Latest Reader Question (March 4, 2018)

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Here is the latest reader question, along with my reply:

Freejay asks: I’ve lately been noticing the trend towards hyper-aggressive front end styling on cars in the American market and wondered about the forces that drive these design choices.  I’m curious also about the psychological mass consciousness effects of drivers looking into increasingly hostile ‘faces’ in the oncoming traffic lanes. Is it a mere coincidence that this fits nicely with the prevailing media narrative telling us the nation is “more polarized than ever” and similar divisive messages?

Not long ago, the majority of front end designs were significantly friendlier – remember the Dodge Neon ads?  Why now should even a bland commuter four door, which looks in side profile every bit like a bland commuter four door, have a front end that is a cross between a fighter jet and a raging dragon? The 2018 Prius? – Please, Toyota. When I ponder these questions, I often think your take would be an entertaining read – If it speaks to you.

Love your writings!

My reply: I don’t think it’s a function of the nation being “polarized” as much as it is a function of the fear – and anger – that permeates society.We’ve been effectively living in a police state and under siege since the war of terror (on us) began almost 20 years ago. People are on edge; the design of cars reflects this, I think.

In particular, it reflects the sense of powerlessness so many of us feel in the face of the police state and loss of control over our own lives. The hyper-aggressive look of cars dovetails with this; they are codpieces –  or like the angry colorations on the back of a moth that has no real ability to defend itself.

It’s very sad.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.


  1. I had an 09 Sonata and generally liked the conservative but attractive styling. I now have an 11 Sonata, which I got due it’s fuel efficiency for a long commute. I don’t care for the sleeker styling, while nominally the interior space is similar, it’s far less usable. The trunk is less cavernous, and while I once fit a full size Boston rocker in the passenger compartment of the 09 (front pass all the way fwd and reclined), there’s no way it’d fit in the 11.

    • Hi Freak,

      Thanks for the input on this; I agree with you – being practicality minded. It’s one of the reasons, incidentally, why I really like the VW Golf/GTI. See the review just posted!

  2. Catfish syndrome, mad ,sad,happy, confused, undecided etc. Even new pickups look alike and that’s not a compliment.

    I have taken a survey of several truckers and every one has said the new style of putting turn signals right beside the headlights make the signal difficult to see. It’s a big deal for exiting vehicles from the roadway and the vehicle on the service road.

    Of course those that don’t signal are contributing to wrecks even moreso.