WTF Design trends in the auto industry

What are some design trends in the automotive industry that make you shake your head and say WTF were they thinking???

The biggest and latest one for me is fake exhaust outlets/vents/whatever at the rear of vehicles. Fake portholes is one thing, but damn, fake exhaust??

Nope, I dont like it.

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Man-eating grilles.

Hunchback SUV “coupes”.

Ambient interior lighting straight out of a Las Vegas strip club.

Random flame surfacing to try to hide the fact your potato shaped vehicle is basically the same as everyone else’s.

I’m probably the only one that cares, but flat-bottom steering wheels in anything but an open-wheel race car.

At least the fake exhausts A) lessen possible exhaust damage in a mild rear end collision and B) reduce the number of customers complaining about soot on direct injection vehicles. Still doesn’t look great, but I get it on a manufacturer level.


Fully digital instrument panels just for the sake of it? In my opinion, this is overkill - it completely hides vital information from the driver or at least makes it more difficult to see, and neither of these is desirable from an ergonomic standpoint.

In my view, the most logical placement for a set of analog dials (as far as performance cars are concerned) can be found in the 1992-2002 Mazda RX-7 FD - three secondary dials (one each for fuel level, coolant temperature and oil pressure) off to the left, a big tachometer in the center, and a speedometer on the right.

Ferrari used a similar arrangement for the 360 Modena and its successor, the F430 (as shown below), but with the fuel gauge moved to a separate digital display below the speedo.


OT, but I had no idea that the RX7 instrumentation was such a beauty! Really nice IMO. 🥰

Making SUV-“coupes” by cutting the roof in some road tank. No, coupes shouldn’t look like bunkers, so don’t make them like that. And yes, I think a good looking SUV-“coupe” is possible, even though I hate the look of most of them and that stupid name. One example for me is the Jaguar I-pace, even if not ideal. I also have my own idea to try in the game, but with that I’m waiting for the update.

Overdetailing. Simply s**tting all over the car with vents, creases, lines, chrome and all other possible stuff. While I get it in the case of the Civic, where as much as I don’t personally like it I think it fits the car, it’s IMO excessive and ugly in cases such as the Audi A6, but also some BMWs, MBs, Toyotas (ughhh, RAV4) and others.

Inside - main screens looking like tacked on cheap tablets. Come on, my ancient Nokia had smaller frames and more elegant design. Again, I think JLR and Volvo did it great, and even some protruded ones aren’t as bad - the new Clio for example, while the frames are still huge at least it’s somewhat continuous with the dashboard design.

More inside - that horrible piano black, it looks cheap and easily gets both visibly scratched and visibly dirty. Also in a similar fashion, carbon fibre details. Regardless if its actual CF or just fancy plastic, it looks absolutely disgusting inside, especially if it’s glossy. And recently I’ve learned that my dream car, the Ghibli Trofeo, comes with either piano black or carbon fibre finish inside :frowning:

Oh, and the graphic style on all those screens - are we back in the 00s? Do we really need all those 3D effects, colours, shapes, lines, gradients and other distractions?


On most modern cars, oversized wheels and tires are mainly there for looks, not function, and end up just being unnecessary dead weight that compromises ride and handling, as this opinion piece shows:

After all, back in the 1990s, the largest wheels you could find were no more than 18 inches in diameter, in contrast to today, where 22-inch wheels are commonly fitted to many large premium cars and SUVs.

Also from the same article (and the one below): Premium and luxury cars can get away with an interior filled with genuine leather, but it’s not necessary (or even desirable) for lower-end, mass-market stuff to offer it even as an option.

In place of leather that turns out to be nothing of the sort, high-grade cloth would be a better choice for such vehicles, especially since cloth tends to be easier to clean.


I don’t like all the overly complex shaping of the sheetmetal, neither do I like the trend that normal cars almost should look like cabovers today with an overly short bonnet and sometimes an extra window in front of the door to fill out the pillar. My favourite designs among new cars is the Dodge Challenger (OK, it’s a retro car that is almost getting retro in itself after over 10 years, but still), the Honda E, and almost anything that Volvo puts out (NOT the XC40). No stubby front ends, strange vents or unmotivated creases.

Also, fastback SUVs are yuk. Looks like a modern take on some donked early 50s Chevy Fleetline.

Overly large grilles with only a small area functional are a bit silly, the Audis of today almost looks like if they are trying to swallow something too big.

Also, yeah, I get it, “aLL neW cARs LooKs thE SaME” is something that always will be said, but like there was almost a generic car face in the early 80s, it has made a return. Kudos for makers that dares to go against the “squinty eye hexagonal grille” front that seems to be on absolutely everything nowadays. Take out the grille mesh and you can’t even identify a Mercedes anymore.


Holy shit that road and track article has some wild ass takes.

I think the screenshot really speaks for itself.


I can agree with you on that. The issue you have just mentioned is explored in further detail here:

Another problem with downsizing is that it leads to misleading trim designations across whole model ranges. I would very much prefer a system which simply consisted of the engine’s displacement followed by its power output - it’s nowhere near as good for marketing purposes, but immeasurably more honest.

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And immeasurably more clunky. Take Volvo for example - you’d have the “2.0” part literally everywhere. BMW? Yeah, I totally can see them going from 318i, 320i, 330i to 320i 160, 320i 200, 320i 260. Pure beauty. And honestly, I think this would only mildly benefit us petrolheads and nobody else, as people actually buying those cars will see the power somewhere in the beginning of the process, when still comparing a few options. And it’s literally a minute or two to check those numbers anyway.

Good point, well made. Even so, a uniform set of alphanumeric designations across all manufacturers may turn out to be more meaningful to the consumer, as this next opinion article shows:

As an alternative, real, honest names could be used instead - but without any additional badging.

Such uniform names could be as confusing for the average “car is another home appliance” buyer with absolutely no willingness to learn anything about the product they’re buying, which is exactly the kind of person this seems to be made for. And if the buyer doesn’t really care enough to check the basic info, why would the producer care to shove it into their mind? Oh, and especially when the buyer can use the same knowledge in a different brand dealership. When I’m buying a product I don’t really care about I check the basic things I need and ignore the rest, and if there was any naming system to provide me that info I wouldn’t even know of its existence, because, guess what, I’m not that much into this product category.

It’s a problem already solved by the existence of search engines and manufacturers’ websites.

I get that - car model names are best left as they are. I do, however, agree with this:

One of the worst offenders is the current RS6 (and by extension, the RS7); unfortunately, among performance cars, it is not alone, now that the BMW G80/G82 M3 has also succumbed to this trend.

The upshot is that truly beautiful car exteriors are becoming increasingly difficult to find, even in the top end of the market:

Instead, we are left with hordes of cars that look like Angry Birds all the time, even when they’re trying not to:

To be fair, I presume this shift in aesthetics was done in response to modern regulations and backlash over most cars of the 1990s (and even the early 2000s, to an extent) looking too friendly and cute - but just because everyone is going for the squinty-faced nose doesn’t mean you should (or have to, for that matter).

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I also don’t like the center info screens that just look like afterthoughts. Toyota sucks at this, and yet so great at it. Case in point CH-R vs Avalon.

Mercedes-Benz products from a few years ago looked like afterthoughts but at least they made them look good IMO.

When THIS first debuted there was a lot of controversy on whether or not it was a quote unquote TRUCK…most said no.

Fast foward to 2021 and this IS a truck, albeit with the same construction…how is that possible. Please someone help me understand.

edit: I cant wait until GM unveils THEIR version and kicks Fords ass :sunglasses:

um…the maverik is sure as hell more truck-ish than a Silverado LTZ or F150 King Ranch…

What’s your definition of a truck?

Something with a bed that is basic and rugged enough to be put to work. Many a King Ranch will ever carry more than you could pack into a V60…too damn prissy. A base model maverik? Steelies, disposable price? Totally going to see some proper work within its lifetime.

A Falcon XR6T ute will see more payload than a friken LTZ…

I digg it. Over here in the states, something like the new Maverick would never see heavy work…construction type stuff. Shit, not even landscapers, they at the very least will drive old school mini pickups…which may be comparable…I have no clue. You see Silverados, F-150s, Dodge Rams, and Toyota Tundras all day…where ever you go. All body on frame…unibody construction vehicles are mostly used for delivery type jobs due to their lower weight and better fuel economy. I’m MY mind, I don’t view unibody construction vehicles as “trucks”. Maybe it’s because of where we are from and and what we were taught growing up.