THE STREET@ www.thestreet.com
According to Polk, the average U.S. has been on the road for more than a decade as drivers conserve cash, but even new-car buyers aren't being swayed by good looks. The share of new cars being bought by Americans between 18 and 34 is down 30% in the past five years, according to auto pricing site Edmunds.com, while the Pew Research Center study notes that people under 35 bought 12% fewer cars than they did in 2010.
With the Department of Transportation noting that just 28% of 16-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds have drivers licenses – down from 50% and 66% respectively in 1978 – car dealers are lucky if kids are giving their vehicles a look at all. Their parents, meanwhile, just want something that can help them keep the job they're feeling awfully lucky to have.
Meanwhile, traffic information service Inrix notes that as average gas prices started spiking in 2010, average commute times during peak hours dropped from more than four hours to less than two.
A study done this spring by the Frontier Group and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that the average U.S. driver actually started cutting back well before the recession, peaking around 2004 but dropping 6% by 2011.
While the total miles driven in the U.S. rose 3.8% from 1948 to 2004, they've been flat since. A 4% drop in vehicle ownership since 2006 and a 4 percentage-point drop in licensed drivers since 1992 aren't helping. If ever there was a time to sneak an ugly car past an unsuspecting U.S. public, it's now.
Our Ted Reed has taken great pains to rehash our nation's sordid history of ugly vehicles, but even his lengthy lists of unfortunate vehicles don't do justice to the horrors of the modern auto marketplace.
There have been vehicles released within the past year that are every bit the detriment to design that the 2001 Pontiac Aztek, 1977 Lincoln Versailles and 1985 Cadillac DeVille were. The following are just 10 examples:
10. 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage
It's built in the grand tradition of the Geo Metro, Hyundai Excel and the other tiny, fuel-efficient hatchbacks of the late '80s and early '90s, but with all of the stripped-down qualities that soured U.S. drivers on those cars in the first place.
Not only are Mirage drivers investing in an unfortunate-looking toy, but they're not getting a whole lot more than mileage out of their .
9. 2014 Toyota Prius
Take your pick of the original-recipe sedan, the Prius C compact or the Prius V wagon: They're all dowdy little utilitarian that nobody's buying for their exterior features.
Efficiency reduced down to the point of ennui.” Yeah, it doesn't get much prettier from there. When discussing the Prius with Forbes in 2012, New York Times automotive writer Lawrence Ulrich noted that customers buy a Prius – the best-selling hybrid in the U.S. – in spite of its looks, not because of them: “It’s as frumpy as any I’ve seen, like an over-full colostomy bag.”
Well, Toyota, it could be worse: The Prius could look like the contents of that colostomy bag. But as long as it's roughly a third of the base price of a Tesla Model S and gets about 50 miles to the gallon, the Prius doesn't mind having its name dragged through the mud ... or worse.
8. 2014 Nissan Juke
Nissan absolutely loves the ugly in this .
7. 2014 Lamborghini Veneno
You don't see the words “ugly” and “Lamborghini” occupying adjacent in a sentence very often, so cherish this moment.
The critics have been less than kind to evil-twin Speed Racer's aluminum-foil Mach 5, though. The hottest take comes from Edmunds' Huffman, who declared it “the worst thing out of Italy since Fascism.” Somewhere, Fabio breathes a sigh of relief.
6. 2014 Mini Paceman
Since its roles in the Austin Powers series and The Italian Job, the Mini Cooper has been embraced in the U.S. as a compact with a whole lot of and style.
5. 2014 BMW X6
The very purpose of the crossover is to get the space and utility of an SUV onto a sedan's frame. It's meant to take the best of each vehicle type and turn it into one vehicle that's both more practical and more .
4. 2014 Nissan Versa Sedan
At least Nissan can defend its strange-looking Juke as the artistic product of free-thinking designers. The Versa looks like it was produced in plants in the former Yugoslavia and Czech Republic by Eastern Bloc bosses who thought the Yugo and Skoda had too many amenities.
It has traction control, ABS brakes, airbags and a whole lot of other safety features that are fairly standard by now. Its 109-horsepower engine is tiny, its NissanConnect offerings are extra and its chrome accents, trip computer, outdoor temperature gauge, four speakers and 60/40 folding rear seats are listed as key amenities.
What would draw someone to this car beyond price? Well, the automatic does get combined mileage of more than 35 miles per gallon. From a buyer's perspective, that's the only thing that looks remotely attractive about this faceless sedan.
With a grille straight out of a whale-watching excursion, a nose even a prizefighter would cringe at and bloated frame modeled on the Ford Flex, the MKT is inefficient and unpleasant.
But that's kind of what you'd expect out of a car that's being used as a hearse in some portions of the U.S. With the Lincoln Town Car gone, Lincoln was leaning on this as a car-service replacement. Instead, it gave the MKT a facelift last year that actually sent plummeting to 6,000 from 7,000 a year earlier.
2. 2014 Honda Pilot
1. 2014 Infiniti QX80
QX4, QX56, QX80 ... whatever name Infiniti finally lands on for this , it shouldn't be pretty.