When it comes to designing a new car, it's really, really hard to do anything new.
Disassemble the pieces of the coolest new designs, and chances are you'll have the funny feeling that you've seen them all before.
One example: Several years ago, the clever idea of putting a radio antenna on the middle of the back of the roof gained popularity on several Volkswagen models. It gave them the personality of a remote-controlled toy racer. Today that design cue is ubiquitous and scarcely even noticed. Stylists of stately luxury sedans and minivans put them on their roofs.
Ditto for those body side vents near the front wheels. They were once a rare expression of roadsters gasping for air as their engines roared. Now they adorn big SUVs, small crossovers and even sedans.
"I can only hope that the stylized side vents have had their 15 minutes of fame and designers around the world will start to drop them," says one product planner who prefers to gripe from anonymity.
There are the roof spoilers that extend over the rear window. Flamboyant, asymmetrical tail lights. Headlights with strings of LED "eyelashes." Oversized radiator grilles. Body panels that make big tires look even bigger. Colored interior accent lights. Thicker-than-necessary "C" pillars. Smaller-than-normal rear passenger windows. And there are the "diving beltlines," the horizontal line that runs along the bottom of a model's side windows, angling down toward the front of the vehicle.