20 craziest automobile redesigns of the previous 20 years

Name them craziest. Name them most radical. Name them most vital. No matter. These are the automobile redesigns of the previous 20 years that ventured furthest from their predecessors and the automotive norm of cautious evolution.

These are automobiles that absolutely chucked away the outdated playbook from one technology to the subsequent. Some have been massively profitable in rejuvenating or flat-out establishing their manufacturers. Some have been “what have been they considering?” flops that required subsequent course correction for the subsequent technology. Some went past styling to incorporate elementary mechanical variations. Some are on sale at the moment.

Now, to be clear on the factors right here, the redesigns should carry the identical nameplate, so no Kia Optima to K5. The nameplates should even have been in steady manufacturing from one technology to the subsequent, so no Jeep Cherokee, Ford Maverick or Dodge Challenger. All are additionally in alphabetical order.

Acura TL

2009 Redesign

Oops. The Acura TL was one of many best-selling luxurious sedans on the flip of the century, and with the third-generation mannequin (above left), it reached new heights when it comes to each widespread and significant reception. It was an amazing automobile, and though its gross sales started to chill as that technology bought on in years, it could fall off the cliff with the fourth-generation TL launched for 2009. It was greater. It was worse to drive regardless of providing super-handling all-wheel drive. Worst of all, it was hideous back and front, with Acura’s new Robo-beak grille drawing probably the most disdain. Not solely would the TL by no means get better its former glory, Acura’s personal fortunes largely mirrored it. Right now’s TLX could be very a lot consistent with that third-generation mannequin, as is Acura’s wider re-focus on driver engagement, however they’re solely digging out from the outlet began with that ’09 TL. 


2021 Redesign

In most methods, the redesigned 2021 BMW M4 was an evolution of the automobile it changed. Should you merely checked out it from the aspect or from the again, you’d see a tidy evolution and go, “Certain, they’re each M4s.” And then you definitely’d get to the entrance. “Gaaagh!” has typically been the response when viewing ol’ beaver tooth up there. Ditto the M3 and each 4 Sequence. Possibly historical past will likely be kinder to this redesign, however for the time being, BMW nonetheless appears completely bonkers.

BMW 5 Sequence

2004 Redesign

The M4’s beaver tooth of at the moment was the 7 Sequence’ “Bangle butt” of practically 20 years in the past. That was in reference to that automobile’s controversial rear finish and the top of BMW design, Chris Bangle, who did not truly design the factor. Whereas that 7 Sequence might need been controversial, it was the following 5 Sequence redesign that was a a lot higher departure from what had come earlier than. The previous, “E39” 5 Sequence was successfully thought-about the right sedan and at the moment is taken into account a traditional, which is a uncommon distinction for any sedan. Try used automobile values for the E39 M5 … they’re insane. Then examine them out for the succeeding E60 M5 … they’re decrease regardless of all that V10 awesomeness. Entrance to again, the E60 was a radical departure from the tidy, clear proportions of the E39. I recall Automobile and Driver describing its face as “a Z3 with kabuki make-up on.” It was additionally an evolutionary lifeless finish because the next-generation 5 Sequence largely returned to enterprise as traditional. 

Chevrolet Silverado HD

2020 Redesign

Chevy retains insisting that its clients actually love the brand new Silverado HD entrance finish. In that case, good for them. Others have been much less appreciative. Nonetheless, no matter whether or not you’re keen on the look or discover it ghastly, you possibly can’t deny that Chevrolet actually determined to shake issues up with this newest technology. First, that is nearly as daring as a pickup redesign will get, no less than after the Nineteen Nineties. There’s nothing evolutionary about that, ah, face. Second, it makes it straightforward to pick an HD versus a Silverado 1500. We’re guessing all these clients significantly like that. 

Ford Escape

2013 Redesign

Here is the primary of a number of redesigns on this checklist the place it appears to be like like we’re automobiles constructed 10 years aside somewhat than one. Or simply utterly totally different nameplates altogether. The Escape was one of many first compact crossover SUVs, however it largely adopted the truck-based SUV playbook of being upright and boxy. There was a large overhaul for 2008 (pictured above), however the platform and basic boxy idea carried over. For 2013, the automaker’s “One Ford” coverage noticed the Escape aligned with the Kuga bought in different markets. And while you take a look at the earlier Kuga, it is fairly apparent who the brand new Escape’s actual father was. So, in a manner, they have been utterly totally different nameplates. 

Ford Fusion

2013 Redesign

Here is one other from the One Ford period, however whether or not you referred to as it Fusion in Flint or Mondeo in Manchester, this was a radical departure for Ford’s midsize sedan. Folks on the time “criticized” it for wanting like an Aston Martin, however come on, that is like criticizing your important different for wanting like Gal Gadot or Regé-Jean Web page. Whereas the 2011 Hyundai Sonata declared that household sedans did not must be nameless, this Fusion confirmed they may truly look actually good. Nonetheless does. RIP. 

Ford Mustang

2005 Redesign

Certain, this redesign turned again the Mustang clock visually, however there is not any denying that the 2004 and 2005 Mustang look completely nothing alike. And, for the primary time since 1979, there was an all-new platform. 

Honda Civic 

2006 and 2016 Redesigns

The Honda Civic from 2001 to 2005 might need been a tad conservative by comparability to its predecessors (and boy are Hondaphiles nonetheless grumpy about it switching to a MacPherson strut suspension), however it nonetheless adopted Honda’s evolutionary norm. There was nothing regular about its successor, the 2006 Honda Civic, which was daring, a bit bizarre, and fairly merely a surprising departure for its model. From its extraordinarily cab ahead proportions to its uncommon break up instrument panel, this was not Honda as traditional. It was due to this fact much more unlucky that the corporate not solely went the conservative, evolutionary route for the next-generation mannequin for 2012, however so badly phoned in all the automobile there was an emergency refresh a yr later. For 2016, which was a yr sooner than the Civic’s traditional generational cadence, an all-new Civic arrived with a daring and decidedly totally different look when it comes to fashion and proportion. As soon as once more, fortune favored the daring. 

Honda Pilot

Each Redesign

Certainly one of this stuff will not be like the opposite, one in all this stuff simply does not belong … When Honda went about redesigning its trendsetting three-row household crossover, it determined to essentially stir the pot (maybe not in contrast to the ’06 Civic) and go together with a boxy, truck-like design. Sadly, the remainder of the trade was making rounded, wagon-ish three-row household crossovers within the mould of the unique Honda Pilot. Critics panned it, and fewer individuals purchased it. Maybe studying a lesson, Honda went again to a rounded, wagon-ish three-row household crossover design for the third technology. Gross sales have been certainly a bit stronger, however it now confronted rising competitors, particularly from these with a extra rugged look. You realize, just like the Kia Telluride and its boxy, truck-like design. 

Hyundai Elantra

2011 Redesign

Most of this checklist may in all probability simply be Hyundais and Kias from this period, because the sister manufacturers underwent what can solely be described as a renaissance. However then that might be boring. Of Hyundai’s numerous redesigns, none have been as profound because the 2011 Elantra. It is uncommon when “all-new” is so blatantly apparent. By no means thoughts questioning whether or not each of those automobiles have been Elantras, it was truthful to ask how each have been Hyundais. 

Hyundai Sonata

2011 Redesign

The Sonata’s redesign for 2011 was revealed earlier than the Elantra and was due to this fact the one which exclaimed to the world {that a} new Hyundai had arrived. The designer of the present Toyota Camry as soon as advised me that the ’11 Sonata was a automobile that made him and his fellow designers actually sit up and take discover. It was a sport changer, not just for its model, however for midsize household sedans as an entire. Boring was now not to be anticipated, and moreover, the Sonata was a higher-quality effort than the up to date Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, which have been in a little bit of malaise period. The present-generation Sonata, launched for 2020, is almost as audacious of a redesign because the 2011, however after all, all the household sedan section has now misplaced its mojo. It definitely will not have the identical influence.

Jaguar XJ

2010 Redesign

Speak about throwing away the playbook. The Jaguar XJ had mainly regarded the identical for 41 years by means of a number of generations, and even when the final was a totally trendy, aluminum-intensive effort, nobody may actually inform due to the ye olde wrapper. The 2010 XJ was due to this fact a stunning departure for the nameplate and the model, even when Jaguar design director Ian Callum had offered a preview of this new route with the previous XF. Here is the fascinating tidbit, although: Regardless of wanting utterly totally different, the 2 automobiles above share the identical platform. Their wheelbases are even the identical.

Kia Optima

2011 Redesign

I as soon as wrote that the second-generation Kia Optima was so nameless that it had “styling by the witness safety program.” A Kia govt even quoted that in an auto present press convention for the automobile’s midcycle refresh — which is what you see above left. Sure, that was the supposed enchancment. So yeah, the model knew it wanted to spruce issues up a bit even when it took a number of extra years to actually do it. Whereas the 2011 Sonata was a sport changer for its section, the mechanically associated 2011 Optima is arguably the better-looking automobile. Moreover, it had much more floor to make up for the reason that previous Sonata was a a lot better automobile than the previous, dull-as-ditchwater Optima. 

Kia Sportage

2011 Redesign

Hyundai and Kia certain have been busy in 2011. Kia head designer Peter Schreyer, who beforehand gained fame for the traditional Audi TT, firmly established his model’s daring new route with the Sportage. I imply, simply take a look at these two SUVs up there. To paraphrase Chandler Bing, “may they be any totally different?” No, they actually could not. Inside, outdoors, the best way they drove. By no means thoughts a leap ahead, this was a moon shot. 

Mazda 3

2010 Redesign

Simply so we’re clear, placing an amazing large smiley face on a automobile will not be a recipe for achievement. The quasi-second-generation Mazda 3, which utilized the identical underpinnings as its predecessor, shocked everybody with its enormously glad grille and exaggerated entrance fenders. All of us would’ve laughed on the time if we additionally weren’t so unhappy that it was changing such a taut, good-looking little automobile. It was like placing a clown costume on a hunky man. Fortunately, Mazda corrected this error in aesthetic judgment with the next two generations.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

2019 Redesign

Simply kidding.

Nissan Altima 

2002 Redesign

In addition to the dramatic styling change, this redesign established the Altima as Nissan’s new midsize household sedan. The earlier one, the Maxima, had already solid off on its meandering 20-year journey into the premium realm. This all-new 2002 Altima was greater and bolder than the 2 previous generations, which have been awkwardly sized in between the compact and midsize segments, and featured uncommon downward sloping trunks. The 2002 was additionally heralded on the time for being partaking to drive, not simply in comparison with the final technology, however to all the household sedan section. The Altima has advanced from this technology ever since. 

Nissan Maxima

Each redesign prior to now 20 years

The Maxima has had an identification disaster since Nissan moved it upmarket on the flip of the century. First it was a luxury-adjacent sedan with out a lot effort made to fashion the factor; it was a type of decontented Infiniti. Subsequent, it was extra of a full-size sedan with a sporty bent and maybe an excessive amount of of an effort made to fashion the factor (it had a bizarre, mohawk-style, front-to-back glass roof panel amongst different oddities). Subsequent, it went again to a smaller, luxury-adjacent sedan with good-looking, if forgettable, styling. Subsequent, it stayed near-lux and equally sized, however established a brand new, audacious fashion route for Nissan that might go on to affect the Altima, Sentra and Versa. It was sporty once more, too, however its CVT and front-wheel-drive structure in the end betrays its “four-door sport sedan” mission. 

Nissan Pathfinder

2005 and 2013 Redesigns

The Pathfinder’s identification disaster went past aesthetics. It started the twenty first century as a unibody, five-passenger SUV — in a manner, a crossover. Then in 2005, it turned a body-on-frame, seven-passenger SUV. That truck-like building hampered its experience, dealing with, gas economic system and inside area relative the competing Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander crossovers. As such, Nissan switched issues up once more, this time with a unibody, seven-passenger SUV. Principally, all of those could also be referred to as Pathfinder, however they’re all wildly totally different. 

Toyota Mirai

2021 Redesign

Except you reside in California, it is not possible you have ever seen the hydrogen gas cell-powered Toyota Mirai. Nonetheless, it exists, and the redesign it just lately underwent for its second technology is as radical as they arrive. Initially, it was a type of embiggened first-gen Prius with front-wheel-drive, 4 seats and really ghastly styling. The 2021 redesign remodeled it right into a long-hood, short-deck, five-seat luxurious sedan with rear-wheel drive underpinnings derived from the Lexus LS. It is nonetheless powered by hydrogen, however the gas cell is smaller and located underneath the hood — versus underneath the entrance seats the place it created a weird sitting-on-a-stool seating place within the first automobile. That is the ugly duckling that turned a swan. 

Toyota RAV4

2013 and 2019 Redesigns

Here is one other “one in all this stuff will not be like the opposite.” For its 2013 redesign, the Toyota RAV4 turned extra car-like, with a decrease floor clearance, a correct hatchback and styling that was much less like a mini SUV and extra like a catamaran. Significantly, take a look at the entrance. And I am not simply making a joke, both, a Toyota designer as soon as advised me they have been actually going for a catamaran look. Anyway, regardless of promoting roughly 1.8 bajillion of them, Toyota took a threat by mainly pretending the catamaran technology did not exist. Its designers and engineers determined to undertake a much less car-like design and general idea, successfully placing the RAV4 again on an evolutionary line with the extra SUV-like third technology. It was related in form, increased off the bottom, and did not appear like different watercraft. 

Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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