QOTD: Dare to Design?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd dare to design

Earlier this year, we asked if the current automotive styling trend of ever larger grilles had reached a peak of excess. Had automakers carried it too far? The vehicle that sparked the question was the new-for-2019 Toyota Avalon, a vehicle that saw fit to appropriate about 90 percent of its front-end real estate for the placement of a grille, some of it functional.

The trend shows no sign of abating. Lexus is still hard at it, as my current ES 350 tester aptly demonstrates. (Quite a spindle snout on the thing, which continues to remind your author of the controversial 1961 Plymouth.) Elsewhere in autodom, expansive maws proliferate like rabbits, some of them far subtler than others — though beauty always remains in the eye of the beholder.

However, slapping a daring face on a relatively low volume car isn’t the same thing as making over your company’s bread and butter. That brings us to a tale of two trucks.


This week brought us two pieces of eye candy, one of which might leave a bitter taste: the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD and the 2020 Ram HD. The former truck receives a radical makeover that catapults styling ahead by a decade, the latter undergoes a significant refresh while apparently maintaining the same basic platform as before. Fiat Chrysler likes hanging on to old bones for dear life.

To many, the Ram 2500/3500’s new face was just the soothing balm needed to remove the sting of the Silverado HD’s jarring front end. From a front three-quarter angle, the Silverado’s mug isn’t as alarming as when viewed head-on. From this angle, you can see what the designers had in mind — there’s a rakishness in the way the chrome crossbar thrusts its way forward. Arguably, the whole package works better than the similarly controversial 2019 Silverado 1500.

Can you imagine the Silverado HD with headlights placed up top? Youch…

FCA, on the other hand, provided a range of faces mimicking the well-regarded 2019 Ram 1500. Headlights are where our forefathers intended, as is the grille. The refresh updates the truck with a look that’s unlikely to anger any existing Ram HD owners.

That said, are people (us included) being too hard on GM for its styling decisions? You don’t move design forward by playing it safe, and GM is taking on a lot of risk by attempting to move the design needle in the stupendously lucrative large truck space. That deserves some kudos, even if the end result isn’t something you’d park in your own driveway. I’m reminded of the ’59 Chevy in this regard — a vehicle whose design inspired both Ford and Plymouth, albeit for a very short time.

What’s your thoughts on the matter? Does GM deserve accolades, or at least some measure of praise? Or is the Silverado HD just a mistake?

[Images: General Motors, Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Dec 06, 2018

    The Chevy looks like the had the clay model too close to the garage door when it went down and they didn't have time to fix it. They just pasted stuff back on the flat face wherever they could. If it weren't so flat I don't think it would look as bad. Then again, I don't see how it could look worse.

  • Splorg McGillicuddy Splorg McGillicuddy on Dec 08, 2018

    I live on the coast and that means I'll never see one of these Chevys in person and that's a good thing. This is an abortion of design.

  • Theflyersfan As a kid, a neighbor had one of these full-sized conversion vans with the TV and wet bar in the back. And it was so cool to go in - as a kid it was, driving it had to be terror at times with blind spots, iffy power and brakes, and the feeling that you're hauling your living room with you! Kids of the 1970s and 1980s had this experience. Afterwards with minivans and then CUV everything, not so much.And I'm crushed that a 1977 van doesn't have some kind of mural on the sides. Coyote howling at the moon, American flag, Confederate flag, bright stripes, something! You can't have a 1970's era van with plain sides! At least a "Don't Laugh. Your daughter's in here" bumper sticker on the back. I always get a Gacy or Bundy vibe with these vans...
  • Jeff S In the EV market Tesla is not a niche player it is the major player. According to the latest data of the California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company  Kelley Blue Book, Tesla has the lion’s share with 75 percent market share in  the electric vehicle market in the first three months of 2022.Tesla has dominated the electric vehicle market for years in the United States. The electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla accounted for 79 percent of the new electric vehicles registered in the United States in 2020 and 69,95 percent in 2021. The decrease in the market share in 2021 might be explained by backlogs and the global chip shortage, but the company is ramping up its sales and has already increased its market share to 75 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top 10 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2022 are;[list=1][*]Tesla Model Y[/*][*]Tesla Model 3[/*][*]Ford Mustang Mach-E[/*][*]Tesla Model X[/*][*]Hyundai Ioniq 5[/*][*]Kia EV6[/*][*]Tesla Model S[/*][*]Nissan Leaf[/*][*]Kia Niro[/*][*]Audi e-Tron[/*][/list=1]Tesla has delivered 310,048 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, another first-quarter record. The success of Tesla is proven once again as the company has three electric cars in the top 10 most selling electric vehicles in the United States, while no other manufacturer has even two different models on the list.Tesla leads all others, selling slightly over 936,000 units in 2021. This gave the company a market share of nearly 14%.Mar 30, 2022https://interestingengineering.com/transportation/tesla-ev-market-75-percent-market-share
  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
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