By on April 5, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox Redline Edition - Image: GM

After a long eight-year run for the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox, General Motors finally dropped the third-generation 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in September 2016. The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox might not be your cup of tea — I like the look, and the diesel option — but we learned late last month that it could have been downright awful.

How bad was it? It looked too bulky, too odd, too underwhelming, according to focus groups. The Equinox’s chief engineer, Mark Cieslak, said, “What we have on paper we felt was not going to win.”

So GM went back to the drawing board.

But seriously, how bad was it? We want to know, as does Autoweek, which tweeted last Saturday, “We really want to see what the abandoned version looked like.”

GM’s executive vice president for global product development, the Twitter-affable Mark Reuss, responded just 10 minutes later. And, uh, my guess is they really don’t want us to see the first third-gen Equinox.

“Too bad. Ain’t gonna happen,” Mark Reuss replied to the Autoweek tweet.

Mark Reuss responds to Autoweek regarding Equinox on Twitter

Of course that’s what he’s going to say. If GM relented and showed us pictures and specs of a small crossover that wasn’t good enough to bring to an auto show, let alone bring to market, the automaker would have to suffer the consequences. Images of a failed GM design would be passed around the internet for the rest of time.

And yet, Mark Reuss didn’t really have to say anything. He wasn’t forced to comment on a tweet by a single publication on a Saturday afternoon.

Mark Reuss went out of his way to tell Autoweek’s editors and readers that they can’t, they shall not, they will never feast their eyes upon the failure that was the early Equinox draft.

Was it really that bad?

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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28 Comments on “First 2018 Chevrolet Equinox Design Sucked So Bad That Mark Reuss Has Vowed You’ll Never See It...”

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    If you need a focus group to tell you what’s attractive, you have the wrong designers.

    • 0 avatar

      It probably looked like an Aztec, another focus group failure.

      • 0 avatar

        They built the Aztec because it received positive response on the auto show circuit. It wasn’t a focus group that made it happen, it was us (the public).

        • 0 avatar

          Because they tried to make that attractive show car fit on a minivan chassis. And hoped we wouldn’t notice the difference.

          Yes, the public liked the attractive show car . . . . .

      • 0 avatar

        I have not come here to praise Caesar, but to bury him.

        What JT said. I will also add the sins of the Aztek were:

        1) Bean countery stupidity forcing production on the U-Body
        2) Bean countery interior materials like Playskool buttons and mouse fur

        The reality, compared to some modern CUV/SUV offerings (Acura ZDX anyone? Nissan Juke???) the Aztek today would look downright…normal (the sans cladding one). If anything the Aztek was ahead of its time, and as time goes by I think it will be viewed through a kinder filter.

        I was in an Aztek focus group, I pleaded with them not to build it. I told them I equated it to a lobster. If you could get past the outer shell the interior is down right nice, with a ton of, what was at the time, some very forward thinking ideas that have been adopted by other CUV/SUV in the market.

      • 0 avatar

        You’ll be surprised of the top line of the Aztec matches a Prius from almost bumper to bumper.

        So much to do about nothing, except get a few more stories about the new Equinox. Unlike Honda who would just released it and made changes 1-2 years in and received more stories about the changes.

  • avatar

    Probably looked a lot like a Trax. So much fail there.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Back in the mid 50s to early 70s, GM styling was IMHO excellent. No competitor even came close.



    To be fair, that’s pretty much a comment for almost all the manufacturers. The quality of all (except for the Italians, as is usual) has improved.

    But the styling? Arghhhhhhhhh.

    Yup, there are some exceptions, but methinks few and far between.

    • 0 avatar

      Tastes and trends change, which reflects how you think about current design. It is easy to get nostalgic about old car designs when you are no longer seeing them/their styling motifs all over the street anymore.

  • avatar

    From what I saw, it was ugly enough to wear a Subaru or Honda badge. Yeah, THAT ugly.

  • avatar

    How’s it selling, anyway?

  • avatar

    I call shenanigans. This is a case of “the wobble” at the corporate level. The 2018 as released is wholly unremarkable but not bad, so they draw further attention its way by slagging a design nobody’s seen that may not even exist but also planting the seed of the idea that a last-minute design change costs a lot so people won’t balk at it’s ridiculous MSRP.

    Now they have to steadfastly refuse to show the original because what if it wasn’t that bad? What if the focus groups have awful taste and GM acknowledges they’re designing-by-focus group rather than trusting their designers (not that I doubt for a split second this is what actually happens)?

    It’s not like there aren’t images of failed GM design plastering the internet, tv, and print into eternity anyway *ahem* Aztec, Cimmaron, Chevette. GM should be used to that particular criticism, but if they start being criticized for releasing a humdrum design in lieu of something that may have been better they’ll REALLY have egg on their faces. Now they can’t show the first pass either because they’re pulling a gambit and it doesn’t exist or they can’t take the chance the focus groups are wrong and the public likes it better.

    Wobble baby.

  • avatar

    I thought the red one was the failed design. That’s just awful.

  • avatar

    Slow news day, Mr. Cain? Here we have a story about a story that isn’t a story. Sheesh! If every auto design house revealed their throw-away designs, no one would know from the internet what’s actually being produced. But here – and wouldn’t you know it’s GM – the B & B (Bloviators and Boobocracy) of the internet take one comment from a designer and look for blood. Then Mr. Reuss says, “No, children you may not play in the trash” and more blood is sought. Please look elsewhere for a real story.

  • avatar

    So the picture we see isn’t the ugly one?

    I guessing the E Type would not have done well with focus groups either.

    The front of almost all Chevy’s just don’t work for me. I will not buy a car I don’t like the looks on anymore. Or one with low reliability ratings.

  • avatar

    Mr. Reuss also allegedly used to comment here, also as “GMDude”.

  • avatar

    Many products fail early on in the design process and need a restart? Why was it so important to bring this fact to light? What has it gained GM by calling this out? IMO, it calls into question the integrity and talent you have running the design studios.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I personally think this one looks terrible. It’s like someone left the current-gen outside too long and it melted in the sun.

  • avatar

    Style-wise there is only so much you can do with a CUV. The CUV has become the most bland, generic body style. I can’t tell one model from another without looking at the grill.

    • 0 avatar

      Arguably, you can do more because there’s more vertical space to work with. And the “all cars are indistinguishable nowadays” trope is true of any era, for those who aren’t familiar with the styling cues of each make.

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