The auto industry is built upon fairly clear-cut segments that every vehicle produced is designed to fit into. However, this is not always the case, and in recent years have seen vehicles that push the boundaries of categorization or evade them completely. Below is a list of rides that stand out from the crowd by refusing to be defined by conventional automotive terms. These vehicles are a cross between genres, some graceful and others looking like they suffered a bad fall into the parts bin. Despite the weirdness or poor initial reception of some, these easily identifiable oddities are becoming more collectible over time.
The Pontiac Aztek is an early crossover produced by GM from 2000-2005. Versatile yet controversially styled, the Aztek was targeted to the Gen-X active lifestyle crowd with options such as a camping tent attachment, inflatable mattress with an air compressor, and a removable center-console that doubles as a beverage cooler. Despite being seen as a failure due to polarizing looks and price tag, which equated to just over $30k when adjusted for inflation, the Pontiac Aztek was the first in a burgeoning outdoor activity vehicle segment which grew to include vehicles such as the Honda Element, Nissan X-Terra, and Toyota FJ Cruiser. Find a Pontiac Aztek for sale
At the time of its introduction, the Subaru Outback had carved out a niche in the automotive marketplace for “tall” wagons — car-based 4x4s that afford off-road capabilities while not sacrificing fuel economy. Looking to build on that platform while reviving their mini-truck format seen on their funky, late 70’s Brat, Subaru gave the El Camino treatment to their Outback and transformed it into a car-based truck called the Baja. Produced from 2002-2006, the Baja boasts a miniature truck bed lopped onto the Outback. While making no sacrifices on the car portion, the Baja’s short, forty-inch truck bed is a compromise compared to a full-size truck’s capabilities. While not for everyone, the Subaru Baja certainly stands out and is an affordable collectible today. Find a Subaru Baja for sale
BMW 5-Series GT
As soon as SUVs and Crossovers started to dominate our roadways, the writing was on the wall for the station wagon, and this once stoic, long relied upon format fell out of vogue with the American car-buying audience. Looking to remain fashionable while still offering utilitarian functionality on a car-based platform, BMW introduced the 5-Series Gran Turismo (GT for short) in 2009. The 5-series GT was the first example of a sloped wagon for a luxury brand, and in the subsequent years, the GT-trim grew to include the 3-series. Although the 5-series GT was discontinued in 2017, the 5-Series Gran Turismo lives on under the 6-series designation; it has also influenced the BMW X6 SUV’s sloped profile as well as created a body profile now common throughout luxury car manufacturers. Find a BMW 5 Series for sale
GMC Envoy XUV
In an attempt to bridge the gap between pick-up trucks and SUVs, the GMC Envoy XUV was introduced to GMC’s line-up in 2004. Equipped with a power-sliding roof, the entire trunk was able to transform into an open-air compartment to accommodate the transportation of large items that otherwise would not fit into GM’s mid-size SUV offering. With the roof opened, a glass partition installed on the interior raises to keep the cabin closed when in truck mode, and with a drain-equipped trunk, could be cleaned with a hose. A nifty two-way tailgate was also a notable feature that aided the cargo-carrying flexibility. In the end, the GMC Envoy XUV was a heavy, over-engineered SUV with added functionality that many deemed unnecessary. It failed to meet sales projections and was cut from the lineup after just one year in production. There are just a handful of used models on Autotrader, and a rarity thanks to its unexpectedly short production timeline. Find a GMC Envoy XUV for sale
In really broad terms, the sedan is not the most exciting automotive format, and Volkswagen aimed to bring some life to the everyday with the Volkswagen CC. With nomenclature that means Comfort Coupe, interior height was sacrificed for a sleeker coupe-like roofline. Despite having four doors, which coupes notably do not, it is a fresher take than the Passat in which it is based on, equipped with one of Volkswagen’s nicest interiors to date. Enthusiasts take note — the Volkswagen CC was even available with a manual transmission, and its 200 HP turbo four-cylinder engine pushes a decent amount of pep. In 2017, the Volkswagen CC was transformed into the Arteon, which continues production today. For enthusiasts in Europe, 2020 brought a shooting brake version of the Arteon, which will sadly never reach our shores. Find a Volkswagen CC for sale