7 New Automotive Logos, Ranked from Best to Worst

Automakers are joining the modern, two-dimensional and chrome-free world of visual design. We rank the hits and misses.

car logos gearpatrol lead

The year 2020 marks the start of the new decade (unless you’re one of those well-actually-the-decade-starts-in-2021 pedants). The 2020s will be a crucial period for the car world, with fundamental elements the define our very relationship with the automobile in flux like never before. How will we pay for them? What fuel will they use? Will we even drive them?

Some of the world’s largest automakers have seen this transition period as a time to refresh and perhaps to reestablish their visual brand identity with new logos, following Apple iOS icons into a two dimensional, chrome-free future. There have been some hits — and one blatant miss. Below, we rank the recent new car logos from best to…whatever BMW just did.

1. Volkswagen


Volkswagen’s freshened logo is flatter then before; it uses a different font, and the W is detached. But changes were subtle, and it still reads very much like a VW logo. We’d give it an A+…but, alas, Volkswagen made more drastic changes to its “R” performance logo, which is unsightly enough to drag down our feelings about the brand as a whole.

2. Toyota


Toyota flattened and de-chromed the logo, and made the brand name more natural, to read with black text. It was a strong, subtle effort. So subtle, in fact, that I forgot the change even happened.

3. Lotus


Just like its cars, Lotus simplified, added lightness — and brought its classic logo into the modern era. It’s flat. No chrome. A straight, sans serif font. Hard to quibble with that.

4. Nissan


The future is flat and minimalist, and Nissan is preparing to join it. Solid effort, even if we’re more excited about the new “Z” logo and the vehicle that follows.

5. GM

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GM's new logo is meant to showcase its transition into an electric mobility company. Why that means going with lower case letters, well, we're not sure.

6. Kia


Fresh off of a World Car of the Year victory for the outstanding Telluride SUV, Kia is redefining its identity as an automaker. A logo revamp isn’t a bad idea, especially since the current one is not particularly memorable. The new one we’ve seen is weird, triangular and doesn’t read as “KIA” unless you’re specifically looking for it.

7. BMW


BMW has used the same logo essentially throughout its history. It’s easily identifiable. Now, though, BMW has removed one of the core elements from the roundel: the black ring. It will now be transparent. One could argue it’s BMW’s most controversial decision since trying to make customers buy Apple CarPlay as a subscription plan.

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