At the dawn of the new millennium, now a full decade-and-a-half in the past, people were filled with hope. Hope for the future. Hope that the 2000s would continue the economic stability of the 1990s, and hope that the world’s automakers would continue to bring new and exciting designs to life, fresh for consumers’ picking.
Well, there have been victories and disappointments, and in the auto market, there hasn’t been too much to complain about. But there have been some misfires.
Usually, automakers redesign vehicles to improve them; to take what people love about vehicles and augment it, and to get rid of flaws or less-popular features, to appeal to a wider base. But sometimes redesigns backfire, and actually end up repelling more drivers than they attract. While usually intended to spike sales for a stagnating model, redesigns can definitely backfire, and we have plenty of examples to prove it. Over at Cars.com, they have put together a cohesive list of some of the worst offenders. Here are the models they came up with as the 10 worst redesigns automakers have come up with since the year 2000.
10. 2009 Subaru Forester
It’s hard to go wrong with a popular SUV like the Forester, but when the 2009 redesign hit streets, there were some complaints. That doesn’t meant that the Forester still wasn’t a great vehicle. There was, however, a vocal subset of consumers who swore their loyalty to the previous generation’s boxy, angular design. Of particular note, drivers didn’t like the higher center of gravity that the redesigned model presented, making the 2009 model feel a bit less planted to the ground, as Cars.com says.
9. 2007 Chrysler Sebring
Chrysler’s Sebring was once the car of choice for the business world, but has since been relegated to, well, rental car status, as Cars.com puts it. “The new Sebring lost any hint of elegance with its blocky backside, and the interior was far behind the competition of the day,” the editors write. On top of that, the new engine was louder and helped erode even more of the “luxury” away from the experience.
8. 2004 Nissan Maxima
The early 2000s were a rough time for Nissan designers. When the 2004 Maxima was unleashed to a hungry public, it marked the beginning of a transformation from a rather compact, economical sedan to a bigger, more luxury-aimed car. The issue that presented was that it waded into the same territory that another Nissan model, the Altima, already had locked down. “Ever since the Altima became a midsize sedan with an optional V-6, experts have wondered why anyone would pay thousands more for the equally powerful, slightly larger Maxima,” says reviewer Kelsey Mays.
7. 2002 BMW 7 Series
Cars.com points a finger at 2002 BMW 7 Series designer Chris Bangle. “His first design statement for BMW didn’t fully execute on his vision for the brand, and it left the world with a mod version of what was once pure German elegance personified,” the editors write. And they’re right, this BMW redesign ended up turning off a lot of people. Also, the first iDrive application was housed in this very car, which only added to the issues. BMW thankfully went in another direction with subsequent redesigns.
6. 2010 Ford Taurus
If there’s one sedan on the market that has lost a lot of steam over the past decade-and-a-half, it’s the Ford Taurus. Having been really elbowed-out by its fellow Ford sedans like the Fusion, the Taurus saw a rebirth in 2010. There was some marked improvements, but there were also some rather large shortcomings. For how oversized it has grown to be, it still has a rather cramped interior. Cars.com says that the Taurus was even longer than the Honda Odyssey minivan, despite being more cramped.
5. 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
Few consumer cars are as popular as the Volkswagen Jetta, especially coming out of Europe. So, what happened when VW put out a redesigned version in 2011? “Despite a starting price of just less than $15,000, most Jetta trim levels cost considerably more than that, so the new car will still be seen as a premium offering in the compact-car segment,” writes reviewer Mike Hanley. “That’s a problem, because the interior isn’t as nice as the one in the car it replaces.” The simple answer to VW’s woes? Failed Americanization.
4. 2004 Nissan Quest
The Nissan Quest is one of the more “out-there” minivans still on the market. As one of the key competitors to Toyota and Honda in the minivan segment, the Quest took some turns earlier in its career, which led it to become an outlier in terms of design. In the early 2000s, Nissan engineers took the Quest and gave it a bloated, chunky look, and added a bunch of strange features, like four sunroofs. Although it’s not a terrible design for what it is, it definitely turned a lot of would-be buyers in another direction.
3. 2011 Scion tC
Toyota’s Scion line has evolved from an interesting experimental lineup to a fairly potent set of vehicles. The tC is one of those cars, which is sporty, sleek, and relatively inexpensive. When 2011 rolled around and Scion unveiled the tC’s redesign, critics felt that it suffered from some of the same issues that the 2008 Ford Focus did. In the cabin specifically, Cars.com editors felt that Scion had gutted the tC, and left it with a cheap-feeling interior that left you wanting more.
2. 2008 Ford Focus
2008 was supposed to usher in a bold new era for the Ford Focus, but that apparently was pushed back to the even more recent redesign. The Focus has become a fairly popular compact for the economically focused driver, but the second generation is described as “a cut-rate Americanized version that was all basic transportation and no flair” by Cars.com. That’s basically the beef with the 2008 Focus redesign: It simply felt like a shell of its European brother. Luckily, Ford has since stepped up its game when it comes to the Focus.
1. 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
The most recent model to appear on the list is the 2013 Malibu redesign from Chevrolet. While the Malibu doesn’t seem to be all that offensive on the surface, that hasn’t stopped many from considering it to be a dud. The Cars.com editors specifically had gripes about the size of the back seat and the transmission. “Consumers may have a hard time reconciling not only its looks and interior, but also its value and spaciousness versus the class,” writes expert reviewer David Thomas.
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