Dumb Cars of the Noughties

Everyone’s doing their best and worst of the decade lists and whatnot, it being 2010 and such, as it were.  So I thought I’d give my thoughts on something that has really bothered me the past 10 years of my existence – ugly and stupid cars and car trends.  Now, don’t get me wrong, car aesthetics have certainly improved since the 1990s for the most part, but there are quite a few styles and models of automobile introduced in the ’00s (which is pronounced “noughties,” I believe)  that really grind my gears.  So here’s an informal list of some of the worst of the worst that come to mind.  And this is only an opinion.  My opinion.  So don’t get all flamey on the comments section.  Also, you’ll have to forgive my weird mixture of British and American car terminology; I watch a ton of Top Gear so the U.K. terms tend to lodge themselves in my mind.

  • S.U.T.s (Sport Utility Trucks), AKA “Truck-U-Vs.” Examples would include the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Avalanche.

    Chevrolet Avalanche (image: Wikipedia)

    Christ, they even made an SUT version of the Hummer H2... so you look like even more of a douche than you already are for buying an H2 (image: Wikipedia)

    These things are just idiotic, and fed into the 2000s’ obsession with SUVs.  What is the use of a little 2-foot truck bed on the back of your SUV?  I think that some full-blooded SUVs have more space in the back than these things do, the only difference being that it’s covered up.  Seriously, make up your mind, people.  Get an SUV or a proper pickup truck, not one of these things, because it succeeds largely in combining the two into a useless chimaera with none of the advantages of its parts.  It’s the car equivalent of a liger – a useless hybrid that can’t reproduce.  Did I mention that they made SUT versions of the Cadillac Escalade and Hummer H2?  Yeah, just think about that.

  • That hideous Dodge…THING….I saw the other day. This….THING….went down the street the other day and I said something along the lines of “That is quite possibly one of the ugliest cars I have ever seen.”  I later found out that this monstrosity is the Dodge Nitro, introduced in the ’07 model year:

    The hideous color of this example makes it even uglier. (image: Wikipedia user Karrmann)

    What were they thinking?  It looks like a reject from the Transformers, plus it fits into one of the other categories of “useless” that is “compact SUVs.”  Right.  For when you want to look like you drive a giant car that never goes off-roading but has the capabilities….except smaller, without any real capabilities.  It’s like buying an industrial-size dishwasher and only using it every other weekend to wash a couple of plates; in other words, it’s stupid.  It could be worse, I guess: at least it’s not any worse than the Dodge Rampage, an unholy union formed in the ’80s between a Delorean reject and an El Camino.

  • What I like to call “box cars,” i.e. the Scion XB and Honda Element.  Even the Wikipedia entry describes the XB as “box-shaped.”  ‘Cause that’s just what someone wants their car to be.  Dear Lord, what were they thinking?  This was another one of those efforts to snag the key 20-30 year old male auto buyer market, and, judging by most manufacturers’ efforts, 20-30 year old American males would seem to have absolutely no taste.  If I was a male, I would be insulted.

    The Honda Element, another example of that deplorable '00s trend of "lotsa dark grey exterior plastic in random places." (image: Wikipedia)

    The Scion XB is about as aerodynamic as a brick.

    Supposedly they’re comfy and have good acoustics or some sh*t like that, but seriously, dude, it’s a CAR – choosing a car for acoustics is like choosing a chainsaw for its paint color.  I would rather have an aerodynamic car (and it’s pretty easy to be more aerodynamic than these boxes) with slightly-worse acoustics, personally.  It’s not like you’re recording Pet Sounds in there or something.

  • Hummer, in general, has made themselves a whole lot worse this decade.  And yet, their popularity, both in the USA and abroad, has exploded, because it seems to me that the ’00s have been all about SUVs and not-so-functional pseudo-SUVs that are never, ever even used for any kind of “sport” or “utility” activity by most.  It started with the H2 – here’s a Hummer you could buy that would actually fit in your garage and had a tiny bit of functionality, i.e. it can climb a 14 inch vertical incline or something silly like that.  But it cost a ton more than other trucks or SUVs which are essentially the same but don’t look like a Hummer.

    ME BIG CAR. ME TOUGH. ME EAT YOUR CAR.

    And then it got ridiculous with the H3, which is essentially a sheep in SUV’s clothing.

    baaaah. (image: Wikipedia)

    Not only do they look bad, they make YOU look bad (like a gas guzzler, douchebag, yahoo, or all of the above) and they’re basically just rubbish.

  • The Jaguar S-Type. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE jags.  Jag is one of my favorite makers, but they went through some tough times design-wise in the late ’90s.  Putting it on this list is kind of like cheating because the S-Type came out in 1998, but Jag kept making it through the 2000’s.  I have to agree with James May’s assessment for the most part on this one (he talks about it briefly in this review of a different Jag):

It’s targeted towards Americans, and though the designer may have thought that it evoked retro ’60s jags, to me it’s just a crappy luxury car with a weird grille that doesn’t look right with the rest of the car.  Seriously, look at that thing:

The Jaguar S-Type (image: Flickr user 111Emergency)

It’s rather insect-like, in my opinion.  I just really don’t care for it.  And thankfully, Jag is doing a bit better these days in terms of their aesthetics.  The XJ8, for example, looks quite a lot better.

  • What, for lack of a more PC word, are often called “Girl SUVs.” I’m talking about those compact SUVs that are essentially useless.  I discussed them earlier in the article though, so I’ll spare you another rant.
  • Really bad metallic paint colors. I like to refer to these two shades as “baby shit gold” and “baby carrot poop orange”:

    Doesn't get much worse than a Scion XB in baby shit gold.

    The closest thing I could find to "baby carrot poop orange." The color I'm describing is a bit more metallic than this, but you get the idea.

    These colors are destined to become the 2000s’ equivalent to the ’70s’ brown car paint.  And it’s always the douche-iest cars that come in these shades, it seems.  Not surprisingly, the two pictures I found are of Scion XBs.  Go figure.

  • Chevy’s “sports pickup,” the Chevrolet SSR.

    What is it? A child's toy? And why THAT of all colors? (image: wikimedia commons)

    This thing isn’t necessarily ugly, but its purpose totally eludes me.  If you want a sports car, buy a car designed for sports.  If you want something with a useful pickup bed, buy a pickup truck.  But by no means try to combine your two needs into one car.  You’ll probably just end up with a car that fulfills neither need and looks…..odd.

  • “Angry headlamps.” I heard this mentioned on Top Gear once and am noticing it more and more on recent cars – headlamps that slant downwards at the top, looking somewhat like “angry eyes.”

    The Fiat Sedici is angry at you. (image: wikimedia commons)

    Here’s another example (with added embellishment to demonstrate my point) – the Hyundai Genesis:

    grrrr, me angry red Hyundai!

    I don’t like when a car looks at my angrily.  And I think those headlamps do nothing for the so-called aesthetics of these cars.  Although they’re certainly better than those pop-up ’80s headlamps.

So, mates, that’s the list.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Over and out.

Recca 3/31/10

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2 Responses to “Dumb Cars of the Noughties”

  1. This decade is looking bad if we have to contend with the likes of the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul 0_0;;

  2. Rebecca, the Avalanche was one of the stupidest and most hideous trucks ever made and the people that drive them may also be questionable as well. I know of at least one super ego psycho type that drive one of those.
    All the best

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