2009 BMW 3 Series
Let's face it, 2009 was a bit of an awkward phase for BMW's beloved 3 Series. The E90 is one of BMW's least successful iterations – especially trying to follow the footsteps of the lauded E46. And it shows. The fascia is particularly uninspired; the larger dual kidney grille and basic headlight design just don't work. Outside of a jagged beltline, the body itself is flat, the taillights, and the wheels are just bland on the base model.
2019 BMW 3 Series
The 2019 BMW 3 Series is a much prettier product. Yes, BMW grilles are expanding like a wet sponge, but the rest of the body looks good. The headlights are more defined, with LED accents and an agro, angular look. The swooping beltline forms into an attractive extended rear fender, and the taillights are some of Bimmer's best yet. We can't wait to see how the hardcore M3 turns out.
2009 Chevrolet Silverado
Type the phrase “generic truck” into Google and the first result should be the 2009 Chevy Silverado. There’s nothing visually appealing about the decade-old pickup. Not even the addition of the “sporty” Z71 trim package (pictured here) makes the 2009 Silverado any nicer to look at. There’s a ton of chrome on the boxy front-end and the five-spoke silver wheels are generic as hell. The only thing that makes this truck anywhere near interesting is the red paint job.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado
The current Chevy Silverado has seen its fair share of criticism by reviewers; we dubbed it “hard to look at” in our test. But we’ll at least say one nice thing about the new Silverado: it’s unique. The current face isn’t pretty, but it is at least something that will draw eyes. And in the Trail Boss trim pictured here, the Silverado forgoes chrome trim pieces for agro black plastic accents and chunky tires instead. It’s a big upgrade from 10 years ago, that’s for sure.
2009 Dodge Challenger
The glorious Dodge Challenger returned in 2008 after a very lengthy absence from the battlefield, and just look at it. The retrolicious shape pushed all the right buttons in the enthusiast world, and with a proper Hemi V8 under the hood making 425 horsepower (317 kilowatts) in the range-topping SRT8, all was right in the world. It was a big brute that loved to smoke tires, and cruising downtown it turned more heads than a chiropractor. Even the V6 version was cool, and frankly, it looks like something that could still be sitting in new-car showrooms today. You probably see where this is going.
2019 Dodge Challenger
Yeah, that’s awkward. The 10-year-old Challenger is still sitting new in showrooms today, but they’re selling them like crazy. In fact, the aged Challenger outsold Camaro last year, and though the outside hasn’t changed, there are a few noteworthy differences to mention. Does the word Hellcat mean anything to you? How about Demon, or more recently, Redeye? So go ahead, make fun of this car’s age – it’s the reason why we’re currently enjoying the most insane horsepower war to ever grip the Motor City. And also, it still looks damn good.
2009 Ford Mustang
2009 was the last year for the S-197's original retro look. The next year saw a minor facelift for the pony car, but many believe this 1960's retro design was the spark that revived both the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. It wasn't universally liked; some people felt the S-197's rear haunches were awkward, but time has been kind to this era of Mustang history.
It was still a simple car as well, utilizing a solid-rear axle driven by a choice of V6 or V8 engines in front. The GT model made a modest 300 horsepower (224 kilowatts) from its 4.6-liter V8, while the limited-production Shelby GT500 KR led the pack with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 belting out 550 hp (410 kW) of pure Americana.
2019 Ford Mustang
Things are a bit different in the Mustang world today. For starters, it's gone global and is now the best-selling sports car in the world. There are still some retro cues – the classic three-bar tail lights for example – but otherwise, it's tough to see shades of the classic 1960's pony car in the current model.
The S550 facelift for 2018 follows the current trend of gaping grilles on everything, and the jury is still out as to whether it's better. A 460-horsepower (343-kilowatt) 5.0-liter V8 is definitely an improvement, however, not to mention the recently unveiled Shelby GT500 with a not-yet-confirmed power figure somewhere north of 700 ponies. Yes, it's a good time to be a Mustang fan.
2009 Honda Civic
My, how you’ve changed. With a brazenly cab-forward design, the 2009 Civic brought decidedly futuristic styling to the conservative compact sedan segment. While it certainly wasn’t pretty, the eighth-generation Civic definitely stood out from the pack. And if its design didn’t rub you the wrong way, then you were in for a real treat, because the 2009 Civic is a joy to putter about in, regardless of trim or powertrain.
Still, if beggars can be choosers, then you’d be wise to find the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 2009 Civic Si. With 197 horses from a high-revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission, the eighth-generation Civic Si follows the classic Honda ethos – one that seems to have ended with the arrival of forced induction to the Japanese automaker’s engines.
2019 Honda Civic
Today’s Civic is a much different animal, and it all starts with its looks. Now offered in sedan, coupe, and hatchback body styles (the 2009 Civic was sold in the United States in sedan and coupe form only), the 2019 Civic embraces more traditional design elements. Still, its styling details are rather flamboyant, particularly on the Civic hatchback. Much has changed underhood, too, and all but the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rely on a turbocharger to make their power.
The best change to the Civic in the last decade, though, is the arrival of the high-performance Type R to the U.S. market. While the Type R's oversized wing and overstyled fascias may look childish, its 306-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, six-speed manual transmission, and expertly tuned chassis are the work of dreams. Here’s to the Honda Civic! With the exception of that dastardly ninth-generation model, the last decade has been very good to Honda's compact car.
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe
Bask your eyes on the blandest, most generic crossover imaginable. Crossover styling generally adheres to a two-box shape consisting of the hood and passenger compartment, but designers can usually figure out ways to make this basic layout more visually interesting (there are plenty of examples in this slideshow).
Hyundai’s stylists must have been pressed for time when the design for the second-gen Santa Fe was due. They drew the basic shape for a crossover, added the automaker’s grille, and called it a day. It must have been the easiest day at work the team ever had.
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
This is more like it. The current popularity of crossovers is forcing automakers to make them look more distinctive. The latest Santa Fe features a more modern appearance with skinny headlights that fit into a hexagonal grille with a mesh interior. Heavily sculpted panels provide multiple surfaces for light to play off of. Unlike the model from a decade ago, the modern Santa Fe is far from generic or boring.
2009 Lexus RX
Ten years ago, the 2009 Lexus RX was wrapping up its second generation, with a new model just a year away. By this time, the model established itself as a major member of the premium crossover scene. Even today, it's a handsome crossover. Lexus' designers don't do anything outrageous with the styling, but the rounded front and raked A-pillar still keeps the SUV looking sleek.
2019 Lexus RX
In 2019, the modern Lexus RX looks nothing like the model at dealers a decade ago, possibly to the SUV's detriment. Rather than being smooth and sleek, the RX now has a much more angular look. Lexus is apparently quite proud of its spindle grille because a gargantuan version dominates the SUV's nose. The look is polarizing. In the 2009 RX, you could blend into traffic while enjoying a comfortable interior. A modern Lexus driver has no chance of being stealthy between the gaping mouth and edgy lines. Having a more distinctive look makes a Lexus easily identifiable on the road, but staring too long might hurt your eyes.
2009 Ram 1500
The 2009 Ram 1500 was a fine-looking truck. Compared to the Silverado and F-150, at least, it was uniquely styled and generally nicer to look at. The large chromed-out grille and drooping headlights defined this truck for nearly 10 years. Ram built on that successful formula with high-end trim levels like the Laramie, which added chrome treatments and unique color options, and sporty options like the Rebel later in the truck’s life cycle. But things have changed.
2019 Ram 1500
The new Ram 1500 is a grown-up truck. It still maintains a lot of the attractive cues that kept it relevant, but now it’s all buttoned up a bit more. Yes, the grille is still daunting, and depending on which trim you chose, mostly covered in chrome, but now the headlights are sleeker and more aggressive, the body looks toned, and in the off-road Rebel trim especially, it’s a tough-looking truck.
2009 Toyota Camry
This generation of the Toyota Camry is still a fairly common sight on the road today. The ubiquity can make these sedans practically invisible, but taking a closer look shows that they aren’t a bad looking car. Similar to the 2009 RAV4 and Lexus RX on this list, the designers incorporate a rounded nose and relatively steep rake for the A-pillar. The elements combine to put a sporty face on a standard family sedan.
The look appealed to buyers, too, because Toyota sold 356,824 units of the Camry in 2009, making the sedan the company’s bestselling model that year.
2019 Toyota Camry
In the last decade, the consumer interest in the sedan market has taken a nosedive as crossovers have become the defacto choice for families choosing a practical vehicle. Given the change in the market, Toyota’s designers have apparently decided to make the Camry a more aggressive looking vehicle. Rather than the rounded lines of the 2009 model, the new one puts an emphasis on sharper styling that creates a meaner aesthetic. The new Camry definitely lacks the friendly appearance from a decade ago.
2009 Toyota RAV4
Don't be totally embarrassed that we’re digging up 10-year-old photos of the RAV4, Toyota. Even though this crossover wasn’t exactly stunning to look at, it was beloved. Its inoffensive styling helped it become one of the best-selling crossovers of all time. That year, Toyota sold more than 170,000 RAV4s. Today, the company moves the needle more significantly with 427,000 RAV’s sold in 2018. The radical new styling of the 2019 model should help sales, too.
2019 Toyota RAV4
Like most of the cars in Toyota’s lineup, the RAV4 is a completely different crossover on the outside. The latest version – Toyota’s fifth generation – is boldly styled with sharp lines, an aggressive face, and depending on which trim you get, some rugged cues. The “Adventure” model pictured here tacks on things like bigger plastic fenders, chunkier tires, and a roof rack. By far, this is the RAV4’s best, most interesting look.
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