Hooniverse Asks- What's The Worst Mid-Cycle Refresh?

We’ve all seen it happen- a car or truck comes out and it looks nigh-on perfect. Then, two or three years down the road, the maker decides that the styling’s getting a bit tired and so spices it up with the usual mid-cycle refresh. This entails a new nose and tail light treatment, and sometimes can result in looking like the car was designed by not just two different people, but by incongruous species.
The current Mustang is just such a car- reshaped to appear smaller and more athletic, it now sports an odd baboon-butt and black-painted grill-sides losing the definition between opening and headlamps. That’s just one questionable re-imagining, and there are many more. In your mind, which one takes the cake for most egregious screw-up of a good design?
Image sources: [ cardotcom, fastcoolcars.com]

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48 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's The Worst Mid-Cycle Refresh?”

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      You'll all disown me and rip the stripes from my sleeves, but actually like the convertible much more than the PT hardtop.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I used to like this commenter named Tanshanomi, but he is now dead to me.
        I keed. Well, mostly.

      2. tiberiuswise Avatar

        I like convertibles in general but in this instance there's just less of it to hate.

    2. discontinuuity Avatar

      The worst thing is that the "roll bar" has nothing to do with safety; it merely holds the top up.

    3. ptschett Avatar

      In the case of those two particular photos I actually like the convertible better… its a pre-'06 model, with a straight cut across the bottom of the headlight vs the weird notch seen on the '06+ wagon. Also the '06+ interior was beaten with the ugly stick thanks to Daimler.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I never noticed the notch before, and now, like a wart on a co-worker's face, I'll never stop seeing it.

  1. dolo54 Avatar

    Of course it's subjective, but beg to differ on the stang. The current one is the best looking stang since the 60s in my opinion.
    I'm going to go with removing the hood strakes on the Sebring. Like that's all it needs.

  2. tenthousandfeet Avatar

    US Focus.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    I like the front end, for the most part. Blacking out the grill sides was a mistake, but, overall, it comes off as more sleek. The backend is not quite as pretty as the old one. However, as you pointed out, the new engines can make up for these slight styling miscues.

    1. FreeMan Avatar

      I think the new front end looks much squintier and meaner than the previous. In comparison, the '09 kinda looks wide-eyed & surprised in an "Oh HAI, I can haz gazoline" kinda way, while the '10 is more "Don't touch my stuff, and I'll kill you if you ever call me Francis".

      1. NefariousKunk Avatar

        It is like the Eclipse in the mid 90's. It went from smilie face to frownie face.
        Menace > cheer
        I have grown to like my upbeat buddy though.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    For me the switch to the glass fastback on the C3 Corvette in 1978. I know that for some unknown reason on of the esteemed editors here (Dearthair) despises these cars anyways and can't see the beauty of a timeless design. I'm strange in that I think the rubber bumpers, especially on the front of these cars improves the looks. The best one is the 1973 with rubber front bumper and chrome rear, followed by the 1974-1977 versions. Of course my opinion might be a little biased since I've had a 1977 Corvette since 1990.

    1. Benito Avatar

      This is what I was going to say. My Dad owns a '74, and you are absolutely right. That glass fastback on the later C3s kills me.

    2. Benito Avatar

      This is what I was going to say. My Dad owns a '74, and you are absolutely right. That glass fastback on the later C3s kills me.

  5. TurboBrick Avatar

    The old Hyundai Tiburon when it went from cat-eyes (99) to bug-eyes (00). I know, no one cares, but I have a soft spot for those little Korean sh*tboxes.

    1. NefariouKunk Avatar

      Right there with you. You can see that it is a departure from their usual way of doing things though. Precursor to the Genesis.

  6. bobsmop Avatar

    Like many others in the comments, I think the new Stang is gorgeous. And standard sequential turn signals? Who can argue with that?
    I know the Camry's never been a beautiful car, but I absolutely hate what they did to it in 2001. The current gen Camry is probably the best looking since the utilitarian 92-96, but putting the two generations side by side, the 07+ looks somehow bloated, even though the length, and width vary by less than two inches. Funny, that. Oh, yeah, back to my point, the 01-06 is a pile. I can barely stand to look at that strangely-places and shaped hood bulge and those waay-oversized teardrop headlights.

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Toyotas have been crap for a long time. Once the 90s hit, the fun was all over. With the recent debacle, just give me a Kia and we'll call it good haha

    2. engineerd Avatar

      The current Camry's styling is horrible. It's definitely not bland, but it's lumpy. It's the automotive equivalent of a fat chick in size-or-two-too-small spandex. I drove one for a few weeks last summer and hated myself every day.

    3. Dan Richmond Avatar
      Dan Richmond

      Gotta say, I'm actually pretty keen on Toyota's current styling (taken from the standpoint that these are at this point meant to be entirely unremarkable vehicles). In no way am I saying they are cars I'd like to take home with me, but I can't help but find them handsome.
      But then I've always had bad taste, so who knows.

    4. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      '02-'06, I believe; the '01 was still a classic Camry.
      The '02-up models, both generations, are somehow responsible for a good chunk of the stupid driving I see, while the earlier models are nearly exempt. They changed to the electronic throttle at that time, too, and they lost their ability to properly center their hubcaps. Seriously, watch a stripper-model Camry roll down the road some time and check out the wheels.
      Aside from the awkward nose, though, the worst bit about those Camrys… Camries… Whirlpools is that they all appear jacked way up in the back. Cool in a RWD car, not so much with a FWD grocery-getter.
      <img src="http://www.partstrain.com/images/The_Auto_Blog/camry1.jpg"&gt;
      I fear that may even have been the intention of the stylists, which wouldn't surprise me, given that the current Camry doesn't even have its badges put on straight, and it's got an enormous wart and a fat arse.

      1. Syrax Avatar

        The '92-'96 was the best for me. Is the overhang way bigger in the back or is just this photo?

  7. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I'm going back a ways, but the '78 Monza takes the cake.
    <img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/chevrolet-monza-9.jpg"&gt;
    They blunted the looks of a car that had nothing but looks going for it.
    It instantly went from a hotly styled, flawed, unreliable car to an exceptionally bland, flawed, unreliable car.

  8. BGW Avatar

    D22 Frontier. I drive an '04 and while I like everything about the way it drives and performs its trucky duties, I really loathe the botox job they gave the fascia towards the end its run. Still, I went for function over form and I'll take the bloaty face over the Tacoma's increasingly Sam Beam-like frame rails anyday.

    1. skitter Avatar

      I couldn't find a Series 1.5 shot that captured the horribleness of the new headlights.

      1. UDman Avatar

        Remember, a lot of the restyling was the result of new US regulations that defined minimum headlamp height, and the fact that it was illegal to have glass enclosures. There was a lot of dictating from the US as far as car design in the late 60's, and moving onto the end of the 80's. Just looked at what happened to the difference between the Series 2 and 3, and the final iteration after the installation of the 5MPH Bumpers.
        <img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/jaguar-xke-series-3-v-12-6.jpg&quot; alt="" />
        Series 3
        <img src="http://www.steveseuropeanauto.com/images/classifieds/full/1974_XKE_Front.jpg&quot; alt="" />
        1974 version

        1. skitter Avatar

          The glass headlight rule ruined many a pretty face, and the bumpers many a pretty body.

  9. Daga Avatar

    Saab when they moved to the chrome rimmed headlights. craptastic

    1. Dan Richmond Avatar
      Dan Richmond

      Amen. A far cry from their former glory or not, they were very attractive vehicles before those unnecessary swoops and angles came in and botched up the stately parts.

  10. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/jk2/images/03cavalier_cpe2.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    I win, but really the '03 Cavalier made us all lose (Ecotec or not).

  11. MrGoodCat Avatar

    I actually like the Mustang refresh. The front end looks much better, sportier, and the back end is not bad at all. The new engines are going to make all kinds of hooners pretty happy.

    1. discontinuuity Avatar

      The sequential turn signals are pretty cool.

  12. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I will have to say the refreshening of the Lincoln Mark VIII…. at work, so can't do pictures, but used to have an elegant front and rear end, with thin headlamps and taillights, then ruined it with some bulbous s#!t.

      1. Clashtastic Avatar

        but the post refresh Mark VIII LSC w/ what 320 horse HIDs, and the ventilated seats. very cool.

      2. ptschett Avatar

        It pains me whenever I see a Ford with directional wheels and two are on the wrong side. That left-front wheel belongs on the right side, and has an arrow cast into the hub to prove it, not that tire installers look at these things. (I used to have those wheels on my T-bird, and I've also fought this battle with its original 15" wheels which also are directional.)

        1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

          Good catch! I missed that. (and I was thinking I was being good with my google image searches because i found the same color with the same wheels)

  13. 1300ccsoffury Avatar

    Pontiac Aztek. The mid-cycle refresh came just 1 year after it initially went on sale. I didn't like the fact that the refresh meant it was still going to exist.

  14. ptschett Avatar

    The only reason the current Mustang is even worth considering in this contest is because the '05 was so good. It'd be waaaay down on my list though.
    Consider instead:
    '70 GTO to '71
    2nd-gen F-body, especially the last revision for the Firebird/Trans Am where the grilles went away
    '93 Thunderbird to '94

  15. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I'm going back a ways, but the '78 Monza takes the cake.
    <img src="http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/chevrolet-monza-9.jpg"&gt;
    They blunted the looks of a car that had nothing but looks going for it.
    It instantly went from a hotly styled, flawed, unreliable car to an exceptionally bland, flawed, unreliable car.

  16. Alff Avatar

    In terms of style only, the history of the Alfa Spider is one of incremental decline. Most beautiful at its inception, particularly with the lovely boattail. The move to Series 2 brought with it the Kamm tail, stylish in its day but lacking the graceful curves of its predecessor. The S3 that succeeded it was another small step down, and was likely not what Mr. Robinson had in mind when he uttered the word "plastics". By today's standards, it is still a very pretty car but, in comparison to its forebears, somewhat marred by the foam rubber trunk spoiler and the loss of chrome bumpers. Others disagree but I find the last of the line, the S4, to be a ridiculous caricature of its ancestors, with its silly ground effects and monochromatic paint treatments.

  17. Dan Richmond Avatar
    Dan Richmond

    I was just on my way down to drop the bug-eye into the comment box. The bugeye was my high school dream car, my first (and truest) vehicular love, so I was flabbergasted when they reworked it into the blobeye's rounded/slanted shape-fuck of a front end. Fortunately the hawkeye that followed redeemed the design for me (if not everyone else).
    I will still rubberneck at a passing bugeye of any trim, even if I did wind up owning a hawkeye.

  18. Tomsk Avatar

    The '66-'67 Riviera's 1968 rhinoplasty.
    <img src="http://www.4wheelz.net/virtual/images/buick/1966_buick_riviera01_95e0_im.jpg&quot; width="470" height="310" />
    <img src="http://www.musclepricecars.com/images/1968-buick-riviera.JPG&quot; width="475" height="360" />

  19. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    I agree on all three counts.
    B9: Suddenly, it's a Chrysler! Its one standout trait – quirkiness – just disappeared entirely. It became benign as soon as they stopped badging it as such.
    The Impreza, honestly, was quite likable before they restyled the nose; after that it was bland yet somehow hideous in a Toyotalike manner. The ugly-but-cool second refresh fixed this, however.
    And I'm a sucker for sequential turn signals, though the rear quarter windows still drive me absolutely illicit-Chiropteral-congress insane without louvers over 'em.

  20. Robbot Avatar

    Every current Mazda with the new smiley face. Especially the RX8. I just looked at a 2004 and a 2010 RX8 side-by-side, 2004 = much better!