Tag: Styling

By on October 11, 2019

bmw

For years now, we’ve watched as the average car/crossover grille has expanded faster than that aunt you got divorced in her 20s and never settled down (the same can be said for a man; don’t send us letters.)

Now, as vehicle grilles — once declared nearly extinct in the Taurus/Sable/Intrepid/Crown Vic era ⁠— reach their zenith, the mind turns to an obvious question: What comes next? You’ve watched on these pages as Toyota and Lexus attempted to swallow galaxies with their gaping front openings. Now, BMW is eager to swallow what’s left. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2019

There’s little doubt that BMW’s design language, at least since the dawn of the 21st century, reflects the prevailing culture of the day. In the 2000s, the brand’s Chris Bangle-penned cars hosted all the eye glitter and booty action a viewer could handle, perfect for an era in which My Humps became an unlikely top hit.

Fast-forward a decade, and the designs of Bangle’s protege, Adrian van Hooydonk, are a perfect representation of today’s social media-led outrage culture. Big, gaping mouths screaming into a void filled with other, equally prominent mouths. We’re in the age of the big mouth, drowning in the polarization that rises in its wake, but van Hooydonk has no intention of reeling in Bimmer’s ever-expanding grilles anytime soon. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

nissan

While you’ve already had a peak at the refreshed Nissan Armada thanks to a Saudi Arabian car dealer who enjoys Facebook, here’s the best look yet at the changes coming to Nissan’s biggest ute. Yes, it’s the Armada’s overseas Patrol twin, but expect the carryover to be essentially complete — minus the Patrol’s base V6 engine.

Featuring pricier-looking exterior styling and a greater compliment of interior niceties, the Patrol/Armada’s changes are not unlike those found on the SUV’s Infiniti QX80 platform mate. Recall that the QX80’s 2018MY upgrades earned it a not-insignificant sales increase. (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2019

JLR

Designers don’t always get the credit they deserve, nor the recognition they usually shun. But without a steady, inspired hand forming the shape of an automaker’s offerings, all the business acumen of the C-suite class adds up to not much.

Jaguar can credit its post-Ford identity to one man, Ian Callum, who moved the company away from unconvincing, reheated ’60s design templates and into a new era for the British marque. Callum, who served as Jag’s director of design for two decades, is now leaving his post. (Read More…)

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.  (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2019

GM

It was something we bitched and moaned about to no end in these digital pages. While most iterations of the refreshed 2019 Chevrolet Camaro looked, well, fresh, the popular SS model clearly fell on its face sometime before leaving the factory.

By blacking out the grille’s thick horizontal crossbar and migrating the bowtie emblem from the upper opening to a central position, Chevy designers greatly increased the face’s visual height. The resulting Camaro SS looked somewhat ill; its chiselled, Brad Pitt-like visage contorted into a Karl Malden-esque countenance.

It looks like rumors of an emergency refresh were 100 percent true, as the 2020 model, seen above, has emerged from under the knife with a new nose. For the upcoming model year, Chevy also wants to get you into a V8 for less cash. (Read More…)

By on November 2, 2018

Image: NASCAR

When Chevrolet rolled into last month’s SEMA show with a vivid, one-off Camaro SS show car, our attention was drawn to its new “concept” face. It seemed like the bowtie brand had read Matthew Guy’s mind, swathing the grille’s horizontal crossbar in body color and moving the Chevy emblem to its rightful, slimming place between the headlamps. Before this change, the refreshed-for-2019 SS looked a little homely next to its Camaro 1LE and RS brethren.

Who knows, we thought, maybe it’s not too late to fix a mistake. Our hopes remained guarded, however. Then came Chevy’s eCOPO Camaro electric dragster concept, also premiering at SEMA, which appeared with the same facial quirk. Now, we have the brand’s new NASCAR offering and, lo and behold, the front end is, again, just as we’d like it. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Image: Nissan

At Nissan, all eyes are on the vastly revamped 2019 Altima, currently trickling onto dealer lots with a revolutionary variable compression four-cylinder under some hoods and available all-wheel drive. A very different roll-out is underway north of the border.

All of the hubbub surrounding Nissan’s new midsizer doesn’t leave much oxygen in the room for the model’s slightly larger sibling, the Maxima. Confused in identity for about the past two decades, the Maxima doesn’t enter 2019 unchanged. There’s styling and content tweaks afoot, though you’ll have no trouble spotting the 2019 Maxima after its launch at the L.A. Auto Show next month.  (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2018

Image: PSA Group

There’s no debating the fact that I draw far more inspiration from older, classic designs than futuristic ones. Hardly progressive of me, I know. While some want nothing more than to gaze upon an autonomous egg and envision a life where the act of driving gives way to the act of commuting, face buried in smartphone, to me that sounds like a vision of Hell.

That’s why last week’s Peugeot e-Legend concept — an unabashed nod to an attainable French coupe of the 1970s — grabbed my attention. It absolutely looked the part, yet incorporated all of the things we’re supposed to lust after in 2018: autonomy, electric propulsion, etc. Compare the e-Legend to Mercedes-Benz’s Vision URBANETIC. Two takes on the future; one desireable, the other terrifying.

What Peugeot and its “Unboring the future” tagline attempted to do was show we needn’t abandon our emotional connection to a car just because it doesn’t burn gas. Just because it drives itself some of the time. But can anyone trust this rosy vision? (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2018

Trabant 601 front, © 2018 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

On a frigid Detroit winter morning in 1998, I foolishly argued with a CCS professor over the need for conventional sedans or hatchbacks for our India design projects. Almost a decade later, the Tata Nano’s hatchback design was the justification I needed for believing designers place far too much weight in their creativity. Even if the Nano isn’t a smashing success, it proved the point.

No such worries exist with the Trabant 601: the socioeconomic backdrop ensured the success of Dr. Werner Lang’s creation. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

Porsche has grown rather chummy with the video game community of late. In 2017, the automaker used North America’s largest gaming expo as a platform for the debut of the 911 GT2 RS. You can attribute that to a relatively recent marketing push that resulted in its vehicles appearing in interactive media after a long-standing absence. Porsche, for whatever reason, spent years being exceptionally choosy about which developers can license its vehicles for their games. This usually results in blockbuster titles using “RUF” as a placeholder or simply abandoning Porsche vehicles entirely.

The last five or six years have been different, however. Automakers want to broaden their marketing approach and get away from the big industry trade shows. For Porsche, that means video games, and the relationship is only getting stronger.

This week, Porsche Epic Games and the graphical processing wizards at NVIDIA gathered to showcase what they claim is a major breakthrough in computer design rendering. While we can’t say with any authority that this will forever change automotive design, what they’ve managed to accomplish certainly looks impressive.  (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2018

Image: Honda

It was possible to get into a Sport-trimmed Honda Civic before the 2019 model year, but you’d have to agree to the hatchback bodystyle first. Not everyone gazed upon that particular Civic’s styling with admiration and desire.

Not a problem. If buyers don’t want a five-door Sport, we’ll give it to ’em in coupe and sedan form, Honda figured. And so it is for 2019. However, checking the box for this slightly more aggressive treatment fails to bring aboard one of the hatchback version’s best attributes. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

We know you like to dog on supercars, and we’re right there with you. They’re extravagant toys for people you’re unlikely to encounter unless you were born into high society or made some exceptionally wise financial decisions. And that’s always lurking in the background whenever we discuss them. We drool over the specs as we gripe about their existence — riding the line between envy and disdain.

However, we’re still glad they’re here. Extreme performance machines show us what’s available at the outer limits of engineering and income. It’s also a great time to be the kind of person who loves mind-bending performance but hates supercars, as they’re becoming truly hideous.  (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2018

Like a normal person, I spent my final waking moments last night reading the comments on Monday’s 2019 Toyota Avalon review. I’m either a masochist or a narcissist.

The new Avalon is a large car with a long list of features, and an even longer list of debatable issues stemming from its revamp, so I hope the review proved useful. Around here (and on Twitter … and maybe on the street, too), I’m known as a the guy with a depraved fetish for large, traditional, conservative sedans. Oh yeah … the staider, the better. Why do you think the powers that be sent me on that first drive?

I wear the badge with pride and, truth be told, I’ve always been a fan of the Avalon — maybe it’s a byproduct of my dear, departed ’94 Camry, combined with a childhood spent watching 1960s and ’70s spy and cop shows. Whatever the cause, there’s nothing unappealing about a roomy, comfy sedan with plenty of power and industry-leading longevity. Dependability, as I’ve said before, isn’t unsexy.

It’s because of these preexisting feelings that I found myself in agreement with a great many of your comments (and there were a great many of them). One complaint kept popping up, though. Based on your feedback, it’s clear the most controversial aspect of the new Avalon is its Eurasia-sized grille. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2018

Mercedes-Maybach S 650 Pullman

With the minivan now dethroned by sport utility vehicles and crossovers as the king of family transportation, we’ve run into a problem. Larger three-row SUVs can be expensive, while their more affordable counterparts frequently sacrifice cargo space and comfort to accommodate that last row of seats. Another issue is that adults who decided to spawn four children are forced to interact with them during long drives by occupying the same cabin.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if a manufacturer invented a vehicle that could solve most of these problems? Well, some already have. Limousines have been around for ages and it’s ludicrous that they haven’t been co-opted for family use. But, if you’re going to purchase a high-end luxury transport specifically for road trips with the brood, you had better make sure it’s so decadently comfortable and quiet in the back that they can’t help but fall asleep. That’s why the perfect family vehicle is probably the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S650.

Granted, the long-wheelbase version of the already lengthened variant of the S-Class isn’t intended for familial use. It’s supposed signal the wealth of overachieving business persons. But exceedingly wealthy parents who think way outside the box might find it worthy of double duty. (Read More…)

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