2009 Volkswagen New BeetleEnlarge Photo
2009 Jeep Compass SportEnlarge Photo
2009 Nissan cube KromEnlarge Photo
2010 Honda ElementEnlarge Photo
2003 BMW 7-Series 745iEnlarge Photo
Tata Nano EuropaEnlarge Photo
Think that the design of the Volkswagen New Beetle is more hideous than iconic?
Apparently you're not alone. Business Week has posted its "Fifty Ugliest Cars of the Past 50 Years," including a number of models present and past, and the New Beetle is just one of the newer and still-produced models on the list. Others include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Honda Element, Hummer H2, Jeep Compass, Nissan Cube, and Toyota Prius.
They're particularly tough on the Escalade, sounding more like SUV-haters than design critics: "The perfect car design if fuel, practicality, maneuverability, and class mean nothing to you." But they're close to spot-on in saying that the Jeep Compass, a vehicle that's still produced for 2010 (though its days are numbered), "lacked a unified vision."
The publication reveals very little about how or why particular vehicles made it on the list: Did it ask a panel of designers? Did it ask readers? The editorial team? Enthusiasts?
We're not sure, but a number of chunky, more angular vehicles that some of us here at TheCarConnection.com consider design classics—like the Volvo 240 and Honda Element—get no love, and the author clearly doesn't appreciate the obvious…well…thing-ness of the Volkswagen Thing. The rugged cues and pert proportions of the original two-door RAV4—appreciated by this editor—are also declared ugly.
The publication takes some easy shots—at the AMC Gremlin and Pacer, and the Ford Pinto—even though by many accounts these are now considered attractive by a new generation of "nerd car" collectors.
Along with the Avalanche, several pickup cars are on the list, including the Chevrolet El Camino, Subaru Brat, and more recent Subaru Baja. We'll concede that the most recent Baja deserves it though.
Check them off among the Bangle-haters; they pan the design of the Chris Bangle–designed 2002 BMW 7-Series, a vehicle that, love it or hate it, inspired the rear two-thirds of most of the sedans for the later part of this decade.
C'mon, looking back, it's nothing compared to the early '80s Cadillac Seville "slantback."
Some of them aren't all that surprising. Of course the Pontiac Aztek is on the list—possibly more because it's expected there—and the Yugo. But Business Week says, "The Yugo gets rapped for being ugly, when it was really more of a mechanical nightmare," going on to explain that the design itself was "simple, proportional, and efficient."
The Yugo's modern-day equivalent for the developing world is on there, too. The Tata Nano minicar is panned for its "egg-like stylings" and "domed top."
But it's a slippery slope; perhaps ugliness, like beauty, is at least a little bit in the eye of the beholder.
Have thoughts on what's hot and what's not? Let us know with a comment or two, or better yet sign up and write for us.