When my cousin Ilona visited me from Communist Hungary in 1974, she marveled at how our car models were so differentiated from one another. There was even more variation in color. The Ladas, Skodas, Zhigulis, Tatras, and Trabants of her own country struck her as comparatively grim.
Well, times have changed. Now most new cars from Japan, Europe, and the United States resemble one another more than they differ. There even seem to be fewer colors. Even my 2018 Subaru Forester, which I love, has a hard time competing with my old 1994 Nissan Pathfinder in terms of styling.
You can see this video from CNET on the top five reasons why new cars look alike. (It blames most of the changes on the survival of pedestrians who are hit head on.) Writing for the Mother Nature Network, Jim Motavalli adduces several other reasons as well. These are, in no particular order:
- Government requirements relating to fuel economy mean that all cars try to wring every bit of aerodynamic efficiency possible
- This means very uniform front ends ending in what CNET calls a “Mrs. Doubtfire” boxy butt
- Big door pillars protect drivers and passengers when the car rolls
- In most cars, you feel as if you were sitting in a bunker due to higher door sills and smaller windows, especially along the sides
- It is possible that, in future, aerodynamic efficiency will involve the loss of outside rear-view mirrors (I certainly hope not)
Cars do seem safer today, and I am rather fond of having 100% all-wheel drive on my Subaru.