Good news! We’re living in an era when the “bad car” is an endangered species. From a Toyota iA to a Ferrari 488, virtually every new car will start every time you want it to. It won’t need comprehensive maintenance every 3,000 miles either, or make you completely miserable every time you drive it. There’s a good chance it will run well over 100,000 miles, won’t rust into oblivion within five years, or struggle to keep up with highway speeds. Cars are also smarter, safer, and more efficient than ever before.
That’s all well and good, but there sure are a lot of ugly cars still out there.
As designers and engineers have gotten a grip on the latest safety regulations, they’ve figured out how to do stylish again. The lozenge-shaped duds of the ’90s and early 2000s have been replaced by crisper lines, sharper edges, and more dramatic curves. A combination of any two can be stunning — for reference, look at anything from the Mazda CX-9 to the Chevrolet Corvette. Trying to blend the three, however, can be disastrous. For reference, look at these 10 we’ve put together for you.
1. BMW X6
BMW has built some of the most beautiful cars of all time. But for as much as it’s invested in its SUV and crossover lineup in the past 15 years (with huge financial success), that success hasn’t really translated to better design language. While there are some winners out there (we’re partial to the X5), most “rugged” Bimmer models look like a bad hodge-podge of styling cues. We could’ve picked any number of offenders, but the X6’s awkward ride height, creased sheetmetal and hunched roofline, and compromised interior space seem to embody the worst of it.
2. Kia Sportage
We like the new Kia Sportage a lot, and to be honest, we even admire its looks. You don’t see such a bold, out-there design on many new cars, especially on family-friendly crossovers; we’re glad that Kia went for it here. But the Sportage’s bulging lights, bubble shape, and wide grille might not register as interesting to most people. They’ll probably just see it as ugly.
3. Mitsubishi Mirage
Including the poor little Mirage on a “worst-of” list is low-hanging fruit. At $14K, the Mirage is very cheap, and it feels it. But for what it’s worth, its 2016 facelift did do the car some favors. The new sheetmetal still can’t hide its slab sides though (especially in G4 sedan spec), it has more bad angles than good, and at the end of the day, it still looks as cheap as its price.
4. Nissan Juke
One look at the Juke and you can see why it’s one of the most polarizing cars on the road. Owners love Nissan’s bizarre little crossover and will defend it to the death. But ask the wrong person what they think of it, and be ready to duck. What both sides can agree on is that you can’t call the Juke pretty. Sales have started to drop off after six years, suggesting that Americans have had their fill of the bug-eyed compact. No matter how you feel about it, you’ve got to hand it to Nissan for going bold in a segment where everyone else plays it safe.
5. Lincoln MKT
From a mechanical standpoint, the MKT has a lot in common with that other oddball, the Ford Flex. But where the Flex is all right angles and brutishly handsome, the MKT is an odd mash-up of Lincolns past and present. It has an odd bustle-back trunk like an ’80s Continental, is about the size of the old Aviator SUV, and its butterfly-wing grille, while evoking the glamorous Lincolns of the ’30s, now makes it look like a relic from the Lincoln lineup of the late 2000s. Inside, the MKT is a quiet, comfortable, and luxurious place to be. But outside, Lincoln just missed the mark.
6. Lexus LX570
A few years into using its controversial “spindle grille” design, Lexus has finally started to get the hang of it — for proof check out the LC500. But the old Predator Mouth front end still looks worst blown up to crazy proportions on the full-size LX570. Like the Toyota Land Cruiser it’s closely based on, the LX can handle some of the worst terrain on the planet. But with looks like that, we’d rather save $20,000 and go with Toyota’s less offensive option.
7. Toyota Mirai
Some cars just look better in person, and when you lay eyes on the Mirai in real life … well, it’s just as ugly as it looks here. But Toyota is embracing seriously disruptive technology with its hydrogen-powered drivetrain, and the Mirai was designed to be just as different. In our opinion, Toyota’s newly-found aesthetic courage works best on the new Prius Prime. On the Mirai, it just doesn’t add up.
8. Fiat 500L
Papal blessing aside, the 500L has struggled since it reached the U.S. market, selling just over 30,000 in three model years. Those would be strong numbers if it were, say, the Porsche 911, but for a family crossover with a $20K starting price, that’s dreadful. It could be because the 500L has some of the worst reliability ratings of any new car. It could be because there are more attractive options at the same price point. Or it could be that the 500L is just truly, deeply, ugly. Really though, it’s probably a combination of all three.
9. Nissan Versa
At a shade over $12K, the Versa is the cheapest new car in America. Unfortunately, it looks like it too. Like the Mitsubishi Mirage, its tiny wheel arches, slab sides, and gawky oversized lights seem to telegraph the fact that this thing is a penalty box. For this kind of money, your used car options are wide open, from a reliable midsize sedan to a late-model luxury car. Sure you’re rolling the dice with reliability, but if we had to choose between, say, a used Mercedes or a Versa, we’d take our chances.
10. Infiniti QX80
The QX80 is a massive luxury SUV designed to compete with the Lexus LX. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look any better. It has oversized proportions, its bulbous styling elements look cartoonish, and its unfortunate fender grilles look like something you could buy at Pep Boys. Fit and finish is great, and the interior is a great place to spend time, but when it comes down to brass tacks, we wouldn’t be able to take our minds off of how ugly this thing looks.