What Were They Thinking? These Ugly Vans Are Just Bizarre

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Genevieve Fraser
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 4 min read
Before crossovers and SUVs swept the market, there was the
. While most of these family-friendly vehicles were fairly unremarkable, some were just bizarre and
maybe even a little ugly
No automaker hits a home run every time. And while the makers of these vans probably wish customers would forget about their less-than-stellar offerings, some things are simply unforgettable.
Here’s a look at some of the ugly vans that are no longer in production, but are remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Over the years, some vans have missed the mark.

Toyota would probably like to forget about this ugly van

The 1984-1989 Toyota Van tops this list.
Car and Driver
, rightfully, takes a shot at the creative naming of this ugly van. They really did just call it "Van." 
To its credit, the Van did showcase some innovation in other ways. Toyota's Van featured a mid-engine roughly 30 years before the
Chevy Corvette
made it happen, says Car and Driver, but that was about the only thing the Van had going for it.
That, and the refrigerated cooler between the two front seats, which were unfortunately located right over the front axle.
All in all, the styling was rather absurd, and the Van definitely wouldn’t provide much in the way of protection in the event of a
front-end collision
—a fact that pretty much dooms the vehicle in and of itself.
The Van was thankfully only in production for a few short years before it was gracefully retired. The cooler is sorely missed, though.

General Motors produced a van reminiscent of a household appliance

General Motors (GM) marketed the same van under three names between 1990 and 1996. They were the Chevrolet Lumina APV, the Oldsmobile Silhouette, and the Pontiac Trans Sport. To give GM due credit, they were far more imaginative than Toyota. 
According to Car and Driver, GM wanted to make a futuristic van, and perhaps they succeeded. But the aerodynamic style should have brought something other than a household appliance to the customer's mind. 
Car and Driver noted that instead, it rather unfortunately reminded people of a handheld vacuum. The windshield sloped at the same angle as the hood, and the rest of the van was essentially a rectangular box.
The exaggerated sloping meant that
taller drivers
and passengers might hit their heads on the doorframes upon entry or exit.
The vans did have incredibly efficient drag ratios, at least, and they were front-wheel drive—the first minivans of their kind for GM, who was just catching up to Chrysler in this respect.
Ultimately, instead of zooming off into the future, the Lumina APV, the Silhouette, and the Trans Sport were left behind after only seven years of production.

Which ugly van put Nissan on the list?

If Nissan is guilty of anything with the 2004-2009 Quest, it's trying to do too much. Like GM, Nissan tried a different sort of style, but was met with backlash when it came across as just odd. 
The Nissan Quest was a fairly ordinary, if not mildly ugly van from the outside, but the interior turned off many consumers.
The Quest tried to be a little different from other minivans by offering Sky View, which featured four glass panels on the roof. A nice concept in theory, but executed rather poorly. The layout was strange, with four skinny panels on either side of a large center ceiling fixture.
While unconventional, Sky View wasn't the most bizarre aspect of this van. It was actually the configuration of the dashboard and controls. According to Car and Driver, the 2004-2009 Quest featured a central, rather than a driver-forward, instrument cluster. This sat atop a cylinder parked between the front seats, holding all the climate and audio controls as well as the gear shift. 
Car and Driver called the bizarre styling of the dash "a little too outside-the-box for the conservative minivan segment." Customers didn’t like it, and for good reason. Poorly-designed styling and
quality issues
saw the Quest's sales trend downward fast.
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