By on May 23, 2019

Image: Ford

The other day, we talked up the things that annoy us about the cars we own; today, we delve into minor annoyances seen only in a few fleeting seconds. The model you don’t own, but are forced to live with on the roadway. Perhaps you’ve never even driven one.

While those other drivers may have a laundry list of gripes with their vehicle, it’s likely of no concern to you. You didn’t drop money on it. You’re just observing from afar — and not liking what you see. 

Specifically, we’re talking styling gripes. Everyone’s a critic, and automotive design teams have provided each of us with a buffet of decisions worthy of criticism.

It doesn’t have to be big — just something that annoys you each and every time you see the offending car.

For the record, this writer takes no issue with the styling of Ford’s Ranger pickup. It’s quite attractive. No, in this case, a new addition to the crossover landscape is a prime candidate for scorn: the BMW X2. A number of drivers in the snooty neighborhood to the north have decided this subcompact CUV is just the thing to advertise their inclusion in the six-figure club.

And boy, does it advertise.

In addition to the usual propeller badges adorning the front fascia, liftgate, and each wheel, for some reason Bimmer decided to slap a couple more on the C-pillars. From afar, they look like the world’s smallest opera window. Up close, it’s an overload of badging. It seems the brand’s entry-level crossover is insecure, requiring it to loudly proclaim its German pedigree. How gauche.

All right, B&B, what model currently on the market is worthy of a little design denigration?

[Images: Ford, BMW]

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187 Comments on “QOTD: What Styling Quirk Gets Under Your Skin?...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    any vehicle where the turn signals or parts of the grille form “eyebrows” over the headlamps. don’t know why, but they’re almost universally ugly to me.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Fake vents, especially the fake fender vents. They serve no purpose, can ruin the flow of a car, and mostly look tacked on at the last minute.
    One of the worst offenders was the Ford Focus around 10 years ago. They had that mid-cycle refresh and stuck on the worst looking chrome fake fender vents ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ^^This, just a couple on the side are bad enough, but now fake vents are everywhere on the car

      After fake vents fake skid plates on crossovers bother me almost as much. Silver painted plastic will not protect your underbelly from anything

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Yeah the 2008 Focus with its chrome fender vent, god what garish crap. Mercifully removed in 2009 iirc. Lutz did a bunch of tacky chrome additions across the GM lineup, and talks about it in his book with pride. I always imagine Lutz as the old timer with all the chrome trim and diamond-plate mudflaps on his truck lol

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        ……. Toyota Tacoma / 4 Runner fake hood-scoop.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Honestly vastly less infuriating to me, much like Challenger fake hood scoops, or older Subies with big scoops and no turbo/intercooler. Looks well integrated and purposeful and kind of fun. Chrome-trimmed side vents on a Focus? Eye-searing.

          • 0 avatar
            MrIcky

            Just thought I’d point out- the scoops are functional on higher level challengers. Mostly for cooling…but thought it may matter to someone.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          @CaddyDaddy If you read the ToyotaNation and TacomaWorld forums, owners swapping scooped and non-scooped hoods between trucks was a thing for awhile. I test drove a TRD Sport (with scoop) before I bought my PreRunner (non-scoop), and I didn’t like the scoop, because it blocked my vision in some areas.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t understand why Kia gave me functional nose and fender vents with the Stinger but also tacked on super cheesy & totally fake hood vents.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      I would add the immense grills on the front of just about everything (even VW now, one of the last holdouts), which are for the most part equally fake.

  • avatar

    Rear door line swooping up killing the rear greenhouse. See the Colorado as an example.

    • 0 avatar
      RangerM

      I find a visible outline of the doors along the roof as a bigger deal. Look at the doors of a Dodge Caliber and notice the visible line where the door meets the roof. Ugly.

      They used to make the door frames black so the gap wasn’t visible. Better than having a painted frame and visible gap.

      OR, it’s better (IMO) when the door curves into the roofline so the gap is on top and not visible from the side. My 1993 Ranger did this.

    • 0 avatar
      kyjosu

      The Colorado is a minor offender. The new Mazda3 hatch is egregious.

  • avatar
    gtem

    fake vents hacked into bumpers, “flame surfacing” and busy sheetmetal creasing in general, modern directional alloy wheels and/or black painted wheels. Basically all of Toyota’s and Honda’s current styling: tasteless trash.

  • avatar
    retrocrank

    Cars and pickemups have gotten fat and aggressive looking out of proportion to the reality, just like Murkins in general. While there were some notable bloatmobiles (’58 Buick wins that prize in my opinion), a lot of cars used to be lean and trim, even if the styling sometimes was questionable, and trucks looked like they were meant for work, because they were.

    Where is the neatness of a first gen Mustang, an early 60s Tempest, the original Beetle, the chrome bumpered MGB, any 60’s International Scout, or a 70’s C10 pickup?

    This deviation from sensible is just one sign that soon the aliens will soon come to reap their harvest….

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Audi’s “moving”LED turn signals. They are as tacky as can be.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I think they would look better if US regulations didn’t require the entire light assembly to flash as well. I thought I read that the “Dynamic LED Turn Signal” was something like a millimeter or two too narrow so they had to use the entire unit as a signal. It just looks odd now.
      Looks like Toyota didn’t have that issue copying Audi with the new Avalon.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s because of outdated regulations which were never updated. IIRC it dates back to the ’66 Thunderbird; in order to get the sequential turn signals approved by the .gov, each element of the turn signal had to be large enough to be compliant on its own in case the (electromechanical) sequencer box failed. Which it did, quite often. The current Mustang doesn’t have a problem because each of the three “bars” of the tail lamp is big enough to meet the requirement for a turn indicator.

        Audi’s is a strip of LEDs, and since an individual LED is too small to meet the requirement, they had to flash a larger element along with the sequential strip to be compliant. the regulation is way out of date since mechanical sequencers are long gone, but it’s not really a pressing issue for anyone.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Interesting…also I never thought those sequencers used in the 60’s were mechanically operated…looks like a cake job with some transistors…

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I don’t remember ever seeing an old Thunderbird with both signals working correctly. They were a big problem

          • 0 avatar
            cbrworm

            Transistors were practically mechanical at that point. Not really, but they were still kind of magical and confusing at that point.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            it was a cam wheel driven by an electric motor, operating reed switches for each turn signal segment. the solid-state sequencer came in for 1971, I believe.

            https://www.vintagethunderbirdclub.net/phpBB3/image-archive/i47.photobucket.com/albums/f200/redstangbob/IMG_0307-1.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            My first car was a 1968 Thunderbird, way past 1968.

            My friends in high school thought the sequential turn signals were super cool when they worked – which they rarely did.

            JimZ, thank you for the link to the cam and switch mechanism. The unit was laid out in such a way that the motor saw an increasing load from the pressure of the second and third switch springs *at exactly the same time* that it was receiving lower supply voltage due to the heinous amperage draw of the incandescent bulbs it was energizing – sort of cutting its own oxygen supply while climbing an increasingly steep mountain.

            So the failure mode was – motor turns cheerily, engages first switch and first lighting element, slows slightly and engages second switch, sees additional voltage drop, and never makes it past the third switch/lighting element. Just a horrible design. (Sort of works when brand-new, doesn’t hold up in real life – sound familiar?)

            Even as a high-schooler I had enough experience with electrical stuff to realize that even if you were stuck with the mechanical actuator, the mechanism could’ve been designed a lot better (using normally-closed vs. normally-open switches, for example) to balance out the friction and spring loads with the varying current draw (analogous to workload leveling).

            That turn signal actuator, combined with the miserably poor design of the driver door armrest/inside door handle made quite an impression – I never bought another Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I actually dig the “moving” turn signals on Audis and Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        On Mustangs, I agree.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I saw some recently that disappear in a directional manner versus appear. When the signals are active it first lights up the full light and then the LEDs disappear until they get to the outside edge. The vehicle was a Lexus, or possibly an Avalon; I can’t quite recall.

        I thought it was an interesting solution to the problem, while allowing a bit of creativity in the design.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Especially on ones where there’s a part that “moves” and a part that just blinks (Audis). SMH.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Not model specific, but exposed single-outlet exhausts bother me. Just for the sake of symmetry I prefer dual-outlet or hidden behind the bumper.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Is that like dual exhausts where only one is real and the other fake?

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      The worst offender of this is the Ford Expedition. The muffler just hangs out the back and looks like it was 100% designed and making its way down the assembly line when someone finally noticed they didn’t design the muffler and they had to stick it on at the very last second.

      https://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/10/2017/11/2017-ford-expedition-xlt-suv-rear-view.png

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Or like the Civic Si, with a trapezoidal outlet in the center.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      It bugs me when there are dual exhausts on a car that only gets an inline engine (exception: something like double-triple headers- then drool). Even if they’re both functional with a y pipe or something.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “It bugs me when there are dual exhausts on a car that only gets an inline engine ”

        Hmmmmmmmmmm.

        One of my fellow AF retirees brought back with him from Germany a BMW 735L with dual exhausts, and there ain’t nuttin’ wrong with that I-6.

        Except maybe being old, a little smoky, a little thirsty for motor oil and Premium gasoline, and awfully hard to gets parts for.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    The shrinking greenhouse is annoying in general, but the vestigial rear quarter windows on the current GMC Terrain (thanks to the faux tail fins) might as well just get covered up, and painted with a sweet nonsensical mural with wizards or something, rather than be 90% of a blind spot.

  • avatar
    John R

    Brand new European luxury cars/SUVs…with halogen headlamps.

    Why is this happening? TO ME it looks like the person is just trying too hard. Just buy the Japanese/Korean product for the same money and get more for your dollar.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    Toyota ch-r is one of the worst styling offenders I’ve ever seen.

    Way too many body lines. I imagine it’s a nightmare to work on when it comes to collision repair.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Rear seats that don’t fold COMPLETELY flat.

    Wait. Styling?

    I’m still going with rear seats that don’t fold completely flat!

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Anything not cohesive with the car’s overall design.

    Bonelines that aren’t parallel with anything else and have no defined start or end, stupid creases and twists that make no sense or harmony, and abrupt lines that “slow” the look of the car, where you can’t run your eyes clean across the car without stopping at a stupid C- or Z-shaped taillight.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      I concur with you “IBx1”, plus…….Toyota grilles

      Cheesy, cheap black plastic “milk crate” grilles.
      Cheesy, cheap black plastic cladding and w/o moldings on literally ALL SUV’s and CUV’s, even expensive ones.

      We own a 2015 RX350, wonderful car, but would never replace it with another simply because of the overall styling.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The big gaping maw that stands in for a tasteful grill. I blame Audi for this when they started this decades ago and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Hasn’t hit the Challenger or Mustang yet, thankfully.

    All the over the top vents and boy racer design cues, designed by a 9 year old stuff Toyota and others are doing now is also stupid. If you want it to look like a race car, make it look like a race car, not something from the JC Whitney catalog.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    The idiotic gaping maw applied to all of the current Lexus models. The designers were either using lots of dope, bad dope, or needed more dope when they came up with this travesty.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Agreed. Lexus is one brand where the styling is so bad that I don’t care about any of the other goodness baked in. The creator of this had to have a Predator fixation.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I can’t understand how a brand…Toyota/Lexus… who for decades designed simple, conservative, plain, boring if you will cars………suddenly did a complete 180 and has adopted the “boy racer” styling?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Toyota got called out for being too boring (because they got rid of all of their fun cars like the Supra/MR2/Celica/Corolla FX-16/GT-S) and in response they decided to prove everyone wrong by adding “exciting/sporty” styling across the board. Instead we now have Toyota sedans and CUVs that are hideous and ride worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I got my IS300 *despite* the front end. Between the ugly grille and Nike swooshes it’s almost embarrassing. I really like the rest of the car’s styling, especially the rear half. I have considered fabricating a plastic bar to put across the grille to join the two halves. My awful photoshop made it look 1000 time better.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        LOL I recognize your philosophy in my relationship to my ’16 Prius. Beneath the sheet metal costume lies an amazing machine. I have learned a sort of an affection for the exterior in a way I suppose owners of really ugly dogs have for for their dogs. Styling is nowhere near the top of my priorities in a vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      One of the few cars out there where a body kit could improve it.

  • avatar
    A Scientist

    BMW figured out that their current buye…..excuse me, current lessees only care about showing off those roundels and literally nothing else. So it makes sense that they would start stamping them all over their cars, while paying no attention to the things that used to make a BMW….well, a BMW.

    I agree with others about the fake vents, and especially the “body creases everywhere” trend that, thankfully, seems to be finally petering out some.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The X2 C pillar roundel is in homage to the E9 coupes that shared the same styling feature. The E9 was the sporty variant of the E3 sedan, and the X2 is the sporty variant of the boxy X1. Since Steph is apparently unaware of this historic footnote, I can imagine is resonates similarly among most BMW lessees today.

  • avatar
    Corsa66

    Any Kia with the rear turn signals mounted low in the bumper away from all the other lighting. Besides being annoying it is harder to see.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    It’s not a styling quirk per se, I understand it is due to safety for us and pedestrians, but I hate the high beltlines and small windows of every modern sedan, as well as the front of sedans looking like trucks. I much preferred when cars were sleek and had low hoods. and windows. and dashboards.

    I also don’t like the iPad sticking out of the dash look that is so common now.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Audi gets the blame for slapping a tablet on the dash. “Regular” cars were actually integrating the touchscreen. Along comes a “luxury” brand, doing something cheesy, and everyone had to follow. Sad.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I don’t love the look of a screen stuck on top, but I do like the functionality of it. Of course, I would rather simply not have a screen at all. My BMW can do everything I would ever need a car stereo to do with 2 lines of text, a row of buttons and two knobs. My phone works adequately as a navigation screen.

        But if you have to have one, the iPad on the dash of my Fiata is better placed than the screen in the center console of my GTI. Though as mentioned in the other post – it infuriates me that they didn’t point it towards the driver a bit in the Fiata.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      At least some makes try some attempt at making them look integrated. (The Accord is an example, at the risk of showing some bias. They could probably do a little better at it by placing it a little lower in the dash. The 9th-Gen got it partially right, but they should have finished the area on the left side off—I’ve had a couple people ask about the odd appearance of the dash in my 2013.) Benzes, some Kias, and Audis are the worst, because the entire screen looks like a tablet that could just be yanked from the dash as a unit!

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Those black plastic placeholders on lower trim levels where fog lights should be. My God I hate that empty space right in the most obvious and eye drawing space on a vehicle. Every automaker should suck up the $100-$200 cost and just put fog lights on EVERY vehicle and make their more basic models look much better and in the process elevate the model in the eyes of the buying public in general as each example on the street is a rolling advertisement. Essentially, dont do things on purpose that make the car look stupid just to get people to pony up more cash for higher trims, like tiny wheels with tacky covers, etc.

    Even a chrome design or something, just not that blank black plastic.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      I agree the aesthetics are sorely lacking, but in some modern vehicles these plastic “placeholders” are actually covers for the adaptive cruise control radar waveguides and do serve a function. Although some chrome or other treatment would be more visually appealing than matte black plastic, that would likely reflect/scatter/distort the RF signal and negatively impact the operation of the system.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I have never so enthusiastically agreed with so many comments. The greenhouse issue is the worst for me, but….so many great critiques in this thread.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Whoever came up with the floating roof, ala Nissan Maxima, needs to be banished to styling ballistic missiles in North Korea.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The excess of plastic chrome, the Billy Bass grills, the Kenworth sized grills on the pickups, the enlarged names on the grills of the pickups that you can see a mile away, the swooped rear doors and windows on the crew cab pickups, the slit windows on most cars, and the excessive curves and creases on vehicles that do not flow with the design. Less is better and function over form is better. Miss the simple lines of the past pickups and the timeless and clean design of the 1961 thru 1969 Lincoln Continental. If the design is good it doesn’t need any extra embellishments and it will be timeless. Another example of a timeless design is the 1956 Continental Mark II.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Plastic-chrome on the exterior and interior of cars. I like chromed steel bumpers, I like metal brightwork around windows, and chrome door pulls and shifter buttons are A-okay. but the Lutz-style slathering of plasti-chrome on across the inside and outside of various GMs of the late 2000s as a way to make the cars feel more “expensive” is just plain awful. The guy has horrible taste IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      +1.

      But I don’t like the brightwork window surrounds. Should be black. Door handles should be body color as should grills.

      You are spot on about GM (and others). Their use of chrome is unfortunate and in my eyes has the opposite effect of what they intended.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @gtem–Agree. Less is better and anything extra is usually garish.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    1) “The shrinking greenhouse” to repeat what other posters have said. It is now to the point that I will no longer purchase a sedan. Just too darned difficult to get into and out of.
    2) Rear seats that don’t fold flat. Also mentioned by others. Applies to CUV’s, SUV’s, hatches and sedans. Just how hard is this to design?
    3) The Lexus Grille. Another repeated complaint. Ugly.
    4) The ‘laptop’ tacked onto the middle of the instrument panel. Are you driving a car or playing a video game?
    5) No dials for the ‘radio’ and HVAC system. Touch screens are unsafe. Some are too hard to read in the daylight.
    6) Daylight running lights that also illuminate the instrument panel. Every single night/evening, I see at least one incompetent driver, driving without their headlights/rear lights turned on and just their ‘running lights’ in total ignorance, largely because their instrument panel is lit.
    6) The lack of ‘gutter strips’ over the top of car windows. They were standard on up market cars for decades and an option on others. Prevented rain and snow from falling into the passenger compartment when you opened the door. Without them, I am constantly having to wipe down the inner door panel as rain/snow falls onto the door lock/window/mirror controls. And snow falls onto the seat.
    8) The ride height of modern full sized pick-ups. I had one as a rental for most of last week. Getting into the seat was bothersome, particularly after a full day of hauling furniture/garbage/soil. And it bothered me even more as the week progressed. Getting into and out of the truck’s bed was even worse. So bad that we ended up carrying around step stools to get into and out of the darned thing. Why were trucks for over a century able to operate without this exaggerated ride height?

    End of this rant.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Good list Arthur.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I forgot about the gutter strips. I remember being shocked and appalled (and wet) when I got my first car that didn’t have them.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I hear you about the truck thing. It’s quite comical to watch older woman struggle to lift themselves up in these monster sized high riding Rams and F-150’s at my work. I just have to wonder why. They literally use them to drive to work and the store.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I’ll give a thumbs-up to that list too, Arthur. Though I might except that ‘laptop’ and dials. Those two are too dependent on the model and some are much better than others.

    • 0 avatar
      nwfmike

      I consider myself in the top 1% of competent drivers, but you know what? When I leave for work at 5am and sometimes distracted by what is upcoming for the busy morning, I forget to turn my lights on.

      So why not just turn them on when you first go? Because, I have to back down a very steep driveway and turning on full blaze lights while in the garage significantly reduces my night vision. So..back down, put in drive..crap, a stray thought and off we go.

      The problem is not just the instrument panel, it’s that the ‘running lights’ are also pretty competent for roads that are lit. So competent in fact, that one of the guards asked me while driving on base, “Can you possibly turn off your running lights? They are very bright” I said, “sorry, wish I could”. When I turn on my driving lights, I really see very little difference on the road.

      After kicking myself a few times for being “incompetent”, I think I have my muscle memory trained to switch on the lights regardless of how busy my morning is going to be.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        You have to turn your headlights on? My car just knows and does it for me.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        A major problem is that many vehicles don’t have rear ‘daylight running lights’. Which means that when the full lighting system is not turned on at night/in a fog that it definitely can create a safety hazard.

        As per @brn, GM kind of figured out a solution decades ago with their automatic lights.

  • avatar
    detlump

    Ah – so many!

    1) Those fixed pieces of side glass in doors that don’t move.
    2) LED DRLs. Used to be novel but now just too much. DRLs should be more concentrated in a mass, not spread out over a thin line – such as LED fog lamps.
    3) Lack of body side moldings – designers hate them (I asked some) but they are practical if properly positioned.
    4) Black rims – when a 15 year old Chrysler minivan is running around with black rims, it is over.
    5) Super-expensive headlight and taillight assemblies crammed with sensors and expensive tech.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The height of pickups is why there is a large market for running boards. Who would have ever guessed when running boards were eliminated from cars that they would make a come back and that people would pay extra for running boards.

    Who would also have guessed that folding steps would be necessary to reach the bed of a typical pickup.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Oversized emblems. Why? They look like crap

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Do you know what kind of car I drive? If you don’t, you’re blind

      Just showing off

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      So you can identify a RAM pickup from space.
      ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      THIS!!
      And worse, even shaping the styling and sheet metal to accommodate them. Recent generation Camrys, here’s looking at you.
      Huge corporate trademark badges are pompous corporate ego tripping.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Even worse are those awful, tasteless illuminated tristar emblems on entry-level Mercedes grilles.

      Although cynical, I guess the MB marketing department understands that the $30k millionaires who buy (sorry, I meant lease) these 200HP FWD marvels of German engineering have a meticulously curated image which MUST be maintained at all times, even under the inky-black skies at 0300! (But who exactly are they REALLY trying to convince? Sad.)

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I’m no great fan of the X2 but I like the propeller badges on the C-pillars. The legendary E9 had them placed there.

    The “floating roof” trend on some of the new Nissan cars and the new Aston Martins can be visually assaulting. The floating roof on 59-60 GM 4-door hardtops was quite attractive and fitting for the space age era.

    As far as ergonomics is concerned just give me good old knobs, buttons and a clear set of gauges. Having a Best Buy display on the middle of your dashboard can be confusing.

  • avatar
    oldirtybootz

    Shark fin D-pillar. When did every automaker get together and decide that this would be the latest industry wide trend?

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Overly styled front ends whether the result is too angry or too busy

  • avatar
    Mackie

    Black plastic where window glass should be. It always looks cheap.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I have my grievances, and you’re going to hear about them!

    Bumper mounted turn signals.
    LED strips around headlights, especially the designs when they first came out.
    Black rims on blue cars make a car look like a bruise.
    Jewel headlights are ridiculous.

  • avatar
    macnab

    “Continental kits” from the ’50s that put a wheel on top of the back bumper. I don’t think car companies ever did this – just JC Whitney crap – but there were hundreds of them rolling around where I grew up.

    Fake convertible tops on Lincoln and Cad sedans in the ’90s that had a piece of the canvas “convertible top” stuck on the top of the door frames.

    Body creases that make it look like the front springs are sagging. The cars don’t look level even though if you look at the rocker panels carefully they are level. I hate that look.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      …And those fake convertible tops always had a glass sunroof right in the middle of them, revealing that no way was it a real convertible! Like wearing a wig of a different color than your natural grey hair…and then making sure some of your grey hair sticks out from beneath it.

      Yeah – that’ll fool ’em.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    License plates that sit smack dab in the middle of some grilles. Mazda3 for example.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    My dislike lies in the area of external lighting. I do not like those “framed lights”. Examples – rear of Dodge Charger. Front lights – too many to list. I like those DRLs where they have a straight or slightly bent strip running along the bottom of the headlight. And I don’t like when the light on one side turns into turn signal. I would rather see separate turn signal. Another thing I don’t like – those mini, barely visible fog lights (Example – Mazda CX5). To me, fog lights should be expressive, in a way of size or sophistication.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The bulging – BULGING – headlight and taillight lenses on any new Toyota. The general styling trend at Toyota is class Insecta, order Coleoptera.

    The general angry anime/monsta character styling of recent – not the latest – Japanese cars…when any 4Runner appears in my mirrors, I always let them by so they can go and do battle with Mothra. Of course, this is not reflective of any current styling trend; nothing about the 4Runner is reflective of anything current, automotively speaking.

    Tank-slit greenhouses…can’t even call them greenhouses any more…if any plants were in there, they’d all die from lack of light.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    !) The melted left in the sun too long look of Nissan
    2) Floating roof design of many current CUV’s
    3) Black plastic extended DLO’s like the current Accord and the new CT5
    4) Lack of bodyside moldings- if done right they protect and enhance the appearance of the otherwise plain sides
    5) Oversized fake side air vents
    6) Rubberband tires
    7) All black wheels totally ruins the look and makes me think of an older car that the wheel cover fell off
    8) Gun slit side windows

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      I’m amazed that no one mentioned DLO Fail before this post. The rest of your list is dead-on, too (as are nearly all the complaints cited in these comments) but DLO Fail remains the one that irks me most. It’s just so blatantly lazy and cheap, and sadly ubiquitous – even on that BMW X2 C-pillar.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    The trapezoid shape used for the license plate area on SUV, wagon and hatchback lift gates where the long side is on the bottom so the sides angle up and inward. Usually accompanied with slanted “angry” tail lamps. The earliest example I recalled showed up on the second generation Highlander. It’s now on countless vehicles from almost all brands…Toyota, Lexus(the worst examples), Mazda, Subaru, Ford, Buick, Chevrolet and on and on and on. It seems to have replaced the equally detestable huge obnoxious chrome brow above the license plate. Is one guy designing every company’s lift gates? The shape is so unappealing and jarring to the eye. It gives a wrinkled nose, fat lip, pinched, angry bucktoothed look that is just so grotesque. Every time a new SUV comes out I check out the rear view and….yep…there it is! STOP!

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I never really noticed the chrome brow above the rear plate trend.
      Thanks to this comment, as I was stopped at traffic lights on my way home from work tonight I noticed it on many cars.

      LET THE FLAMES BEGIN

      • 0 avatar
        DweezilSFV

        That strip is in the wrong place anyway. A mistake made on many sedans as well.

        Should be below the tail lights and the license plate shadow box to cut the vertical height of these tail heavy designs with a horizontal chrome trim piece.

        They all look like someone kicked them in the rump as they stand now.

  • avatar
    mikestuff

    This may not be a style thing, but OMG there are WAY too many gray/grey colors on cars/trucks/especially CUV’s and SUV’s, whatever we’re calling them.

    Too much gray, not enough red. I keep thinking buyers are going to get tired but apparently they don’t.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Thought of two more….
    1)overwrought and over styled obnoxious front and rear bumpers.
    2)overwrought and over styled Japanese cars.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    It is the parts of the car that are not styled that grab my attention.

    Next time you pull up behind a car/suv/truck at a stop light, leave a bit of a gap. Peer beneath the bumper of the vehicle in front of you. Some manufactures, like Range Rover, do a GREAT job styling that particular area. Others, like Honda and GM, do a horrible job.

    Example:

    1) Last generation Accords had dual exhaust available on the Sport trim, and the V6 models. All others had single exhaust. As a cost saving move however, the only made a single bumper cover. The single exhaust cars still have a half-moon cutout in the bumper cover for the second exhaust pipe that isn’t there. This wreaks of cheapness…an unforced error.

    2) GM BOF SUVS: EVERY SINGLE ONE of these has an easily visible parking brake cable looped below the axle on the driver side. I looks like something came loose, and is dangling, which, on a GM product, would not be surprising

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The propeller badges on the X2 relate back to the iconic E9 that had the same on the C pilar just above the kink. For this reason I like these… What I don’t like is that BMW has taken to putting their EDrive horizontal badges in the same location across the model ranges. Ugh!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    1) Gaping maw grilles
    2) Black rims
    3) Shared bin interior bits mixed with chrome bits to jazz up an interior
    4) Black rims
    5) Black rims
    6) Black rims
    7) Black rims…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Anything that effects tbe shape of tbe roof ticks me the most. Most of my cars have had flat roofs so the rear seat actually has headroom, I dont want a “coupe that isnt a coupe”!

    I cant stand todays angry squinty fish faces either, the Challengers one of the only new cars that actually looks normal to me.

    Then theres the general fake grilles and excessive styling cues on ordinary cars that only drive up production costs and collision repairs. I feel like theres an unwritten rule for stylists where cars cant have any flat areas per a certain distance.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    This doesn’t necessarily bother me, but may be a good place to ask….but is there a reason for more door mounted side mirrors (as opposed to the window corner)? For example, the new Camry, Silverado, and Outback to name a few. To me it doesn’t look as good but no deal breaker.

  • avatar
    jamespdx

    I cannot stand all the extra lines on a car that make no sense and are generally over the top. Many new designs do this – just take a gander at the Honda Odyssey. Chevy seems the most egregiously committed to having as many lines going in all directions as possible – which is sad because they took some nice looking cars and made them look GAWD AWFUL. NONE of these extra lines add anything to the design other than making it look over worked and unsure of itself – i.e. I don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up, but I’ve got a line for everything!!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll add my voice to the “squashed roof – disappearing greenhouses” courus.

    My Celebrity had many faults but at least you could see all the corners of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Celebrity wagons had a glorious green house.
      :-)

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        My cousin who is roughly 12 years younger than I am learned to drive on a Celebrity wagon from near the tail end of production (it might have even had the rare composite headlights).

        Given the lack of electronic nannies but being easy to see out of etc the growling 60 V6, I think he was actually pretty fortunate.

        • 0 avatar
          ravenuer

          That struck a nerve….I had an 89 Eurosport wagon with the 2.8 V6. Only problem was the reclining front seat backs….the drivers side would recline all the way when you hit the gas hard. But not always. That was fun!

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          The final Celebrity wagon was in 1990. It had the 3.1 and the awful door mounted seat belts.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Bustleback
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/11/junkyard-find-1980-cadillac-seville-bustleback/

  • avatar
    pathfinderdoorhandle

    Biggest styling gripe? Small windows. My first new car was a 1969 Dodge Dart 340 GTS. Pretty good visibility, no center post helped, a little tough toward the rear quarters. Next was a brand new 1971 BMW 2002: all window! Might as well have been a convertible, that’s how great the visibility was. Today, I’d love a Camaro ZL1/1LE except that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to see out of! And so is every CUV on the market. Why? For “styling”. Nope, don’t get it. Although I guess the “styling” sells more backup cameras.

  • avatar
    volvo

    The consensus on thick A/C pillars is that this feature is driven by rollover safety standards.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good comments, I agree with most of them. I have become resigned to boring ugly vehicles. My real concerns are the number of CVT transmissions especially the ones like Nissan’s that seem to go out and require costly replacements not covered by warranty which don’t seem to last either. Anything that makes a vehicle expensive to maintain especially to the point where it is cheaper to junk a vehicle than to fix it due to depreciation especially when the vehicles are only 5 years old. Ugly and reliable I can live with but ugly and unreliable that is totally unacceptable.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    LED tail lamps that are too damn bright. Esp on SUV’s, because if you’re in a normal car that bright light is at eye level. Got stuck behind a Mitsubishi a couple nights ago that was guilty of this.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My wife has mild “night blindness” where the glare of headlights can be an issue when driving. LEDs have now turned this into a taillight issue as well.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    My denigration shout-out goes to the folks who think that the yellow shipping-transit guards on Challenger / Charger front splitters are an integral part of the car. If I visited their house, would I see their flatscreen TV still carrying the styrofoam spacers that centered it in the box?

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    Not a manufacturer’s styling quirk, but the first thing that popped into my head was people who put license plate frames with the name of the manufacturer (e.g. “BMW”) on it. A close second is people who pay extra to get vanity license plates with the name of the car/manufacturer on it (e.g. “MIATA”).

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      When the PT Cruiser first hit tube scene there was a personalized plate PT4ME. I saw it several times and said to myself “good, you can keep it.”

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      At least try to inject creativity into it: I sing in every choir at church that our music director can conn me into, so with my two previous, current, and next cars, my ACHORD pl8 fits!

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    1.) The light which shines the logo of the car (I think this was Audi) onto the ground when you walk near the car with the key fob.

    2.) You can now get an option for an illuminated front grill star on your MB. Gross.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    My pet peeve is the grilles on so many vehicles. Worst of all is the Predator Mouth on all Lexus models, only slightly moderated by the Toyota versions.

    Second, for me, are the huge slab grilles of almost all full-sized pickup trucks from GM and Ford… they’re grossly oversized and look like they’re trying to again emulate the Big Rig look of the ’00s which were only marginally less ugly.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Bifurcated headlights and taillights irk me whenever I see them. I was first made aware when Toyota circa 2010 did it to the taillights on the Camry, and now the taillights on the Accord have been thus ruined, the front end on the current Corolla is odd, and any number of cars that I don’t have space to name.

    The current Corolla almost looks decent, but those headlights. Yeesh

    Cut off the dangly bit and make a light fixture that doesn’t go off in weird directions.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    One other design trend, and you’ll see this on Cadillac, GMC, Honda, Kia, Subaru, Hyundai, and I know I’m missing others-the “fishhook” or J shaped LED taillights. Once again, like the iPad bolted to the dashboard, there’s no creativity with a lot of designers. There are so many designs and styles to be made with the flexibility of LED lights (Audi for example), and yet, like generic Top-40 pop music, the same stale rehashing takes place.
    BTW – lots of excellent comments here. I think a lot of auto design is stuck in a crossover rut and it will take a generation of new design to get out of it.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I’m just grateful that vinyl roofs and opera windows are a thing of the past.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    Black plastic wheel arches. They look awful and cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      I don’t like perfectly round wheel openings. There is no styling imagination. Go back a few years and see the more sculpted openings, many added beauty to the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Goatshadow

        Nope, those were ugly too. The old Chevy Colorado (the new one isn’t much better), the 2005+ Tacoma are very ugly. The square wheel arches on Silverados and Sierras made factory wheels and tires look puny. The early 2000s’ Silverados were just ghastly all over, but especially the cheap wheel arches.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Personally, I’d consider the Ram as the best-looking pickup of the lot with the Colorado coming in second; I honestly don’t like the looks of any other pickup on the American market.

  • avatar
    slap

    The huge, crude plastic roofrack on the Outback.

  • avatar
    Kaplan

    Toyota TRD Pro vehicles, especially the Tundra and Sequoia.
    “How many fake air scoops can we stack on top of each other?”
    “How about three?”
    “Yeah, three is good.”

    Those hoods are about a foot taller than they need to be, just to hold all the fake scoops; you can’t see anything less than 20 feet away from the driver’s seat.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    I can appreciate a nice, big grill on a car. However, designers are now lowering and pushing them forward to where front bumpers used to be, ready to break into pieces at the slightest tap. The CX-9 is one example where that giant ugly piece of chrome will be the first part of its front end to touch almost anything it comes in contact with. It’s almost as if automakers are in cahoots with auto insurers to raise our premiums.

    • 0 avatar
      kyjosu

      The insurance industry wasn’t happy when NHTSA rolled back the 5mph no damage standard. Insurance carriers have no incentive to make cars more likely to get damaged and more expensive to repair. They might be able to charge higher premiums, but that’s because they have to pay out more, and more often.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    On the inside, the ugly inverse-trapezoidal shape of damn near every inside mirror! I cannot un-see the image of a goth, Satan-spawn, demonic clown in the ridiculous “smiley” shapes! Even on the auto-dimmer mirrors that DON’T have the “smiley” thing going, the ones without frames are uniformly terrible, in that a half-inch of the outside glass all the way around the mirror DOESN’T dim with the rest of the mirror when some bro-dozer with a bazillion-candlepower of lights is parked two inches from the back bumper! The one in my current Accord is nice and big, with a substantial frame around it, and the new Accord, with the frameless “smiley” Gentex, will bother me enough that I’ll be working with an eBay mirror “guru” to retrofit a framed mirror with HomeLink into my new car, and then can be taken into subsequent vehicles, swapping the original back in at trade-in, until the automakers go back to function over form with an important piece of situational awareness for the driver.

    I didn’t read through all these, but I did see, from a casual glance, a couple more pet peeves of mine: the proliferation of fake vents, and the uglification of front-ends of vehicles in general! (Along with the entire front-end acting as a bumper! One person’s idiocy in attempting to parallel-park in front of you will cause thousands of dollars in damages, depending on what parking sensors, radar units, etc., are scrunched!)

    Also, IMHO, the AMC Gremlin has to be one of the ugliest cars of all time! So why does seemingly every C-pillar of every damned S/CUV out there have a shape resembling that same car?

    I’m sure I’ll think of more things after I read through the list in these comments!

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    The spoiler/sunshade/overhang things that are attached to nearly everything with a lift back. The ones that have the black plastic side supports are the worse. I seriously considered purchasing a Volvo V90, but, just couldn’t come to grips with the wince-inducing spoiler thingy on top of the hatch. I wish those juvenile, stupid looking things were an option instead of standard fitment.

    • 0 avatar
      kyjosu

      There are supposedly aerodynamic benefits that make the spoiler on the top of the rear hatch practical. My Golf has a small stock spoiler, which also houses the third brake lamp and rear window washer nozzle. Can’t say the look bothers me, but I’m with you on those black plastic side supports.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Their purpose is truly aerodynamic–an attempt to improve fuel economy by shaping the air behind the car as compared to a flat back creating a vacuum. Maybe you’ve noticed how some 18-wheel trailers have a square ‘cone’ attachment for road travel… same intent. By shaping the air, it doesn’t allow a vortex to swirl in behind, allowing the truck (or car) to slip through the air more cleanly.

  • avatar
    Flipper

    Cars whose headlights and led drls are 2 different colors of white. Pick a warm or daylight hue but NOT both for use in the same cluster.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I have a lot of annoyances with today’s “styling”..

    1. Giant fish mouth grills. Please stop this.
    2. Fake vents that not only do nothing, but make whatever it is look bad, much worse than if they weren’t there.
    3. While I am firmly in the smaller greenhouse is usually better group, the Camaro and a couple of others show it can be taken too far. I hated a lot of past vehicles for having too large of a greenhouse, now it’s going too far the other way.
    4. Weird body folds, curves, and swoops that take a basically decent looking shape and screw it all up.
    5. Squinty and angry bug faced front ends. The Mustang is the best looking of these vehicles and it could be so much better without the “Angel Eyes”. No, Angel Eyes, noooooo!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I’ll add two more: The horrid bluish light from some headlamp systems and the ridiculous size of rims with minimal rubber. After 19s aren’t we past performance gains? The rims take a beating – Zo6 Corvettes and most BMWs come to mind. I think Car and Driver bent 7 of them in a BMW long term test…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      While I, too, don’t like the “rubber band tire” look, it’s another piece of the economy thing; reduce rolling resistance by making the tires harder (less flexibility) but keep the large diameter. True, it does improve handling in some ways but it does mean a higher risk of damage to the wheels and puts ALL of the work of bump absorption onto the suspension when before the tires themselves could handle small irregularities like gravel on the pavement, etc. So gains and losses where the things that help fuel economy hurt TCO (total cost of ownership.)

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I understand why the manufacturers are going to large rim thin tires. It is another way to meet the EPA efficiency standards as are turbo I-4s and CVT transmissions all of which I would pay extra in fuel economy not to have because most of these things are costly to repair or replace and don’t promote the longevity of a vehicle. Seems eventually we may not have a choice unless we buy used or keep our old vehicles longer but eventually most used vehicles will have those things and most vehicles will be replaced at some point. That is my opinion as to some of these changes that make vehicles more expensive to maintain and reduce their longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Large rim / thin tire is NOT good for efficiency or acceleration. It’s actually bad for both. It’s good for quick steering response and curb appeal, nothing more.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I just got done spending a weekend trying to find a tire to go on my absurdly sized rim as it didn’t make sense to replace the whole lot; I only have about 10k miles on them not counting the 16k that I put on dedicated winter tires.

        For one 224/45-19 on my Mazda I spent $300. Gross

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I just got done spending a weekend trying to find a tire to go on my absurdly sized rim as it didn’t make sense to replace the whole lot; I only have about 10k miles on them not counting the 16k that I put on dedicated winter tires.

        For one 225/45-19 on my Mazda I spent $300. Gross

  • avatar
    Ron

    The Lexus grille looks like the mouth of the titular hunter-alien in the “Predator” movies. Reason enough not to buy one.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    The universal tail light. Those horizontal strips that first appeared on the Edsel, then the mid 90s Contour, Cavalier,Corolla,Buick LeSabre, Sonata, Optima, Focus, Fusion, Lincolns, Acuras, Nissans, Mazdas.

    Continuing it’s incomprehensible riot of lines, angles, curves, horrible roof line and DLO fail + and overall hideousness: the Hyundai Veloster.

    Add that new Toyota thing and the Prius. Eye sores, total eye sores.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    1. Any car with red rear turn signals. STOP IT. It’s garbage design that reduces safety. Germans, I’m looking at you…you actually KNOW better and you would never do this crap in your home market.

    2. Even worse, any car with f-ing FAKE clear or amber rear turn signals that are NON FUNCTIONAL, with turns actually being indicated by the red stop lamp. STOP IT! It’s garbage design that SERIOUSLY reduces safety and it should be illegal. GM, I am looking at you. Absolutely, completely, scandalously 100% inexcusable.

    3. Any car with turn signals integrated into the headlight housings, such that the glare of the headlights or DRLs obscure the flashing turn signal. COME ON, MAN. It’s garbage design and it reduces safety.


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