TOM: Well, the people have spoken. And what they've said is, "Yecch!"
RAY: We held a contest to name the ugliest new cars for sale in showrooms today. Readers of the column and listeners of our radio show made nominations, and folks voted on our Web site. And the results are in.
TOM: We'll work our way up (or should I say down?) to the ugliest car, starting with the runners-up. Now remember, we don't necessarily agree with all of these choices, although we wholeheartedly agree with some of them. But this is what YOU GUYS think.
RAY: Runner-up No. 10 is the BMW 5 Series, which was uglified a couple of years ago in an unfortunate redesign. Said one voter: "It looks like a Pontiac on acid."
TOM: Runner-up No. 9 is the Chrysler 300, about which one person said: "Did Chrysler have the head of a cow in mind when they designed this car?"
RAY: Runner-up No. 8 is the Chrysler 300's sister car, the Dodge Magnum station wagon, described as "The Welsh Corgi of the car world ... too long and low to the ground to be taken seriously."
TOM: No. 7 on the list of ugliest cars for sale today is the Chevy Avalanche, about which one voter said, "Adorned with more plastic than Anna Nicole Smith." Ouch.
RAY: Runner-up No. 6 is the Subaru Baja -- the half-car, half-pickup truck. Even though it came in sixth, this vehicle inspired a slew of comments: About how it was named, someone said, "The first focus group they showed it to must have commented 'Baja-ha-ha-ha!' while rolling on the floor laughing." Also, the Baja "should be a warning for all scientists working on genetic engineering. This is the kind of thing that can result if you're not careful."
TOM: No. 5 on our list is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Said one unhappy nonfan, "It's disheartening when I see one with flames that are only PAINTED on."
RAY: Runner-up No. 4 on the ugly-car roster is ... the Honda Element. "Nice box. Where's the car that came in it?" said one voter. Asked another science-oriented reader: "What 'element' is it? Butt-uglium??"
TOM: And now we get to the medalists. The bronze medal for ugliness goes to No. 3 on our list: The Hummer H2, the GM sport utility vehicle with the quasi-military decorations. "'H2' stands for hideous, squared," said one unhappy reader.
RAY: The silver medal for ugliness this year goes to ... the Scion xB. That's the little, boxy Scion. Said one reader, "Did the cleaning lady pull the plans for this out of the trash as a joke, and nobody noticed?"
TOM: And finally, the ugliest car you can buy today. The foulest folded metal on four wheels. The nastiest thing in America for which you can get a car loan is ... drum roll, please ... the Pontiac Aztek.
RAY: A few of the comments we received about this cross between a minivan and an SUV: "Was Pontiac taken over by a high-school shop class?" And "Looks like it went to the crusher BEFORE the showroom."
TOM: Here's one more: "Looks like it was designed by two separate teams of engineers that 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."
RAY: And the final insult: "Ever seen this car from behind? It's like getting behind a horse that's ready to drop a load." Nice.
TOM: But before you conclude that our readers and listeners are simply mean and critical people, we want to share this overtly sympathetic quote about the Aztek: "Let's face it, not every engineering student gets an 'A.' The 'D' students need work, too." How true.
RAY: For their first-place finish in our ugly-car contest, the designers at Pontiac win our prize, a brand-new washer and dryer. But just to be safe, they both come with notes that say, "Guys, please do not slap wheels on these and try to sell them as Pontiacs."
TOM: Thanks to everyone who voted. If you want to see pictures of all of these cars and read more voter comments about them, it's all at our Web site, www.cartalk.com.