Sacrilege? Ram's Crosshair Grille Is an Endangered Species

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
sacrilege ram s crosshair grille is an endangered species

Fearing a backlash from die-hard Ram loyalists, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives seem hesitant to move the next-generation 1500 pickup away from the styling that’s made it a bright sales light in the FCA portfolio.

Still, as much as they’d like to avoid it, many say the time has come to drop Ram’s most signature design element — the crosshair grille.

FCA engineers are busy readying the next-gen Ram 1500 for a January 2018 production date, but even if that model bows with a grille reminiscent of those seen on the front of the automaker’s full-size pickups since the 1980s, it might not last.

Speaking to The Detroit News, FCA global design head Ralph Gilles claims the brand needs to make a change that differentiates it from Dodge. Ram was spun off from the brand in 2009, with the name first appearing on Dodge trucks in 1981.

Still, it’s common to hear people talking about a new “Dodge Ram.”

“It takes time,” Gilles said. “Establishing a brand takes five years, so we’re kind of at that point.”

Already, the automaker has taken cautious baby steps away from the feature. The design chief claims recent efforts like the Ram Rebel and the 2017 Power Wagon seem to be paying off. Top end 1500 trims have also ditched their crosshairs in favor of prominent badging displayed dead center in the pickup’s gaping maw.

“I’m watching this space very carefully,” Gilles said. “It’s been an experiment, and it’s working. People have responded to it. We like it. But it’s something we’re consciously doing gradually.”

Gilles said the next-gen Ram is an opportunity to move the brand away from Dodge, and the automaker is “going to take advantage of that.”

Still, Ram chief Mike Manley isn’t ready to ditch the crosshair altogether. He told The Detroit News, “I would never say that something would ever completely move away from things because there’s always opportunity, I think, when you’ve established two different styles of grilles to use them.”

The grille of yore could appear on select models, while the overall styling moves in a different direction, he figures.

If Ram loyalists end up hating the future 1500, there’ll still be opportunities to get into a new “old” model. FCA says it plans to keep the existing generation in production for the 2018 and 2019 model years, with sales aimed at fleet customers.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • RobbiesRobot RobbiesRobot on Nov 24, 2016

    I think they should find something productive with their time. They have so many other bigger things to concentrate on, like fire the guy who gave the ax to the Avenger. Maybe figure out what went wrong with the Chrysler 200 (maybe it was the stupid name). Design new Chrysler bodies and Dodge bodies.

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Nov 25, 2016

    So generations of people know your product (many proudly) as the Dodge Ram yet it makes sense to nuke that because RAM = penis somehow? How about we take Mr. Gilles extraordinary salary and dedicate it to figuring out a way for Rams to avoid frame rust or the infamous death wobble. Oh and the nostrils look horrible.

  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
  • Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
  • Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.