It might seem shallow to care so much about how a car looks, but a good design aesthetic will cover a multitude of sins and boost sales beyond expectation. Just look at the Jaguar E-Type, which is known for its tricky handling and unreliable transmission but often vaunted as the car dreams are made of.
“Beauty first and foremost is the No. 1 factor in evaluating a car,” says David Gooding, the founder of the Gooding & Co. auction house. He says style is an essential component of a car’s overall worth: “If it is beautiful, it always captivates people.”
The E-Type and DB5 come from motoring eras when companies had plenty of money to experiment—a hit or a miss there was okay. These days, rather than turning out truly horrendous designs—the type that come into being as a calculated risk that went horribly wrong, which is a luxury of finance and scheduling most automakers no longer possess—companies like Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen simply produce cars of the ho-hum variety. Think along the lines of the Fusion, the Camry, the Jetta. They’re not stunners, but at least they’re not painful to look at.
Sometimes, though, a few stinkers sneak by. Chrysler’s PT Cruiser. The Subaru Baja. The Dodge Magnum. It’s to these eyesores that we pay tribute in this list of ugly cars.
To finalize the lineup, we consulted two longtime auto experts known as much for their discerning eye as for their prowess behind the wheel: Brett Berk,the automotive lifestyle writer for Vanity Fair, and Lawrence Ulrich, the automotive writer for the New York Times. Each discussed what they think are the worst-looking new vehicles on the market.
Toyota Prius V
The 5th-generation icon of hybrid technology is successful despite of its looks, not because of them.
“Purposeful--and prosboscoid--but not pretty," Berk says.
TC stands for "touring coupe," but instead of combing the best of both sedans and coupes, its bland front and oddly configured rear gather the worst of both.
The iQ is based on several electric concept vehicles. Toyota vaunts its "cubic" shape--which isn't exatly the ideal describer of what should be a cool, fast or powerful vehicle.
Lumbering, awkwardly square, ponderous, dull. These are the words that come to mind when faced with the blank grill and distended angles of Dodge's attempt to revitalize a nameplate.
See previous, RE: Dodge Avenger.
"Cool yarmulke" is an oxymoron, and should never be used as a design inspiration, Berk says.
“A Mercedes SL Roadster should exude style," Berk says. "This one looks like it was styled by an extruder.”
Smart calls it the "uncar." Berk says he wishes he could "un-see it.”
Chrysler 200 Convertible
“Most contemporary hardtop convertibles are inelegant. This one is the inelegantest,” Berk says.
[Related story: The Most Beautiful Cars of 2012]