What Car Trends Today Will We Cringe At in the Future?

Car design trends can change in a snap, and we’re bound to look at some of 2023’s cars very differently in the future.

byJames Gilboy|
2023 Tesla Model S Plaid yoke


Every era of cars has design trends that we groan at just a few years down the road. The exaggerated three-box shapes of the 1980s, the wonky neoclassicism and fake chrome of the 2000s, and the 2020s'... well, that's what we're inviting you to predict today.

It's a topic I've thought a lot about in the process of working out what makes cars age well, and what doesn't. Quirky-but-innocuous stuff like fins and pop-up headlights were trends we lost the taste for but came back around on after nostalgia sets in. What stays sour tends to be stuff that doesn't last, whether that means it visibly deteriorates after just a few years, or outright breaks and leaves a vehicle less functional.

2023 Tesla Model S Plaid touchscreen. Tesla

To me, two modern design fads stand out as examples of this: Black plastic cladding and touchscreens. Black plastic's presence on most crossovers is understandable; its appearance doesn't change much when it's dirty and makes owners imagine their on-roaders to be more rugged than they are. But it still looks incredibly cheap, and it'll look even worse when it starts to fall off by its third owner.

Touchscreens on the other hand...well, we already know they're distracting, ugly, and that most of their features go unused by drivers. They'll also be expensive to fix down the road, and tricky when parts get scarce and your car refuses to talk to a third-party component. The sooner this garbage gets banned, the better off we'll all be.

But let's hear from you. Tell us in the comments what trend you think we'll look back on with less-than-fond memories. What can you forecast will be cringe-worthy in the future?

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: james@thedrive.com