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America's Most Toxic Car Ad

Three More #ToxicCarAds That Didn’t Quite Make the Cut

4:59 PM EDT on November 5, 2021

Photo: Lexus

We're days away from the final battle in our quest to find America's Most Toxic Car Ad...but that doesn't mean the submissions ever stopped rolling in.

As you cast your final votes to determine which commercial will square off against this super gross Chevy Colorado spot in the championship bout, we wanted to share a few entries that arrived too late to be included in our contest, but still deserve a little takedown of their own.

Here are three of the worst:

The Toyota GR Supra

Just like the Chevy ad that's heading for this contest's finals, this Toyota ad takes a meta approach to selling Americans on cars (and driving behaviors) that kill. But instead of showing us the inner workings of a focus group, this spot brings us a pair of exasperated advertisers who just can't seem to get a pitch past the client...because the client only wants a lame ad that shows drivers behaving responsibly. 

One by one, these wet blanket big-wigs dismiss such startlingly original ideas as "show the car drift racing through an improbably empty downtown" or "just have it spew exhaust for a full 90 seconds" — because the upstanding people at Toyota would never want to glorify "aggressive driving"  in their ads.

Of course, the commercial itself does give us roughly a half-dozen clips of drivers breaking just every rule of the road, winkingly stylized to make it clear that they know this is what their target demo really wants... and contrasts them with boring ads featuring drivers not behaving like monsters, just to drive the point home.

"This ad is the perfect synopsis of how neither side of the car-marketing community understand the issues," said Gersh Kuntzman, Streetsblog editor in chief, who was particularly horrified by this spot. "The hyper-caffeinated, Fast and the Furious-influenced commercial makers obviously just want to show off the deadliest features of the car, but the staid car company executives are equally (and in some way more dangerously) clueless about how cars ruin rather than improve our lives. I've never seen an ad that gets at the core of both sides of this issue.”

The GMC Sierra

What's scarier than a 6,950-pound luxury pick-up barreling straight towards you?

A 6,950-pound luxury pick-up whose driver is being actively encouraged to take her hands off the wheel.

Like a lot of the ads in this contest, GMC makes shockingly liberal use of the perennially popular microscopic disclaimer text warning drivers not to over-rely on the car's "Super Cruise" feature, a far-from-foolproof technology which studies have shown makes drivers more likely to get distracted behind the wheel, which can easily lead to a fatal collision.

But if you missed the message, we don't blame you; the booming Queen soundtrack, howling dogs, and voiceover touting the benefits of "hands-free driving" are a little distracting themselves.

The Lexus RX

If you felt your PTSD flare at the image of a hulking SUV trailing a cyclist around a blind turn on a road with no bike lane, you're not alone. But fortunately for the "fearless leader" in this spot, the motorist menacing her is actually just her partner driving the her SAG wagon ... and like any good car ad, there's no other driver on the road to be found.

In real life, of course, megacar drivers are a little more infamous for rolling coal on Lycra-clad sports cyclists (if not outright murdering them) than they are for providing technical and moral support. But wouldn't it be nice if people on bikes in any kind of clothing didn't have to be "fearless" — much less rely on the incredibly fuel-intensive shield of a 4,905-pound car to protect them — to brave the road on two wheels?

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