QOTD: The Worst a Man Can Get?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd the worst a man can get

In this time of stress, fear, and uncertainty, please forgive the gendered headline, online Millennials. It applies to all genders.

Having said that, this week’s release of the 2021 Hyundai Elantra, a bread-and-butter product for the Korean brand, got this author thinking about design. Specifically, the decisions taken by design teams between major styling revamps.

I poo-pooed early teasers of the new Elantra a bit, but the harsh light of day reveals a longer, more visually expressive sedan with a greatly improved face and fetching hood (too bad about the carryover base engine). There’s a lot to digest in Hyundai’s new designs, but at least there’s something to look at.

The ’21 Elantra replaces a refreshed sixth-generation sedan that turned this writer’s stomach in every way. The design alterations foisted upon the Elantra for 2019 turned an arguably handsome, clean sedan into a weird nightmare, and the passage of time has clearly not made the heart grow fonder. At least with the mid-decade refreshes of the expressive Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata, the automaker opted for an extra helping of boring. This was something else.

Mistakes were made, and it seems Hyundai learned from them. Good stuff.

But as we talk about the worst refreshes in recent memory, your author’s mind latches on to a long-gone nameplate offered by an equally defunct brand. It’s the brand that built excitement… or at least tried to.

The Pontiac Sunfire, also known as the Official Car of Quebec (an accolade it shares with the Nissan Sentra), was an odd duck in that, during its decade of existence, it only went through a single generation. Refreshes were mild but constant, but it was the final iteration of Sunfire that took things from generic to grotesque.

As the 1990s gave way to the new century, Pontiac joined the club in rethinking the eradication of grilles. The lowly Sunfire began gulping air again, though by the time it left the market it had grown a face only a mother could love. The leading edge of the hood hadn’t retreated towards the cowl, but it looked like it had. Blame that low-hanging, Firebird-mimicking fascia. Because Pontiac wasn’t willing to give the model a full styling revamp, the addition of a mesh grille made the Sunfire appear as if it had sacrificed hood space for grille. That’s not where grilles belong. An awkward look, and an ignoble end to a car loved by few.

Thinking back over the past two decades, what, in your opinion, is the worst mid-cycle refresh?

[Images: Hyundai, General Motors]

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  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 26, 2020

    I own the last year of the Elantra with compelling and flowing design - a 2016 - that has turned out to be a wonderful car. Then the bland years happened with the version afterwards. I would refuse to buy anything made after 2016. This Elantra for 2021 is compelling on so many levels. And with the hybrid, I'd consider trading my car at some time to get the great gas mileage. But there is going to be an N model and I wonder how much fun that will be? I don't want bland. And if people will buy that absolutely hideous thing called a Civic, this Elantra should be a hit.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Mar 26, 2020

    Sadly everything that Toyoduh and Honduh build is uglier each generation that is thrown at us since the early 2000's. I guess Honduh has learned their buyers have no eyes and don't care as long as the sludge they buy lasts long enough to impose a tax upon the next person buying into the mirage. And then there is Lexus. Dry heeves turn into projectile applause.

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.