QOTD: Worst Standard Car Design of the 2010s?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd worst standard car design of the 2010s

On Wednesday last week we looked back on the recently ended decade, seeking the best design found on the sort of cars people can actually afford. Today, we’ll flip the question and go in search of the design failures.

As before, we have a few rules for our selection game. Only standard production cars are up for debate. No design exercises that didn’t make it to dealer lots, no bespoke vehicles for billionaires, and no super or exotic high-end rides. Keep things accessible, and the starting price of your terrible-looking car under $100,000. And it must have had a model year between 2010 and 2019.

Look at this deformed bar of soap:

That’s right, my pick for worst of the decade is the Lexus SC 430. Lexus’ luxury coupe had a great start. Its first generation had inline-six and V8 engines and was based on the same platform as the Supra everyone loved. Design work started in America at Calty Design Research in 1987, and it was introduced for 1992. After a long model run through 2000, it was time for something new.

A second-generation SC was in development by 1997; this time Lexus wanted the luxury cruiser to be even more amenable to Americans than before. It seems they targeted particularly those from San Diego and Palm Beach. Thus, the Sports Coupe changed its last name to Convertible. Instead of spending time in a studio, a design group from Europe and Japan took a vacation to the French Riviera. There, they looked at buildings and yachts and things. Little surprise, then, that they returned with a boat.

Rounded in every possible place, the new SC 430 bore no resemblance to the departed SC 300/400. Gone was the stylish sports luxury, replaced with the Floridian-favorite folding metal roof. Also gone was the six-cylinder offering, replaced with a singular 4.3-liter V8 from the LS 430 (not a bad thing), paired unfortunately and solely to automatic transmissions.

Given the new SC was much less an SC and instead a different sort of car, sales results weren’t surprising: they grew 27-fold at introduction. The peak of over 25,000 sales in the first model year quickly dropped to 10,000 the next year. A relative cliff occurred after, and by the final year of 2010, all the special editions in the world couldn’t sell more than 328 in the US. They lingered on lots in 2011 and 2012, as the retirees and realtors who bought one circa 2002 found they didn’t need another.

The SC wasn’t really replaced, though some might argue the LC is its successor. I say that it’s too big and too expensive. It’s also too good looking, as the second SC was a real dog. All the ingredients were there: build quality, know-how, engine choice, and interior materials. It fell down largely because of the design, and they should’ve done much better. Embarrassing.

What’s your pick for worst design of the 2010s?

[Images: BMW, Lexus]

Join the conversation
2 of 72 comments
  • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer MiataReallyIsTheAnswer on Feb 14, 2020

    HAS to be the slopeyback "premium SUVs" where BMW and Mercedes take a reasonably useful vehicle and chop off a bunch of practical cargo space in the hopes of convincing buyers it's "sporty" with that stupid angled rear end.

  • Billjimtimbo Billjimtimbo on Apr 10, 2020

    I feel like, generally speaking, this decade has seen a lot of great automotive design. I think Mazda, Volvo, Audi, Honda (mostly) and Ford deserve a lot of credit for designing and building attractive and sometimes stunning vehicles. But there've been a whoooole lotta misses. For me, the worst offender is the first-gen Toyota Mirai. I know, it's not a conventional ICE car, so it might not fit the strict confines of this exercise, but JEEEZUS is that thing awkward. It features exactly zero flattering angles. I don't understand why automakers feel the need to make alternative-fuel vehicles as ungainly and weird looking as possible. (To be fair, the second-gen Mirai, debuting this year, is a stunner.) Honorable mentions: Toyota CH-R Toyota Prius (fourth generation) Toyota Avalon (current generation) Nissan Juke 2010 Kia Sportage 2014-present Jeep Cherokee Every single Lexus SUV from the entire decade

  • Zipper69 How much of a bite of the market has the BRONCO taken?The "old technology" of the Cherokee can't compete...
  • JMII So this pretty much confirms the long standing rumor that the C8 platform was designed for hybrid AWD support. If this is even faster then the current Z06 it will be a true rocket ship. GM was already hinting that even more impressive C8 was coming, most assume a turbo ZR1 but an e-assist AWD package seems more like... and apparently it will be called E-Ray.
  • Tassos the announcement is unnecessarily verbose, aka full of it. Most 'justifications" for the shutdown are shameless lies.
  • Jwee I can post images...?????
  • Jwee @Bobby D'OppoThere is no element of the reported plan that involves taking people's carsSeems like you missed the Southpark reference:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO5sxLapAtsMy comment was humor (or humour if you prefer). The city council is not literally taking people's cars, but seems like they wouldn't mind a drop in car ownership. More cyclists! Less pollution! More public transport! A £70 fine per violation! Surely if they came out and said "we are going to take your car", they would get a very stern letter written to them in the strongest language possible, or perhaps even called a bunch of rotters. I am all for good transport networks, but this is just a terrible plan. Visit Amsterdam, and study how to manage traffic skillfully in a dense, medieval city, with no traffic cameras whatsoever, with first rate public transport, where pedestrians, bikes, boats and cars coexist.