10. Ford F-250 aka The Equal Sign
Ford has a good thing going with three-slat grilles. You can see it on the F-150, the Edge, the Fusion and the upcoming Explorer. But if you go big and get an F-250 heavy-duty truck, you get two really big chrome-covered slats. The problem is these slats hover just above and below the Ford logo. I don’t think truck buyers care, though, because the grille is just so massive.
9. Honda Pilot aka The Brand
One of Honda’s most popular models of the past decade got a major overhaul in 2009, and a grille that could brand cattle came with the boxy body. Sales weren’t really hurt by the design — $4 gas did more damage — and it’s one of Honda’s strongest sellers today. But when you sell an official replacement grille to “make people look twice,” you’ve already admitted you messed up with the default model.
8. Lincoln Navigator aka The Cheese Grater
The Navigator escaped the Cheshire Cat grille but retains Lincoln’s last attempt at “bling.” You remember bling, right? The catchphrase from the early 2000s to signify outrageous amounts of shiny jewelry to make you look cool? Yeah, this SUV still sports that, and it still looks bad. At the dawn of 2011 it also looks dated.
7. Nissan Murano aka Starbuck
While Acura’s grille hurt sales of the TL, the Murano’s starfighter look — I watch a lot of SyFy network, OK — didn’t set the sales world on fire, either, and Nissan saw one of its best-sellers take a hit. It’s been tweaked a bit for 2011 but still retains the angular, thin look. It’s not really offensive; it just fails to make the mark the designers were aiming for.
6. Toyota Venza aka The Alien
When I first reviewed the Venza, I noted its grille resembled a Klingon from “Star Trek.” Then I had some time with it and thought it shared more features with the creature from the “Alien” movies. Neither reference is a good one unless you need a costume for Comic-Con. Unlike the Crosstour (No. 5), the Venza has a spacious and luxurious interior that makes up for the grille. However, shoppers have not flocked its way.
5. Honda Accord Crosstour aka Razor Face
The idea of an all-wheel-drive crossover based on the Accord sounds like a home run to almost anyone. Then you slap this bulging grille onto a frumpish hatchback, and the ball is no longer leaving the park … it’s hitting a fan in the face on the first-base line. Forget the fact that the Crosstour is just an average hauler; it looks like a half-thought-out design covered over by its grille.
4. Chevrolet Aveo aka Audi Wannabe
It’s hard to pick on the Aveo when it’s already such a subpar vehicle performance-wise. Then you get the refreshed design a few years ago that mimics, quite poorly, Audi’s hugely successful big-mouth grilles. It’s bad enough to realize the Aveo is all the car you can afford, but it’s even worse when you realize people will see you in it, too.
3. Lincoln: Current Lineup aka The Cheshire Cat
Lincoln needs all the help it can get to influence shoppers enough to consider the brand relevant. Its MKR Concept car in 2007 stunned with its art deco design, which has been faithfully applied to models like the MKS sedan and MKT crossover. However, real world cars and SUVs look less menacing than the concept due to their size. Only the current Navigator has escaped the grille, but not our list.
2. Mazda: Current Lineup aka The Smile
Mazda spent a lot of time developing the new grille and overall design for its brand, which started with the redesign of the Mazda3 and has now been integrated into all its vehicles. Some cars look more natural than others, but all look like they’re giving you a grin, and not in a good way. If a co-worker smirked at you like that, you probably wouldn’t appreciate it. Fortunately, Mazda has seen the error of its ways and announced it would go in a new styling direction.
1. Acura: Current Lineup aka The Beak
No other grille I could think of directly led to a sales slump like Acura’s new look. Originally, the concept was for a “shield” to adorn the MDX SUV. It looked good, so someone at Acura decided every car should have a similar look. Thus, the beak. When applied to the redesigned TL, that best-seller’s sales took a hit, despite being an impressive performer and value. The company isn’t changing direction, though — the just-released TSX SportWagon sports the beak, too.
By By David Thomas, www.cars.com