The 10 Scariest Vehicles of the Millennium (So Far)
Beauty is just sheet metal deep, but ugly goes clean to the frame.
In honor of Halloween, it's time to take a look at the 10 scariest vehicles of the millennium (so far). Assessments were made based on visual appeal, or more precisely, a lack thereof.
Selecting only 10 terrifying rides was an exhausting task because auto company stylists copy each other even when their rivals' designs leave much to be desired. Some vehicles on this list seem to be products of unsupervised designers. Others appear to have been designed by second-graders on a field trip. But I'd argue that all are scary enough to deliver a fright on All Hallows Eve or any other night of the year.
This list includes only vehicles that were sold in the U.S. after 2000. The picks have been listed Letterman-style, with the least offensive first and the Pontiac Aztek, we mean, the scariest, last.
10. BMW X6
A DNA test should be done on the X6 to make sure it's not related to the Aztek. Its distinct lack of pulchritude is just one of the X6's warts. It's also hindered by meager cargo capacity and an unreasonably terrifying price tag.
H.L. Mencken said, "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people." I'd submit that the Navigator, which has been a big seller, is proof of this. Just its monstrous grille alone is enough to give you nightmares.
8. BMW 7 Series
When the 7 Series was redesigned in 2002, its makeover wasn't exactly a hit with BMW aficionados. Its radically revised sheet metal was viewed as blasphemy by those who revered the marque for purveying vehicles that reflect understated elegance. The car's huge back end was derisively referred to as a "Bangle butt" -- a jab at BMW design chief Chris Bangle, who is credited with having been largely responsible for its look. Note that a more eye-pleasing 7 Series is waiting in the wings; the car was redesigned for the 2009 model year.
My teenage kid would rather walk in the rain than drive a PT Cruiser; if you're a car company, your styling couldn't be slammed any harder. When it first appeared, the Cruiser was cute and far better than the Neon station wagon it could have been. But something can be cute for only so long. Imagine a 4-year-old singing "Here Comes Santa Claus" for the 4,799th time in a row; that's the Cruiser. And its available wood grain vinyl siding is the automotive equivalent of a bad toupee.
Along with the similar Cadillac Escalade EXT, Honda Ridgeline, Lincoln Mark LT and others, the Avalanche is a vehicle for those who need neither a pickup nor an SUV. Its category may be amorphous, but what's crystal-clear is the fact that goblins and wart-nosed witches have nothing on this homely ride.
At this point, the retro HHR is just as uninspiring as the retro PT Cruiser. But even more so, since the HHR was nothing more than a brazen Cruiser rip-off to begin with. Boo.
4. Cadillac SRX
SUV? No, sir. What we have here is a Cadillac minivan. It's rare for SUV designers to look to a minivan for design inspiration, but that's exactly what seems to have happened with the pudgy SRX.
Really, any Hummer will do. The overly aggressive sheet metal on these SUVs seems to sneer at other motorists: "Get out of my way, for I am tough and rough and ultimately better than you!" Scary for sure, but what's even scarier is the mileage on these monsters. Everybody run!
2. Scion xB
Exactly who Toyota was attempting to appeal to with the Scion xB is unclear. The little wagon appears as if Toyota failed to take it out of the shipping crates. Perhaps it was intended as an homage to the Munster Koach from the '60s TV show or as a hearse for short people.
A true story: The first time I was to test the Aztek, I tried to get in the backdoor because I thought the SUV was facing the other way. The Aztek is a strong contender for Scariest Vehicle of All Time, not just this millennium. It made me suspect someone was slipping peyote into the water cooler at the GM design studios.
Maybe you own one of these cars. You might even love its styling. And that's OK, because at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just ask Chris Bangle.