"Most embarrassing car" list unveiled

The Smart ForTwo is the car Americans would least like to be seen in, according to a new survey from CarInsurance.com.

In the survey, 1,500 licensed drivers were asked to look at photos of 12 vehicles made in the last decade and decide if they would be embarrassed to be seen in them. Then they were asked to rank the three most cringe-worthy.

The Smart was the runaway winner; 48 percent of all participants said the ForTwo was embarrassing, and it won as many No. 1 votes as the next four vehicles combined.

"All these cars are bold statements. You either love them or hate them," said CarInsurance.com managing editor Des Toups. "But even considering that, a lot of people don't like the Smart ForTwo, and those who don't like it seem to despise it."

The CarInsurance.com "Cringe Score" represents the relative weight of all votes cast for a particular vehicle, based on a 1 to 10 scale.

Vehicle/Cringe Score                                                         

  1. Smart ForTwo: 7.6
  2. Nissan Cube: 3.6
  3. Hummer H2: 3.5
  4. Chevrolet SSR: 2.1
  5. Volkswagen New Beetle:  1.9
  6. Subaru Baja: 1.6
  7. Lincoln Town Car: 1.6
  8. Pontiac Aztek: 1.4
  9. Plymouth PT Cruiser: 1.0
  10. Honda Element: 0.9
  11. Chevrolet HHR:  0.7
  12. Nissan Murano Cabriolet: 0.3

The survey also asked drivers to identify the worst attributes of the vehicles that they found embarrassing. For the Smart, the top choices were "too small," "too girly," and "tries too hard."

Other observations from respondents about the ForTwo included:

  • "Looks like I couldn't afford a full-size car."
  • "Too dorky."
  • "A toy." 
  • "Downright ugly."

Battling it out for second place were the Hummer H2 and Nissan Cube. 

"Women really didn't like the H2," Toups said. "Dislike of the Cube was more on generational lines: The older you are, the less likely you are to find it embarrassing."

The survey also asked participants about their broader tastes in vehicles.

The most embarrassing car colors

The largest share of drivers (38 percent) said their distaste for any color was dependent on the car, but a roughly equal number said they would not drive a car painted purple, bright yellow or orange.

  • Depends on the car: 38 percent
  • Purple: 17 percent
  • Bright yellow: 16 percent
  • Orange: 13 percent
  • Brown: 5 percent
  • Gold: 5 percent
  • Green: 2 percent
  • Bright red: 2 percent
  • White: 1 percent

The most embarrassing types of vehicles

Asked which type of vehicle was most embarrassing, inexpensive compacts and minivans topped the list. Men were more likely to select a hybrid or a minivan as embarrassing. Least embarrassing for both sexes are sports cars.

  • Inexpensive compact: 29 percent
  • Minivan: 23 percent
  • Eco-friendly hybrid: 15 percent
  • Large SUV: 11 percent
  • Large pickup truck: 10 percent
  • Large luxury car: 9 percent
  • Sports car: 2 percent

"If you're looking for the perfect birthday gift," Toups said, "a red sports car should do just fine."

The most embarrassing car accessories

More than a third of drivers cringe at the thought of headlight eyelashes. A large number of write-in votes came in for "truck nutz."

  • Headlight eyelashes:  34 percent
  • Fast and Furious-style spoilers and wings: 15 percent
  • "My child is an honor student" bumper sticker: 13 percent
  • Bumper sticker for a candidate who lost: 18 percent
  • Stick-figure family decals: 13 percent
  • Other: 6 percent