Something To Think About

Earlier in the day I mentioned that I’d give a special place to the Honda Odyssey out of all of the 2017 Detroit Auto show new arrivals. 

2018 Honda Odyssey: Honda USA
2018 Honda Odyssey: Honda USA

There you go. Striking, isn’t it?

And this is another worst view.

2018 Honda Odyssey: source
2018 Honda Odyssey: source

So, taking this as a yard-stick for unsuccesful, have we any contenders for anything that is nearly as bad? Remember, the bar is high. Really high.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

23 thoughts on “Something To Think About”

  1. This looks like maybe 10 manufacturers styling tropes have all come to roost on one vehicle. This is a perfect ‘how not to’ example to be shown to fledgling stylists the world over. In his largely incoherent summing up of 2016, our Editor mentioned how Japan’s industry generally had a ‘crisis of identity’. As usual I wasn’t sure I agreed with him but this does seem very solid proof. It is particularly sad that this is a Honda.

  2. Paul Klee’s quote that drawing is ‘taking a line for a walk’ is one of those things that probably sounds deeper than it is, and has probably been an encouragement to more bad artists than good.

    Do we call this sort of design ‘taking a vector for a walk’? If so, the vector has just had a particularly unpleasant dump.

  3. This is indeed so bad that I feel compelled to make my third comment in succession. I do think that the Series 1 Rodius has lost its crown. Especially when you consider that the Rodius was very spacious, practical and cheap, the product of a manufacturer who didn’t have a fine back-catalogue. It is however thoughtful of Honda to give it a name that cheap jesters like me can so easily morph to Oddity.

  4. Playing devil’s advocate once again… The 3/4 rear view doesn’t look too bad to me – at least the proportions are correct (unlike the Rodius which was far too heavy at the rear). It’s the side view that looks horrendous, particularly in that light. Maybe I’m past being bothered by those creases stylists feel compelled to add with no discernible reason or purpose?

  5. You know what? I don’t mind it. Sure the styling isn’t great, but the Odyssey is hardly as offensive as made out. The worst I can say is that it looks like a grounded ship with a broken keel.

    Regarding the oft cited Rodius, that car married bland shapes with functional execution. At least this Odyssey has some surface richness, even if it is all razzle-dazzle.

    A worse offence is that it looks far more like an Opel than a Honda, especially from the rear three quarter view. That is not to say that Opel turns out poorly styled cars, but that the Odyssey has misappropriated another company’s styling cues.

    1. No, it offends me too – mainly as further proof of Honda losing it. The nose is possibly the worst offence, to my eyes.

  6. It’s bad and shows a lack of understanding of forces in shapes. One sees the boot as dropping relative to the centre. The roof is okay but derivative.

  7. If the Odyssey was a building, its oddness would be explained in terms of utilising parametrics in a response to the post-Fordist society. There might be a bit of hermeneutics in there, possibly even an epistemological sub-text.

    Me, I just look at it and wonder what Soichiro would have thought…

    1. Robertas: you are channelling an architecture critic, I see. “Further, the dynamic tension between the positive and negative spaces symbolises numerous semantic antinomies so each opening counterpoints a closing and represents the multilocal situationing of truths. The structural focus unfolds a fluid narrative and up-ends normative conceptions while tendering bold new ones only to neutralise those through reveresed formal articulations”.

  8. The new Lexus LS, anyone? At least the Oddy’s front doesn’t radiate naked aggression.

  9. Richard – you’re worryingly good at this architectural duckspeak…

    1. Indeed Robertas. It is whispered that Lexus have him on retainer for all their design-related copy requirements. Gorden Wagener I’m told will not make a single styling pronouncement without first consulting him. Why he bothers with the likes of us is anyone’s guess…

  10. Robertas: I would like to formulate my response in terms of a self-reflective metastructural exegesis fully cognizant of the inherent contradictions necessitated by such a formulation.
    Fred: yup, the Lexus is actually quite horrible. If we combined the Lexus front with the Honda rear the result would be shatteringly bad. Luckily, Lexus´ designers ran out of energy by the time they reached the A-pillar. Infiniti are offering some quite worrying shapes too. Should I be worried though that I am just “not getting it” in the way I was a bit wrong about Bangle´s 5-series and 70s Japanese design? I don´t think so but out of a sense of caution, I am aware I have not always got my first analysis right. And people still disagree with me about the Nissan Juke.

  11. Bad design is where you can see the designer thinking …. then see them compromising (THEME ALERT!). You can imagine the original sketch for this, the roof and waist line running parallel, then both dipping at 30 degrees over the rear wheel, probably staying parallel with each other as the top of the DLO goes on to meet another horizontal emanating from below the original. A series of simple lines, Head of Design says “Yeah, interesting, a bit different. Work it up, maybe loosen it a bit, it could work”. And by the time it’s finished everyone has forgotten why it made sense in the first place. But by then it’s too late. It is very hard to imagine that thousands of people devote their working lives to producing half coherent things like this.

  12. Can’t add to the above criticism which covers all the bases. But, why not gaze on the ungainly beast that is the current Odyssey? Then you will see that two men and a boy took that ungainliness and smoothed it right out. Right out, yessir. Orders from HQ to them in Torrance CA. Unimaginatively, they plodded away diligently to remove the obvious awkwardness of the current model’s hip joint, apparently completely oblivious to the even greater sins they were committing. Then added a stylish flourish in the door flanks as proof of a job well done. And then a mystic, two ex-poet laureates, a Nobel prize winner in literature and Fred down the street approved it for production. Insanity looms large.

    This is Honda today, a helmless ship afloat on rough design waters. The new Civic saloon is a pastiche with shut lines galore, a reputation that the extra thin tin roof wrinkles for some poor owners following the navigation of big potholes, and frankly it just looks cheap sitting there in the wild. Honda paint was never the best so really shiny is not available. Then we got the hatchback a couple of months ago, fresh from the UK. I get the same sinking feeling looking at that “thing” as I did when Trump won. My world has gone upside down if such is Honda’s idea of modern styling and people just accept it. Have not seen a single one in the wild yet, thank goodness.

    Akio Toyoda has already challenged his designers several years ago at Toyota/Lexus to provide “excitement”, so as practice they all jumped off cliffs with one size too small parachutes for that special sinking feeling. Then drew the Prius, various Lexuses and now the poor old Camry. Akio must have leapt up and down in glee at all the wild abandon, because nobody else would countenance that rubbish, I feel sure.

    The Honda Major Dumpling Wagon, the CR-V, and the Junior mini-dumpling HR-V have now been joined by the Senior Plumpo Wagon with utility van proboscis, the Honda Pilot.

    Mmmmffff. I think I’m going to be sick.

    1. Honda have wobbled off their rails in a big way. I wonder how their design and marketing staff are interpreting focus groups and customer research on these vehicles. Are customers unable to express themselves? The majority of their vehicles are so-so and a few downright frightful.

    2. Agree with Bill that the current Odyssey is very far from a distinguished piece of work. And indeed, the rest of the range is equally far from making a positive impression. Even the current Jazz is a mess.

      The new Civic hatchback is even worse than it looks in photos. And the fit of the tail-lights suggests the job was outsourced to Chrysler.

      All I can say is, based on current trends, Accord buyers should probably be quite worried about the prospective horrors in store at the next facelift.

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