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It wasn't very long ago when frumpy styling seemed like a mandatory design brief in the large non-premium segment. Witness:

- Toyota Avalon: generations one, two and three
- Chevrolet Impala: generations eight and nine
- Ford Taurus: generation four and five...

Perhaps the best exemplar of this phenomenon? The Hyundai Azera, which has historically worn its Witness Protection Program sheetmetal like a badge of honor. (I'd mention the now-dead Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, but as those were styled in dark caves with crude stone implements, it's hardly their fault).

So what the hell has gotten into this segment's once-stagnant water? The 2013 Avalon looks far more dynamic, the 2014 Impala appears very promising and the retouched 2013 Taurus still looks imposing. And this 2013 Azera has been the subject of eyeballs and finger-pointing all week because... well, because it's kind of stunning, isn't it?

Let's just hope grandma and grandpa aren't afraid of stepping out a bit, and that this newfound design chutzpah actually pays dividends in automakers' sales charts. ^CP
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