Posts from ‘Isuzu’
Most of the editors here at Consumer Guide have long commutes. For those who can relate, you understand how the grind of slow-moving traffic past the same landmarks 10 times a week can take a toll.
To pass time that would otherwise be spent in a drone-like state, we employ the predictable tools: podcasts, music, and satellite radio. I, for one, am a fan of political punditry, right-leaning or left-wing, and hop between a number of terrestrial and SiriusXM channels during a typical drive.
But listening to stuff only occupies the ears. And yes, I agree that our eyes should always be on the road. But it is on the road that, at least for some of us, the real entertainment lies. Our guys are always on the prowl for a good Car Spotter moment.
This past week, for example, I spotted two Peugeots. What are the odds? In between taking note of the French cars, I managed a glimpse of a red Ferrari F360. That’s some noteworthy iron there.
Sarcastically, it was called badge engineering. Basically, it’s the process by which an automaker amortizes development costs by retrimming an existing vehicle and selling it under another name—usually through another brand channel, or channels.
Many of us can recall the Chrysler Corporation’s “Grand Fifthlomat” of the Eighties, a single vehicle that came to the public thinly disguised as the Plymouth Grand Fury, Chrysler Fifth Avenue, and Dodge Diplomat. Three cars on one chassis ain’t bad, but General Motors has done better—much better.
Behold here the most recent and most egregious example ever of badge engineering: the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X.
Actually a fine truck by most measures, the RainTrail Asscendavadavoy-X (all six corporate variants, that is) disappeared ahead of schedule not because the buying public raged against the obvious product cloning, but because gas prices were rendering largish body-on-frame SUVs obsolete.
To be fair, GM did a better than decent job of keeping each vehicle distinct, as the photos below demonstrate. Still, it’s hard to argue that the company wasn’t seriously pushing its luck.
A bad rap can go a long way toward messing your legacy. Take the poor, ill-remembered Edsel. Rendered largely unsellable by a recession and some dubious marketing, the car is now recalled as a lemon, which is certainly not the case.
So it is with the cars listed here. Lemons, bombs, or just unglamorous transportation fodder for the masses, these plain-Jane rides never got full credit for being fine-looking rides—and that’s a shame. So, put away your preconceived notions about these work-a-day cars and look again. I say they’re pretty nice looking.
Chevrolet Vega (1971-1973)
If you don’t see a little German and Italian influence in these clean, sporty lines, then your heart has been hardened beyond redemption. I am especially smitten with the thin bumpers. You have to admit that in red, this car looks decidedly (and deceptively) racy.
Chevrolet Nova (1968-1972)
I know people who HATE the way this car looks. Philistines. The clean, pinch-waisted “Coke-bottle” profile is both clean and taut—and completely devoid of the flabby organic vagueness that would soon plague most American cars. The Rally in this ad is absurdly cool. I want it.
Maybe you’re no good at fill-in-the-blank-type tests. No problem. Here we’re looking for you, the sharp-eyed quiz taker, to find the fakes. Below, you’ll find car brands followed by four corresponding models, one of which is a fake! Take your time and read the names aloud. If the name sounds wonky, it probably is. If you score five correct, you’re some sort of auto savant. Score four and you have earned our respect. Good luck!
Note: There are no trick questions here. All “real” models were vehicles available for purchase in the United States.
Find the fake Chrysler
Find the fake Daewoo
a. Daewoo Lanos
b. Daewoo Leganza
c. Daewoo Nautilus
d. Daewoo Nubira
Find the fake Geo
a. Geo City
b. Geo Metro
c. Geo Spectrum
d. Geo Storm
Find the fake Isuzu
a. Isuzu Ascender
b. Isuzu P’up
c. Isuzu VehiCross
d. Isuzu Cross Path
Find the fake Pontiac
a. Pontiac G3
b. Pontiac G5
c. Pontiac Transit GT
d. Pontiac Torrent
Car makers can get lazy. Sometimes a marketing executive will look at a product line and think, “Hey, there’s a hole I can plug!” Of course, it’s never quite that simple. Filling a gap in the lineup, done the right way, can mean years of development and marketing. So what happens if there isn’t enough time—or money—to fully develop a new model?
The answer to that question in the cases below was pretty simple: Throw a new grille and a couple of new badges on an existing product. Please don’t confuse these sadly tragic cases of subterfuge with what was once called badge engineering. We all know that the old Buick Regal was also the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. In those cases, however, the cars in question were designed and developed together. Somehow, that feels less cynical.
No, these “ghost cars,” as I am calling them, were meant to deceive—quick remedies cobbled up by desperate brand managers looking to catch a hot trend. In each case discussed here, sales were pretty thin, which proves that you can cheat the system but you can’t really cheat it by much.
1998-1999 Dodge Raider
I haven’t had a eureka moment in the car in years. You’d think that someone with a long commute would occasionally, when deep in thought, stumble upon a perfect solution or a brilliant plan—but not so much. Unless you consider remembering to pick up sriracha and Diet Pepsi brilliant, I’m not getting too much mental business done while in transit.
I do spend a lot of time looking at other cars, though. As my memory is still largely intact, I have slowly, over the years, picked up on a number of interesting patterns and truisms that can be applied to traffic and commuters in general. Here I have compiled a list of 10 things that I have found to be either completely true or darn near always true. These are things I’ve noticed during the 600 hours or so I spend each year getting to or from work. Sure you can argue that my time might have been better spent, but you can’t say that I wasn’t paying attention.
Do you have an automotive truism to share? We’d love to hear it.