In the third edition of the Style Smackdown series and in weeks to come, I will be going through Car & Driver’s vehicle rankings by segment and rating them myself. Where Car and Driver rank the respective vehicles on criteria like interior ergonomics, cornering prowess, and ride quality, I will be ranking them based on one factor: STYLE. Yes, like the blah blah insert witty joke here blah blah, only the prettiest will make it to the top. The winners are determined using a top-secret algorithm developed by a zombified Nazi riding a T-Rex, and the input of a knowledgeable panel of judges; myself, Sarah Palin, and a communistic polar bear. So with a condescendingly enthusiastic amount of applause from a small group of elderly people, let the Style Smackdown begin!
This week we’re investigating the segment of vehicle universally hated by all Oppos without any exception ever at all: the CUV.
#8: I debated which one of these would receive the honor of being second worst. In the end it came down to which one could be had in pearl white with champagne plastic cladding. On that criteria alone the Buick LOSES! The second deciding factor in the Buick’s utter failure tonight was its blue projector lights; they always look cheap. The Encore does a decidedly worse job disguising its tallness than the Trax, with a lot of vertical lines and swoopyness. The more I look at it the sadder I get, so I’m going to stop now.
#7: I don’t like Chevrolet’s “design language” at all; it works mediocre-ley well on some of their cars (Camaro, Impala, new Malibu, Suburban) but on most it looks horribly generic and uninspired. That said the Trax is less abrasive on the eyes than the Encore.
#6: The Paceman ranks low because of the details, and in spite of the shape. As a shape it’s not bad; the roofline is gently sloped, the rear haunches are muscular, and its proportions are decent. It looks more like an embiggened Cooper than a CUV. But its details are terrible! The headlights and grille combine to give it a look of terror and the small grille underneath the main one is ugly and I’m pretty sure functionally pointless. And the strip that connects the A-pillars to the wheel arches, while a valiant effort to incorporate the side reflectors, is awkward. The Paceman’s best angle is definitely the rear. I really like the blacked-out C-pillars and the taillights that kind of look like eyes with mascara around them. I’m also a fan of the wheels.
#5: The HR-V is fine.
#4: The 500X was refreshing but the Juke is just a little revolting. Love it or hate it, the Juke is at least unique. Nissan is the first company I know of to design a car after a frog with the mumps. The biggest gripe I have with the Juke is the presence of those weird turn signal/reflector/plastic harpoon things on the hood. We need more cars without a recognizable face!
#3: I may be one of the few people outside Fiat’s styling department that actually likes Fiat’s styling on cars other than the 500. I like the 500X; I even like the hated 500L! (But I’ll save that for another time.) The shape of the 500X is reminiscent of a lumpy Porsche Macan. Fiat’s quad headlight setup really works for me, but the feature that stands out the most to me is the absence of a ginormous grille on the front. In the age of Lexuses with grilles like cable-knit sweaters it’s really refreshing.
#2: The defining aspect of the Renegade is its cuteness. It’s a sort of caricature of ruggedness, with thick pillars, oodles of plastic cladding, and a face that says take me seriously, but no too much. The veritable smorgasbord of Jeep-themed easter eggs propel it to the top.
#1: The CX-3 is not only a handsome car, it’s downright sexy. Mazda have taken a crossover and given it the proportions of a sports car. With its long hood, sculpted hips, and aggressive styling, I think you could make a case for this being Mazda’s 3rd best-looking car today. And Mazda’s 3rd best looking car is the best looking subcompact CUV.