Remember when you squeezed into bell bottoms, wore shoulder pads to make your neck line look smaller or thought puke green carpet was a great way to decorate your living room? We’ve all been there – attracted to trends that lasted for a season but left us wondering, “What was I thinking?” But, there are some things that never go out of style, like Audrey Hepburn’s shift dresses and wood floors.

Cars are the same way. Some, like the 1964 Ford Mustang are gems, but others, like the Ford Pinto, won’t earn antique plates. When you go car shopping, do yourself (and your kids) a favor. Buy one that will look good a decade from now.

Keep it Simple

Honda Civic

Most people don’t buy a Honda Civic because it will get them noticed, but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so appealing. The Civic is affordable, practical and its simple design is actually one reason why it’s been so successful. The Civic can net 26/34 mpg city/highway because its exterior isn’t wind resistant. Gas is getting expensive, so expect more cars to look like the Civic. That means your 2011 Civic will be in style when your kids hit college.

Ford Fusion

The Honda Civic is good for singles and small families, but it’s easy to outgrow it. If you need more space and classic styling, go for the Ford Fusion – it’s comfortable enough for youngsters and high schoolers on the basketball team. Like the Civic, the Fusion is rather plain and inoffensive, but like a t-shirt and jeans, simple never goes out of style. With such clean lines, your kids won’t duck in their seats when you drive around town ten years from now.

Chrysler 300

In search of something jazzier than the Ford Fusion or Honda Civic? Go for the Chrysler 300. The 300 is boxier than the Civic and Fusion, but that doesn’t mean it will look dated. Chrysler actually modeled the 300 after Bentley and Rolls Royce, two icons that have produced good looking cars for nearly 100 years. As an adaptation of these luxurious classics, you can rest assured – the 300 will age gracefully.

It’s Hip to Be Square

Jeep Wrangler

Square people – the boring and unadventurous who refuse to live outside the box – get a bad rep, but one thing that will always be in style is a boxy car. Jeep started producing vehicles for the US military during WWII. Seventy years later, the initial Jeep Willys MA looks a lot like the Wrangler we’re familiar with. Jeep hasn’t strayed from its classic boxy shapes and elongated front grille because if they do, legions of Jeep fans will revolt. Just think – you’re driving a bit of history that isn’t likely to change.  

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

Mercedes designed the G-wagen with rough terrain and militaries in mind, so a square exterior and tall doors suit this SUV. Unfortunately, the G-wagen isn’t affordable. You’ll pay $105,750 for a new model, and it’s fuel economy ratings are horrible, but the good thing is, the G-wagen has been boxy since it was first produced. That means regardless of which model year you buy, you’ll still feel like you’re keepin’ up with the Joneses.

Ford Flex

The G-wagen won’t go out of style, but its price tag is ridiculous. Luckily, the G-wagen isn’t your only boxy SUV option. The Ford Flex’s square exterior will not only stand the test of time, but it’s also functional. It’s easy to to enter and exit, and it has some of the roomiest second and third row seats in the class.

Back to the Future

Mini Cooper

Many Americans love English accents, and they’ve become quite fond of a particular English vehicle: the Mini Cooper. First produced in 1959, the classic Cooper was super small, super cute and great for putting around European streets. Now, our association with the Cooper has become generational. Parents admired it, and now that the Cooper is stateside, their children can buy it. Our infatuation with this bitty car probably won’t fade any time soon, and as a result, its looks will last.

Volkswagen Beetle

It’s not English, but the Volkswagen Beetle’s cutesy looks have been around since the late 1930s. It’s easy to see where the New Beetle gets its inspiration. The latest VW bug still has a petite frame, rounded front end, beady headlights and curved roof. Volkswagen is releasing a newer New Beetle for the 2012 model year, and based on spy photos, it won’t stray far from its old-school roots.

Dodge Challenger

Dodge gave the Challenger a retro exterior that resembles the first-generation Challenger of the 1970s. Even after 30 years, the Challenger’s classic design is still fresh. If the first generation still looks aggressive and capable of hitting the race track, you can expect the latest generation to look capable of the same thirty to forty years from now.

Mercedes-Benz SLS

Depending on when you were born, you might recall the Mercedes-Benz SLS, which is best-known for its iconic gull-wing doors. Mercedes liked this concept so much that they decided to develop a new school model: the Mercedes-Benz SLS. This winged sports car is a classic, but it ain’t cheap. But, since the SLS has looks that won’t go out of style, ponying up for an SLS is money well spent.  

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