By on March 9, 2013

Mark writes:

Sajeev,

We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern.

In short, Jeep’s design team needs to be raked across the coals for destroying what was Chrysler’s best-looking vehicle on the market, and I think you are the man to do the raking.

Sajeev answers:

I’m honored you think I’m worthy of Raking the Design Muck, especially since your concise assessment is spot on: every element presented here is a big car design FAIL.

It leaves very little for me to prove. So let’s dig deeper. Change for the sake of change to a well-received design (i.e. not the Pontiac Aztek) isn’t normally a good thing: be it as eye-gouging as the Ferrari Testarossa turning into the hideous 512M or as minor as a Headlight Fail on the redesigned Grand Cherokee, this change uses R&D money to make something different at the expense of good taste.  Which is sad.

And inexcusable…but far from uncommon.  For example, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma work truck.

Is anyone fooled into thinking those are real fog lights?  Just make a blank panel for the fleet model instead…please! The previous model was far less offensive, even the goofy grilles of the fleet-spec Ford Ranger are better. While the Ranger is an outdated design, time has been the little Ford’s friend. Remember that “change for the sake of change” thing? It leads to the conclusion.

 And now for the key takeaway:  be it in the world of Automotive Accounting, Engineering or Industrial Design, the concept of “Less is More” is true.  Don’t waste money making parts that fight with a design (Grand Cherokee) or make it look cheaper than necessary (Tacoma). So design it right from the start.  Easier said than done, as I’ve heard (horror?) stories of designers working with engineers to get the proper end result.

So do the right thing because people are watching. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

54 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: Less is More…Enlightening?...”


  • avatar
    AFX

    The front end of the new Jeep is hideous, too much going on with all those different lights, and it comes across looking like a Japanese truck with those upper lights.

    The examples of the Tacoma and Ranger given are excellent examples of marketing. Make the base model acceptable enough the for really cheap people, but ugly enough so that most people will want to spend more money on the better looking higher grade trim levels.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they made it intentionally “Asian” as that what sells on international market as CUV, SUV things

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        CUV’s maybe, but there are only two international SUV’s that come to mind, the Wrangler and the Range Rover(assuming it’s still a true BoF SUV) and neither are asian in look.

        I’m pretty sure much of the reason of the fake lights is because it’s cheaper for a manufacturer to make the same overall design but just not cut out the extra plastic for the light holes, by making it a flat and smooth surface they have to design a seperate bumpers, therefore, it’s cheaper and also easier for the consumer and manufacturer because there are less costs involved. Also consumers don’t have to search out different parts in an accident, additionally they can cut out the plastic and add the lights if they so please.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Land Cruiser is what people drive when they actually need to get somewhere challenging, and so its styling dictates what people have to emulate if they want to build cars that pretend to be capable.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It looked like a Camry headlight for a second, til I started reading.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I like the Chrysler 300′s new face, but not as much as the old Chrysler 300. The new Jeep looks worse than the old one.

    • 0 avatar
      Good ole dayz

      >>The front end of the new Jeep is hideous, too much going on with all those different lights, and it comes across looking like a Japanese truck with those upper lights.

      +1

      I don’t get how (or who could have been thinking) that this “squinty-eyed” look is supposed to be attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      With the reference to “upper lights” it sounds more like you are referring the the Cherokee, not the Grand Cherokee..?

  • avatar

    “Is anyone fooled into thinking those are real fog lights? Just make a blank panel for the fleet model instead…please!”

    God, I hate that! Very common on all Brazilian cars. The excuse I hear it’s easier to make the smae plastic bumoper for all trims, the puch out the holes for the ones with fog lights!

    As to Cherokee, I may be a paragon of bad taste, and I have to see it in person, but it is growing on me.

    • 0 avatar
      jco

      yes, it’s been my experience that the bumpers are made this way for this reason. because then you only need to use one mold for all them.

      the EU reg mandating DRLs is really annoying. LEDs for everyone, unfortunately. apparently the regulation states something about the DRL not being a piggyback function, so they will almost certainly be DRLs that aren’t turn signals or parking lights.

      • 0 avatar

        And that bumper mold savings is fine…just make a boring panel that doesn’t fight the form. Making a filler panel that’s more than a filler is just a receipe for fail.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        EU hasn’t mandated DRLs for very long yet, and then only on new models. Canada has done so since 1990, though.

        And based on how many cars I see driving through fog and rain in the US with nary a light, maybe the US should, too.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          DRLs also lead to people driving at night with no tail lights or side marker lights. You can’t legislate stupid. All Canada achieved with DRL laws was killing motorcyclists. Basically, the first DRLs were on motorcycles. What they found was that death rates for motorcyclists plummeted. The halfwits of government took this to mean that DRLs on all vehicles would have the same effect. All they achieved was returning motorcycle accident rates to normal as illuminated headlights stopped being conspicuous once everyone had them. The same happened with third brake lights. They were great at first, particularly when only a small fraction of cars had them. Now we just waste more energy to have the same accident rates.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Yes, I HATE this! I see it quite often, and this is a perfect case for federal regulation.

            They should use the ambient light sensor to turn off the dash lights when it’s dark outside, unless the running lights are turned on (that would end this rather quickly).

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    It seems that Chrysler is simply trying to save money by reusing Chrysler 300 headlights on the Grand Cherokee. Inexcusable, since the vehicle involved is not really cheap. One can probably get away with it if the car is some low cost vehicle for developing market, but not a semi-premium vehicle. Even more inexcusable is that they have spend the money on an unique headlights on the previous model that looks better than the current model’s. It really seem to be change for the sake of change.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Believe it or not, they aren’t 300 lamps. They are unique to the Grand Cherokee and only on the higher trim levels. I got up good and close to them at the car show and I’ve seen some driving around here in the Detroit area.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Now that’s even weirder. If the lamps are specific to the Grand cherokee, why not make one that fits its opening perfectly?

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          The black filler panel has provisions for a headlamp washer (a section in the middle that appears to pop out) for the markets where it is required.

          • 0 avatar

            If so, that’s a horrible way to integrate headlamp washers. The little square that pops up from a bumper is much smarter…and you can align it right in the middle of the lamp.

          • 0 avatar
            MrWhopee

            Indeed, Sajeev! The old one, I believe, already have the headlamp washers (at least for some market), so a new ‘solution’ is not needed. It’s just a lame excuse for a bad design.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Wow, i thing the Grand looks really cool with its new front end.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    The worst part about the redesign to me is not the new headlamps, its the “smile” shape built into the edges of the grille below the headlamps. This makes the Grand look more like the cheaper Compass, not the other way around.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    The two lowest end variants have OK headlamps, and in the lowest, the Laredo, the “mouth” below the grille is blacked out. In all, that’s a much better, Jeepierr, look. Could you order a higher model with those features?

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Anyone else remember when Volkswagen was saying that the age of over-stylized cars has hit it’s peak? Jeep didn’t get that memo. (Also there’s some humor in VW saying that, considering their ultra-conservative styling.)

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      VW was saying that? VW, that markets cars that have bud vases?

      • 0 avatar
        mr_muttonchops

        One little detail (albeit silly) does not make for an overstyled car unless it affects the entire appearance of the car. Generally speaking, VW cars have leaned on the conservative side of things as far as overall styling goes.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember that. And I remembered how over styling happens every 15-20 years. It’s a regular cycle, but that’s not a bad thing. I like many of the 1950s and 1970s overstyled machines. Not sure if I can say the same thing about the past few years of over styling, but maybe it needs more time.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        It is funny how a design can grow on you over time. Back in the 1980′s I thought the boxy, 1970′s-1980′s GM pickups and SUVs were the ugliest things on the road. Now I think they are rather attractive compared to modern pickups and SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        1957 Chevy = collector car.

        1958 Chevy = a Checker taxi.

      • 0 avatar
        mr_muttonchops

        I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been saying for a while now that cars are kind of repeating the way things were in the 50′s with chrome/LED everything, gee-wiz gadgetry, and cars getting noticeably larger compared to a generation or two ago.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Whether or not it is really the case, the Grand’s new lights look like some penny pinching twit figured that the headlights they already had for another vehicle would fit the Jeep. It turns out he was wrong, but the idea was such a money saver that they went ahead and used them with a cheap filler panel. This doesn’t seem to be what happened, but the result is a car that looks like it was fixed with whatever junk was on hand. Not what I’d want in an expensive new car.

    The Tacoma v. Ranger comparison is laughable. That big plastic trash can lid glued to the ancient Ranger is comically bad. That it also has round fog light cut outs in the bumper to call attention to its low spec shows just how desperate this attempt was to criticize the Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The filler panel below the lamp appears to have a provision for a headlamp washer for the inevitable export versions to be sold in the rest of the world, so it’s not completely useless – just useless here in the U.S.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        So it’s like the fog light cutouts in the base work truck bumpers, except on a $40K SUV instead of a $19K pickup? Oh, and the features those cheap plastic plugs are announcing the absence of aren’t even available here? Thanks for playing, Fiat! Better luck next time. I think they really have the potential to derail the Jeep gravy train in the US. This is the brain trust that can’t sell Alfas, Fiats, or Lancias in Italy after all, and they’re well on their way to halting any momentum Maserati was building.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          Since it’s not a Honda product and you weren’t going to buy one anyway, there’s probably no reason to get so upset about it. I’m sure it will sell fine and most consumers probably won’t even notice it.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Upset? I wish them all the luck in the world in killing Jeep before it can wind up in Chinese hands. It seems bad enough that Jeep’s already been whored out to the French, the Germans, and now the Italians. Probably all that saved them from boxing the entire Axis clock was the Japanese learning everything they needed to know about the UAW at NUMMI.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I thought that the Ranger pic was there as an example of a conservatively attractive vehicle made ugly with an obnoxious grill and absurdly cheap bumper, while the Tacoma just looks terrible in every way.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    I surmise the black filler is the ‘placeholder’ for the headlamp washer, a compulsory fitment on the European-spec vehicles.

    Another example is the little grey square that interrupted the flow of daytime running lamps on Mercedes-Benz SLS

    http://i286.photobucket.com/albums/ll81/xxgenericsnxx/Mercedes-Benz/SLS%20AMG/DSC_0328.jpg

    The headlamp washers in action:
    http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRJGhzUdPyUeSFhI6TV8PlhDlQ_h19uHtOzndkR38D42vUmMvuS

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    At least with base trucks, you can improvise fog lights off a junk yard Grand Prix or something and it’ll look ‘factory’. Or get the originals. There’s not much you can do for those headlights though. Tinted covers? Smoked?

  • avatar
    nickoo

    It’s only the top trim level that gets these headlights combined with a headlight washer. The lower trim levels get the full headlights.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    >>be it in the world of Automotive Accounting, Engineering or Industrial Design, the concept of “Less is More” is true.<<

    +1. The same can be said for financial data. Too much makes filtering noise more difficult, often in a non-linear fashion.

    Less is More. First do no harm. Via Negativa.
    In the end, certain realities (like the perfect pickup headlamp) can never be completely known.

  • avatar
    KindaFondaHonda

    For God’s sake, are we gonna have to see another design comparison that trashes whatever and praises a Ford? Are you kidding? That Ford Ranger front end is a disaster.

    4″ gap between bumper and grille/headlight filler, goofy round “grilles” in the bumper, and for crissakes Ford can’t sweat the tiniest detail of painting the metal behind the grille black to hide the supports?

    I can live with the Tacoma front end a million times over before that ghastly Ranger front clip. This coming from someone who once owned a very nice 1996 Ranger XLT SuperCab V6 with the Splash wheels/suspension but with a smooth-sided bedside. That was a really nice little truck back then (gutless and bouncy and noisy, but great at being a nice little truck). But I can admit when design and manufacturing are woefully absent.

    Neither truck you have above is a looker to be sure, but the Tacoma looks like a precision piece, not slapped together in 5 seconds like the Ranger seems to be. I don’t care how old the design is, Ford could have spent a dime in 20 years to improve it’s processes and finish work on one of it’s best sellers.

    That’s much worse than headlight “DLO” fail in my book.

    • 0 avatar

      “For God’s sake, are we gonna have to see another design comparison that trashes whatever and praises a Ford? Are you kidding? That Ford Ranger front end is a disaster. ”

      Just the fog lights, this VV is about fake stuff involving lights.

      Of course the front end is a disaster, no arguments here. I own one and I have to see it all the damn time.

      • 0 avatar
        AFX

        Those aren’t fake fog lights and round grilles, those are IMSA brake cooling duct openings !. You just need a hole saw or a jig saw to open them up, and some flexible aluminum heater vent ducting running to the brake rotors.

  • avatar
    markholli

    I think mid-cycle model refreshes in general are unnecessary. In what book of automotive law is it written that 3 years is the maximum time period that a design can go untouched?

    The current model Grand Cherokee still seems like a brand new design to me. Maybe it’s because I live in an area with so many GCs on the road of all generations, that I feel like the new one is still special. Yet some Jeep project manager somewhere looked at the 2013 and said, “We need to spice up this antique fast or nobody will buy it!”

    A model refresh should focus on substance, like correcting flaws in driveabilty, materials or workmanship based on user feedback.

    I’d like to see a post discussing the best and worst model refreshes. One vote for the worst team: 2010 Honda Accord: “Lets slap some red reflecty shit on the trunk and call it new.”

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I’d like to see a post discussing the best and worst model refreshes. One vote for the worst team: 2010 Honda Accord: “Lets slap some red reflecty shit on the trunk and call it new.”

      THANK YOU

      What is with manufacturers doing this all the time? And it’s not just the Accord, all though that one does come to mind but a whole lot of vehicles, just like WTF.

      • 0 avatar
        chrishs2000

        Honda produces a lot of half assed MMC’s, they seem to be terrified to invest in a model once it’s been released. The 2010 Accord is a really good example, IMO they made the already bloated and ugly vehicle even more bulbous. IIRC they simply adopted the rear end treatment of the existing 08-10 model in Thailand. See also the 2001 Accord (look, we cleared half the taillights!).

        Of course sometimes they completely change a vehicle with the MMC like the S2000 and NSX, then let it die a slow death with virtually no updates for years…

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    If you want to indict the Tacoma, give it shit for the recent versions looking really terrible with the scooter-sized base model wheels.

  • avatar
    Slowtege

    Agreed with both you and the OP. Ugh. Jeep, what have you done??? This similar tragic fate befell the 2005 generation of Subaru Legacy. ’05-’07 was perfectly and tastefully executed. I distinctly remember wondering aloud how they would do the inevitable MMC as the original looked so good. And then Subaru went and made those beautiful and key details (lights, fender creases, bumpers, grill) overwrought and more “obvious”. Not right. Not fair. At least it wasn’t the shield-your-eyes-and-run-for-the-hills redesign in 2010. *shudder*


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India