By on July 22, 2021

We introduced the Studebaker XUV in Part I of this series, a concept SUV for which Avanti Motors was immediately sued upon by GM upon its debut. Barred from producing any H2-esque vehicle, their chairman thought up a way to differentiate the XUV in the marketplace: Make it “feminine!”

Responding to the poetic legalese that came from GM’s lawyer, then-chairman of Avanti the upstanding Michael Kelly claimed GM spoke too soon. His first claim: The SUV was still a work in progress and in concept form, can’t tell if it’s going to look like a Hummer, can we? At ease, lawyers.

Avanti sent out a press release in February that addressed the differences between the Studebaker XUV and the Hummer H2. Take a look.

The most unusual details in the release are the sheer length of the XUV, at two feet longer than the H2. The sliding van-like rear side doors and sliding roof panel are also odd. Worth noting, while the Wagonaire did have a retractable roof panel, but did not offer rear sliding doors. Guess Kelly didn’t research his company’s past product that thoroughly. Also of note, two products can look very similar without sharing any parts, as anyone who’s seen Chinese vehicles from the past couple of decades can attest.

Speaking to The Chicago Tribune, Kelly followed up after the settlement with an explanation of changes made to the XUV, and how it wasn’t all that similar to the H2 in the first place. He then made some statements on gender and stereotyping: “We thought the majority of people it would appeal to were men, but at the auto show we found the reaction was greater from, I wouldn’t call them soccer moms, but rather middle-age moms who still have kids in school.”

As a result of these “middle-age moms” preferences (and not at all because of the GM suit), Avanti made some visual changes. Per Kelly, “They [these women] wanted more elegance and less a man’s man-type vehicle like Hummer.” So Avanti made some changes so the XUV would appeal to this special group: Hood scoops and vents went away, the previously enormous six-inch gas cap was downsized and painted, hood latches were no longer on the exterior, the windshield angle was relaxed, and the size of the windows was increased.

Now with female-approved styling, the XUV could go on and enter production, right? Next time we’ll talk about lofty goals and the basis for a revised behemoth that was ready for the moms.

[Images: Avanti Motors]

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10 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 2003 Studebaker XUV Story, Part II...”

  • avatar

    Hyundai/Kia has to keep similar letters from lawyers framed. They have to cover several rooms.

    I thought the entire “make it feminine” thing dies as soon as a girl stops playing with dolls and everything in the bedroom is a shade of pink that requires adults wear sunglasses to enter. But, I don’t design cars for a living…

    Not gonna surf ahead so I’m very curious to see what a “feminine Hummer knockoff” looks like.

    • 0 avatar

      God, will the Hyundai/Kia design commentary ever die? Yeah just name all the cars that look like the Sonata, Elantra, Santa Fe, Veloster, Palisade, etc. Or in Kia’s case the Telluride, Carnival, Sorento, Soul, K5, Stinger. I get fanboys are upset that these cars all get really good reviews and feel the need to take them down a notch, but the only thing that’s derivative at this point is your type of comment.

  • avatar

    The owe Audi royalties on the grille, especially with the Genesis designs.
    Bentley logo vs. Genesis logo
    The Kona is a mashup of the EcoSport, Escape, and Jeep Cherokee
    The Santa Fe cribs a lot from the Infiniti CUVs
    The Tucson is a cousin of the Escape
    The Palisade interior steals a lot from Lincoln
    Sonata and K5 floating roof from Nissan

    Going back in time: Mercedes E-class from the mid 1990s and the Kia Amanti
    2004 Hyundai Sonata and a Honda Accord around that time

    H/K/G might add some extra slashes and lighting elements to try to make it look different, but the overall shape and design of the main points tends to make them look like the designers (most of whom came from other large car companies) had other cars on their mind and morphed them into H/K designs.

  • avatar

    “while the Wagonaire did have a retractable roof panel”

    Yep, and I had the Matchbox Wagonaire to prove it. It’s interesting that about this time GM came out with the Envoy with, you guessed it, a retractable roof.

    Avanti should have checked with Chrysler’s “La Fem” of the mid-50s to see how well that did. One thing I’m sure of women don’t want cars designed for them

    • 0 avatar

      Yep and not just did GM come out with the Envoy with a retractable roof, but it was called…. The Envoy XUV. It was released for the 2004 model year so curious how that plays into this spat with Studebaker especially since part I of this story said that Studebaker had trademarked the XUV name.

    • 0 avatar

      I bet the “La Fem” would go over about as well as the “Bic for Her” pens in 2021.

      The flip side, though, is that Thundercougerfalconbird-style marketing (which presents vehicles as the solution to masculine insecurities) seems to work pretty well on a lot of men. [shrug]

      It’s like you have to understand your customer in order to sell them stuff, or something. Marketing is harder than it looks.

      • 0 avatar

        Those Bic for Her reviews on Amazon just cracked me up, whatever year that was. 2017?

        • 0 avatar

          OMG, I didn’t even know these existed.

          From Amazon:

          “Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long! I use it when I’m swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga.”

          “I see this comes in a sleek design. But as a “full-figured” woman, do these pens come in “curvy and carefree”? ”

          “I’d really like to buy a pack of these pens; but I probably need my father’s or husband’s permission first. Like I do with all my financial decisions.”

          Yep, best not to design anything “for her”

          • 0 avatar

            LOL the one I remember was like.

            “Finally someone has designed a pen for me. I struggled all my life with my delicate, frail hands, trying to use the huge pens designed only for men.”

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