By on November 23, 2016

2017 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

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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56 Comments on “Sacrilege? Ram’s Crosshair Grille Is an Endangered Species...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    One way to solve this problem is to eliminate the Dodge brand.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I don’t even get why they are so insistent on making “RAM” a “brand”.

      Anyone I know including myself think of it as a Dodge Ram.

      All of this sub brand nonsense (RAM, SRT, GENESIS, Ive heard people say Denali should be a brand) is just that… hand waiving, marketing, job justification.

      In my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        Notmyname

        Totally agree with Dave,
        The whole seperation of the brands seemed to be some useless corporate plan that made no sense.

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

        It takes a lot longer then 5 years to establish a brand, especially when that brand is being built from one model, that already has a long established brand name of it’s own.

        Hey Giles, Do you think Ford or Chevy ever think that rebranding their trucks would actually be a good idea?

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          *cough* GMC *cough*

          Sorry, what was that again?

          • 0 avatar
            April S

            It does have some justification. It’s a way for General Motors dealers who do not have a Chevrolet franchise to sell a truck.

            I doubt there are any standalone Chrysler dealerships out there.

          • 0 avatar
            Notmyname

            GMC is rebadged trucks, sure, but it’s not like Chevy is creating it’s own separate Silverado brand and attempting to differentiate it from the rest of the vehicle lineup.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            FCA didn’t create a “Silverado” brand. FCA created a “commercial truck” brand, essentially. They put the HD trucks there (the only trucks they have now), but also the commercial van business (both the large ProMasters and the small ProMaster City) as well as the RAM C/V Tradesman (Grand Caravan cargo van) while it was still around.

            That would be as if Chevy took the Silverado, Colorado, their BOF van, and stuck that into a single brand…oh wait, they did that. Then they had to add a couple of crossovers just to screw things up, but it started as the same general idea. :) Then, of course, GM being GM, they decided they couldn’t part ways with the Chevy Truck brand since they collect brands the way Scrooge collects gold.

            At least FCA doesn’t still have RAM and Dodge Truck competing with each other…and both selling crossovers to compete with Jeep. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            GMCs are IMO better looking trucks. Chevy is trashy. YMMV

        • 0 avatar
          Badargs

          Not too many marketing minds in the comments. Dodge was a loser, ram sells like mad. What’s funny is the typical garbage “truth about cars” inflammatory take on anything really. The cross grille is new. It’s not iconic. When I was growing up it was just an ugly grid. But who cares at the time. No one bought dodge trucks. Now driving around in non Texas, it’s all ram and ram cummins. Not dodge… A few old square Dakotas show up… But it’s Ford Chevy and ram on the road, few dodges. The dodge brand went out of business 3 times in the last 10 years or so. Should have let the whole name die and rebranded the entire Chrysler thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        There used to be a rumour around the net that Dodge was going to get killed off. We saw SRT briefly get tried as a stand alone performance “brand”. Ram also was turned into a stand alone brand. We even see the Grand Caravan facing badge extinction.

        This all unfortunately turning into an aging soap opera with burnt out script writers.

        FCA has several grill variations on the Ram. So does Ford and so does Sierra and Silverado.

        “Let’s make Dodge great again”

        Not in Sergio the sweater’s life time.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      Or better, get rid of “RAM” and replace it with “Dodge”. Many of us still call them Dodge anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        That’s what I would do, but FCA seems to be thoroughly dedicated to the RAM brand name.

        One of the problems is that RAM’s star is rising, while Dodge’s is falling. Their sales volumes are nearly equal right now.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Next front end design is just going to be the head of a penis. RAM indeed.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Crosshair grill is 100x better than the two holes to mimic some form of animal snout currently being produced on higher end models.

  • avatar
    whynot

    They need to ditch that ugly nostril grille they have on some models.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Nostril wins! I googled “ram pig snout grille” and got 15,500 hits. But “ram nostril grille” got 64,000 hits. BTW, all the hits I viewed were about negative public reaction.

  • avatar
    ajla

    90%* of the population hates the pig-nose grille. Keep the crosshair look. No one cares about your stupid corporate branding.

    * — not verified

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “Gaping maw” indeed. The stylized angry grimace was a stroke of marketing genius. Chrysler laughed all the way to the bank with this covert promotion of road menace, and who cares about making the streets meaner places.

  • avatar
    Chris

    Or they could move away from the crosshair grille for the Dodge vehicules and keep it for Ram. The Challenger is the nicest Dodge vehicule and doesn’t really have it.
    But, eventually with some refinements, the nostrils/nose ring could be ok.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      This. Why the Dodge branded cars and utility vehicles need to retain the crosshair grille is a mystery – the crosshair is better suited to a truck in my opinion. Free up the designers to do what they want with the cars/UV’s.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Actual ram horns could do the trick:

    http://www.bumsteer.com/ram%20horns.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’ll keep pedestrians on the sidewalk where they belong. The trend, though, is to make car/truck front ends more pdestrian-friendly (as if being run over is a joyous occasion). Even the leaping ram hood ornament on the first Chrysler sedans would be too much today. Still, those horns would be a great running-of-the-bulls-at-Pamplona commercial waiting to be made. Maybe a much bigger ram’s head insignia shield would work?

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Sorry for my excessive comment level on this one, friends, this one is a button of mine.

    To my eye the current RAM is the best looking truck around. And they are ruining it, and not even for a good reason, just some nebulous branding.

    (breathe in, breathe out)

    I HATE corporate meddling. Which is why I couldn’t be happier as I type this from my home office in gym shorts and a T-Shirt.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    indifferent to Dodge, but getting rid of the crosshair is dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Easily identifiable? unique? popular? what awful ways to describe a signature element of your brand!

    Let us all give thanks for brilliant executives with too much time on their hands meddling in all the wrong places.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yep its like the Infiniti G37 > Q50/60 all over again. When will they learn? Building a successful brand take DECADES of work, yet some silly decision can throw it all away in one product cycle.

  • avatar
    Loser

    In my opinion the Dodge is the best looking truck, hope the don’t screw it up. Need to get rid of the huge “RAM” on the tailgate.

    • 0 avatar
      April S

      Yeah, all that oversize macho stuff makes me think they are trying to compensate for some sort of deficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Maybe those HUGE RAM letters are a final attempt to get aging Boomers to buy a truck. After all, our eye sight ain’t what it used to be ;)

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          If they want us boomers to buy a truck, they need to make a smaller one we don’t need to climb UP into. Try making a modern midsize El Camino. Chrysler never made a car-based truck, we had to chop up a 1960s Dart wagon – and then they stopped making wagons!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Thankfully the giant RAM letters are only used on a few trim levels, so it’s fairly easy to avoid them unless you have to have a Limited, Rebel or a Power Wagon…I’m reasonably certain (but not 100%) that those are the primary models that use them.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    The Ram emblem and crosshair grill has been around for a long, long time.

    http://www.wikimotiveblogs.com/kendallramblog/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/2015/02/1946-Dodge-Pickup-Dodge-Ram-for-Sale-e1422985853823.jpg

    The Ram hood ornament started in the early 30s.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      Except the crosshair grille originated with the 1960-69 Chrysler 300. It migrated to Dodge pickups briefly starting in 1970 when Chrysler stopped using it. Then it appeared occasionally on a Chrysler (Cordoba-based Chrysler 300) or Dodge model before winding-up becoming a Dodge thing exclusively in the mid 80’s.

  • avatar

    Do they forget that Dodge car styling emulated the successful pickup line?

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    If they want to have an actual identity seperate from Dodge they need to lose the crosshair. And honestly, I think Dodge should lose the crosshair too (it doesn’t even work on the Challenger anyway).

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Thankfully they never saddled the Challenger with the crosshair grille, even going back to the re-launch in 2008 of the first SRT model.

      I think the current twin flattened rings (or whatever the best way to describe them is) are attractive looking and tie into the past nicely. I like it so much that I put my money where my mouth is and bought a 2016 Challenger!

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I’ve never been a fan of the crosshair grills.

    I’m not a gun guy. I’m not offended by guns, but the crosshairs just aren’t my symbol. I don’t want it on my car.

    I’ve always prefered sleek cars, too: Tesla’s visual design matches my taste, the Charger’s does not.

    Removing the crosshairs will make Dodge and Ram more appealing to me personally.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Apparently Gilles thinks the way to build a brand is to write its name in bigger letters.

    Ram styling lately is just horrible. Both the current Ford and Chevy trucks are way better looking.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    I own(ed) a ’94 Dodge pickup and I thought the ’94-2001 design looked great. I’m not as keen on the next generation even though I own an ’07. I think their current generation looks even better than my ’94 and I hope they don’t screw it up on the redesign.

    As for the grille, I agree with the previous commenters. Neither the “pig snout” on the Laramie Limited, nor the stormtrooper helmet on the Rebel are improvements over the crosshairs IMO.

    Also, if I had a new truck with RAM in giant letters on the tailgate, I would debadge that ASAP.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Those letters are raised sheetmetal. “Debadging” would require significant bodywork. About the best you could easily do would be to remove the sticker overlays and make them body color.

      For me, if I were in the market for a truck, they’d be disqualifying. (Not that my truck of choice would be a Ram anyway.)

      • 0 avatar
        BigOldChryslers

        Nope, the RAM tailgate lettering on both the Laramie Limited and Rebel are stick-on letters. However, there are two alignment pins per letter, so if you remove them there will be 6 holes left in the tailgate.

        Because of the holes, the easiest solution to remove the letters may be to get another tailgate from the wreckers from a truck without them and have it painted to match your truck.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Give it up, Gilles. It’s still a Dodge to every truck owner I know.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      In the real world, it’s time to give up on the Ram brand and take it back to Dodge, where it’s always been really. Only FCA thinks it’s convinced people otherwise.

  • avatar
    RobbiesRobot

    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.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    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.

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