Opinion Poll: Which make and model deserves this year's "Ugliest Car" title?
RAY: Yeah, it's passed down from generation to generation in our family like the Kennedys pass down Senate seats.
TOM: And we've noticed something recently: There are some truly ugly cars on the roads these days.
RAY: We're not talking about the old, beat-up, smelly ones like my brother drives. We're talking about brand-spanking-new sheet metal (or sheet plastic), hot off the assembly line.
TOM: So, we got to wondering: Which new car -- for sale today in the United States -- is the absolute butt-ugliest? Which car would you drive only if you could wear a ski mask while behind the wheel?
RAY: We asked our radio listeners for nominations, and we've narrowed the field down to 10 deserving finalists. Your job, should you choose to accept it: Help us pick the winner. It's our first ever Ugliest New Car contest.
TOM: Here -- in no particular order -- are the finalists, along with some actual words used by people who nominated them. Keep in mind that these are not our comments; they came from our listeners and readers.
RAY: The Honda Element: "A rollover would improve its looks." "Looks like a Soviet-era ice-cream truck." And "if they put a trunk on the front, they could call it the Honda Elephant."
TOM: The Pontiac Aztek: "One of our neighbors has a green one, which we call the 'toad-mobile' -- which, come to think of it, is an insult to toads." "Looks like it was designed by two separate teams of engineers who started at opposite bumpers and worked their way toward the middle, each unable to talk to the other until they met at the center door post." And "was Pontiac taken over by a high-school shop class?"
RAY: The Hummer H2: "Proves yet again that money can't buy you looks." And "the automotive equivalent of Aunt Bertha."
TOM: The Chevrolet Avalanche: "Adorned with more plastic than Anna Nicole Smith." Ouch.
RAY: The Dodge Magnum wagon: "Looks like a hearse. Are caskets an option?" "I'm so glad to see Daimler-Chrysler doesn't have minimum vision requirements for its engineers." And "the Welsh corgi of the car world -- it wishes to be the big dog, but it's cut too short to the ground."
TOM: The BMW 5-Series: "With the granny-glasses headlights and awkward body creases, it looks like a Pontiac on acid." And "the taillights of a Subaru, the sides of a Ford Taurus and the angry front end of a Pontiac, all for only 50 grand!"
RAY: The Scion xB: "Did the cleaning lady take the plans for this out of the trash as a joke -- and nobody noticed?" "Did they forget to take it out of its shipping crate?" And "looks like some sort of milk truck for a Shriner parade."
TOM: The Chrysler 300: "Did Chrysler have the head of a cow in mind when they designed this car?" And "who knew so many 'blue-hairs' were wannabe pimps?"
RAY: The Subaru Baja: "Someone needs to revoke Subaru's designer license." And "takes the term 'homely' to a whole new level."
TOM: And the Chrysler PT Cruiser: "So ugly, I get mad just looking at it." And "looks like something the Joker would be driving in a Batman movie."
RAY: Now, we know that some of you will vehemently disagree with some of these comments. And with the fact that some of these cars are even on the list. But remember, ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. Just ask my wife.
TOM: Right. One man's Jaguar is another man's Yugo.
RAY: So, what's your opinion? Ready to vote?
TOM: You can find the ballot, pictures of all the nominees, and more nasty listener and reader comments on our Web site, www.cartalk.com.
RAY: We'll announce the results in a future column.