As subjective as styling might be, some automotive design decisions are puzzling while others are downright deplorable.
It’s all but impossible to come to a consensus on style – though most would agree that the 1980s wasn’t a banner decade for design – but the autoTRADER.ca team put their heads together to compile a list of the most distasteful. These are, in no particular order, five of the ugliest cars (well, four cars and one SUV) on sale today.
2020 Hyundai Sonata
With a face only a Cajun cook could love, the catfish-inspired mug on the new Sonata is pretty awful – and far from pretty. Hold a thumb up in front of the car to block the grille from view and the Sonata is a sleek and stylish sedan. But catch a glimpse of it uncovered and it’s a ghastly affair.
Part of the problem is the way the hood slopes downward towards the gaping grille, making it impossible to look past. Audi introduced a similar styling cue on the second-generation A5 a few years ago, but it manages to balance a subtleness that’s not found here. Hyundai does, however, deserve credit for its pursuit of a unique aesthetic.
The Clarity may be ugly in the name of efficiency, but it’s still just that – ugly. It looks like the inbred lovechild of the Civic sedan and Accord, with awkward proportions and design elements that are trying too hard to be futuristic. Then there are those partial wheel skirts at the back that make the fenders look like they weren’t stamped properly before being slapped on.
The plug-in hybrid may be easy on the environment, but it certainly isn’t easy on the eyes. It’s also not alone, with plenty of green vehicles employing, um, interesting styling over the years. Even the original Honda Insight hatchback, the first hybrid ever sold in North America, featured similar fairings over its rear wheels. They didn’t look good then, and they don’t look any better 20 years later.
Unless you’re cruising through Miami or hiking the Hollywood Hills, a Rolls-Royce is a rare sight. In the case of the Cullinan, that’s a good thing, with the brand’s brutish SUV proving that even a simple design language doesn’t translate well to every body style.
Like a Phantom with the trunk cut off, the Cullinan just doesn’t have the elegant presence Rolls-Royce cars are known for. Simply put, it’s as awkward looking as anything on the market today. Not even its oversized wheels can offset the disproportionate design, the 20- and 21-inch rims looking peculiarly puny beneath the mounds of sheet metal and glass. Of course, inside is a completely different story, and I doubt many owners will care when they’re cruising around in the lap of luxury.
Honda Civic Type R
The Civic Type R is one of the most outstanding performance cars of the last decade – and maybe even longer. It’s fast, powerful, and fun, and will easily outrun its all-wheel-drive competitors, not to mention pricier sports cars.
Unfortunately, it takes the boy-racer motif too far, looking more like a Gundam character on wheels than the serious sports-car killer it is. With more than its share of fake vents and a massive spoiler around back, it’s sure to garner attention – wanted or otherwise. At least our friends in Europe are lucky enough to choose the Type R without the big wing.
The Clarity is ugly for a reason, but the BMW i3 is unattractive just for the sake of it. The bulbous BMW looks like it was designed by an amateur composite artist trying to draw a Smart car based on a description from someone who’s never actually seen one before. Add in the comically oversized wheels, and the electric Bimmer definitely stands out – but that’s not always a good thing.
The interior is, however, fairly fantastic, with genuine wood available on the dash and its own unique styling cues. At least BMW has spared the i3 from its trend toward gargantuan grilles – for now.