Nine automotive design trends that need to die

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.

Published:Caption:Photo:Nissan
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Light-up badges

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

Published:Caption:Photo:Mercedes-Benz

Light-up badges

The badge and grille light up on Volkswagen's new Atlas Cross Sport concept. Let's hope that doesn't make it to production...

Published:Caption:Photo:Volkswagen
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Massive grilles that are mostly closed off

It's subjectively bad enough that automotive designers are locked in a weird arms race for 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

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Massive grilles that are mostly closed off

About half of the grille area on the Genesis G80 is unnecessary.

Published:Caption:Photo:Genesis
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Fake vents

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

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Fake vents

The vents on the hood of the Buick Envision? Fake.

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Jewel headlights

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

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Jewel headlights

Lexus is also known for its LED jewel lights.

Published:Caption:Photo:Steven Ewing/Roadshow
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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 looks cheap.

-- Jon Wong

Published:Caption:Photo:Jon Wong/Roadshow

Fake exhaust tips

The AMG CLA45's tips? Just for vanity.

Published:Caption:Photo:Jon Wong/Roadshow
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Asymmetrical wheels

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 to no end.

-- Jake Holmes

Published:Caption:Photo:Volkswagen
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Asymmetrical wheels

We love the Volkswagen Golf R and GTI, but hate the asymmetrical wheels.

Published:Caption:Photo:Steven Ewing/Roadshow
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Floating roofs

This is a stupid bit of design language because it interrupts the eye moving over a car. It's unforgivable on any car, whether its a Nissan Murano, or the otherwise gorgeous Aston Martin DB11.

-- Kyle Hyatt

Published:Caption:Photo:Nissan

Floating roofs

Even the Aston Martin DB11 has a lousy floating roof design, though it's obviously less horrible here.

Published:Caption:Photo:Drew Phillips/Aston Martin
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Coupeovers

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/early-'00s 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

Published:Caption:Photo:Mercedes-Benz

Coupeovers

BMW's X6 "Sports Activity Coupe" -- ugh -- started this whole Coupeover mess.

Published:Caption:Photo:Jon Wong/Roadshow
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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

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Excessively low-profile tires

The BMW i3s has narrow, low-profile tires. It feels like it's riding on wagon wheels.

Published:Caption:Photo:Jon Wong/Roadshow
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