Old Cars

Why do so many modern sedans look alike?

A version of this post appeared at Curbside Classic a couple weeks ago. I contribute there from time to time. Its primary mission is to document the old cars still rolling on the road, but we consider all things automotive. Check it out here.

Are the world’s automakers all smoking from the same pipe?

Recently Chrysler unveiled its redesigned midsized sedan, the 200, which goes on sale in the fall as a 2015 model. It’s about time; the current 200 is frumpy and dumpy. The new 200 is a sleek, beautiful design.

Chrysler200
2015 Chrysler 200

But wait… where have I seen that form before? Oh, yes, of course – on the midsized Ford Fusion, which went on sale in 2013.

FordFusion
2014 Ford Fusion

And on the new-for-2014 full-sized Chevrolet Impala.

ChevroletImpala
2014 Chevrolet Impala

These cars have a lot of common design elements: high beltline, tall nose, aggressive grile, dramatic side creases, roof that flows smoothly into the trunk lid, and large, round wheel openings. But the signature design element they share is the rounded six-window greenhouse with a kick-up at the tail.

Did Chrysler steal this look from Ford and GM?

Or maybe they stole it from Toyota. Here’s the full-sized Toyota Avalon, which debuted in 2013.

ToyotaAvalon
2014 Toyota Avalon

Even small cars are wearing this basic design. Here’s the current Nissan Sentra, which was new in 2013.

NissanSentra
2014 Nissan Sentra

The compact Dodge Dart, new in 2013, could be the Chrysler 200’s little brother. But given that they’re made by the same company, I’m sure that’s no coincidence.

DodgeDart
2014 Dodge Dart

But it must be coincidence that Buick’s smallest car, the Verano, has worn the same basic look since 2012.

BuickVerano
2013 Buick Verano

Ford’s small cars wear similar six-window greenhouses, although the rear-window kick-up is far less dramatic. Here’s the current Focus, which debuted in 2012.

FordFocus
2012 Ford Focus

And here’s Ford’s Fiesta, also new in 2012.

FordFiesta
2014 Ford Fiesta

Finally, even Honda’s compact crossover, the CR-V, got into the act in 2012.

HondaCRV
2014 Honda CR-V

I’m used to cars by the same maker wearing similar or even identical styling. GM was king of this for decades. They made one basic car, put different front and rear clips on for each of their brands, and sold them by the boatload. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many similarly-styled cars across so many different makers. I find this six-window styling to be plenty attractive – but I guarantee that ten or fifteen years from now when these are all cheap wheels on the used market, we’ll all look at them and say, “That styling is so mid-2010s!”

Wanna see some classic car style? Then click here and here and here.

Last updated on 3 March 2020 by Jim Grey

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10 thoughts on “Why do so many modern sedans look alike?

  1. Horrible, isn’t it? I started noticing this with the Dodge Neon. Everything started to look like that. Then everything looked like the Prius. And now we’ve come to whatever boring horribleness is going on today.

    • Fortunately, it’s a really attractive design.

      The thing I keep reminding myself is that the average person doesn’t care too much – they want the car to be reliable, roomy enough, and good enough on gas. And not ugly. As long as those things are met, they’re fine.

  2. Steve Miller says:

    “Good enough on gas” — that’s the crux of this homogenization of design.* Except for the front end of that Avalon. I’m gonna have nightmares tonight!

    *Well, that and “Transformers,” anyway, he says, looking at the CR-V.

    • That and safety standards. The tall noses and high beltlines have to do with minimizing damage when you hit pedestrians, I think.

      The Avalon is my least favorite of these, followed by the Buick.

  3. Neil says:

    That’s a nice in-depth and sad analysis, Jim. I sure miss the days when I could identify every car on the road. Now I hardly give most vehicles a second glance.

    • I still look, but the days were I could pinpoint a car’s model and year with 100% accuracy have been over for 25 years. They just don’t change enough year to year anymore.

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