What's Wrong With This Picture: The Shoe Event Horizon Edition

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy tells the story of Frogstar B, pretty much the most evil planet around. Frogstar B had been a happy planet until things got just a little bit depressing… and people started to look down at their feet. They started buying shoes. They became obsessed with shoes. Designing, making, and selling shoes of increasingly shoddy quality became the primary occupation of the whole world. When the economy finally collapsed, the people of Frogstar B gave up in disgust and evolved into birds.

I found these two vehicles in a hotel parking lot yesterday. Ninety percent of the spots were empty, but these two were huddling together, perhaps for warmth. It put me in mind of a discussion I had with a PR fellow at Cadillac back around the time of the CTS-V Challenge.

Discussing the then-new SRX, he stated, “The (Lexus) RX(350) is the template for this class and we approached it head-on.” Doing so has proven to be the correct strategy; the SRX is, I believe, currently the volume leader for Cadillac, whereas its sales in its previous iteration — RWD tall wagon with a honkin’ Northstar — were mostly theoretical. With this example firmly in place, it would take a very stupid, or egocentric, manufacturer to approach the class with anything but an RX clone. Surely Nissan, in particular, wished it had simply tarted-up the Murano to create an FX35, rather than creating the current “Bionic Panther” which swallows fuel and cramps its occupants in equal measure.

With that avenue closed for now, Nissan decided to simply copy the RX line-for-line with the Rogue, as seen above. In a previous 3WTP I pointed out that Hyundai has also nearly mastered the Lex-a-like formula.

I don’t envy the men and women who are tasked with planning the next generation of CUVs. If they don’t imitate the RX, they won’t get the sales, and their bosses will want to know why. If they do imitate the RX, they risk losing brand identity, losing out to cheaper copies from elsewhere, and simply digging deeper into a tunnel of aesthetic development which we already know to be a dead end.

Alternately, they could bet on something completely different. If and when the inhabitants of the suburban Frogstars decide to fly away, they could be the ones to sell the wings. It’s just soooo hard to see the future, you know?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Richard Richard on Sep 19, 2011

    Since January 98, when we had a preview event for the new RX at our dealership, I knew this vehicle was a game changer. We wrote over 50 orders that night, 3 months before the vehicle was introduced to the public.I'm always amazed how the automotive cognicenti ignores it in any comparison.I just read Michael Kareshe's article on the Q5, a vehicle that blatenly targeted the RX in their intro ads, which by the way increased our RX sales dramaticaly at the time,and every other CUV was referred to except the RX.A loaded RX lists for under $49000, much less than a Q5,X3,GLK,SRX,etc. when it really competes with an ML,X5,Q7 etc. The only complaint about the RX is people say ther are to many on the road. In terms of value,(resale) saftey, and reliability there are no equals, maby that is why it dominates in term of sales.We are the 1st, 2nd,or 3rd largest Lexus dealer in the US,hense the world depending on what month your looking at,and the only vehicle that is tough to go up against is the MDX because of the 3rd row. Lexus should hav dropped the GX and replaced it with a larger 3rd.row RX while keeping the current RX350,450h.The other time we will loose against the above mentioned vehicles is because of "the hood ornament" if you know what I mean.Thank God the RX is a fancy Toyota.

  • Philadlj Philadlj on Sep 19, 2011
    Alternately, they could bet on something completely different. Is a two-door Murano convertible different enough for you? How about the Juke, which looks like something from Frogstar? Oh well...everyone who drives RX clones in this universe are driving Caprice clones in an alternate one...or compact pickups in another.
  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.