk of not aging well.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    Anything from Cadillac. As I stroll through everyone’s comments is plain to see we all have different opinions.

    MB current egg/oval design language will not age well. Ovals and Eggs are a bad design staits to use.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      I agree. The softening of the MB design language will be one of those “What were they thinking?” moments in the brand’s history. Like when Jaguar/Ford put the square headlights on the late-eighties XJ6, or Porsche butchered the 996 with the runny egg headlights.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    BMW X6 and X4

    A bad idea that cant go away soon enough.

  • avatar
    scott25

    I’ll just go with the same trends as the last 25 years, IE any Mercedes and anything Korean. Also nominate almost anything made by GM since they already look cheap and outdated.

    Most of the vehicles that adhere to the styling trends you listed will be “dated in a good way”, you can look at an RX and say “that’s so 2016” the same way an X90 is 1996 embodied.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I wouldn’t say anything Korean, given that they mimic so many clean German designs (and even poaching designers from Audi and BMW). The swoopy Hyundais, perhaps, but the previous model still looks good. Kias will age well.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What about Veloster?

  • avatar
    John

    Any car with:
    a) “aggressive” styling

    and

    b) a huge, phony black plastic grille

    Will look as dated as a teal, egg-shaped Taurus twelve years hence

  • avatar
    Garak

    Renault Twingo is aging horribly, it’s such a doofy-looking lump. Same goes for its Smart siblings. The things look like they’d belong in an Apple store circa 2005.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Cadillac’s first crack at Art & Science (first-gen CTS; ’00s STS) is a great example of styling that was striking but aged horribly. Their second attempt (second-gen CTS, second-gen SRX) was much better, and I think their current iteration (CT6, XT5) has finally hit the right balance of classy, upscale, and “will age well.” For the record, I think the ATS has been aging remarkably well.

    That said, I think Lexus is where Cadillac was in 2003 with their styling. Striking designs that need a LOT of refinement in the next few rounds to look ‘right.’ I think the IS and NX are already aging very poorly — especially in that bronze color pictured above. Meanwhile, I think the now-ancient first-gen IS / Altezza has aged brilliantly. Still looks modern, especially in gray for some reason.

    I wonder if aged-looked styling will affect the current crop of Lexi’s resale values down the line, especially once they get to their third owners and start to get clapped out (although I suppose an advantage to their current design language is that it hides dents easily in its creases)

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree with the first gen CTS, but what I think makes them seem so dated is how ragged they appear today. The interiors especially didn’t wear well. This has a lot to do with the owner demographic. While they certainly weren’t the pinnacle of reliability, many did make it onto BHPH lots and into the hands of 4th and 5th owners. The German makes have a pretty good grasp on how to keep their wares out of the hands of poor people.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        By making German vehicles impossible to maintain by the owner, ridiculously expensive to fix, and prone to mechanical problems? I guess that’s worked for them the way it used to work for the British.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I have a theory on this. Car makers will sometimes hit upon a great design that ages badly because everyone else copies it and/ or it’s a great marketing sucess. For me the original Ford Focus is a great example of this.

    So in Land Rovers case they could have stuck with a boxy design for the Disco. That could have actually been on trend and shortened the life cycle of the car as it became too familiar but sold heavily at first. Alternatively it might have been seen to be off trend and given Land Rover reasonable sales over a longer amount of time.

    The trick is to design a car that’s very slightly ahead of its time so that sales strengthen and longetivity is assured.

    In my view Land Rover are on the money with the new Disco. It’s selling much better than the old model ever did and it’s created room for a boxy model in the next Defender.

  • avatar
    dmoan

    Some times newer generation often makes one long for older model; for example the new Mdx styling is so conservative that is hard to distinguish it from Sorento, QX60 etc Makes me long for the older Mdx with beak which was definitely tamed compared to its car brotheren and made it stand out in overcrowded space.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Retro tends to date rapidly. The 2002 Thunderbird, the New Beetle, PT Cruiser, the 2010 Camaro, even the current Mustang. The Challenger has managed to keep things interesting enough to keep the sales pace up, but will eventually need some new sheet metal design to keep the average buyer interested. The problem with retro is, how do you successfully follow up?

    • 0 avatar

      SSR!
      Jag S-Type!

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      The 2002 Thunderbird, New Beetle, PT Cruiser still look good to me. Even though they were retro, they seemed to be especially well done. I still think about getting a 2004 Thunderbird Pacific Coast Roadster.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’d rather have a ’57 Thunderbird over an ’02 model; the designers only copied one of the old version’s features well while including some ’56 Corvette lines… which killed the concept.

        I’m really looking forward to EVs becoming more popular, though. Imagine being able to develop real, unique styling cues again without having to worry so much about fuel mileage. Aerodynamic is good but you lose personality as a result. There are ways to offer personality while keeping most of the aerodynamics. The designers, however, are going about it all wrong.

  • avatar
    smapdi

    Here is something I couldn’t have predicted I would say. The Isuzu Vehicross is STILL a very attractive design to me. I still want one. I wanted one when I was in High School, and I want one in my 30s now… A fairly radical design for the time but still looks great (maybe it is because of its scarcity?). I put the Vehicross as the survivor of the trio of “MAKE THAT CONCEPT NOW! never mind we don’t want it anymore” that were the X90, Aztek and Vehicross.


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