The 10 Most Dramatic Car Facelifts of the Past Few Years

Are These The Best Or Worst Facelifts In The Automotive World?

Updated November 8, 2018

It’s no secret that car design plays an important role in vehicle’s overall attractiveness. Beautiful cars usually end up receiving much more love than average ones, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. This is one of the reasons many manufacturers schedule constant redesigns for their models. These car facelifts usually occur after three model years for more popular segments (mid-cycle facelift). Then there are full redesigns which usually happen after five to six model years, but some less popular models can go without them for more than a decade. We’ve witnessed numerous such facelifts and full overhauls during the past few years and this time we’re reflecting on 10 we’ve deemed most dramatic.

Only facelifts from 2012 onward have been considered, and we’ve excluded models that have changed the nameplate like the Jeep Liberty/Cherokee. Moreover, there’s only one model per manufacturer to keep things more diverse. Finally, models that have skipped one or more production years haven’t been taken into consideration as well.

Ford Escape

Second/third generation redesign

The Ford Escape is one of the most popular compact crossovers in the US market today, but that wasn’t always the case. Not that it was unpopular prior to 2012/2013 overhaul, but it was more of an SUV than a crossover. Such extensive was the redesign that the new Ford Escape practically doesn’t even resemble the old ones. Sales figures have shown that the buyers were overly impressed with the change as 2013 Escape sold 35,000 units more than its predecessor.

Facelift Cars - 2012 Ford Escape-front-view

2012 Ford Escape

Facelift Cars - 2013 Ford Escape-fd

2013 Ford Escape

Toyota Camry

Fifth generation mid-cycle refresh

Best-sold US mid-size sedan finally has some worthy opponents in terms of sales. The Camry was so pressured in fact, that Toyota decided to go with something radical for 2015 model year refresh. The new Camry now boasts almost Lexus-like frontal fascia thanks to the open-mouth grille, and it looks better than it ever did. It’s these bold radical moves that can sometimes prolong one vehicle’s dominance in the market. But let’s not forget that it’s a double-edged sword which can also backfire. It didn’t backfire in Camry’s case.

Facelift Cars - Toyota Camry

2014 Toyota Camry

Facelift Cars - 2015 Toyota Camry XLE front-side-motion-view

2015 Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Impala

Ninth/tenth generation redesign

The Chevrolet Impala has been around for so many years and facelifts that we’ve lost the count. Latest of the changes saw it become a modern large family car. That’s right. Not only that Impala has received a complete overhaul for the tenth generation, but it also grew in size, effectively changing segments. Sales have plummeted as a result, but that was to be expected since it’s much larger now. It’s all a part of the Bow Tie brand’s grand strategy and Impala should be fine for now.

Facelift Cars - 2012 Chevrolet Impala

2013 Chevy Impala

Facelift Cars - 2014 Chevrolet Impala front-three-quarter-in-motion

2014 Chevy Impala

Nissan Altima

Fourth/fifth generation redesign

Like all mid-size sedans in the US, the Nissan Altima also has to reinvent itself every few years in order to remain competitive. That’s exactly what it’s done in 2012 when it changed from fourth to fifth generation design. Sales have been rising steadily since then, so the overhaul ended up being a good move. New Altima is much sharper car than its predecessor anyway.

Facelift Cars - 2012 Nissan Altima sedan-front-three-quarters

2012 Nissan Altima

Facelift Cars - 2013-altima

2013 Nissan Altima

Range Rover Sport

First/second generation redesign

The Range Rover Sport was only introduced some decade or so ago, but it’s already undergone one facelift and one full overhaul. It’s remained boxy in Land Rover‘s true fashion, but second generation models are much flashier as well. Some will lament the sharp gracefulness of the first gen, but sales suggest redesign was the right move. Range Rover Sport moved 58,234 units in 2013 and 82,440 in 2014 which says it all.

Facelift Cars - 2013 Range Rover Sport HSE - Indus Silver

2013 Range Rover Sport

Facelift Cars - Range Rover Sport

2014 Range Rover Sport

Mazda 6

Second/third generation redesign

The Mazda 6 is without any doubt the best looking family mid-size sedan you can find today. It was a beauty prior to 2012 overhaul as well, but this is on an entirely different level. Sales too have been boosted considerably by this design change, but Mazda 6 is still way behind its competitors in that category. It’s sad really when such a beauty doesn’t receive the love it deserves.

Facelift Cars - 2012 Mazda 6 front-three-quarter-motion

2012 Mazda 6

Facelift Cars - mazda 6

2013 Mazda 6

Chrysler 200

First/second generation redesign

The Chrysler 200 is the newest nameplate on this list, but it’s already managed to reinvent itself – at least in terms of its design. Introduced for the 2011 model year, mid-size car had received a complete makeover in 2014. Sales have soared the following year, but they’re yet again falling down it would seem. The reason for that might be Fiat-Chrysler’s decision to discontinue 200 after the next model year.

Facelift Cars - 2014 Chrysler 200

2014 Chrysler 200

Facelift Cars - 2015 Chrysler 200 AWD

2015 Chrysler 200

Lexus LS 460

Fourth generation’s second facelift

While most manufacturers reinvent their portfolio nameplate by nameplate, Lexus has done that with their entire car park almost instantly. Their now hallmark spindle grille graces all of their cars, and in turn they look much more fashionable than they did prior to aforementioned change. We could have chosen pretty much any Lexus here, but we’ve decided to go with the LS 460. It’s Japanese brand’s flagship model and it’s been present longer than most.

Facelift Cars - 2012 Lexus LS460 front-end-in-motion

2012 Lexus LS 460

Facelift Cars - 2013 Lexus LS460 - front-three-quarter-2

2013 Lexus LS 460

Volvo XC90

First/second generation redesign

Volvo‘s XC90 is the most luxurious Volvo you can buy, and it has been since the day it was introduced almost 15 years ago. 2015 model year has brought a substantial redesign with it, and the XC90 can finally say it looks flashier on the outside than it does on the inside. That’s a feat very few Volvos could have boasted with a decade or so ago. Needless to say, apart from being plushy and good looking, the new XC90 again leads the segment in overall safety. That’s something you can rely upon when Swedes are concerned.

Facelift Cars - 2014 Volvo XC90 - front-view-04

2014 Volvo XC90

Facelift Cars - Volvo XC90 - first-edition-03

2015 Volvo XC90

Honda Pilot

Second/third generation redesign

The mid-sized Pilot started out as a boxy SUV, but switched to more contemporary crossover layout in 2015. Some will say that it took its sweet time, but it was nice to have something different to choose from – and the outgoing Honda Pilot certainly was that something. After a sharp decline in sales between 2013 and 2014, this seemed like a necessary move. The Pilot’s sales are rising yet again, and it would seem that the transformation was justified.

Facelift Cars - 2015 Honda Pilot

2015 Honda Pilot

Facelift Cars - 2016 Honda Pilot with accessories installed, including: 20-inch black wheels; chrome door mirror cover; chrome tailgate trim; running boards with lights; roof rails with crossbars; illuminated door sill trim; and chrome front bumper trim.

2016 Honda Pilot


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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much.

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