Top 10 Ugly Cars

Designing a car is no easy business. It's a process that takes years and is often split between studios located across the globe — conceptualizing, modeling, wind-tunneling, focus-grouping. When the final product arrives at your local auto mall, it's been vetted more times than a presidential candidate.

After all that, it baffles us that an auto industry spending billions in product development could still turn out ugly cars. We're not talking bland, designed-by-committee machines that leave you forgetting they exist. We're talking rolling eyesores or comic relief on the drive home — cars whose owners you can only hope won them on a game show from hell.

We offer our picks for the top 10 ugly cars from the U.S. market over the past 30 years. We retired the Pontiac Aztek, an SUV even onetime GM product chief Bob Lutz admitted had an "unbridled homeliness." Don't get us wrong: The Aztek is ghastly. But it always makes these lists, and we wanted to give others a chance to shine. We are equal-opportunity offenders, after all.

Toyota Tercel wagon, 1983-87

Boxy hatchbacks aren't inherently ugly, but when you add in odd angles and a rearmost window that looks like it dropped out of a Lego kit, things start to go wrong. It goes completely wrong when you circle around back and realize some joker has slapped an ATM on the back of your car.

Ford Mustang SVO, 1984-86

How do you take an automotive icon and make it ugly? Hire a designer from Ford, circa 1984. That's when the automaker issued a performance variant of the Mustang called SVO. Already burdened with the econo-hatchback design of other Mustangs, it added a two-tiered spoiler and uniquely awful grille. The hood scoop looked like an aftermarket add-on.

Ford Probe, 1989-92

This may be the only car on the list owned by a staffer. "My '89 Probe was a pale brown called Mocha, so that alone could have influenced it falling on an ugly list," says Managing Editor David Thomas. Latte hue or no, the Probe's angular design and beefy proportions were not a good combination.

Chevrolet Lumina APV, 1990-93

Perhaps Chevrolet thought it was grabbing the future with its wedge-shaped Lumina APV, but all it proved was it could make a minivan look like a giant DustBuster. When we reflect on this injustice against families, we're not saddened that GM is out of the minivan biz.

Ford Taurus, 1996-99

Rounded corners came into vogue in 1990s automotive design, but Ford went too far. Replacing the sensible '95 Taurus with oval madness left all the aesthetics of a beanbag chair. One reviewer found more than six dozen elliptical shapes, from headlights to the amoeba-shaped dash insert for the stereo and climate controls.

Subaru B9 Tribeca, 2006-07

Subaru gutted it out for two model years before succumbing to its senses and overhauling the B9 Tribeca's front, but two years of that appalling grille were two too many. We wish we could go back to a time when we hadn't seen the B9 Tribeca.

BMW 5 Series GT, 2010-present

The 5 Series GT makes us long for the days when BMW had a proper midsize wagon in its lineup for folks who wanted a little more utility. You might think the sacrifices the GT makes in cargo versatility would lead to better looks, but the opposite is true. Why, BMW? Why?

Honda Accord Crosstour, 2010-present

Honda had to quell an internet backlash when the Crosstour debuted on Facebook. With its oversized grille and robotic headlights, the wagon suggests an automotive equivalent to the "before" photo in a rhinoplasty ad. Worst of all? You'd think the bean-shaped proportions would yield good utility, but the Crosstour has less room than most rivals.

Lincoln MKT, 2010-present

Is it a whale? Is it a piano? We prefer to think of it as what happens when a bunch of designers play a game of, "No, I can draw an uglier line than you." Not to mention that it looks like their paper became folded, resulting in that god-awful rear-window line.

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, 2011-present

An all-wheel-drive convertible with reasonable ground clearance is good in theory. But the CrossCabriolet adapts the concept to the Murano SUV's cluttered face, lops off two doors and squeezes the rest from a piece of Silly Putty. Leave the top up and the bloated tail joins two rear windows, neither of which offers much driving visibility.

Chevrolet Lumina APV photo courtesy IFCAR

© 05/1/2013