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by Jay Traugott
Even for young children, these family cars are not only downright ugly but can potentially cause serious mental problems later in life.
Many of us suffered from outright embarrassment as youngsters due to the cars our parents chose to buy. For whatever reason, people often overlook the vital elements of what makes a car visually respectable in the delusionary spirit of "buying something different." That's all well and good, but not when the car can potentially cause childhood trauma. So we've put our heads together here at CarBuzz to come up with this list of some of the most embarrassing family cars in recent years.
Toyota Previa: When Chrysler launched its all-new minivan lineup back in 1984, the rest of the auto industry was left stunned and stranded. For the most part, automakers simply didn't have a proper competitor to the Dodge Caravan, so many struggled to come up with something that wasn't a direct copy. The Previa, launched in 1990, was Toyota's second answer. The first was the VW Minibus-like Toyota Van. But the Previa was even more painful on the eyes with its bubble-like appearance. Its engine was set far back from the nose, and was available with all-wheel-drive. Toyota thought it had something unique to offer. It didn't, and was discontinued in 1997.
Pontiac Aztec: Oy vey, where do we start? Pontiac also wanted to be different when it entered the crossover segment in 2001. The Aztec was supposedly the answer to something nobody asked for but received anyway. Since the day it was revealed, the public wasn't sure quite what to make of it, but some people bought it anyway. From its front end that looks like a deformed rhinoceros to all of that plastic body-side cladding, the Aztec was a colossal failure in just about every way. The children of people who did buy one may now be suffering from any number of serious self-confidence issues.
Jeep Compass: This is what happens when a much-loved brand loses its way. When the Compass first went on sale for the 2007 model year, people didn't really like the idea of a Jeep that couldn't handle off-road terrain. Meant to be a softer Jeep for soccer moms and buyers who didn't know any better, the Compass symbolized nearly everything wrong with its parent company, Chrysler, at the time. Sharing its platform with the equally lamentable Dodge Caliber, the Compass did few things well and amounted to nothing more than basic transportation disguised as a Jeep.
Honda Crosstour: No one is sure why Honda decided to do the Crosstour. We're also still wondering how on earth Honda executives signed off on this downright awkward-looking wagon version of the Accord sedan. The argument could be said that Honda needed something to compete against the likes of the Toyota Venza and Ford Edge, but then again it already had the strong-selling and better-looking Pilot crossover. Despite its recent facelift, the Crosstour still looks like a deformed blimp with Honda badges. For anyone who currently owns one and has children, don't expect for them to grow up with a good sense of style and taste.
SsangYong Rodius: It's a good thing that South Korean brand SsangYong isn't sold in the US, otherwise we'd have to deal with seeing this thing on the road. The Rodius is a large MPV that can seat up to 11 passengers. Like in the current Chrysler minivans, the seats can fold down into tables and the rear seats can swivel around. Despite these accommodations, the Rodius never really sold well even in Europe, where strange styling is accepted more often than it is in the US. Word is that the Rodius was designed to resemble a luxury yacht. We say it looks like something nuns would drive filled with orphans in the back.