The modern crossovers we wish we could unsee.
We’re fascinated by ugly vehicles. It starts with the fact that people got paid to design them, then those designs were accepted and put into production. Then, dealers order them, try to sell them and, to varying degrees, people actually buy them. The saying goes that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the saying forgets to mention how many eyes are beholden by people with a complete lack of taste or a complete lack of self-awareness to the point they can drive one of these visually challenged wonders in public.
We’re not going to cover the Pontiac Aztek or Nissan Juke because those dead horses are well and truly flogged and, contrary to popular internet opinion, there have been worse looking crossovers in the past 20 years.
If you Google the word frumpy, a picture of the first generation Santa Fe should pop up as the first hit. We actually know someone that bought one of these, and within the first month of purchase the front windows fell inside the door, the air condition died, and a wing mirror fell off. Hyundai has come a long way in a short time.
The Buick Rendezvous shares the same platform as the much-maligned Pontiac Aztek. When we said there was worse SUVs than the Aztek, this is it. At least the Aztek was trying. The Rendevouz should have come with a matching pair of his and hers elasticated waisted pants and a coupon for Hometown Buffet.
GM’s design studio went for the triple at the beginning of the century and rounded it out with the Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XUV. This time the fax must have read, "We need an extended wheelbase version of the Trailblazer and Envoy,” and reached the design department at 4.30 pm on a Friday.
Somehow, Nissan managed to screw up the Armada while trying to take it upscale. It’s not just the chrome that was slapped on, but the odd attempt at sticking a car-style nose on the front along with the weirdly bulging roof. It wasn’t until recently that the QX65 became the QX80 and we’re filing that under the same entry because it hasn’t gotten much better.
Originally and inexplicably named the B9 Tribeca until its much-needed facelift in 2008, Subaru made an odd decision with the styling here. According to the Japanese brand, it was inspired by 1930s era Alfa Romeo race cars. The result is an inexplicable bug-eyed face with a goofy grin and miserable sales. After the facelift that lost the weird grin, the Tribeca stayed in production until 2014.
The second generation of XL-7 was related to the Chevrolet Equinox, Pontiac Torrent, and Saturn Vue, dropping the hyphen for this 2007 refresh. The XL-7 was no looker, but Suzuki took the sad face it was stuck with and tried to polish the turd. The end result was something that looked like its makeup had run or was about to cry. It also had horrible looking proportions, and the lack of sales to go with the whole package.
The freaky little bug eyes should have prevented Jeep Compass sales on their own before anyone even noticed the lower body and the blocky design that was probably meant to make it utilitarian but actually made it look unfinished. The first generation sold well because… who’re we kidding? We have zero ideas as to why.
For what we can only assume was for comedic effect as it couldn't possibly have boosted sales, there was also a special Mopar Rallye Package Compass.
BMW should not be making this list, yet somehow the X6 exists. BMW designates it using marketing speak as a Sports Activity Coupé. It’s supposed to combine the capability and practicality of an SUV with the looks of a coupe, and manages neither. There’s no saving grace from its mish-mash of styling as inside it doesn’t even compete with the X3 for passenger legroom and cargo space. It’s the vehicular equivalent of a Spork, yet it has sold decently despite not doing anything particularly well.
There’s nothing wrong with the Lincoln MKT until you get to the big overhangs and the weird toothy grin. That’s a grill that should have stayed in the concepts folder. Its closest relative is the Ford Flex of which it shares no body panels but probably should. For reasons nobody really understands, Lincoln still make it and we've never seen one on the road that isn't a press loaner.
According to legend, financial misconduct isn’t Nissan's former boss Carlos Ghosn’s only crime. The story has it that Ghosn pushed the Murano soft top into existence because his wife thought it a great idea. It wasn’t. It was an impossible challenge for designers to make it look good with either the top up or down and answered a question nobody except Ghosn’s wife asked. Weirdly, the CrossCabriolet does have a cult following after its demise and prices are holding steady on the used market.
Lexus is capable of knocking out some gloriously beautiful designs that please and entertain the eye. The LX570 is not one of them, and after it’s second facelift in 2012 Lexus turned the ugly dial all the way over and into the red before beating the front end heavily with the repulsive stick. However, it’s the discombobulated and incongruent way that the front is stuffed full of angles while the sides are gently sculpted and curved that cause mild nausea every time we see one on the road.
Money can’t buy you taste. Weirdly though, if you have enough moeny, then you can pay for the privilege of showing the world you have no taste. It's an interesting niche, and we have to hand it to Bentley as the Bentayga is currently their best selling model.