It's amazing to note that even with all the increased marketing dollars out there today, and with all the focus on what the customer wants, we still see the styling monstrosities out there on the road that we still do. One part of me says that's a good thing- it means that companies don't just want to create 'me too' products. Another part of me says that sometimes it's better being anonymous and unseen.
Lost in all the hoopla over the upcoming G8 is that this likely means the end of the road for the W-body Pontiac- the Pontiac Grand Prix. Up until the current generation, it was easily the best looking of the group, and was actually one of the best looking sedans on the market. You know the one- the touted 'wide track' version that actually wasn't a wide track at all. But I digress. Whoever was responsible for the current gen took all the good out of the old design and tacked on an unneeded 'sedan coupe' element in the C-pillar which completely destroyed whatever lines the car originally had. Paired up with a far too blocky front end, and a rear end that reminds me of fish gills for some odd reason, and you've got a recipe for hideousness.
There are very few things that current day Detroit innovates in, but big trucks and SUVs is definitely one of them. And it was because of this innovation and the success it engendered that Nissan threw their hat into the ring with the Nissan Armada (nee Pathfinder Armada) and Infiniti QX56. In my opinion, the Nissan almost gets a pass on the styling simply because of what I stated earlier- at least it was trying something different. But to go and simply slap a big chrome grille and huge wheels on the Infiniti model only made what was once good looking butch into simply butch. To this day, I have no idea what they're thinking with the rear door handles and the way the back pillar sort of swoops forward.
Always trying to be different, Honda struck out big time when they dropped the bomb that is the Honda Ridgeline on the public. Looking like a retarded future version of the Chevy Avalanche, but without any sort of masculinity or machismo, it was destined to fail as a 'real' truck for 'real' truckers from the moment it was released. The worst part about the ugly styling? It's not even ergonomic- the high bed makes lifting things over the side impossible, and the C-pillar design leaves a huge blind spot.
Back in the day, Toyota released the T100, and expected it to take the full size market by storm. It was too wimpy, too tired, and too bland. So they went back to the drawing board and came out with a new truck with a new name that didn't evoke Arnold- the Tundra. And it too was too wimpy, too tired, and too bland. So for the third time, they said screw it and decided to make a truck that was full of testosterone, and apparently, every visual cue they could pilfer from other manufacturers in the market. The result is the new Toyota Tundra. A bit of Dodge Ram in the front, a bit of Ford F150 in the side profile, and a bit of GM twins in the stance. It's all there. Of course, Toyota also forgot to make it coherent. To these eyes, the Tundra looks like a constipated baleen whale.
Toyota #2 on the list. The story of the current gen Toyota Camry is almost the same as the Tundra, but with a LOT more sales. So the question is- why would Toyota tinker with success? On second thought, scanning the sales figures, they haven't really messed the success up. But nonetheless, much like Coke did in the 80's when they copied Pepsi and failed miserably, the Camry is an example of a market leader that for some reason has decided to morph itself into the competition. Namely, a front end gracelessly pilfered from the Mazda 6, and the same bloat evident in the Tundra at all angles. Even the SE badge with requisite body kit does nothing but enhance the overall visual bulk of this land barge.
The 2007 Chrysler Sebring. Nuff' said.
You're Lincoln. You've basically created the upscale large SUV market with your Navigator- the only certified hit for the brand of the last 15 years. It drives old customers to the dealership, it drives young customers to the dealership. It's featured in music videos everywhere, and is a status symbol to most everyone who sees it and who isn't a member of Greenpeace. What to do with your updated model? Apparently the answer is to leave everything well enough alone except for affixing the automotive equivalent of 1930's braces to the front of your vehicle. I won't even mention reincarnating your dashboard of the 50's. Kudos Lincoln!
The Nissan Sentra has always been the ugly duckling of the Nissan lineup. Always too square. Always not proportioned right. Always looking a bit dorky. The peak of such dorkiness was in the late 90's versions, which looked like what a Japanese designer envisioned an accountant would want to drive. Fear not however, for the current gen Sentra is here to take that honour away! You'd think that Nissan would follow a simple formula- nicely styled Altima - a few inches here and there = good looking Sentra. But no, they went and fuxxored it all up by taking a few inches off at each end, but forgetting to take it off from the top too. The result is a weirdly shaped too tall vehicle that looks more tippy than a Suzuki Samurai, and slower than a fully laden Hummer H1. Not good.
The last monstrosity on the list is the Mercedes R-Class, or as it should be called, the 'Mercedes That No One Asked For'. Apparently there was a clamouring for a Mercedes minivan in the market. Maybe there was. What I do know for sure is that there couldn't have been much of a demand for what appears to be the redheaded bastard child of an unholy union between a Honda CR-V and a Chrysler Pacifica.
More to come I'm sure.