By on June 23, 2011

Tommy Hilfiger… My God, don’t they know? This stuff is simulacra of simulacra. A diluted tincture of Ralph Lauren, who had himself diluted the glory days of Brooks Brothers, who themselves had stepped on the product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row, flavoring their ready-to-wear with liberal lashings of polo knit and regimental stripes. But Tommy surely is the null point, the black hole. There must be some Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul. Or so she hopes, and doesn’t know, but suspects in her heart that this in fact what accounts for his long ubiquity.

— William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

I must have seen it out of the corner of my eye; it scratched at my consciousness the way a forgotten appointment or a half-remembered song will. Turn. Stop. Drive back. I went into the nearest building and asked to talk to the owner. He told me that he did it as a bit of inside joke. His company ran a Daytona Prototype with “Lexus” power, so he felt that he should drive a Lexus. The only difficult part was getting the L-in-circle badge to fit properly, but even that wasn’t too tough.

I will say this: the badges don’t really look out of place. There isn’t all that much difference between an RX and a Santa Fe when you get right down to it. How long until Hyundai knuckles down and fights Lexus head-on with a Genesis CUV? Would any of you buy it? Would you recommend it? How much of a discount does there need to be? What if no discount is necessary?

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56 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Ersatz Ersatz Edition...”

  • avatar

    I personally enjoy the vintage Lexus Sorentos myself…

  • avatar

    I didn’t recognize that anything was wrong with the picture until I read the article.

    Anyone else?

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. Looks like a generic Asian SUV, so I was scratching my head wondering what this article was about. Then I realized it’s a re-badged Santa Fe. If Hyundai is smart, they will bring out a “premium” SUV. Lots of profit and they already have the vehicles available for upgrading/rebadging. They can pull a GM and turn a Suburb into an Blingscalade.

    • 0 avatar

      I missed it too.

      What does that say about Lexus? And Hyundai?

    • 0 avatar

      I recognized it as a Santa Fe right away before looking at the badges, but that’s probably because I think Santa Fe is pretty well proportioned, definitely more so that the RX.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha, I thought it was a Nissan Rogue!

      And I wasn’t even that much off:

      I feel like this whole class looks exactly the same from the rear (and often the front).

    • 0 avatar

      I eventually got it before reading on. I was first drawn to the handle, and then I just thought it was a classy rear. So I guess it’s damning for Lexus in that I thought this was a cleaner design then what they have going on now.

    • 0 avatar

      I looked at for a while, looked perfectly normal to me. After reading the article, it STILL perfectly looks normal to me.

  • avatar

    If I had seen that in real life, I would have never known it wasn’t a Lexus. All Lexi are pretty generic and every CUV is generic. I don’t even notice either one unless they’re annoying me with their driving. You could get one of every CUV on the market and swap badges and very few people could tell which was which.

  • avatar

    Hyundai are highly regarded downunder and Lexus (Lexii?) are regarded as better built Toyota’s with a bigger price tag. If the Santa Fe offered the same build quality as a Lexus “CUV” I’d probaly buy the Hyundai, Lexus are seen for what they are, wankers. The only credible, worthwhile Lexus are the coupe’s which never came in a Toyota flavour. Everybody knows that the Corolla and Camry are the basis of the vehicles and no amount of badge engineering will change that.

  • avatar

    The devil is in the details. I already miss Mercury and Pontiac, to name a couple. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the Audi TT versus New Beetle, which share a platform and little else.

  • avatar

    Ha! Congratulations to this guy to rub it in Toyota/Lexus’ face!

    If I ever were to get a Ford 500/Taurus, out of respect for the past, I would have to find a way to alter the badging on the fender vents and on the dash in order to PROPERLY badge that car as a GALAXIE 500! I could do it, too! Shame on you, Ford, for squandering a great name on a deserving car.

  • avatar

    PR was a tough book to read.

    Not as tough or crappy as The Cryptonomicon, but still tough.

    Sometimes I wish WG had studied with Robert Ludlum even just a little.

    • 0 avatar

      Cryptonomicon is by Neal Stephenson. It is big and undisciplined, but I think a worthwhile read. Just the distinction between physicists and engineers, highlighted in their different reactions to the physics of dustdevils, is worth the effort. Its along the lines of a Henrik Tennekes quote – Physicists dream of Nobel Prizes, engineers dream of mishaps.

    • 0 avatar

      What did you find tough or crappy about Cryptonomicon? It’s got a typical Stephenson ending, but I thought it was alright.

      I’ve lost interest in Gibson. I devoured his books when I was a kid, but I find his more recent work … boring. Some of the concepts are interesting, but he’s no Kurt Vonnegut, you know?

      • 0 avatar

        ughh I can’t stand Vonnegut. He’s no Philip Dick.

      • 0 avatar

        @dolo, that’s actually who I meant!

        @willman, I think a lot of appeal of Stephenson’s depends on how familiar you are with his background source material. He’s good at world building and characterizations. He’s that guy you know who is really, really good at setting the scene. In that sense, he’s a good story teller.

        Where he falls apart is the plotting. I do agree with you there.

        On the whole, I find his diversions – which are essentially embedded essays on science and tech – to be interesting and funny and was during the time I read a lot of cyberpunk books, the reason I read him.

        I don’t consider Stephenson as having become too powerful for proper editing, like Clancy or Jordan. Though I haven’t read the Baroque Cycle yet because I find the prospect daunting, so you may very well have a good point.

    • 0 avatar

      @ChuckR: Yes, I’m quite aware that the crypto was by Neal. No need to state the obvs., because funnily enough, the copy of the book I had said, “NEAL STEPHENSON” in great big letters across the front;
      ->so, I sorta took that as a hint about… something.

      @Signal11: Overblown, no plot, waste of space, no progress, betrayal of reader’s attention, just baffling-with-bullshit rather than getting anywhere, sloppy, undisciplined, useless unending thread-switches, so much expo that it undermines the reader actually Caring about the characters, should have been no more than 300pgs,

      DESPERATELY needed an actual real-life EDITOR.

      It was like a stoned-out-Proust Googled a bunch of technical jargon and decided he was going to write what he thought was a short, fast thriller;

      -but in ‘Stoner Math’, that equates to something the size of Jupiter meandering aimlessly at 5mph.

      • 0 avatar

        @Signal11: Ok, good to know. I was not aware that he was ‘World-Creation Guy’.

        *However, he needed to Bruce Willis the format by doing a ratio of 4-5 threads of progress for every [only as long as it absolutely HAS to be] 1 thread of tech-essay eddy-current.

        ->Which I HAVE read elsewhere done much better.

        You can get away with ~nearly anything as a writer, just the audience MUST know & be reassured they are in good hands; & you MUST eventually ‘pay’ them for their investment/sacrifice of time+attention.

        Yes, Bletchley Park is interesting, etc. but this guy needed more mystery-editor-Nazis on his staff.

        -Whose unending mantra is: “If it doesn’t advance the plot, CUT IT!”

        Harsh words to live by, and followed too-closely can make for dreary, shallow & colorless.

        If I had the patience and $1MM compensation, I’d edit down the Crypto into the book it Could have been.

  • avatar

    I had to read the comments to figure out what the heck Gibson was talking about, next time Gibson, try addressing all your audience, not just the prose majors or whatever you dish out is called.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a paragraph sliced out of a novel. I’ve read that novel (I’m a bit of a Gibson fan) and it’s pretty clear what Cayce was saying when it’s in context.

  • avatar

    A surprisingly good badge job. Obviously not an RX, but the badge placement and fit look remarkably good.

  • avatar

    The Veracruz was supposed to be Hyundai’s answer to the RX330/RX350.

    The Santa Fe is still an attractive looking vehicle with good visibility. The new Tucson has sacrificed the good visibility in favor of trendy styling.

  • avatar

    If only Hyundai had the service experience to match Lexus’. Not impossible at all, they just need to set their mind to it.

  • avatar

    That’s hilarious. But I knew right away.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    Though not relevant to Hyundai / KIA, I’ve often thought that Japanese styling is so interchangeable that MITI must design the cars, put them on cards, and then like a Las Vegas dealer shuffle them and then deal them to Toyota / Nissan / Honda.

    That said, in recent years Honda seems to have been independently adopting the Bangle-ugly school of design, and Nissan from time-to-time actually showing a bit of (by today’s lowered standards) tasteful style (e.g., the new Maxima).

    Hyundai / KIA was smart to hire a European designer (can’t remember his name). While not totally immune from the fads (e.g., visibility obstructing high belt lines) and swoops and lines down the side, some of their products are quite stylish / tasteful compared to their more expensive competition.

  • avatar

    Realized what’s wrong in the 1st second.

    Those who didn’t probably never considered buying a Lexus.

  • avatar

    I once bought a pack of Tommy Hilfiger T-shirts, because everyone was raving about how great everything TH was. They were crap…too small, too short to stay tucked in, second-rate fabric. Now I buy my t-shirts at Costco, they’re reasonably priced and top quality.

    Labels don’t matter nearly as much as design, content, and quality. We’ve seen what happens to manufacturers who forget that.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Gibson quotes on a car blog.


    • 0 avatar

      Though I haven’t met everyone on the editorial staff, from what I’ve seen I’m pretty sure they all can live comfortably in many worlds at the same time. I think that what Jack, Ed, Bertel, Steve, Sajeev, Michael, Murilee and the contributing writers bring is that they’re car guys and gearheads but not just car guys and gear heads. God this site would be boring if it was just about sales figures and gear ratios.

  • avatar

    Well done, I almost missed it but he forgot one critical thing… Altezza tail lights are required to pull this off.

  • avatar

    Reminds me of the new models at Chinese auto shows. Nice quote!

  • avatar

    I doubt I could tell these vehicles apart even with the proper badging. The similarly amorphous shapes, awkward functional compromises, and the fact that both are driven by middle-aged women typically with a smallish dog on the lap makes these vehicles (and the myriad of other CUVs) virtually indistinguishable from one another.

  • avatar

    I tested a top-of-the-line Santa Fe a few years ago and walked away thinking that if you covered up the interior badges and told folks it was a Lexus, most people wouldn’t look twice

  • avatar

    Forget the cars in question (as if you hadn’t already) – what a brilliant quote from William Gibson.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised so many people on TTAC said they would have fallen for this. An RX330’s rear end doesn’t look all that similar:

    I guess they are both somewhat bland mid-size CUVs…

    As for the Genesis CUV idea, it would probably sell a lot better than the Veracruz. I’d tell Hyundai, go for it!

  • avatar

    There was a time when I could have spotted that at 20 paces. Now it just looks exactly like every generic mini-ute that I desperately avoid being behind, in front of or beside.

  • avatar

    The hatch handle shouted, “Hyundai Santa Fe” right away. Not that much different, stylewise, though. The Lexus is a little cleaner with nicer details, overall. The Santa Fe is a typical high-content Hyundai bargain; if you can fool people into thinking you’ve got a Lexus…..silly.

  • avatar

    And when you thought the 80’s GM sedans all looked alike just look no further than today’s bland clonemobiles CUV/SUV models. Remove the badges and grilles and most people would have no idea what they are looking at anymore. Did they all hire the same stylists(lack of stylists). And people think Lexus has desirable looking products!

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with the picture? besides being erzatz, it’s ugly. In fact it’s fugly.

  • avatar

    Years ago, I put a BMW badge on my Pinto… my own version of “badge engineering”… and, to be honest, how many folks look at anything other than the badge on the front? (enthusiasts excluded)

  • avatar

    umm I thought that the Hyundai Veracruz was more closely comparable to the Lexus RX330, not the Sante Fe

  • avatar

    iI didn’t get it, it’s a SUV, they’re all the same, apart from the X6 which is way more than just that. It’s actually more than just about everything(that’s not a compliment). The others SUV’s are probably all built in the same truck factory somewhere and just badge engineered.

  • avatar

    “Would any of you buy it? Would you recommend it? How much of a discount does there need to be? What if no discount is necessary?”

    No, the wife would never drive it – bought her a CPO 07 RX350 last year.


    33% off compared to a comparable Lexus, assuming that Genesis gets spun off as its own brand. 50% off as a Hyundai.

    My head would explode.

  • avatar

    I am twelve years old and what is this

  • avatar

    Thankfully I knew of the Hyundai handle on the rear hatch so that gave it away but I could not at first recall which model it came from.

    Otherwise, it’s a nice looking, but blah tush and car, be it a Hyundai or Lexus, conservative and anonymous.

    The Kia Soul has more style than this thing.

  • avatar

    This one almost slipped past me… and I drive a Santa Fe.

    Funny how this sort of stunt used to make a mockery of Hyundai owners, whereas today it kinda makes a bigger mockery of Lexus owners.

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    As Kanye wrote: “Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis”

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