Most drivers are pedantic about purchasing cars that are reliable, fuel efficient and comfortable. The other factor that consumers consider is the car's aesthetics. Having a car that produces great performance and comfort is important to drivers, but the car has to be visually appealing.
Those that drive beautiful cars feel superior to other drivers and are proud to drive a car that others want to capture with a photo. Although the exterior design is important to make a car beautiful, the interior is also essential. The color and design of the interior have to match the exterior for the vehicle to be attractive.
One of the components in the interior that affects the look of the vehicle is the gauge cluster. An attractive gauge cluster can beautify the vehicle or make it less appealing. Some car manufacturers that produced cars in the '80s degraded their vehicles by producing subpar gauge clusters. We searched for gauge clusters that didn't suit the vehicle and found several produced in the '90s and 2000s. Some of the gauge clusters were such an anomaly that we couldn't understand what the manufacturers intended. Our list consists of gauge clusters so strange that most people would regard them as 'way out there.'
25 Aston Martin Lagonda
I wonder what James Bond would think about that gauge cluster. Aston Martin has produced some of the best sports cars on the road such as the DB9 and Vanquish, but the gauge cluster on the Lagonda needed more attention.
The foreign manufacturer produced the Lagonda from 1976 until 1990. Aston Martin produced most of the Lagonda's in the series 2 and 3 body styles. Although the automaker produced the car for fourteen years, it limited the production to just over 600 units.
24 Maserati Boomerang
The best way to describe the Boomerang's design is to compare it to a Lamborghini. The manufacturer had done a stellar job with cars such as the Gran Turismo and Levante, as well as the design of the Boomerang, but the cars' gauge cluster is one-of-a-kind.
Maserati fans who see the Boomerang would be impressed by the exterior but could be disappointed once they see the car's interior. The instrument panel lacks creativity, and the switches make the gauge cluster look eccentric.
23 Alfa Romeo 90
Consumer Reports has featured an Alfa Romeo in its Least Reliable list for several years. Numerous drivers have complained about the car's unreliability. Apart from the mechanical problems that the car provides, Alfa Romeo '90s gauge cluster left drivers scratching their heads.
The manufacturer produced the Alfa Romeo between 1984 and 1987 and classed it as an executive car. Alfa produced just over 56,000 units during the four-year production.
22 Chevrolet Corvette C4
Drivers who wanted to purchase a fast car in the '80s and early '90s could have opted for a Corvette C4. The car had an aggressive engine and a dashing exterior, but the interior needed work. It seemed that the engineers focused their attention on the performance and the exterior design of the car, as the C4's gauge cluster confused many people.
Drivers wondered what was going on the instrument panel, as the colors and numbers were confusing. The car's performance made up for the lackluster gauge cluster.
21 Volvo Tundra
Purchasing a Volvo means that the driver would be behind the wheel of one of the most reliable and safe vehicles. Volvo has produced great cars for decades but struggled to penetrate the North American market. While Jeremy Clarkson has owned three Volvo XC90s, I'm not certain that he would speak highly of the Tundra.
The car was a concept in 1979, which had had 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 70 horsepower. Volvo rejected the concept, as it was difficult to sell.
20 Volkswagen Orbit
Volkswagen based the Orbit concept on the Mark II Syncro platform, a Golf four-wheel drive model, according to Car Design News. The German manufacturer used the basics of the Syncro but increased the height to get more headspace and overall interior volume.
The increased volume provided the driver with excellent visibility. It seemed that Volkswagen tried to make the gauge cluster futuristic, as it incorporated a Satellite Navigation system and a trip computer on the 1986 model.
19 Subaru XT
I thought it was intriguing that most of the cars on the list had an eccentric exterior design to match the out-there gauge clusters. One of those cars is the Subaru XT. Produced from 1985 until 1991, Subaru XT was a two-door coupe and available in front-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The engine options were a 1.8-liter H4 or a 2.7-liter H6. Sitting behind the steering wheel of the XT, the driver would feel like he or she is playing a car video game while staring at the gauge cluster.
18 Toyota Corolla GTS
The manufacturer has garnered a reputation for building reliable cars that have become one of the best selling vehicles in the US. The car's fuel efficiency and engine tolerance for high mileage have made it the obvious choice for consumers who want an affordable, conservative car.
When Toyota produced the GTS in 1986, it must have focused all of its attention on the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the vehicle, as the automaker didn't make the most appealing gauge cluster that the market had seen.
17 Oldsmobile Toronado
Built over four generations, the Toronado was in production from 1966 until 1992. The car placed third in 1966 European Car of the Year competition and won the 1966 Motor Trend Car of the Year award in the US.
The car was a 2-door coupe that had a powertrain called the Unitized Power Package. The engine options were a 7-liter V8 engine capable of pumping out 385 horsepower or the 7.5-liter V8. Although the Toronado provided good performance and reliability, its drawback was the gauge cluster.
16 Citroen CX
Citroen classed the CX as a five-passenger executive car produced from 1971 until 1991. The most surprising aspect of the CX is that Citroen produced the car for 16 years as a single generation. The CX was the 1975 European Car of the Year, and pundits claimed that it was last 'real Citroen.'
Apart from the eccentric exterior design, the CX had an odd gauge cluster. For the driver to figure out what is going on that gauge cluster would require him or her to speak to the mechanic. A CX sold for just over $108,000 at Artcurial.
The Hudson Motor Car Company made cars from 1909 until 1954. The design of gauge clusters has changed since the debut of the 1929 Hudson. The car featured a simple gauge cluster, and the speedometer looked like a clock.
The industry has evolved since the 1920s, but it seems that some automakers are adamant about producing eccentric gauge clusters. Although a century has passed since the 1929 Hudson came onto the market, some automakers still make odd instrument panels.
14 Toyota Prius
When consumers demanded that automakers make environmental-friendly cars, Toyota responded by manufacturing the Toyota Prius Liftback. The car was the world's best selling hybrid vehicle, with more than 4 million units sold by 2017. Toyota began manufacturing the Prius from 1997.
The car provided reliability and comfort but didn't have an appealing gauge cluster. It seemed that Toyota tried a new design for the instrument panel, placing it to the right of the steering wheel.
13 Pontiac Trans AM
One of the iconic muscle cars that garnered a lot of attention after the movie Smokey and the Bandit, as well as Knight Rider, was the Pontiac Trans AM. The car was in production for 35 years and designed to compete against the Ford Mustang.
Although the Mustang has persevered to remain in production, the Trans AM remains a classic. One of the features on the car that could have received more attention from the engineers was the digital gauge cluster.
12 Cadillac Deville
Most cars contain several odometers to provide the driver with adequate information about the car's performance. Although engineers had good intentions with providing a lot of information for the driver to glean, too much of a good thing can be bad. Perhaps, that is the reason that Cadillac opted for a simpler approach.
When the engineers fitted a gauge cluster into the Deville, they provided the basic performance odometers. Although the gauge cluster looks different, it provides adequate information.
11 McLaren 720S
Another automaker who limited the information on the gauge cluster was McLaren. One of the best supercars on the road is the McLaren 720S. McLaren launched the car at the Geneva Motor Show in 2017 and built it on a modified carbon monocoque. The 720S isn't all about dashing looks, as the bonnet boasts a powerful 4-liter twin-turbocharged engine, capable of pumping out 710 horsepower.
Although the engineers dedicated a lot of time to the engine and the external design, they spend little time on the gauge cluster.
Fans of the popular eighties program Knight Rider were impressed with the car's capabilities. Not only could Michael's car leap over boundaries, but it also spoke and was bulletproof. Considering the car could perform functions that a regular car couldn't, the modifiers had to fit an instrument panel that allowed the car to perform stunts to catch the bad guys.
The car had so many odometers and buttons that the biggest car pundit would get confused once behind the wheel.
9 Fiat 500
Not only does the Fiat 500 provide limited space in the cabin, but it also featured in Consumer Reports' list of Least Reliable Vehicles for several years. Many Fiat drivers have attested to the vehicle being prone to breakdowns.
Driver's prefer simplicity and don't want a complicated dashboard instrument panel. Apart from the mechanical parts that the engineers didn't get right, they also didn't ensure that the gauge cluster was simplistic. The warning lights are clustered and provide a lot of information that may confuse drivers.
8 Mini Cooper Countryman
Mini has come a long way since the Morris that Mr. Bean drove. The British manufacturer evolved into producing elegant small cars that were good for daily drives. After the success of the Cooper, Mini wanted to produce a bigger car. The company's product was a compact crossover SUV known as the Countryman.
While the Countryman provided more space and speed than the Cooper, it featured a speedometer that looked like Big Ben. Perhaps, that's what Mini intended.
7 Buick Invicta
The Invicta was a full-size automobile that Buick produced from 1959 until 1963. The car was a continuation of the Buick Century concept. Consumers had a choice between the 6-liter or the 6.6-liter V8 engine. Robin Moorer's 1969 book The French Connection stated, "The 1960 Buick Invicta had a peculiarity in body construction conducive to the installations of...extraordinary, virtually detection-proof traps concealed within the fenders and undercarriage."
Fortunately for drivers, the automotive industry has evolved since the 1961 Invicta model and produced more informative gauge clusters.
6 Toyota Supra
Toyota's reputation for producing reliable and fuel efficient vehicles had prompted consumers to request a sports car from the Japanese manufacturer. Toyota's answer was the Supra. Production for the Supra commenced in 1979 and lasted until 2002.
The automaker thought that the Supra was one of its best sports cars, so it decided to resurrect the car by resuming production in 2019. Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad. The Supra has so many odometers that it's difficult to tell what's going on.
5 Plymouth Prowler
Chrysler had manufactured the Prowler since 1997 until 2002. The car is a retro-styled production car based on the 1993 concept of the same name. Chrysler offered the car as a single generation in a front engine, rear-drive, and rear-transmission configuration.
The overall production of the Prowler was just over 11,000 units. The Prowler didn't only have an eccentric exterior; its gauge cluster was also odd.
4 Toyota Mirai
Mirai is one of Toyota's latest models. The production of the car began in 2014, as a mid-size hydrogen fuel cell car. The Mirai has a total range of 312 miles on a full tank and a combined fuel economy of 66 mpg, making the car the most fuel-efficient hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that the United States Environmental Protection Agency rated.
The car has lived up to Toyota's reputation of being reliable and fuel efficient but also boasts an eccentric gauge cluster.
3 Scion XB
The XB was a boxy car that Scion produced from 2003 until 2015. Scion produced the XB as a compact car and fitted a 1.5-liter engine, capable of pumping out 103 horsepower during the first generation.
The later models received a more powerful engine such as the 2.5-liter L I4, pumping the power through the four-speed automatic. It seemed that Scion tried a similar design to the Toyota Prius by fitting the instrument panel to the right of the steering wheel.
2 BMW Z4
Many drivers consider Germany engineers to produce some of the best vehicles on the road. Automakers such as BMW and Mercedes have discovered the formula to manufacturing cars that are luxurious, reliable and provide performance.
The Z4 embodies all those characteristics but also has a flashy gauge cluster. While the Z4's sporty design makes the car look appealing, the gauge cluster might put off some consumers, but the car's performance makes up for the subpar gauge cluster.
1 Chevrolet Sonic
Originally known as the Aveo, the Sonic was the second generation and began with the 2012 model. Although Chevrolet kept the car in production since 2002, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US manufacturer would cease the production in 2019 due to declining sales and focus on profitable vehicles such as the SUVs.
Perhaps, one of the reasons that consumers don't find the car appealing is due to the subpar gauge cluster.
Sources - WSK & Car Design News