Cars of the 1950s had their chrome. Vehicles from the '80s were boxy. In the '90s, everything got a little melty, like a candy bar left out in the sun. Whatever the decade, specific design trends proliferate across the entire auto industry.
But they aren't all good. Sure, today's cars are really pushing the styling envelope, but that's also leading to a number of questionable choices. Here are the modern automotive design trends that need to die, and soon.
I spend every day being assaulted by #brands. The last thing I need is a street full of cars, shouting their names at me in the night. Expressive design should work by itself. We don't need to get hit over the head repeatedly by the badge. Plus, it invites higher repair costs when its driver inevitably gets distracted on Tinder and smashes into the pickup truck ahead of 'em.
-- Andrew Krok
Massive grilles that are mostly closed off
It's subjectively bad enough that automotive designers are locked in a weird arms race for the biggest grille, but then you get close and realize that, often, more than half of that grille is blocked off because there's really no practical reason for a grocery-getter to have such a massive maw.
-- Antuan Goodwin
While performance affectations are almost kind of understandable on humble everyday cars, they're particularly infuriating on high-performance automobiles. This trend amounts to bra or trouser stuffing, and it's wholly unnecessary when a car still has "the goods."
-- Chris Paukert
Why are designers inspired by arachnids? When I look at a car I don't want to be looking at a spider. Multiple light cubes in the housing are just design for design's sake.
-- Emme Hall
Fake exhaust tips
There are some slick-looking exhaust tips on cars these days, but the problem is that a lot of them aren't real. In many cases it's just a fancy outlet molded into the rear bumper with a regular round pipe behind it like on the Mercedes-AMG CLA45. And sometimes there's not even a cutout at all, such as on the 2019 Audi A6. It's just disappointing to see and it looks cheap.
-- Jon Wong
It's great to have wild wheel designs, but when the wheels end up facing opposite directions on opposite sides of a car, it irks me no end.
-- Jake Holmes
-- Kyle Hyatt
As far as I'm concerned, the word "coupe" is exclusively reserved for vehicles with two-doors -- though I'll make exceptions for the small suicide doors on the Mazda RX-8 and late '90s and early 2000s Saturn SC. "Four-door coupe?" No. It's called a sedan. But "coupe crossover?" Like, no. That's not a thing.
But beyond the inherent ugliness and pointlessness of these vehicles, I hate that automakers actually charge more for them than their equivalent, traditionally shaped brethren. You pay more to get less. And your car looks stupid.
-- Steven Ewing
Excessively low-profile tires
Listen, I too love the look of a tire that's barely thicker than a rubber band and has been stretched over the edge of a wheel large enough to qualify as an automotive caricature. I agree that it adds a lot of visual presence. But, spend a few minutes crossing a bumpy road on a wheel-and-tire package like that, and then do it again with something offering a higher rubber-to-metal ratio, and you'll see that not every SUV on the road needs to be rolling on 22s wrapped with low-profile tires. Leave that to the supercars and go with something a little more practical on your next ride.
-- Tim Stevens
Originally published May 26, 2018.