By on April 15, 2020

Last Wednesday we pondered the best exterior styling found on SUVs and CUVs of the 2010s. This week, flip the question and consider the visually challenged rides of the past decade instead.

If I recall those distant 2010s correctly, there are plenty of designs upon which one might spill some Haterade.

First, a few guidelines. Like last week, we’re living by an affordability principle. All selections offered up today must cost less than $48,000 as new. That figure automatically rules out any one-offs or custom builds seen in random Internet places. Included for consideration are SUVs and CUVs of all shapes and sizes. And though some of you complained, there simply isn’t a large enough selection of SUVs to consider them in their own category. Sad! Finally, since we’re considering a single decade, all your picks must be of model years 2010 to 2019.

It took me a minute to scan my memories and decide on a singular worst-looking design for this category. A couple “maybe” choices were passed over once I’d recalled this abomination:

Part Accord, Part Outback, and not related to the similar-looking Acura ZDX, the Accord Crosstour is my selection for an awful CUV design. It debuted for the 2010 model year, playing the size-down alternative to the Pilot (really?).  Considered a part of Honda’s SUV lineup, it had two rows of seats, a hatch, and a sort-of cargo area that bridged what you’d find in an Accord sedan and a CR-V.

Known as Accord Crosstour for the first two model years, Honda decided it didn’t want to associate it with its successful sedan any longer and renamed it simply Crosstour in 2012It was available with front- or all-wheel drive, and with a 2.4-liter I4 (front-drive only) or the more-often-selected 3.5-liter V6. It was refreshed in 2013 (seen above) to look less Accordy and more Outbacky, suiting its mission.

Crosstour’s primary competition was the equally out-of-place Toyota Venza, and it died in much the same way: through slow sales. Crosstour’s strongest year was 2010, when sales nearly reached 29,000. By 2015 Honda shifted just over 9,000 of them. It was cancelled that year, but some Crosstours lingered on, unsold. There were 726 sold in 2016, and five more in 2017.

The Crosstour lacked purpose in Honda’s lineup, and in its design. Customers saw it, too, and instead chose one of the many other options available in the Honda family. It is undoubtedly one of the worst CUV designs of the 2010s.

What’s your pick?

[Images: GM, Honda]

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70 Comments on “QOTD: Worst Standard SUV Design of the 2010s?...”

  • avatar

    First thing that hit my mind…BMW X6. The beginning of the end. It looks both scrunched up and bloated at the same time, with both a face and a rear that just don’t seem to work with the “design.” Plus the sedan on its toes look just looks awkward. I’ve always hated this car, everything it stands for, everything BMW wants it to be, and the way it opened the floodgates for abominations like the X2, X4, and the “Gran Coupe” models.

  • avatar

    Nissan Crosscabriolet, but I swear we’ve done this before, but maybe not,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_center,h_675,pg_1,q_80,w_1200/1371028550806346344.png

    Adding Doug DeMuro to it makes it even worse ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      I saw my first crosscab -whatever thingy last week.

      Whoa. Who would buy that thing?

      • 0 avatar

        Apparently nobody :)

      • 0 avatar

        “While Nissan itself doesn’t break out the CrossCabriolet’s sales from the rest of the Murano line, IHS Automotive sales data indicates that for 2011, Nissan sold 1,159 examples in North America, and in 2012, sales peaked at 3,278 units before sagging to 1,332 in 2013.”

        Thankfully not many. I can only hope that many of them have felt the cold steel and concrete of the crusher by now. My Lord, what was Nissan thinking/smoking?

        • 0 avatar

          Wow, considering a total of only about 6000 were sold, I’ve seen more then a handful. Says a lot about the taste level of cars in my area :(

          • 0 avatar

            Based on that sales figure, there are an INORDINATE number of these in Ohio. They’ve been in the parking lots of both my workplaces since 2012.

          • 0 avatar

            Most of them are here in God’s Waiting Room, FL. There are at least four of the hideous things in my neighborhood.

    • 0 avatar

      Let’s be honest here… This car isn’t particularly ugly.
      But it is very, very dumb!
      Not the same.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s ugly AND dumb. You can always tell when a car company did zero market research before coming out with a new model. Just looking at the Crosscabriolet you have to wonder who would want a CUV convertible that’s awkward looking, can’t carry anything other then 4 people and is outrageously (appox. $45K) expensive?

        Answer = About 6000 people

  • avatar

    2011-2015 Mercedes M-Klasse, W166 code according to Wikipedia. It looked so very wrong and lacked the pleasing understated design of its predecessors.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    A buddy of mine from work was shopping for cars and we were constantly comparing notes. We drove several cars, including a BRZ, GTI, and some other fun cars. It seemed like he was narrowing things down to a group of the usual suspects.
    Then, suddenly one day he shows up to work in a brand new GMC Terrain like the one above in silver. He said he went out on a whim to look at it and talked himself into being practical and planning for the future. It was the base model with the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder. I was completely dumbstruck. It was hideous and slow and ponderous.
    He traded it for a Mazda3 in about 8 months.

    • 0 avatar


      That engine is the biggest POS ever. Brutal NVH. I had one. Never got over 27MPG

      • 0 avatar

        Also an appetite for oil, VVT solenoids, and timing chains. The culprit of the latter two is at least in part the first issue: running oil too long and/or too low.

        • 0 avatar

          If the EcoTec family problematic in general? I always think Saab had a hand in developing those*.

          * That may be incorrect.

          • 0 avatar

            Going from my Regal to my wife’s 2016 Terrain (4 cyl/FWD) makes you think that the GMC is actually a motorized barstool. Corners about as well too.

          • 0 avatar

            It was their world engine: GM Powertrain NA, Opel and Saab all collaborated. Some say Lotus as well.

            I don’t know WTF GM did to ruin it. After finally getting the timing chain oiler and tensioner sorted, the 2.2 Ecotec was capable of running up the miles reliably.

            It may be the addition of DI, VVT and a bunch of other stuff to the 2.4 that made it into a turd.

            Makes me think twice about GM developing their own CVT, that’s for damned sure

  • avatar

    The Venza, though a little oddly shaped because of the low roofline was otherwise decent to look at. The Crosstour was the ugliest thing on the road in 2010.

    Honda makes great cars with outstanding engines but the amount of money it can spend to retool is limited. Thus Crosstour.

    Also the Passport would have been more interesting were it not a chopped Pilot. It also would have been a couple of inches narrower and would have fit in my garage.

    But back to Crosstour. It looks almost as bizarre as the 80’s jellybean Impala. The Impala station wagon was almost as wacky as the Hornet in stilts Eagle wagon. Good grief.

    • 0 avatar

      If the Passport were not a chopped Pilot it would be, um, a Pilot

      I’ve seen a few Passports, they’re surprisingly nice and with the V6 makes for an interesting CUV

  • avatar

    OK, I admit it: I kinda liked the Crosstour. I don’t know why. I *understand* why everyone hates it. I think the BMW X6 is pretty ugly, and the Crosstour is a Honda X6. But I like it.

    When I was car-shopping in late 2014 I even asked a Honda dealership about one. IIRC by that point it had already been axed, so it was a bit out of date, walking dead, and lot poison. And they still wanted MSRP, which was too expensive even if it hadn’t been all of those things.

    In my next car-buying cycle I found out that the local Honda place just doesn’t seem all that interested in trying to sell cars. Not sure if that’s just my place or all of them, but their take-it-or-leave-it attitude and insulting factory financing put me in a used Hyundai Genesis instead of a new Accord. I suppose I should thank them; the Accord was nice for $25k, but the Genesis is a Rolls Royce in comparison.

    Also @ThomasSchiffer, agreed on that M Class. It looks… dorky, I guess? Gawky? Awkward? Dorkward? It’s not good, that’s for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      Heck, I’m in the Acura ZDX fan club – ten members and growing!

    • 0 avatar

      I very much agree. The first M-Klasse was an inoffensive design, a tad boring but not offensive at all. The second generation to me was a wonderful blend of sportiness and a touch of elegance.

      The third generation (the W166) had a mishmash of various design cues which did not blend very well together. The entire SUV looked like it had been put together by a selection of different parts from different manufacturers. It looked very out of place in the Mercedes-Benz lineup of the time.

      The current M-Klasse, which has been renamed ‘GLE’ for some inexplicable reason, is a very good-looking vehicle as is the larger GLS. Once the GLS cars hit the used market I might look into getting one to replace my 2007 GL320 CDI 4Matic.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, the attitude of some dealerships can really be gonzo. I have a friend who, several years ago, bought a late model used car from his small town dealership. About 2 years later, he went back to the same dealership to buy a new car. The owner of the dealership asked him, “I sold you a car about 2 years ago. It’s a good car. Why are you here looking for another one? Drive the one you’ve got.” Even after pressing the issue a bit, the owner wasn’t interested in selling him a car. Needless to say, that dealership is now closed. Go figure.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        So punished for being honest?
        What kind of lesson does that teach new sales reps and business schools?

        • 0 avatar

          I read that as: Someone who owned a business rejected a paying customer, because his personal opinion of the customer’s need was more important than what the customer wanted.

          That is not how you run a business, and doesn’t qualify as honesty.

          • 0 avatar

            No, it wasn’t honest, it was stupid. It not the dealer’s business to know WHY someone wants a car, it’s the dealer’s business to screw him on the car he wants ;-)

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t hate on the Crosstour either. I mean, an AWD hatchback Accord seems like a pretty good idea. Its looks kinda reminds me of my dad’s Chevy Citation…which for all its faults, was light years ahead of the Pinto it replaced. I drive an xB, so clearly aesthetics aren’t high on my list.

    • 0 avatar

      The car has grown on me too. I actually don’t mind it today. But at the time it really was awful.

      Of course I might be looking at it as a pretty roomy car with AWD and a Honda V6. The last item being something I’m sad isn’t around anymore unless you get a “real” CUV.

      Plus it was nice you could get that in somewhat of a sedan/wagon instead of another box on wheels.

  • avatar

    The Lexus RX, for the entire decade, both designs. The first half of the 2010s it was a fat dowdy thing with an odd pinched look at the center of the tailgate and it turned into a overwrought hideous miss mash of angles and creases and an even worse pinched look at the center of the tailgate. Not to mention the ghastly grill and now ubiquitous Asian car angry taillights and awful trapezoid around the license plate (which has spread everywhere). Nothing about it says luxury. A perfect example of how Asians do not know how to design attracted cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      I liked the beginning of the decade design – subtle, rounded, distinctive. The angry bird that replaced it remains hideous….

    • 0 avatar

      @Teddy. That’s a bit of a broad stroke. My 2010 ES looked pretty nice when I bought it. 10 years and 100,000 miles later it still does.

    • 0 avatar

      RX seems to have hit on an untapped market and popular.

      Although in the beginning Lexus didn’t really know how to market it. I did see some early print ads that someone dug up and it showed an RX splashing in the mud. It was pretty hilarious to see that ad with the end users ending up being largely female real estate agents and the like.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        “pretty hilarious to see that ad with the end users ending up being largely female real estate agents and the like.”

        So true. Beyond that however, it truly became the “must have” fashion accessory for countless affluent suburban moms. There were so many around me that I began to think RX had become the fleet car for tennis club members.

        • 0 avatar

          The only “original owner” that I knew personally was a school counselor who was married to a local dentist. Bought new and kept immaculate for a decade plus. So clean Corey would have been leaving notes on her windshield inquiring about possibly purchasing it during one of his car searches. ;-)

          • 0 avatar

            I almost wish I’d gone with the RX now that I’m no longer interested in the Outback. But at the time, they were just asking too much money for product received.

  • avatar

    The same answer I have for the worst overall vehicle of the 2010s, the Range Rover Evoque convertible.

  • avatar

    The Honduh Crosstour was not an SUV anymore than the Ridgeline is a truck. Both are cars with quirks.

  • avatar

    The Mercedes R Class has to be up there too.

  • avatar

    The Venza might not have been Toyota”s best design, but my neighbor leased one a few years ago and I got to drive/ride in it often. I was impressed with it.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the appearance of the Venza (from the outside). My neighborhood is crawling with them, there are at least 6 in the immediate area.

      My vote is for BOTH generations of GMC Terrain. That first one had wheelwells so squared-off and so oversize that it looked like it was rolling on mini-spares all the time. The fender flares are way out of proportion, and that schnozz makes me think the same committee that approved this approved the Aztek back in the day. Then……it gets replaced with the strange 2nd gen Terrain. I can’t figure out what they were trying to do with that goofy beltline jog behind the second doors – it almost looks like they were trying to graft tailfins onto the side of a CUV. I think it’s hideous.

  • avatar

    The Crosstour was not an SUV, though.

    (I actually test drove one before getting my XC70.

    It was too small for my needs [thus XC70], but I found it quite pleasant, apart from two annoyances – bad rear visiility, mitigated by the camera, and AWFUL infotainment UX, which I can only assume was/is endemic to the whole Honda line.

    But with the V6 it was plenty zippy enough, and handled, well, basically like an Accord.)

  • avatar

    GMC Acadia. Not so ugly, but the design itself is terrible. Not designed to be worked on, and unfortunately they seem to require constant work to keep on the road. Everyone I’ve known with one eventually threw up their hands and took a bath to get something else because the labor required to remove parts to get at other parts was insane.

    There’s some sweet Youtube videos of people turning the front wheels just so and kneeling down by the tire to change a head light by feel.

  • avatar

    The first gen Terrain was quite odd looking but I generally thought the Pontiac Torrent was worse. Slapping kidney grills on an Equinox did not improve the design.

  • avatar

    The Jeep Compass wins this by a country mile. It’s meant to be mainstream but is but ugly. A Convertible SUV may or may not be stylish but it’s not mainstream so that kind of makes it OK.

  • avatar

    But for the price, the BMW X?s would be the major winner here. I didn’t find the Crosstour/Venza so much ugly as boring.

    What does that leave for standard automobile ugly? Possibly the pointy RAV4?

  • avatar

    I agree with the Terrain. For one thing, square wheel wells do not belong on anything outside of trucks.

    The 1st gen RDX that lasted until 2012 was pretty fugly.

    The 1st gen Tiguan was also a little frumpy looking.

    The grille on the 2nd gen Murano is unforgivably hideous.

  • avatar

    I gotta go with the Terrain, horribly under powered, shaky, could not roll down rear windows at speed without the car sounding like it was falling apart, horrible design. I had one of these twice as a dealer loaner, the first time it was brand new with under 25 miles on the clock and it was absolutely horrendous.

    All around shoddy engineering

  • avatar

    I admire the author’s ability to pick one out. They’re all awful, and became so when they got away from the basic “station wagon on high heels” concept.

    Applying all the “features” from the 4-door coupe design to a utilitarian wagon resulted in all the same mistakes: less visibility, less usable storage space, less rear headroom, more cramped seating, and more contorted ingress/egress to the rear seats.

    That alone is bad enough, but did they have to make the exterior ugly too?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Dodge Caliber-You could see where they were going by designing a entry hatch utility vehicle with Ram like stying cues. But the Daimler farmed out to Mitsubishi platform. Hyundai World engine along with a Tupperware grade interior made one long for a PT Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar

      I own some Tupperware, and a fried owned a Caliber, so I can make the comparison. You are besmirching the reputation of Tupperware. A LOT of Dodge Calibers were sold anyway, due to cheap financing.

      Incidentally, I was looking at some late model Jeep Patriot 4x4s, and they’re pretty close to the Caliber in plastic interiors, with the same 2.4 “world engine”, and the Hyundai 6-speed auto in place of the standard Jatco CVT.

      The many Calibers in my neck of the woods seem to have disappeared, possibly traded in for non-4×4 Patriots which are now common. Poor people with lousy credit have moved up, sort of. The Jeeps will probably be traded in for the next FCA vehicle to be discontinued and the cycle will be renewed.

  • avatar

    I still can’t decide which looked worst to me: the Acura ZDX or the Murano Cross Cabriolet.
    Some runner ups to choose from: Honda Crosstour, Toyota CH-R and Venza, Honda HR-V, Ford Ecosport, Lincoln MKT, pre-facelift Mercedes GLK, pre- facelift 1st gen Chevy Traverse, Dodge Nitro, Dodge Caliber (yes I checked and were still available early last decade)

  • avatar

    If the price point is $48K or less:

    1) Acura ZDX. Let’s take the Crosstour, and make it even uglier.

    2) Nissan Cross Cabriolet. An answer to a question NO ONE asked.

    3) Gen I Subaru Tribeca. That grille, that let’s channel the ghost of Edsel Ford grille.

    4) Dishonorable Mention – that Lincoln funeral car looking thing – MKT?

  • avatar
    Griffin Mill

    The Lincoln MKT wins this competition hands down. That belt line gets worse and worse as you move from front to rear. Strangely enough its sister vehicle, the Ford Flex is one of the better crossover designs.

    Regarding the Honda Crosstour, My wife currently owns a 2014 she insisted on buying new and loves it. I think the rear is “unfortunate” looking, but looks rather good in profile. It drives like a Honda, has the usefulness of a hatchback and has been exceedingly reliable with the exception of needing new front axles which Honda graciously replaced outside of the manufacturer’s warranty. My wife claims she gets quite a few compliments on it. No one knows what it is, and if you squint it has the profile of a first generation Panamera.

    • 0 avatar

      That belt line “hump” toward the rear is supposed be a link to Lincoln history: the Continental MKII and the 61-65 Continental.

      They were about as successful as Chevy borrowing styling cues from the 73 Monte Carlo for the early ’00s version.

      Their limp 21st Century lick of the ’73 MC was half azzed, had baroque hints of the 73 in it’s side sculpting.

      Those bull’s nuts tail lights so formless and silly looking yet shaped like ball sacs were just laughable attempts at putting some retro flavor into the design.

      The Lincoln does look like a hearse, as someone mentioned above.

      What would Uncle Creepy drive, hmmmmm ?

  • avatar

    The crusher is more likely than a trade-in. Else they would be seen on the road.

  • avatar

    Ah, the 2010s.

    If you count ones sold in the 2010s in Australia:
    – BMW X6 (and anything similar)
    – Dodge Caliber
    – Jeep Compass (especially pre-facelift)
    – Mercedes-Benz ML (2G and 3G pre-facelift too)
    – Ssangyong Actyon (WTF is that rear)
    – Ssangyong Kyron
    – Subaru B9 Tribeca (the facelifts were far better)

    Dishonourable mentions:
    – Holden Captiva (pre-facelifts have ugly rears)
    – More recent Lexus CUVs/SUVs
    – Nissan Murano (the first gen has aged awfully, the second gen is slightly better)

    Ones that are generally okay but have a few odd styling elements (to me)
    – Porsche Cayenne (1G, just the front (a little bit))
    – Ssangyong Rexton (1G, not ugly per se but just not a fan)
    – Volkswagen Tiguan (pre-facelift, just not a big fan of the rear)

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