In the sixth edition of the Style Smackdown series I will be going through Car & Driver’s vehicle segments and rating them myself. While Car and Driver rank the respective vehicles based on criteria like interior ergonomics, cornering prowess and ride quality, I will be ranking them based on one factor: STYLE. The winner is determined using a secret algorithm developed by Albert Einstein...’s twin sister Alberta and the input of a highly inebriated panel of judges; myself, Michael Phelps, and the Energizer Bunny. So with the sound of one hand clapping, let the Style Smackdown begin!
#11: Toyota Camry - In an SS (Style Smackdown SS, not the Nazi one) first, I have provided two (2) pictures of the same car. This is because the true awkwardness of the Toyota Camry can only be appreciated from the side. Revel in the sporting overhangs! Gaze upon that roofline! Adore the completely natural 100% unaugmented greenhouse! Moisten your pants at the sight of those 16...maybe 17 inch wheels! Feel the grounded-to-the-ground-ness... Everything about it is so perfectly adequate it makes me want to vomit!
That black panel is the most embarrassing thing to happen to the auto industry since Hitler and the Beetle. (and that’s two Nazi references in one article. Godwin’s law holds true.) It’s like a modern landau top. People who would be fooled don’t notice, and people who notice aren’t fooled.
#10: Subaru Legacy - There’s a sickness circulating among Japanese carmakers. Toyota/Lexus have contracted the Bosozoku strain, and it now appears that Subaru has fallen prey to the rapidly spreading Taikutsuna strain. (That’s Japanese for boring*) We can only pray Mazda vaccinates. With the exception of the BRZ which is basically a Toyota (The two design extremes cancel themselves out) and maybe the Crosstrek (Which somehow works despite just being a lifted Impreza) Subaru makes no attractive cars.
*According to Google Translate. I know no Japanese.
#9: Volkswagen Passat - Eyes...growing weary...eyelids drooping...the Passat is lulling me to sleep...
#8: Honda Accord - How many ways can you say something is boring? It’s a bland shape slathered in uninspiring styling. I’m getting tired of saying it. I hate the chrome unibrow and the Accord’s new headlights kinda creep me out. They’re like bug eyes.
#7: Nissan Altima - Nissan has a design language, and they have a lever. The styling is “woah” and the lever controls the percentage of styling the car gets. The Murano got a 95% blast, the Maxima got 83% and the Rogue and Pathfinder got a pitiful 0.02%. The Altima got blasted right in the face, but otherwise remained unscathed.
#6: Ford Fusion - For 2017 the Fusion recieved a slight facelift, with thinner elongated headlights and a more angular grille. But the rest of the problems remain. The taillights are still awkward and slapped on, and there’s still a lot of visual heft in the body. The combination of the slightly upswept beltline and downswept bodyline makes it seem like the rear door handle is lower than the front one.
#5 Chevrolet Malibu - This is definitely the Malibu’s best angle; it negates the odd shape of the roof. It’s yet another modern car with a dozen grilles. Chevy’s double-grille thing is one of the worse corporate grilles out there. It kinda works on the Malibu. The LED running lights are super weird, and for some reason they’re half chrome. All in all it’s a bit of a mess. The two-tier grille is not a good idea, the LED lights are a weak attempt and look...just bad, and I hate the things that come off the bottom grille. I don’t know what to call them; they’re underneath the LED strips. I hate them and Chevy keeps shoving them down my throat. I do like the neat bodylines that meet on the rear doors.
#4: Hyundai Sonata - The previous gen Sonata was not good in the face area. It was constantly sneering at you in disapproval. Aside from the face it was an attractive car. It introduced the 4-door-coupe look into the mainstream, a look which has stuck. The new model is much more attractive face-wise, but it’s become a bit generic in the process. The hexagon grille is widely used, and while the hybrid Sonata and the Genesis have a more unique “shield” grille, it’s been toned down to ubiquity here.
#3: Mazda 6 - Mazda is not in the business of making ugly cars. They proved that with the CX-3, 3 and Miata. The upcoming CX-9 looks fantastic, and even the CX-5 looks good. Even though it’s fwd, Mazda’s bent towards good proportions shines through. The hood is long, and the dash-to-axle ratio is the best in the segment. Those fenders are super dramatic especially viewed from behind, and I just noticed those chrome foglight surrounds form a mustache like a French waiter who is also a cat. All that said, the design doesn’t grab me as much as the top contestants.
#2: Kia Optima - Kia is generally hitting it out of the park (Soul, Sportage, Sedona, Rio Hatch) and the Optima follows the trend. The Tigernose grille is one of the best in the biz, and here it’s streched wide, connecting to the narrow headlights. It’s a design that works well, and I appreciate the chrome cheek vents and window trim that flows into the D-pilllar and how smooth everything is and how well it all flows. I wish that the rear would be a bit more more like the GT concept, where that small triangle behind the rear wheels would kick upwards instead of flaring out.
#1: Chrysler 200 - Just take a minute to compare the 200 with the Sebring. The Sebring was an ugly duckling, and the 200 is a swan. The Sebring was genuinely fugly; it had those ill-advised hood strakes, those squinty eyes, and the nasty olf Chrysler logo. But the new 200 is an elegant car, with soft lines and smooth creases everywhere. I really can’t find any faults with the design, except for slightly long overhangs.