Yeah, I’m still pretty late with this. But I’m a lot less late than I was last year! And next year might yet be better. Maybe.
This is a fairly minor year for the list; there have not been many discontinuations or redesigns. The Honda Civic Si has fallen completely off the bottom since the new one isn’t half bad. That made room for the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, which debuts in the number eight position. There have also been some changes in the order as my tastes change.
The criteria are unchanged. Cars that are sold new in the United States are eligible unless they sell in very low volume or are not sold to the general public. Volume is defined based on my observations—if I see ’em on the roads, they qualify; if I don’t, they don’t. Vehicles that are only sold for exotic, military, commercial, or special purposes are excluded.
Following are the ten ugliest cars of the 2022 model year according to me. This list is my personal opinion. If you own one of the cars on this list, well, sorry.
10. Kia Soul
The Soul is still hanging around at the bottom of this list. It’s not really repulsive, it’s just a pedestrian kind of ugly. It was one of the first in an industry-wide trend of econo-cubes whose designers were trying way too hard . . . and failing. Its main redeeming quality is still that many of the competitors that came after it were much, much worse.
9. Hyundai Venue
Hyundai’s entry in the market of econo-cubes whose designers were trying way too hard is not as lumpy or angly as some of its competitors. Its more squared-off and conservative style might have worked if they hadn’t added those bizarro fenders and the dumb “extreme eyebrows” front fascia. Like many other Hyundai products, it’s close to being good.
8. Hyundai Santa Cruz
I like the idea of a small, car-like pickup. There have been some good ones, like the Isuzu Pup, the Subaru Brat, and the premodern Ford Ranger. The new Ford Maverick mostly fills those old, comfortable shoes. There have also been some ”car-trucks” like the El Camino that were cool in their own way. But the Hyundai Santa Cruz misses the mark.
7. Nissan Kicks
The Kicks is yet another econo-cube whose designers were trying too hard. It’s better than Nissan’s previous efforts, the Cube and the Juke, but it’s still bad. Small four-door crossovers don’t have to be ugly. There have been some good ones. But Kicks’s weird angles, pointy bits, and lumps don’t do it any favors. Why do car companies do this?
6. Mercedes GLC Coupe
There are two basic categories of ugly cars these days: the econo-cubes and the German potato brigade. The GLC Coupe is the first member of the German potatoes, and the least bad of the four that appear on this list. But it’s still a big ol’ lump of pointlessness. It’s a crossover trying to be a sedan whose manufacturer insists on calling it a coupe. It is not a coupe.
5. BMW X4
The second entrant in the German potato brigade is the X4. It’s the BMW equivalent of the Mercedes GLC Coupe: same size, same general shape, same complete lack of a reason for existing, and same misuse of the word “coupe” in its marketing materials. At least BMW didn’t put “coupe” in the name. That’s good. I guess. But it’s not good enough.
4. Mercedes GLE Coupe
The third member of the German potato brigade is the GLE Coupe. It is everything its stablemate GLC Coupe is, but bigger . . . so it’s harder to avoid looking at. And like its stablemate, it’s a crossover with misguided dreams of being a sports sedan. And its manufacturer still can’t figure out how to use the word “coupe” properly. It is not a coupe.
3. BMW X6
The fourth, final, and ugliest member of the German potato brigade is the X6. It is comparable to the Mercedes GLE Coupe, but worse. You know, it’s bad enough that one company makes one of these. I have no idea why two companies make two each. And for the last time, these things are not coupes. Words have meaning. Don’t lie.
2. Toyota C-HR
Toyota tried harder than everybody else to make one of these stupid econo-cubes, and it shows. So many bizarre angles, pointy overhangs, plastic cladding, and lumpy lights. Add those weird partitioned windows and gaping maw of a lower grille and it stands above (below?) almost everything else. The C-HR is almost the ugliest thing on the road . . . almost.
1. Toyota Prius
The Prius has been the ugliest car for many years running, and it’s still the ugliest in 2022. Everything about it is wrong. The lines meet in places they shouldn’t, the taillights were designed by drunk children, and what the heck is going on between the rear passenger windows, the roof, and the hatch? Yes, I’m sure it’s very practical. Practicality shouldn’t hurt.
In addition to the ten ugliest cars each model year, I also “award” a car, group of cars, or manufacturer with the “dishonorable mention.” This year, the “award” goes to:
Last year I condemned Hyundai’s bizarre design decisions on their sedans, especially toward their rear-ends. This year, I condemn whatever the heck they’re doing with their crossovers, especially toward their front-ends.
Most of their current crossovers—Venue, Kona, Santa Fe, and Palisade—have a front-end design that is a direct rip-off of the 2014-2018 Jeep Cherokee, which was one of the worst designs in modern automotive history. It seemed to channel bits of the erstwhile Pontiac Aztek, which was itself widely regarded as the ugliest car ever sold in volume in the United States.
That would be bad enough, but Hyundai has now iterated on that design with the front-end design of the Tucson and the new Santa Cruz. It keeps all the Aztek/Cherokee elements—the “extreme eyebrows” and the questions about which lights are supposed to do what—while adding even more confusing and unnecessary lights and a grille that looks like somebody dragged something the wrong way in Photoshop’s clone stamp tool.
Do better, Hyundai.