QOTD: Having a Change of Heart?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd having a change of heart

We’ve talked in the past about models that left a bad first impression, then grew into themselves over successive years and generations — eventually earning our respect, and perhaps even our desire. My choice in that exercise was the Mercedes-Benz CLS, a model that aged like Robert Downey Jr. over its 20-year lifespan.

For the uninformed among us, that’s a good thing.

That particular change in perception was the result of fastidious German designers. This time around, let’s find examples where it isn’t the model that’s changed — it’s us. In short order, our initial disdain turned into something altogether different. Same car, same generation, but a different view.

Keep in mind we’re looking for positive examples here, not instances where we ended up hating something even more than we already did.

This thought, like most others, came to me as I sat motionless at a stop light, lulled into a trancelike state by a strange, incessant ticking. Like a metronome, it was. Anyway, to my left was a rear-quarter view of a crossover America can’t get enough of. If this family-friendly CUV was a person, it would be Pam Anderson bounding down the beach in 1993. Yes, we’re talking about the Toyota RAV4, as ubiquitous as vehicles get, and one that underwent a fairly radical change for 2019.

At first glance, I was underwhelmed with the RAV’s metamorphosis. Yes, the previous gen was dated, boasting all the sex appeal of a mailbox, but the new one, while becoming thankfully butchier, carried a body and face only a mother (and apparently hundreds of thousands of American consumers) could love. Its upsized visage looked like a disgruntled baby dinosaur. “Busy” best described the creases adorning its flanks and fascia. And that floating roof? That black demarcation line partway up the rearmost pillar did not look natural. The roof, she does not float.

Fast forward to this week and things had changed. In the hour or so I remained at that light, I took stock of the RAV4. Reassessed my earlier assumptions. Turns out I had been too hard on the no-longer-little CUV. Its taillights call to mind Jeep and Volkswagen; the upturned rear bumper gives the impression of greater ground clearance and off-road ability. In TRD guise, the sour face grows far more inviting, taking on a conventional shape. And those wheel arches…

In short, its body reflects a concerted effort to be different.

It’s quite possible last year’s release of the new Ford Escape caused me to see the RAV4 in a different light. Hey, this thing at least tries not to be a blob! I can’t think of anyone who’d choose the Blue Oval CUV for its looks over the RAV4, but that’s just me and my circle.

Enough rambling. What current model did you change your mind about?

[Images: Ford, Toyota]

Join the conversation
3 of 20 comments
  • Nedmundo Nedmundo on Mar 11, 2020

    Kia Stinger. I've always liked the styling, and of course its classic sport sedan approach. But I never thought I might want one, because it doesn't have MT and I thought it was simply too long for my tight garage. I learned, however, that it's not as long as it looks, and is in fact shorter than the Accord. So despite the lack of MT, I decided to test a 2.0T version with AWD, and thought it was great. I could easily imagine owning one. I'm waiting for Kia to add AEB to the base model, and hopefully the upcoming corporate 2.5T/8DCT drivetrain. If they make these changes for 2021, it could happen. Also Tesla Model 3. I was largely indifferent to the Model 3, again because it never occurred to me as a viable option. But while helping my business partner choose her next car, we decided to try one, and we both loved it. To my surprise, I got used to the tablet display fairly quickly, and it's a fantastic driver's car IMO. We all know about the acceleration, but it has excellent handling and steering feel too. Heck, one Model 3 has more steering feedback than an entire lot of 3 Series BMWs. The range still isn't ideal because I wouldn't be able to get to my parents' place and back on a single charge, but it's close and I could probably make it work by tolerating a little inconvenience.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Mar 11, 2020

    My choice would have to be the Chrysler triplets, specifically the Charger. When first released I thought the 300C was a bit too "let's add this because it's required" and not quite designed per se and the Charger looked like a toddler's rendition of muscle. The Challenger, in its modern iteration, has always been handsome and has gotten moreso. Fast forward to now and the 300 has been massaged into a more cohesive design, the Charger has been cleaned up and the Challenger looks better, if only subtly, than ever. I know many preferred the first generation of the boxy 300, but the current one looks much better in my eyes. Perhaps I'm biased because I had one for a while and greatly appreciated its looks and road presence, even though it had niggling issues from the jump.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 11, 2020

      I've always believed that the Chrysler 300 was more of an intentional throwback to the Chrysler Imperial of the Green Hornet TV series fame than to any previous 300 itself. Though I have to admit that as a Black Beauty the newer one is a far better handling car than the original Imperial was. I've read statements that the Black Beauty modified for TV was almost undriveable in anything but a straight line.

  • Theflyersfan As a kid, a neighbor had one of these full-sized conversion vans with the TV and wet bar in the back. And it was so cool to go in - as a kid it was, driving it had to be terror at times with blind spots, iffy power and brakes, and the feeling that you're hauling your living room with you! Kids of the 1970s and 1980s had this experience. Afterwards with minivans and then CUV everything, not so much.And I'm crushed that a 1977 van doesn't have some kind of mural on the sides. Coyote howling at the moon, American flag, Confederate flag, bright stripes, something! You can't have a 1970's era van with plain sides! At least a "Don't Laugh. Your daughter's in here" bumper sticker on the back. I always get a Gacy or Bundy vibe with these vans...
  • Jeff S In the EV market Tesla is not a niche player it is the major player. According to the latest data of the California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company  Kelley Blue Book, Tesla has the lion’s share with 75 percent market share in  the electric vehicle market in the first three months of 2022.Tesla has dominated the electric vehicle market for years in the United States. The electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla accounted for 79 percent of the new electric vehicles registered in the United States in 2020 and 69,95 percent in 2021. The decrease in the market share in 2021 might be explained by backlogs and the global chip shortage, but the company is ramping up its sales and has already increased its market share to 75 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top 10 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2022 are;[list=1][*]Tesla Model Y[/*][*]Tesla Model 3[/*][*]Ford Mustang Mach-E[/*][*]Tesla Model X[/*][*]Hyundai Ioniq 5[/*][*]Kia EV6[/*][*]Tesla Model S[/*][*]Nissan Leaf[/*][*]Kia Niro[/*][*]Audi e-Tron[/*][/list=1]Tesla has delivered 310,048 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, another first-quarter record. The success of Tesla is proven once again as the company has three electric cars in the top 10 most selling electric vehicles in the United States, while no other manufacturer has even two different models on the list.Tesla leads all others, selling slightly over 936,000 units in 2021. This gave the company a market share of nearly 14%.Mar 30, 2022https://interestingengineering.com/transportation/tesla-ev-market-75-percent-market-share
  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.