Some trucks “get” ugly, and some are made that way at the factory. Here are some trucks that many people feel were ugly when they rolled off the assembly line.
For 3 production years (actually 4 calendar years), Subaru offered a Legacy Outback wagon with a truck bed. They called it the “Subaru Baja,” and by most measures it was a failure.
On the positive side, people who actually bought the Baja loved it. Subaru won a couple of JD Power APPEAL awards with the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle exceeded buyer’s expectations.
On the negative side:
- The max payload rating was no more than 1,100 pounds, which is OK except for the 3.5′ truck bed.
- The max tow rating was 2,400 lbs
- The biggest engine was a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 230hp, but that engine wasn’t available in the 1st year, hampering sales
- The Baja was ugly, at least in most eyes
Speaking of sales, the Baja was an albatross around every Subaru dealership’s neck. Fewer than 30k Bajas were sold over 4 years, with many dealers trying to unload discontinued 2006 Bajas thru 2008.
To be clear: Subaru makes some solid, reliable vehicles. Everyone respects the WRX and the surprising off-road prowess of the Outback. But the Baja? What were they thinking?
A bold offering from Chevrolet that boasted some serious horsepower in it’s final model year, it’s hard to be critical of the SSR (at least on paper). But take one look at the truck and you’ll know why it’s on this list.
The SSR was based on a Chevrolet concept vehicle that got a warm reception, and it debuted about the time that other retro-looking vehicles (like the PT Cruiser, the Ford Thunderbird, the Plymouth Prowler) seemed ready to take the market by storm. In the first couple of years of production, the pricey SSR (MSRP was over $40k in 2003, which is over $52k in 2016 dollars) was only offered with the 5.3L V8. That made the 4,800lbs truck somewhat under powered (0-60 in about 8 seconds), and gave it a low payload and tow rating relative to Chevy’s more proper trucks (only 2,500lbs towing, about 1,300lbs payload).
Of course, the SSR was ugly too (at least to a lot of people).
While the SSR never sold in significant volumes, Chevy did one thing right with the vehicle in 2006. They dropped the Corvette’s 390hp V8 into the SSR, giving it a solid 0-60 time (under six seconds) and some real “street cred.” Unfortunately, it was much too late to save the SSR, which was discontinued after a total of only 24,000 trucks were sold.
The 1st Gen Honda Ridgeline
The first-generation Ridgeline was never a runaway sales success, but it certainly didn’t fail on the sales side of things. Offering Honda quality and reliability, the 1st-gen Ridgeline offered similar capabilities to compact trucks from Nissan, Toyota, and GM when it went on sale in 2005.
However, the general public found the vehicle’s appearance polarizing. While some people like the look of the 1st gen Ridgeline, we think it belongs on our “Ugly From Day One” list.
The VW Rabbit Pickup
Once upon a time, Volkswagen thought it would be a good idea to turn a VW Golf into a pickup truck. The result? The Rabbit pickup (aka Caddy), which never really grabbed hold in the USA. We won’t give you the boring details – one look at this thing is really all you need.
The Subaru Brat
With apologies to Subaru for appearing twice on our list, the Brat is undeniably ugly. While ugly isn’t always a bad thing (it can be a compliment, in fact), we’ll say that the Brat’s looks are “polarizing” and leave it at that.
Offered in the US between 1978 and 1987, the Brat had a lot of positives:
- A good price considering the “bi-drive” powertrain (aka 4WD) and pickup bed
- Good fuel economy
- A level or practicality that arguably exceeds similarly sized (and priced) 2-door cars from Toyota in the same period
To be clear: The Brat is lovable as hell…but it’s kinda ugly.
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