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22 Polarizing Vehicles Sold in America

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/20/2015 Stefan Ogbac

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially when it comes to cars. On roads ruled by midsize sedans and crossovers, there live a select few automobiles that spice up America's beige-infested highways. We've compiled a list of existing and upcoming vehicles with looks to make you do a double take, plus six retired (or soon-to-be retired) vehicles that served as cringe-inducing benchmarks of the past. To some, these cars may look cutesy, attractive, or even desirable, but others see something hideous or repulsive. One thing is for sure, though. Their polarizing exterior styling gets attention, and a lot of it.


22 Polarizing Vehicles Sold in America
Nissan JukeMercedes-Benz GLE CoupeLexus RC FBMW i8
Kia SoulLexus NXJeep CherokeeRam Promaster
BMW X6Honda CrosstourBMW 5 Series GTBMW i3
Hyundai VelosterFiat 500LLincoln MKTLexus IS
Honorable Mentions

Nissan Juke

2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Juke SL AWD If there were a way to describe the Nissan Juke, it would be a bionic frog. The crossover was intentionally designed to stand out in public, and it can either be blinding or earn adoration for its quirkiness. Add to that an exterior color palette with vibrant shades, and you've got a fun-to-drive crossover with plenty of character.

Kia Soul

2015 Kia Soul© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Soul Hamsters: People have them as pets, and some of them drive a hatchback with a quirky exterior painted in eye-popping colors. Sure, it's another box with wheels, but what other car comes with so much character, mood lighting that changes colors with the music, and awesome dancing hamsters? Furthermore, the Soul has been a runaway success for Kia, which goes to show being different can pay off when done right.


2015 BMW X6 Xdrive50i Offroad Front Three Quarter View 1© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 BMW X6 Xdrive50i Offroad Front Three Quarter View 1 BMW's first niche model, the X6, is marketed as a "sports activity coupe," in other words an impractical SUV with a sloping roofline that creates blind spots and cuts into interior space. The goal was to create a tall four-door coupe, but what emerged was a turtle-shaped monstrosity that attracts a lot of attention because of its unconventional shape. Surprisingly, the X6 is a sales hit for BMW in terms of non-mainstream products and is now in its second generation, which has the same attention-grabbing exterior design. You can also now get the X6 in smaller package known as the X4, which is based on the X3.

Hyundai Veloster

2015 Hyundai Veloster Front Three Quarter View In Motion 4© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Hyundai Veloster Front Three Quarter View In Motion 4 When it comes to downright quirkiness, few can come close to or match the Hyundai Veloster and its lack of symmetry. The car's trick third door makes it one of a kind, and its exterior styling commands attention, especially in the Veloster Turbo where the asymmetrical design, angry face, and gaping grille can really make heads turn and induce cringes. Too bad the aggressive looks don't translate into the car's performance, because the Veloster's driving dynamics fall short of expectations.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

2016 Mercedes Benz GLE63 S AMG 4Matic Coupe Front Side Motion View© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE63 S AMG 4Matic Coupe Front Side Motion View A few years after BMW created a new segment and found success, Mercedes-Benz entered the impractical crossover wars with the equally senseless GLE Coupe. This weird-looking car with the three-pointed star tries to make a coupe out of a tall SUV without removing the two rear doors, turning it into a horror piece equaled only by the X6 in senselessness. Exterior styling is just as unconventional and looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex bit off part of the crossover's rear end, cutting interior space and rear visibility.

Lexus NX

2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport No longer content with vanilla products, Lexus introduced new vehicles with some of the most aggressive looks on the road thanks to a predatory front fascia. The NX is the latest iteration of this, and when viewed from the front, it looks like it can eat people thanks to its gaping spindle grille. Man-eating appearances aside, driving the NX will get plenty of attention due to its aggressive styling and the Lexus badges that adorn its grille and hatch.

Honda Crosstour

2014 Honda Crosstour© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Honda Crosstour Looking like the child of the Honda Accord and the BMW X6, the Honda Crosstour is as practical as it is weird. Think of it as a midsize sedan that didn't quite grow all the way into a wagon or SUV, a crossover with a giant hatch, swoopy roofline, higher ground clearance, and an unconventional exterior that might blind people. The Crosstour will be discontinued after the 2015 model year.

Fiat 500L

2015 Fiat 500L© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Fiat 500L On Fiat USA's consumer site, one of the main tabs has a heading that states "beauty runs in the family." That's true except for one obvious problem — the Fiat 500L. Take a 500 hatch and stretch it until it sprouts two extra doors and a larger cargo area, and what you get is a turbocharged jelly bean that can swallow a whole payload of Ikea furniture. Too bad the 500L is bubbly in all the wrong ways, and its doubtful Tony can fix this and bring out the sexy.

Lexus RC F

2015 Lexus RC F© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Lexus RC F Gaping maw? Check. V-8 engine? Check. The Lexus RC F is the epitome of a shockingly angry sports coupe that draws all types of attention wherever it goes. An aggressive front fascia featuring two cluster headlights that separate the LED units from the main cluster make it appear like an apex predator ready to go on the hunt especially with Lexus' spindle grille. What really makes the RC F a properly aggressive sports coupe is its impressive handling and snarling V-8 to complement its angry exterior.

Jeep Cherokee

2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk What happens when the Nissan Juke gets larger and gains true off-road chops? You get the Jeep Cherokee. The SUV's angry front fascia came under fire when it was introduced due to it being unconventional and Jukelike in appearance. Despite the criticisms, the Cherokee continues to grab attention on the streets with its un-Jeeplike appearance that allows it to stand out.

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

2014 BMW 5 series gran turismo© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 BMW 5 series gran turismo Dubbed the Progressive Activity Vehicle (PAV), the 5 Series Gran Turismo aims to combine sedan, SUV, and grand tourer in one package. A promising concept, but what you get is an awkwardly proportioned car with a slightly taller ride height. It's trying too hard to be too many things at once.

Lincoln MKT

© Provided by MotorTrend What exactly is the Lincoln MKT? Is it an SUV? A tall wagon? A hearse? What about all three? In short, the MKT is another car that tries to be all things and ended up with goofy proportions and a rear that looks like it'll fall off. If the MKT has a saving grace, it's the available EcoBoost V-6 engine, which turns this strange machine into a family hot rod.

BMW i8

© Provided by MotorTrend When auto manufacturers create hybrid, electric, or fuel cell vehicles that aren't derivatives of an existing model, it usually ends up looking extremely unconventional or just plain weird. Enter the BMW i8, a hybrid sports car with butterfly doors and all kinds of curbs and creases that make it look like nothing else on the road. Sure, it may be cringe-inducing, but the goal of this car is to grab attention, and what better way to do it than in a hybrid sports car wrapped in an overload of odd shapes, angles, and LED lighting?

Ram ProMaster

2015 Ram ProMaster© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Ram ProMaster When a car is based on something made by an Italian automaker, it's very likely that it'll have plenty of character. The Ram ProMaster, a commercial vehicle based on the European market Fiat Ducato, looks as quirky as any mass-market Italian automobile out there. The flat front end and high-mounted headlights make it stand out in a crowd and give it a look all its own. Sure, it will shock some folks, but its emphasis on practicality and capability is more than enough to overlook its unconventional exterior styling.

BMW i3

2014 BMW i3 eDrive© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 BMW i3 eDrive As the future of green driving, the BMW i3 was bound to look futuristic. Complete with odd creases, angles, and nontraditional window designs, the i3 is as eye-catching as it is awkward and allows its drivers to flaunt their luxury piece of sustainability in a car that's as un-BMW as it is fun to drive.

Lexus IS

2015 Lexus IS 350 F Sport© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Lexus IS 350 F Sport The first car to feature Lexus' new design language was the third-generation IS sport sedan, which looks more like a shark than a car. Some might find it a sight for sore eyes, but the IS lineup is now one of the most striking vehicles in its class due to its aggressive styling. L-shaped LED daytime lights separated from the main headlight cluster and the brand's new spindle grille make the IS look like it's ready to devour its competition through its gaping maw. Smoked bratwurst anyone?

Honorable Mentions

These vehicles no longer in production or about to be discontinued set the standard for getting reactions out of people, both good and bad.

Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet In 2011, Nissan chopped the roof off the Murano and created what they dubbed as the first convertible crossover. What came out was a tall, chunky drop-top that had weird proportions, limited appeal, and an appearance that can blind bystanders. As a result, the egg-shaped mutant known as the Murano CrossCabriolet didn't gain much ground in sales and was euthanized once the second generation ended production.

Chevrolet SSR

2003 Chevrolet SSR Review© Provided by MotorTrend 2003 Chevrolet SSR Review Looking to the past for inspiration usually happens because an automaker wants to recapture the magic of a specific model. The Chevrolet SSR was one of those vehicles, but its lack of convention, its impracticality, and its oddball exterior made it into an overstyled retro-mobile. Due to slow sales, the SSR sold below expectations and was only in production from 2003 to 2006.

Pontiac Aztek

2001 Pontiac Aztek front three quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2001 Pontiac Aztek front three quarter No list of polarizing vehicles would be complete without the Pontiac Aztek, the mother of all modern oddball vehicles. The unconventional exterior design eventually became the Aztek's weakness and was its main point of criticism. Its multi-eyed front end, square wheelwells, and a rear that look like the roof had melted off just didn't sit well with consumers. However, the Aztek was a pioneer in challenging the boundaries of modern car design and allowed for unconventional looks to gain ground in the current automotive landscape.

Acura ZDX

After BMW introduced the X6 and found success, Acura followed suit with the ZDX, an impractical crossover composed mainly of sharp angles, a giant beak, and plenty of blind spots. Produced from 2009 to 2013, the ZDX became one of the slowest sellers because it took Acura's edgy, angular styling to such an extreme that it could scare children away.

Scion xB

2015 Scion xB© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Scion xB Even though it's not long for this world, the Scion xB took boxiness to another level for two generations since it first appeared in 2003. Like its shape suggests, the xB is as useful as it is polarizing, looking like a toaster with wheels and painted in loud colors. The second generation, however, grew too large, and although it initially sold well, it eventually lost ground to the Kia Soul.

Nissan Cube

2014 Nissan Cube© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Nissan Cube Of all boxy cars to ever go on sale, none is quirkier than the Nissan Cube. It's shaped like a box, but the cube has curves that make it look completely out of the norm even among oddballs. Add to that the availability of eye-popping colors and an interior design inspired by bathtubs, and what you have is a blindingly odd anime wagon full of character and controversy.

Polarizing Vehicles© Provided by MotorTrend Polarizing Vehicles

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