The 2010s were not an optimal time for weird cars to make it to production. The decade began with a global economic crisis, and ended with automotive companies streamlining and cost-cutting while prepping for a zero-emissions future. Emissions cheating fines were measured in the billions. Carmakers seldom found firm enough footing for decadence and risk-taking. At the same time, companies were growing better at analyzing sales and market data…and the data said to build more crossovers.
Not all was staid about the automotive market of the 2010s, however. For better or worse, a few genuinely oddball cars did make it through to production. Here are 10 of our favorites.
Mini Paceman (2013-16)
The Paceman was for that special customer who wanted a two-door sub-compact crossover that was just as impractical as the Mini, but sacrificed some of the fun driving dynamics for more ride height. This customer also wanted the choice of a manual transmission, apparently.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (2011-14)
“This bog-standard four-door crossover needs more pizzazz. Let’s remove two doors, chop off the roof, and make sure at least 93 percent of them are produced in beige.”The Murano CrossCabriolet could have been added to the list of charges in former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s indictment.
Lincoln MKT (2010-19)
The MKT wasn’t a bad car, but the proportions are off; it’s just awful to look at from all angles. It scores added weird points for being a Lincoln, which means someone had to choose this over a Ford and pay more for it. Lincoln replaced the MKT with the Aviator, which is like swapping out the weird DJ at your wedding with Bruno Mars.
Toyota Mirai (2014-19)
Hydrogen fuel cell car? Outstanding. Bring on the zero-emissions future. But why did Toyota’s 2014 crack at it have to be so bizarre-looking? The Mirai made the Prius look fashionable. The next-gen car, thankfully, is a major step forward on the aesthetic front.
Volkswagen XL-1 (2015)
Ah, the early 2010s, when Volkswagen diesel engines earned plaudits rather than indictments. VW developed the XL-1, a limited=run, hyper-efficient and aerodynamic diesel hybrid that earned 100-plus mpg. It had practical touches like not-quite-gullwing doors, enclosed rear wheels and no rear window. There were plans to put a limited run into production. Then Dieselgate happened…
Mercedes G63 AMG 6×6 (2013-15)
Range Rover Evoque Convertible (2017-19)
The Evoque is a stylish little subcompact Range Rover crossover that did not have design input from Victoria Beckham. Land Rover then decided to make it into a heavy, oddly proportioned convertible, because…? ¯\_(?)_/¯
Nissan Juke (2010-19)
The Nissan Juke has running lights that sit where the headlights should be and headlights that sit where the fog lamps should be. Toss in some very prominent wheel arches, and you’ve got one weird-looking car. Nissan went back to the drawing board for the second generation, mercifully.
Acura ZDX (2010-13)
The ZDX rocked the sloping “coupe SUV” look well before it became cool. (Or at least, “cool.” It had a rounded backside, sharp, vaguely Cadillac-like lines at the front and a rear door handle built into the window. It was fun to drive, but that was not enough to save it.
Citroën C4 Cactus (2014-17)
The C4 Cactus is a well-regarded crossover that never hit America. On top of the odd face, it came with some classic Citroën quirkiness — namely the weird “airbump” panels on the outside designed to protect the car to protect against parking lot dings.
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