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Examined: the Car Niche “Going Nowhere,” According to Automotive News

The strange, coupe-like crossover vehicles that automakers have created over the last five years belong to a “niche going nowhere,” according to Automotive News. Some of those crossovers, such as the Acura ZDX and BMW X6, are based on existing automobiles but compromise headroom and accessibility for style. Others like the Toyota Venza, Honda Crosstour, and BMW 5 Series GT, are basically hatchbacked versions of the Camry, Accord, and 5 Series, respectively, aimed at Americans who would not buy a traditional 5-door. Innovation should be celebrated, but these automobiles all sacrifice one quality or another that draws people to those segments in the first place. Three of these vehicles have already been covered in “Four Cars You Won’t Believe Are Still For Sale Today,” so I’ll try not to rehash my complaints too much:

Acura ZDX

Acura ZDX

The ZDX is basically just a sloped version of Acura’s best-selling vehicle, the MDX crossover. Although the MDX sold more than 50,000 units last year, the ZDX has sold roughly 1/10 of that since its introduction in 2010. Blame the car’s relatively high sticker price and total apathy toward headroom and ingress/egress for the rear passengers. Its style is highly polarizing (although I happen to like it), and highly polarizing doesn’t work well for a brand new car when customers are looking to shuttle kids around easily. Look for it to be discontinued in the next year.

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

BMW_5_Gran_Turismo_535i

BMW’s 21st century answer to the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx

I once wrote an article about the upcoming 3 Series GT entitled “BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo: When Americans Don’t Buy Wagons, This is the Crap We Get,” and the same sentiment is echoed for its bigger brother. The 5 Series GT was introduced to replace the slow-selling Wagon from the previous generation, and on the surface, the GT has plenty going for it. Although roughly $5,000 more than a comparable sedan, the GT boasts a length and passenger room nearly the same as the highfalutin 7 Series. The most obvious failure of the GT is the rear end, which toes the line between a normal hatch and a traditional trunk. Indeed, the rear may be opened in either way, a feature that has complicated the door and given the back an awkward profile. The sloping roofline and small rear window opening translates into a tight rear viewable area, which lowers the GT’s practical usability. The higher price tag and lower utility means less than 3,000 have been sold since 2010, according to AN’s estimates.

BMW X6

BMW X6 Snow

BMW X6 driver having fun, a concept alien to X6 owners

There is no combination of words venomous enough to accurately describe how wholly I hate this car. It’s hideous. It’s gigantic. It’s driven exclusively by douchebags. “Well, that’s any BMW!” you might exclaim. Well, yes, but the X6 is worse than all others, it’s the king of troll mountain, it’s the vehicular metaphor for the suburban dad who tries too hard to be cool. It’s what Phil Dunphy form Modern Family would drive if he had more money and had his head perpetually stuck up his own ass. The M version is the easiest way to both boast to others drivers that you have 2 kids and a blonde housewife and also warn drivers of your raging, barely controlled hormones.

Honda Crosstour

Honda Crosstour Rear

This is easily the most terribly designed car on this list. The Honda Crosstour, which strangely dropped the Accord prefix in 2012, has one of the lumpiest rear ends this side of the Porsche Panamera. While the X6 at least attempts to be cool but fails miserably, the Crosstour is on its own level of dour dumpiness that it has to have been designed to look like a cockroach. With an oversize Gilette-inspired grille and its protruding, bulbous ass, this is absolutely the most offensively styled car here.

Toyota Venza

Toyota Venza

I actually don’t have much against the Venza. It’s hard to get worked up over a Toyota because they are all so oppressively nondescript and unnoticeable that you could drive next to one for miles without realizing it. Hell, you may even be driving one now.

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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