When some automaker puts a styling touch into a car and you've never seen it before, it's bound to prompt others to quickly follow and adopt a trend. But as time wears on, too many models in too many segments start to get trendy and that styling loses its distinctiveness and just becomes overplayed.
Something that looks great on a $100,000 Mercedes usually doesn't translate well on a $10,000 Nissan. And if one styling touch is kind of owned by one brand, it doesn't work especially well when it starts getting copied by others. Walking around the LA Auto Show and reading the details on some of the reveals, here are some of the styling trends that have arguably jumped the shark.
Fake Carbon fiber trim
Carbon fiber getting popular among high-end performance cars in a bid to shed more weight, so it's becoming a popular piece of trim like aluminum was more than a decade ago. Problem is, carbon fiber isn't especially attractive and when it's fake, it's even worse.
In the 2014 Kia Forte, it's all over air vents, window trim, stuff like that. It's a busy and gimmicky zig-zag pattern and I think some plain silver plastic trim or tastefully patterned dark plastic wood would've made it look less cartoonish. And it's especially unfortunate, since the new Forte is a really nice car. Carbon fiber on a Pagani, that's fine. Fake carbon fiber on a Kia, not so good.
Piano Black trim
Like the fake carbon fiber, the glossy black trim in a lot of cars these days is modeled off of wood finished in a Piano Black lacquer. I think the last-gen Jaguar XJ was the first to use it widely, and it's since been adopted by luxury car manufacturers as an alternative to traditional wood finishes. When it's real, it looks really nice. When it's just glossy black plastic, it doesn't. Worst of all, it shows fingerprints fast and loose.
On this facelifted Ford Fiesta, it's on versions with the MyFord Touch system, which brings a fingerprint-prone touchscreen. But that center stack is already going to get smudged when you try to go hunting for the minute power button. And it'll pick up every last piece of dust in the car. If you buy this car, I hope you like cleaning.
White contrasting roof
The original BMC Mini was notable for being available with a white roof, and made famous when those Mini Coopers went rallying in a familiar red-with-white-roof motif. So when BMW renewed the Mini in 2002, the contrasting roof color became a familiar styling trait again. But it doesn't look good on everyone. Land Rover introduced it on the Range Rover Evoque last year and it somehow doesn't fit with many paint colors.
But the Fiat 500L shown this week looks even more strange in yellow with a white roof. Frankly, it looks like a fat banana. Or a Twinkie. The old school Fiat Multipla could pull off the contrasting roof deal. The new one, not so much.
Stitches! Stitches everywhere
Stitching all over the top of the dashboard used to mean the car had a leather-covered dash top and was extra soft for people who like to poke the top of their dash a lot. But then it started showing up on cars without leather dashboards. And then it just started showing up everywhere.
Here it is on a Toyota Camry, which isn't a new design, but it showed up on the previously mentioned Forte and on the revised 2013 Honda Civic, in a bid to hush critics who said the interior wasn't good enough. It's fine now, but it's in spite of the obviously fake stitching.
What new car features will you be sick of pretty quickly?