Sunday, March 31, 2013

Awkward car designs that make me scratch my head

Infiniti JX
Every time I see the Infiniti JX, I wonder why there is a kink in the D-pillar. Is it for structural or safety reasons? Space maximization? "Tell me it isn't there purely for design," I think to myself. Without this little design feature, the JX would have a quite attractive side profile. I'm sure some people think the D-pillar kink gives the JX character and uniqueness, but it makes me scratch my head. Click through for some other examples.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The rise and fall of chrome taillights

2004 Lexus IS
Taillights and their plastic casing has traditionally been red, which enticed teenagers and tuning enthusiasts in the 90s to convert the taillights of cheap cars (Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Nissan Sentra, etc.) from red to chrome. However, earlier this decade, a short-lived trend emerged where automakers incorporated the chrome taillights as stock. I don't see many examples anymore...the fad did not hold. I particularly never understood why Lexus used chrome taillights on the last-gen IS (above), but it must not have been popular because the current model uses red taillights. The demographic Lexus was going after for the IS was entry-luxury / above-average income, but the taillights suggested a teenager demographic; there was a clear disconnect. Click through for some more examples.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick comment: Hyundai Equus

Hyundai Equus
Just a quick note on the Hyundai Equus. I admire what the Equus has set out to achieve: to be an ultra-luxury sedan that competes with the S-Class, 7-Series, and A8 that costs tens of thousands of dollars less. The VW Phaeton tried and failed years ago, yet the Equus seems to be going strong. The Equus' interior is well-appointed and attractive, and the exterior utilizes Hyundai's tried-and-true strategy of mixing the best design elements from many different competitors (Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and Buick LaCrosse come to mind) to create a legitimate challenger...even if it is a tad bland/nondescript.

However, there is one feature of this car that really bothers me...the rear door handles are an a really odd angle! It wasn't until I passed one yesterday that I noticed this, and now it is all I see whenever I see this car. There are a couple things Hyundai could have done to avoid this: 1) raise the bulging rear haunches a little higher (if they are what caused the weird angle) or 2) lower the front door handles (which could also create a lower stance).

I know this is a somewhat trivial post, but I couldn't resist :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cars in movies: Tower Heist and The Descendants

I watched 2 movies this weekend: Tower Heist and The Descendants, both of which I enjoyed for very different reasons. Tower Heist was an extremely predictable but fun movie starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy doing exactly what the title suggests - stealing from a tower, which in this case belonged to Alan Alda's character. The Descendants was a very moving story about George Clooney's character grieving over his wife's boating accident.

I've always believed that cars represent implicit characters in movies and help cinematic storytellers succinctly divulge important information and traits of characters. I wanted to show how these two movies used cars in an effective manner. Click through for more.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cars with "faces": the 5 meanest and the 5 friendliest

Maserati GranCabrio
I've always been fascinated with how designers give cars human features to appeal to buyers. Cars are an important expression of identity, and the "expression" of your car's "face" -- friendly, aggressive, athletic, or somewhere in the middle -- represents the image you want to project to the world. Click through for 5 of the meanest and friendliest car faces.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

10 "hidden gem" cars I don't see enough of on the road

Cadillac CTS Coupe
I saw a Cadillac CTS Coupe in town the other day, which reminded me how well-designed it is. The wedge shape is distinct, aerodynamic, and downright it! But I don't see enough of these cars on the road for some reason. Click through for some other examples of great cars that people should buy more of.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tesla Model S Sighting in Santana Row

I wish I had the chance to snap more pictures - I saw a Model S in Santana Row, San Jose, CA the other night. This car is probably one of the best looking cars on the market today. I love how aerodynamic it is; there are practically no protrusions on the body (door handles, taillights, front fascia). It kind of looks like a next-gen Kia Optima, with an iPad-like dashboard that I'm sure will catch on amongst the other car manufacturers in the next 5-10 years. At ~$50k, I would seriously consider this car against buying my favorite Mercedes C/E Class, Audi S4, or Jaguar XF - for the ecological benefits, but also for the coolness factor. I was not the only one stopping and taking a picture of this car...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Test drive: A week with the Mercedes C250 in Los Angeles

Mercedes C250 in front of Hollywood Sign
If you look closely in the background, you can see the Hollywood sign, haha. I cashed in some of my Hertz points and rented a Mercedes C250 on vacation this week in LA. As a Mercedes enthusiast, I loved the car, but even if I wasn't an enthusiast, the car was a lot of fun. Click through for my review.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Studebaker Wagonaire and GMC Envoy XUV: separated at birth?

Studebaker Wagonaire
I visited the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles this week and noticed this interesting '63 Wagonaire with a retractable roof, which reminded me of GMC's failed XUV about 10 years ago. What an odd idea...why would anyone need this feature? Click through for a few thoughts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Taillights - the best and the worst

Mitsubishi Mirage
I saw an article on Autoblog yesterday reporting that Mitsubishi was considering bringing the new Mirage (pictured above) to the US to "reinvigorate" its ailing lineup. While I agree that Mitsubishi needs to inject some excitement into its lineup, this Mirage certainly isn't going to do it. There are a lot of things I don't like about this car, but most importantly its nondescript, blobby taillights, which make the car look 10 years old. The styling of the Mirage looks instantly dated compared to other subcompacts on the market, especially those from Hyundai and Kia. The Mirage inspired me to think of some other automakers who haven't paid enough attention to taillights, and some that did. Click through for some examples: