I’m not sure if my invite to the big media unveiling of the re-designed Cozy Coupe got lost in the email or what, but somehow this automotive icon got a significant facelift and I wasn’t notified. What the fuck, Little Tikes? Is that how you wanna play this? Fine. But, look, I’m a professional journalismist, so I’m going to rise above this slight and let it be known: The current iteration of the new Cozy Coupe is a dramatic improvement over the outgoing one.
The big change is that, finally, Cozy Coupe has remembered that the eyes of a car’s face are its headlights, and not, as in their previous version, just stuck on the front of the car like a pair of cojoined-twin, black-yolked eggs, even when a perfectly serviceable pair of headlights was integrated into the body already.
That’s dramatically better. Those new ocular headlights are actual three-dimensional units, mounted to the exposed front wheel arm bolt, and not just some cheap-ass stickers. The look is improved significantly, and visibility is improved with the elimination of that miserable bifurcated plastic marshmallow abomination on the dash.
Also, note that there’s now a roof spoiler/handle thing that I’m sure helps keep this more stable at highway speeds.
Incredibly, Little Tikes has the temerity to try and unload the rest of these sub-par Cozy Coupes garbagemobiles by calling them the “30th Anniversary Edition.”
Even that kid knows the deal and is trying to get out of that embarrassing shitbox before anyone sees him. Parents, if you love your kids, pay attention and go for the new design. It’s even the same price.
It also seem to have changed tire and wheel suppliers, as the new one seems to have larger wheels and low-profile tires, keeping with modern trends. These new tires also appear to have more aggressive treads, or, really, any treads. I haven’t had a chance to test one of these yet to know how this affects handling.
I think this makes, let’s see, the fifth major re-design of Cozy Coupe?
The design evolution of the Cozy Coupe is interesting; in 1979, the front fascia was designed to reflect the mainstream auto design of the era, with a front-end-sticker that had rectangular sealed beam headlights and a rectilinear grille, a look that was largely maintained into the second generation, and pretty close to the then nearly ubiquitous Late Cold War Default Car Face.
An update to round headlamps occurred as a mid-cycle refresh on the second-gen Coupe, and the line has continued with round headlamps ever since.
It was in 1998 when the stupid tacked-on eyes were added, and also started the forced anthropomorphization trend of Cozy Coupe design, with the grille replaced with an actual mouth.
While I think the headlights-as-eyes current design is a huge improvement over the previous design, I think the forced anthropomorphizing isn’t necessary; a front end with headlamps and a grille will be anthropomorphized by kid brains anyway if they desire, and I think it’s cloying to push it so hard.
That criticism aside, the fundamental design of the Cozy Coupe is strong and has withstood the test of time, which makes sense, as the designer, Jim Mariol, once designed parts like hubcaps and hood ornaments for Chrysler.
The original Cozy Coupe design prototype shows all of the fundamental elements already in place; the tall, toddler-friendly proportions, dramatic beltline curves, and two-tone design, even if the black roof was swapped for an easier-to-see-and-hence-not-hit-with-a-real-car yellow. I also like that this original version included decal rear side marker lamps.
It’s also worth noting that Mariol patented another Cozy Coupe variant, a wonderfully cartoony vintage-looking car with a lot of early 1900s design references:
The grille has a sort of Ford Model A’s widow’s peak design, and I like the exposed fuel tank at the rear—a bold choice, as I feel most designers would have gone for a fake spare tire.
Looking at the suspension design on the front, I think this was clearly Cozy Coupe-based.
That never made it to market, of course, but the Cozy Coupe is still going strong! Just be sure to not buy the awful one.