By on December 22, 2015

30th_Anniversary_Minivan_Windsor_Assembly_Plant

So I got up behind a Dodge Grand Caravan the other day and I started thinking about my youth. This is because, in my youth, the Dodge Grand Caravan was an acceptable vehicle to drive, and not something you were stuck with when Enterprise ran out of full-size sedans.

There are two reasons for this: 1. Back in the day, the Dodge Caravan didn’t really have any competitors, so we didn’t really know that there were better options out there. Honda had the hinged-door Odyssey. Toyota had the weird-ass Previa. It was a mess; more importantly, 2. There were so many different versions of the Dodge Caravan that you were pretty much stuck buying a Dodge Caravan even if you actively avoided buying a Dodge Caravan.

The funny thing is that back then they all looked identical. Sure, there were some color changes here and some wheel updates there, but they were the same van. Even as a young child, this was clear to me. And it should’ve been clear to their drivers because there was a Chrysler Pentastar on the steering wheel no matter which one you had. These cars were so obviously rebadged clones of one another that they couldn’t be bothered to even change the horn pad to include every manufacturer’s logo. This was the really, really disappointing era of rebadging automobiles. (Also, Plymouth had no discernible logo at any time in my life. They never bothered to think one up.)

You don’t see this crap anymore. In fact, even though I’m young myself, I chuckle when I hear people my age or younger talking about “rebadges.” I heard the other day, for instance, that the Lexus ES is a “rebadged” Toyota Avalon. This is laughable. It’s like saying that central air conditioning is a rebadged ceiling fan.

Yes, the Avalon and the ES ride on the same platform and they share mechanicals. But my God, are these two cars not rebadged. Rebadging was when General Motors had four midsize sedans in the 1980s and literally slapped different badges on each one, while simultaneously changing things like the wheel covers and the shape of the head rests. The Avalon and ES are so different that even a small child could point them out in a parking lot. “That’s grandma’s car!” he would say.

In modern times, automakers don’t really do the rebadge thing anymore because they’ve discovered that most people are just too smart for it. Back in the 1990s, when there was no Internet, you kind of had to know your stuff to know that rebadging was going on. If you were a loyal Mercury guy and you went down to the Mercury dealer to get the latest thing, you weren’t necessarily aware that the Villager was just a Nissan Quest with different wheels. You probably thought Mercury was on to something with this cool new van.

But now, there’s no hiding a blatant rebadge, so automakers have generally stopped trying it. The only real exception I can think of is the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, which are so pathetically rebadged that they even share the same wheels. Even during GM’s darkest rebadge days, even when the Taurus and the Sable shared everything but tail lights, even when the Dodge Spirit and the Plymouth Acclaim could only be distinguished by a glance at their rusting trunk lid, they always changed the wheels.

The funny thing about the BRZ and FR-S is — despite the fact that this is the most blatant, pathetic, disappointing, laughable automotive rebadge since the Mercury Tracer — everyone swears these two cars are different. Have you noticed this? Seriously. Ask a BRZ guy and he will swear up and down that the FR-S is worse. Ask an FR-S guy and he will pause his video game to swear up and down that the BRZ is worse. At the same time, the rest of us go around completely unsure which is which, afraid to offend people, sort of like anyone who enters a modern college campus.

But the BRZ and FR-S are outliers; unusual cars cut from an unusual cloth. The reality of today’s world is that the majority of “old school” rebadges are completely, totally, finished. Certain rebadge-heavy brands — like Mercury, Plymouth, and Pontiac — are gone. Model lineups have been re-tooled so they don’t all have the same products. And when an automaker does share platforms, they do it in a way that the vast majority of car shoppers are totally unaware of.

Well, there is one other exception, actually: the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country. Not that it really matters when you’re picking it up from Enterprise.

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76 Comments on “Doug Drives: Is Old-School Rebadging Dead?...”


  • avatar

    You forgot the VW Routan!!

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      At least VW retuned the suspension when they put their badge on it. Though I think Chrysler may have adopted those improvements in the rest of the range at some point.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Say what you will about rebadging, but sometimes it was one way to snag a great car sold under a less-than-great marque for a song. Exhibit A: Toyota Corolla and Geo Prizm. In fact, NUMMI made for plenty of tasty deals for those in the know.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Yes indeed. Maybe it had to do with the fact that GM never seemed to spend any money advertising the Prizm. Our first new car was a ’99 5-speed Prizm, and it was not only a great deal, it was more appealing than the factory-mate Corolla in several ways – for example, it had a flexible fixed mast antenna on the rear fender, rather than the dinky-looking type mounted on the driver’s side A-pillar of Corollas.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Before the end of Pontiac, a used Matrix could be bought cheaper than a used Vibe. The Matrix was an orphan, while the Vibe had more awareness. The average slob had no idea they were all Corolla wagons. After GM 86’ed Pontiac the math flipped as the Vibe is now an orphan.

  • avatar

    Plymouth actually did bring back the “Mayflower” logo in the mid-90’s. It’s on my “free” ’98 Voyager.

    http://thenewswheel.com/behind-badge-historic-meaning-plymouths-sailboat-badge/

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      It took me a little while to realize that there was a connection to the little strip malls on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor that had the boat out front.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes,I was thinking of the Mayflower logo also. I think my 96 Grand Voyager wore it – excellent vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      My 1971 Plymouth had a logo that looked something like an upside down zipper pull tab.

      http://www.rodshop.com.au/media/catalog/category/plymouth_emblem.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        NOSLucasWiringSmoke

        I remember that Plymouth logo from my youth. IIRC it was concocted for 1960 to replace the Mayflower that Plymouths had worn since inception. I think it was supposed to be a rocket (similar to the Olds Rocket) since everyone’s imagination was captured by the Space Race. One automotive writer said it looked like frogs’ legs. Sometime in the 70s or 80s it disappeared and everything Mopar was Pentastarred during the K-age.

        I think Chrysler only started to go back on that when the LH cars came out for ’93. Chrysler got the retro ribbon logo (which also went on Intrepids here in Canada). When the first new Plymouth models came out after that (possibly the Neon, but definitely the Breeze and redesigned ’96 Voyager) they had Mayflowers again.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Check out the hood ornament on the early Plymouths:

        http://www.allpar.com/cars/plymouth/plymouth-logos.php

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    The last ones I can think of are the Pontiac G3 (“Wave” in Canada) and the Pontiac G5 (“Pursuit” in Canada). The G3 was an Aveo with a tiny little Pontiac badge and the G5 was a Cobalt with…a tiny little Pontiac badge. Oh, and slightly different taillights.

    Yikes.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The GM and Chrysler bankruptcies helped to demonstrate that most rebadging exercises don’t work. But GM still uses it for trucks, SUVS and crossovers, including the Lambdas (Enclave, Acadia, Traverse), Silverado/Sierra, Suburban/Tahoe/Yukon and now the Colorado/Canyon, proving that old habits die hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Pch101 – at one time the only real difference between Sierra/Silverado or Colorado/Canyon were grills and badges. The current trucks have different body work and the GM side of the equation tends to have better interiors. Under the skin the trucks are basically the same.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      GM really does still not know what to do with the Buick-GMC channel vs. the Chevy channel with respect to GMC.

      The Lambdas have some differentiation on suspension, but I think that was in part because the GMC Acadia was the stillborn Saturn Outlook, so that the Buick Enclave is the most comfortable of them. I doubt that was planned; I assumed it was a side effect of trying to cheap out on the Saturn.

      I’ve had it explained to me a few times, by GM people and by women who owned GMCs, that women just prefer the look of the GMC, even knowing it’s all the same underneath.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The sheet metal on all three are total different.

        Anyone who thinks the Traverse, Acadia, and Enclave share significant slabs of sheet metal need their eyes checked.

        The Traverse looks – cheap – quite frankly. The Acadia’s angular look is being aped by VW and their upcoming CUV (see the TTAC pics – the copy is stunning) and looks zero like the Traverse from any angle. The Buick is more bulbous, and looks nothing like the Acadia, and shows some family resemblance to the Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The suburban and Tahoe are meant to be alike, I don’t even understand what the confusion is there.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Disagree – Lambda is not badge engineering – sheet metal is different on all three, the Chevy interior is plastic fantastic, the Buick is completely different – some items like steering wheels shared yes.

      Sierra/Silverado also have different sheet metal, different instrument clusters, interior bits etc. Yes, steering wheel is the same and hard points.

      Colorado and Canyon also are different sheet metal. None of these are “badge engineered.”

      The term “badge engineering” is thrown around so easily today. Chassis sharing is used across all the major makers at this point. VW econoboxes share engines and transmissions with Audi along with chassis hard points – and VW SUVs share drivelines with Porsche – the Touraeg looks more than just “sort of” a Cayenne.

      Everyone is moving to global platforms that can be shrunk, stretched, and configured in multiple engine and drive configurations to make manufacturing modular and faster. MQB, D2XX, TGAP, are not examples of badge engineering – the term means far more than uses same chassis, engine, tranny and hard points.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Badge engineering” is an informal term for the effort to differentiate vehicles with minor cosmetic changes. The term is snarky because most consumers aren’t fooled by it.

        Even in the bad old days, GM would slap different grilles, taillights, interior trim, etc. onto different models in an effort to distinguish them. But those are not meaningful differences because the overall feel of the different models is largely the same.

        The problem with badge engineering is that the higher badges are usually degraded by this because car shoppers for the higher-tier brands quickly figure out that they aren’t getting much for their extra money. Surely even you must know that GM did this to such excess that it ultimately contributed to the failure of the business — there wasn’t much reason to pay the premium for something that was premium in name only.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          The Chevy and GMC pickups are purposely the same, just different front ends. This was to allow Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers to have trucks to sell, kind of a moot point with the demise of Pontiac, but whatever, it facilitates the existence of the Denali line of Cash Cows.

          Same goes for the Yukons and Tahoe/Suburban. The smaller SUVs are substantially different though. A Traverse is slightly longer than an Acadia and to even the most casual observer the Terrain and Equinox are different.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I’m pretty sure the GMC interiors are better though. Certainly look better in the brochures.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if the base Sierra interior is the one step up Silverado interior.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            >just different front ends

            Since 2007, you could extend that to say, “and bedsides and front fenders,” but yes, your point stands.

            @NoGoYo: Looking at both GMC and Chevy’s Build & Price, it seems there’s no appreciable difference in interiors between GMC’s Sierra trim (base) and Chevy’s WT.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Until you step up to the Denali Sierra and Yukon, which are still disappointing for their price points, the only differences between the GMCs and their cheaper Chevy counterparts are badges and lighting colors.

  • avatar
    dant1127

    I’m reminded of conversations I’ve had over the years about how a G37 (J30, Q50) is a “re-badged Maxima,” or the GSxx0 is “just a RWD Camry,” or that a Honda Ridgeline’s engine “powers the back wheels first.”

    Interestingly, these same people seem to think that an Avalanche is something besides a chopped Suburban, and an H2 is a baby H1 instead of a Tahoe. And don’t compare a Buick Century to a Monte Carlo…

    There seems to be a generation that was knowledgable enough to grow up through the badge-engineering days and take a lesson, and jaded enough to try and force this “old school car knowledge” on every car besides the ones that actually share platforms.

    Convincing one of these guys that a sedan can share most mechanical bits with a sports car and so little with a “cousin” sedan is a nice way to stretch that Futility muscle.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Car websites are packed to the gills with those who confuse platform sharing with badge engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        dant1127

        The BRZ/FRS portion of this article seems to be accurate in many locations. Reminds me of 80’s Camaro/Firebird “mine’s is better” mentality.

        I’ll never understand why so many consumers get caught up in it. I’m perfectly aware that my ES350 is basically a japanese-built V6 Camry in a different suit with extra bells/whistles. If you like the car (or find a great deal) why does it matter?

        If anything, it just means you have more options when upgrading your car with junk yard bits :-D

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          Things change; since Oct 8, the ES350 has been made in Georgetown Kentucky. Read in the employees’ blog that they get a lot more welds than the Camry, some body pressings still come in from Japan, better paint, and better fitments, hence the new factory. ES350 doesn’t whiz down the same line as the Camry with quality dolloped on as it goes.

          http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2015/10/16/first-us-made-lexus-comes-off-line-ky-plant/74065034/

          Note, the article forgets the RX350 has been made in Ontario for years, so the ES350 isn’t the first Lexus made outside Japan.

          Neither of them are my cup of tea, but Lexus does seem to care about absolute quality.

          • 0 avatar
            dant1127

            wmba, I have always wondered what was different between the two. My ’08 ES rides a bit nicer than my buddie’s ’07 Camry, but I wasn’t sure how much of that feel was simple suspension/seats & perception (placebo? Lol.)

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The ES is now more closely related to the Avalon than it is to the Camry (although it should be noted that all three of them, plus some other models, have shared a common platform for quite some time.)

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The H2 isn’t a Tahoe and doesn’t share any of the mechanicals with one, nice try though.

      • 0 avatar
        dant1127

        So did you read any of this article, or what i read? Or did this go something akin to “blah blah Tahoe H2 ZOMG MAH TRUCK AIN’T A TAHOE” followed by a weak jab?

        My statement was NOT that an H2 is a Tahoe in new skin, but that an H2 is closer to a Tahoe than an H1, and I don’t think there is any room for debate on that.

        GM didn’t reinvent the SUV with the H2; they took parts of multiple platforms that worked, strengthened them, forged a frame, and bolted up some corporate bits with slight modifications for the intended application.

        Don’t believe me? Take the differentials, transmission/engine options, transfer case, suspension layout, frame design, whatever you want to choose, and compare with other GM trucks/SUVs.

        Kind of like, they took a Platform, enhanced it, and Shared it with a new line of “SUV/SUT” options.

        If you need to further argue your case, pleas take it up with a car forum. Any forum. Pick one. I promise, others will debate

        But that you for further validating my point; vehicle roots are a touchy subject for some people.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I re-read it multiple times, but it’s pretty standard issue for people that have no idea what they’re talking about to make that comparison with absolutely zero first-hand experience. Makes you feel great when you go to a mechanic and they try to say my 9.25 front diff that uses a carrier that isn’t used in any other vehicle in the world is just a normal 8.25 that they see burn up all the time and they’ll just order new seals for the 8.25, uhh no thanks I’ll do it myself.

          • 0 avatar
            dant1127

            I’m honored that you took the time to re-read my post multiple times, and I apologize. Based off of your two replies, it seems my verbiage may have left too much for assumption.

            To clarify, I did not intentionally demean your H2 by classifying it as a lowly Tahoe under different sheet metal.

            Instead, my initial post implied that an H2 is significantly different from an H1 (HMMWV-based mid-engine utility wagon) in mechanical parts, frame, function, suspension, and drivetrain. So much so, that the only thing they really have in common is marketing.

            On the other hand, the H2 was built on a platform that evolved from a more civilized truck platform shared with vehicles ranging up to 3/4 ton trucks. This is not to imply that you can just take the body from one and drop it on another, or that your differential is small or tiny.

            I could be mistaken, though. As it stands, I’ve yet to see a factory H2 with portal axles, inboard brakes, or a transmission for an armrest.

            My overall mission was to express my personal difficulties that I’ve had while talking about these things with some people.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I don’t disagree with anything you said, but, as you said…

            “My overall mission was to express my personal difficulties that I’ve had while talking about these things with some people.”

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      COTD

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The BRZ and FR-S are the same car. They are just different trim levels. The BRZ is better equipped; the FR-S is *usually* cheaper.

    Sincerely,

    FR-S owner

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’ve read elsewhere that the suspension and handling are set up differently, with a bit more understeer baked into the BRZ, while the FRS is more tail happy. Though these differences probably come out more at the track than on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        That’s Car & Driver’s take on it.

        Ever-so-slightly different spring rates, that give the BRZ the slightest hint of understeer and a little more forgivablity compared to the FRS.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Rebadging I think has advanced quite a bit. Manufacturers have realised that just alternating badges between vehicles was quite obvious to the consumer.

    I did read on comment by a person who claims the Silverado/Sierra and Colorado/Canyon are rebadges. I ask this person, at what level of commonality between vehicles do you consider a vehicle not a rebadge?

    My BT50, like the Colorado/Canyon and Silverado/Sierra is based on the same platform as the Ford Ranger. But there are some significant difference that sets them apart.

    1. Completely different sheetmetal from the window down,

    2. Different steering ratios,

    3. Different interior, even though the seats are the same,

    4. Different levels of trim,

    5. Ford has a greater selection of engines with the 2.5 I4 gas,

    6. Even though the torque and power is identical between the two vehicles, the Mazda BT50 arrives at peak torque 250rpm higher.

    7. Different servicing schedules.

    8. Different suspension tuning, Mazda is supposed to be “sportier”. According to Mazda the “zoom, zoom, zoom” affect with the quicker steering and taut suspension (read bouncier suspension).

    Are these two vehicles rebadges? They are extremely similar.

    Manufacturers are a little more careful how they rebadge as to set themselves apart and offer a more unique vehicle with their nameplate.

    • 0 avatar
      dant1127

      I’ve had the same debate with my Toyota ES350 (heh.), although these 2 cars have even less mechanical differences.

      Different suspension tuning, unique sheet metal/rims/interior bits, same frame/drivetrain… looks different enough, until you park a Camry and ES side by side.

      Maybe, as everything that survives must do, “Badge Engineering” has evolved.

      Or maybe (and what I personally find more likely) the previous recent attempts were so god-awful & lazy that any amount of effort to differentiate 2 cars is a drastic improvement, blurring the line a bit.

      Until you pop the hood up or a wheel off…

  • avatar
    deanst

    You can tell that the legacy of old GM remains given their defense of the similarities between the chevy & GM pickup trucks – something along the line of “the trucks are 12% more different than the previous generation.”

  • avatar
    jeanbaptiste

    “I take my rental minivan to CarMax!” – D.Demuro

  • avatar
    Russycle

    In defense of the Merc Villager, I believe the digital dashboard-which for some reason I sort of lust for- was not available on the Quest. I don’t mind some badge engineering if it involves bringing something new to the platform. Admittedly, from the 70’s through the 90’s, it rarely did. RIP Olds/Pontiac/Plymouth/Mercury.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      In a further defense, the Mercury Villager was not a rebadge of the Nissan Quest, but rather it was a joint venture between Ford and Nissan. If I remember correctly, Nissan assembled the drivetrain in Dechert, TN, Ford stamped the bodies in Dearborn, MI, and they were assembled at Nissan’s Smyrna, TN plant.

      Ford stipulated a non-interference engine, so Nissan’s VG30E engine was fitted with larger dish pistons to clear the valves that lowered the compression ratio and the horsepower. It also has a healthier 100,000 mile timing belt instead of the 60,000 mile belt Nissan used in other applications.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I love the Saab 9-2X more than I love the Subaru WRX, and am convinced it is better. Does that make sense? No, but love rarely does.

  • avatar

    As an eight year old kid, I was greatly offended by rebadging when I first learned about it–that my JC Higgins bicycle was a rebadged Columbia. It gives me a bit more confidence in our species to know that rebadging doesn’t work all that well.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    I am proud that my 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora shares a platform with the Buick Riviera from 1995 to 1999.
    I realize that many people actually cannot identify 100% of the vehicles on the roads; it’s one of my innate abilities along with memorizing 17-digit VINs.
    Too bad there are no more 1G3s being built anymore…
    My latest arrival to the Oldsmobile Ranch is a 2003 Aurora, number 410 of the Final 500. Essentially the Best of the Last…
    A 1983 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz is here also. It was purchased from Copart in northern California for $125 and has 64,360 documented original miles. Even though the 1979 to 1985 GM E-bodies shared architecture and some powertrains, they are still readily distinguishable from one another.
    My 1985 Toronado Caliente (purchased as a trade for a new 1997 LSS for $1,700) does not look like the 1983 Biarritz or the 1979 Buick two-tone Riviera we bought from my Oldsmobile dealership for $1,200.
    One interesting fact is how the downsized 1986 to 1992 Toronados, 1986 to 1991 Eldorados and 1986 to 1993 Rivieras are all now seemingly “right-sized”. They certainly stand out in the crowd of plastic-festooned econojunk seen everywhere.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Badge engineering has been replaced by platform sharing, and ‘design engineering’. There are no ends to how many cars BMW VW or Audi can build on the same platform, but at least they all have the same badge. GM and Chrysler used to do this completely backwards in the 50’s and 60’s, building a whole bunch of cars that looked almost the same, while sharing almost no mechanical components at all.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    How many differences are there between the Nissan NV and the Chevy City Express? That’s the only true rebadge I can think of today, even Hyundai/Kia and Chevy/GMC are generally different enough to be called platform sharing.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Dumb jerk kid, stop beginning every article with “So I..”.

    There’s a world outside Facebook.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    For a non-ultra luxury car, I honestly don’t have a big issue with platform/engine sharing if the underlying, the stuff comes from good stock. Take the Cadillac Escalade for example, the Tahoe/Suburban is a well-made solid vehicle on a great platform with great engines. The Cadillacification takes something good and makes it better.

  • avatar
    ArialATOMV8

    It’s one thing for a car to be rebadged and, sold in different markets but, sometimes there is no excuse. The Scion FRS/Toyota GT86 and the BRZ is the obvious one.

    GM has become better and, even with the GMC Yukon, Chevy Tahoe, and Cadillac Escalade, all 3 look different but, share the same platform.

    Chrysler is the only one who is still notorious for re-badging with Lancia/Chrysler (Pretty sad because, the Delta name was used in vain)

    http://jalopnik.com/5760091/do-lancias-new-cars-exist-only-in-photoshop

    On a more interesting note, a few years back, I had a argument with a classmate (who is on a budget) to buy rebadged cars from orphan companies like the Mercury Mountaineer/Ford Explorer, Pontiac Torrent/Chevy Equinox clone and Saab 97x/GMC Envoy/Chevy Trailblazer/Buick Rainer/Isuzu Ascender just to avoid her getting stuck with a Nissan Versa or even worse a Chevy Sonic. (The prices for orphan cars which are re-badged versions form mainstream models sell for extremely cheaper prices!)

    She did not believe me and, was concerned that brands like Pontiac, Mercury, and Isuzu are dead for a reason and, parts will be hard to find for them. I explained and sent her photos explaining that GM “back in the day” was notorious for re-badging cars pre-bailout and, they made almost exact clones with different badges/features. She did not believe me because, the “badge is different” so, it has to be a “different car”!

  • avatar

    What about Scion iA? Isn’t it a Mazda 2?

    Interestingly enough, FIAT 124 Spyder is not an exact rebadge of Mazda MX-5. They are about as different as Lexus GX460 and Toyota LandCruiser Prado, except that they are going to sell in the overlapping markets.

    • 0 avatar
      ArialATOMV8

      Correct another modern rebadge

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Right. There are noticeable differences between the GX460 and its plebeian Land Cruiser Prado cousin (suspension, AWD system, powertrain), even though they share a basic bodyshell and frame. The Nissan Patrol and the Infiniti QX80 are closer.

      Indeed, Lexus has been selling a rebadged version of the Land Cruiser (which itself is a proper luxury car) called the LX 570, but for 2016, Lexus made a significant change to the LX’s sheetmetal and interior, so that it really doesn’t look like a straight rebadge of the Land Cruiser.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Didn’t want to go through each comment first so:

    1. Badge-engineering was alive and well in the 2000s at Ford: witness the 2009-2012 Fusion and Mercury Milan, damn near spitting images of each other down to the dashboards (something I realized moreso than before whilst following one home from last-minute errand-running just this evening), just like the Granadas/Mercury Monarchs (with the Lincoln Versailles being on a longer wheelbase at least some of it’s run, with the extra length in the rear doors) and Ford intermediates (Torino/Monarch, LTD II/Cougar) of the ’70s. (Only the MKZ was shaken up a little.) Mercury was always a dressed-up Ford, with a few more doodads and gewgaws not found on the more proletariat Ford cousins. Some of the lines, like the LTD and Grand Marquis pre Fox-body (and Panther — another complete lookalike — Jesus Christ, Sajeev, how could I FORGET??!!) had separate DASHBOARDS, but by the early ’80s, the Fox LTD/Marquis and Crown Vic/Grand Marq had similar dashboards, but the gauge execution was a little different, especially in the Panthers, where the CV’s horizontal affair was replaced by three distinct pods in the GM, with black-on-white lettering, a-la the Buick Regals of the day.

    2. Speaking of GM: Definite badge engineering in the A, B, C, G-Bodies through the ’80s, with only dashboards and exterior/interior appointments differing. What about the (L-Body??) minivans, from “Dustbuster,” to guaranteed offset-frontal-amputation second-generation and final third. And of course, the one that made Cadillac the “Laughingstock Of The World,” the J-Body. Nice Caddy you got there — interesting name, “Cimarron” — looks the same as my ’84 Sunbird! (And the 1980 Cutlass Sedan sitting next to the 1983 Regal Custom Sedan in my family’s garage was always good for a guffaw, though the cars themselves did yeoman duty!) Probably lots of Chevy Celebritys sharing garages with Buick Centurys or Olds Cieras.

    3. ChrycoDaimFiatSler: Minivans even today, and all three divisions had at least two or three if not more variants of “K” at the same time! From the original Aries/Reliant to Laser/Daytona, LeBaron/400, LeBaron/Spirit/Acclaim, New Yorker/Dy-Nasty, Breeze/Cirrus/Stratus! And the most obvious of all, the 1st-Gen Neon — same EXACT car, different badge! Whoops, let’s not forget the ’70s stuff: I can’t get all the various Monaco/Gran Fury/Satellite/Mirada/Magnum/Corrrrrrr-DOH-baah/Sebring/Newport/St. Regis permutations straight, but there was obviously the Valliant/Dart/Duster/Demon thing, followed by the Aspen/Volare (which were so similar that I recall seeing these cars with one taillight module from each model, and I may have even seen one of these with one half of the grille from each model! Then there were the M-Bodies: 5th Ave/Dippy/Gran Fury/LeBaron.

    As far as whether it’s dead? Not quite — see Chevy/GMC pickups as Exhibit A: most folks seem to think that GMC was the lower, work-truck-ish of the two. I happen to think the opposite: GMC is the Mercury truck to Chevy’s Ford. (Wow, how did I make THAT happen? Who is Calvin going to piss on now??!! 8-D )

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    Can Doug stop rebadging the same f-ing stories?

  • avatar
    olydoug

    The dealer my folks ordered the new minivan from in 1988 sold both Dodge and Plymouth and the only box my dad forgot to check was would it be a Dodge Grand Caravan or Plymouth Grand Voyager. The only things it would have changed were a slightly different grille and the badges. Ended up with a Plymouth. They did eventually offer different wheels and models but you could still tell.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont, but only in Australia. Fiat’s in Europe, Dodge in the rest of the world until you come to Oz. Then its a mix of Dodge and Fiat at the same dealership. Want 4 cylinders? See the Fiat side of the shop. Want diesel? See the fiat side of the shop, anything else is Dodge. The other thing that has come out of badge engineering is the same lousy customer service centres for both brands.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    Hey, we had one of those weird-ass Previas and put 180k miles on it – and it was still running great! They were sure much better than the truck-based Ford Aerostars and Windstars rusting on the lots. Don’t even get me started on the terrible build quality of GM and Dodge/Chrysler vans of the same time.

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