In today’s uber-competitive automotive landscape, straying from convention is not always a good idea.
The automotive industry is about making money, after all, and with competition so fierce, manufacturers quickly figure out what is a winning formula and what isn’t. That’s why so many vehicles within a given segment are so close in dimensions, performance and style.
SEE ALSO: Top 5 Weirdest Subarus of All Time
But every once in a while, some mad scientist at an automaker slips a design past the stodgy big wigs and before they can yell “retract!” it has already found its way into production. The past decade has been littered by such creations, and although they are few and far between, here are the Top 10 weirdest cars of the past 10 years.
Is it a frog? Is it a crocodile? Or is it a gummy bear? The answer is yes. Easily the most identifiable small crossover of the past 10 years, the Juke has bucked the trend of unusual vehicles and actually sold fairly well. It even comes in NISMO guise and if you’re extra crazy, there’s the incredibly limited Juke-R.
Honda Accord Crosstour
A Honda Accord wagon sounds like such a cool idea and in Europe, it’s a reality. But in North America, we received this abomination that was part wagon and part crossover. Subaru has been successful for years making such a vehicle with the Outback and even Toyota’s Venza was appealing. The Crosstour though? Not so much. This weirdo wasn’t really accepted by car buyers, and its low sales reflect this.
Badge engineering is nothing new, but every once in a while, something truly bizarre comes down the pipeline. Take for example a mid-size, body-on-frame SUV sporting a pushrod V8 engine that was sold as… a Saab? Yup, just before Saab disappeared for good, GM rebadged their Chevrolet Trailblazer for Swedish consumption. It didn’t work.
Mercedes-Benz R 63 AMG
It may not have had sliding doors, but for all intents and purposes, the Mercedes-Benz R-Class was a minivan. A really posh one, but still, a minivan nonetheless. And being a Mercedes, just offering a nice, sensible family hauler wouldn’t be enough. The company had to AMG the R-Class. With three rows of passengers loaded up, the 500 hp 6.2-liter V8 made sure everyone arrived on time. But this one also suffered from low sales. People just couldn’t figure it out.
The MINI Paceman is essentially a two-door version of the four-door MINI Countryman. And the Countryman is essentially a larger four-door version of the regular two-door MINI hardtop. Confused yet? Looking like a MINI suffering from gargantuanism, the Paceman was the only way to get all-wheel drive in a two-door body. And to make sure everyone knew what it was, the word PACEMAN dominated most of the vehicle’s rear hatch.
BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo
Seemingly never satisfied with the number of variations for the brand’s automobiles, BMW introduced the 3 Series Gran Turismo for 2013. And if there’s one thing BMW likes more than creating new vehicle sub-genres, it’s give them creative names. Officially labelled as Progressive Activity Coupe, the 3 Series GT resides somewhere between sedan, hatchback and crossover.
To compete with the semi-successful smart fortwo, Scion introduced its own micro car cube adorning the cheeky iQ nomenclature. Unlike the fortwo, the iQ has its diminutive engine up front along with a continuously variable transmission. And the iQ also trumped the smart car by offering space for four passengers thanks to trick 3+1 seating.
Deep in the midst of the retro car craze, Chevrolet introduced the SSR pickup truck. With both classic and yet strangely futuristic looks, the SSR was unusual enough in pure appearance compared to conventional pickup trucks of the time. But the real pièce de résistance was the SSR’s hardtop convertible roof. By 2006, the SSR could even be had with a 390 hp Corvette-derived V8 and six-speed manual transmission.
Electric cars rarely look like conventional automobiles, but the i-MiEV took things to a whole other level. Based on the Japanese-spec i car, the i-MiEV resembles a jellybean on wheels and doesn’t drive much better. Although its range and charge times were competitive with other EVs of the time, its unusual looks and poor driving characteristics were not.
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
The Nissan Murano wasn’t the most conventional looking crossover to begin with, but someone at Nissan decided to turn it into a coupe and then rip the roof off. Described as the world’s first and only all-wheel-drive crossover convertible, there may be a reason why the Murano won that designation so easily. After four short years in production, the high-riding droptop was pulled from the market due to low sales.