About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

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Thread: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

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    About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/...ace-on-cars/2/

    Bob Lutz, Contributor
    I'm a car guy, and that's (mostly) what I write about.

    Typically, when design clinic respondents are asked which view of their preferred-choice car they would send to friends and/or relatives, the front three-quarter angle polls at about 80%. You’d think many would select the straight side view, which, distortion-free in photographs, best displays the size, sweep, length and overall cohesiveness of the design.

    But, then, when asked by the parents to send a picture of the new girlfriend, a majority of guys will send a likeness of her face, even though that may not be her best attribute!

    And thus it is with cars. The front end, grille, fascia and headlights form a very distinct “face,” and, much like a human visage, it can have expressions: happy, purposeful, angry, aggressive, sad or even bored.

    And, just like we recognize and trust familiar human faces, it’s important for car brands to maintain some “facial continuity” for purposes of recognition and awareness.

    Nobody has done this better than BMW and Mercedes. Both, across many decades and dozens of new vehicles, have evolved and modernized their grilles (with the “twin kidneys” of BMW sometimes wider, sometimes framed, sometimes more rectangular), but they have maintained their essential brand identities. This consistency is a large part of their enviable brand health. Being instantly recognized by everyone as the owner of a BMW or Mercedes is hugely important to the owners!

    Cadillac, Buick, GMC and, especially Chevrolet are also excellent examples of ever-evolving, yet visually consistent, front-end themes. (In the case of Chevrolet, it only got religion on this about 10 years ago).

    Not so Honda, where every car and truck in the lineup has a face so different from the rest as to be unrecognizable as a Honda from a distance.

    And not so Ford. The F-150 seems to offer a wide array of “series differentiated” grilles, and the passenger cars, in recent years, have gone from an ovoid cat-fish mouth to an arched rectangular mesh with a Ford oval in the center, to a grille with three massive horizontal bars, to an attractive grille shape reminiscent of Aston Martin. Not all is consistent, however, as the freshened version of the ill-conceived Flex has what appears to be no grille at all. It also eschews the Ford blue oval; a serious error in the quest for brand unity and strength.

    Even worse is Ford’s Lincoln brand, struggling for legitimacy and just a modicum of respect, please, after spending decades as little more than gussied-up Fords, sometimes with nary a sheet-metal change.

    In cases where you skimp on sheet-metal investment and differentiated technology, front-end appearance and consistency are doubly important!

    More article at link...

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    The last paragraph made me smile - they took a funny shot at the new Toyota Avalon face.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    (“facial continuity”) Exit Lutz, Exit Cheverolet Identity, Man, Chevrolet Threw out 40 years of experiece just like that.. now, Traverse and Impala look like hondas with a Chevrolet badge stuck on..

    These people will never ever learn!!

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    So he praises the GM brands who have spent too long clinging to old design languages, and criticizes Ford's front end treatments, even though they're obviously in a transition of design themes. And while Honda's might be ugly, their front end look has become quite unified (Fit - Civic - Accord and CRV - Pilot - Crosstour - Odyssey). Bad show, Bob. Bad show.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by PREMiERdrum View Post
    So he praises the GM brands who have spent too long clinging to old design languages, and criticizes Ford's front end treatments, even though they're obviously in a transition of design themes. And while Honda's might be ugly, their front end look has become quite unified (Fit - Civic - Accord and CRV - Pilot - Crosstour - Odyssey). Bad show, Bob. Bad show.
    Honda's face may be more unified, but it is utterly forgettable. As I read your comment I struggled to think of what their front looks like. Sadly, I can instantly picture in my mind the ugly beak they use for Acura, and the ugly front end of their truck, but nothing else.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGTP View Post
    Honda's face may be more unified, but it is utterly forgettable. As I read your comment I struggled to think of what their front looks like. Sadly, I can instantly picture in my mind the ugly beak they use for Acura, and the ugly front end of their truck, but nothing else.
    But by his own metric...
    And, just like we recognize and trust familiar human faces, it’s important for car brands to maintain some “facial continuity” for purposes of recognition and awareness.
    ...Honda has a very unified design. Arguably moreso than GMC has currently in its showrooms.

    Some Lincolns may be identical to Ford's in profile, but he's talking about "continuity" in the vehicle's "face", which is the one thing the brand had going for it. The bow/weave grille has seen various degrees of success across the range as far as being attractive, but apart from Navigator the Lincoln line had quite a unified front end treatment.

    He just should have called it "cars I like and cars I think are ugly."

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by PREMiERdrum View Post
    But by his own metric...


    ...Honda has a very unified design. Arguably moreso than GMC has currently in its showrooms.

    Some Lincolns may be identical to Ford's in profile, but he's talking about "continuity" in the vehicle's "face", which is the one thing the brand had going for it. The bow/weave grille has seen various degrees of success across the range as far as being attractive, but apart from Navigator the Lincoln line had quite a unified front end treatment.

    He just should have called it "cars I like and cars I think are ugly."
    But the point is no one wants to date an ugly girl or a forgettable girl - same with a grill, it needs to be nice looking and a unified look. BMW and Mercedes has done both - unified and nice visually and instantly recognizable. Acura got 2 out of 3 - instantly recognizable, unified, but ugly. Honda's may be unified, but it is so understated that it is unrecognizable - you could stick any badge on their face and no one would bat an eye.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Same Ol' Bob.

    I gotta say I agree with much of what he says, and his remarks about Lincoln are certainly close to the mark. I'll never see the front end of a MKZ again without thinking "Garfield".

    But for all the complaints he makes about "identity", and he's not wrong about it, many of the brands he derides for not having much sell incredibly well. And for all the efforts of GM during his time there, and the work of the other domestics too, all the "FACE" in the world hasn't resulted in any great leaps in market share.

    .
    Last edited by megeebee; 04-11-2012 at 07:43 PM.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by megeebee View Post
    ...I gotta say I agree with much of what he says, and his remarks about Lincoln are certainly close to the mark...
    this is closer:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    ...Even worst is Ford’s Lincoln brand...


    ...could we at least have a decent, rich face?
    Well, in fact, in the past six years or so, Lincoln has had several!...

    ...will Ford and Lincoln stick with it? Evolve it? Adapt it to the Navigator (tough assignment; the treatment is so feminine)? Keep it long enough to attain a minimal degree of brand recognition and value?

    Past Ford practice would argue “No,” so I’m wondering what “heritage” grille is next. Hint: the ’30s are still largely unexploited!...
    ^LOVE^IT^!^
    imho Lincoln's mishmash is disgusting
    LINK to link about how Lincoln's current styling ASSORTMENT is only of interest to an Automotive Anthropologist

    Quote Originally Posted by megeebee View Post
    ...I wouldn't worry about that too much. I don't know that it's too important to have an identical face on all models. The grilles are very similar in shape at least...
    still feel ^this^ way, megeebee?
    "One useless man is called a disgrace, two become a law firm, and three or more become a Congress."
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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    This topic is one of the many reasons why I bought a Camaro. I will not be a sheep.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by 2b2 View Post
    still feel ^this^ way, megeebee?
    Yes. I don't believe every car of a given brand needs to have identical grille/facia designs. But they do need consistant, non-cartoonish, non-ugly ones.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by mbukukanyau View Post
    (“facial continuity”) Exit Lutz, Exit Cheverolet Identity, Man, Chevrolet Threw out 40 years of experiece just like that.. now, Traverse and Impala look like hondas with a Chevrolet badge stuck on..

    These people will never ever learn!!
    Never liked the two tier Chevy grills, the Impala and Traverse are huge improvements IMO, even if they may be a bit more generic.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    My 68-year-old Dad and I are always talking cars, and he's always giving me feedback on what the other altacockers at the Country Club think. He mentioned a recent discussion about this very issue with some of his friends, and noted that his age group found Audi to be the most immediately recognizable car on the road. Many couldn't tell the lastest Mercedes from the latest Honda, nor Hyundai from Jaguar, but they all knew an Audi when one drove by.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Burns View Post
    Never liked the two tier Chevy grills, the Impala and Traverse are huge improvements IMO, even if they may be a bit more generic.
    That is a serious problem for Chevrolet, sometimes, you do not need to look pretty to be successful..

    This is not toyota


    This is a proper Chevrolet, Like nothing else.. Why could they not take this and graft it on the Traverse, is soooooooooo much more distinctive, so much more Chevrolet..



    Mark my word, The impala and Traverse styling is the old GM showing its ugly face again, pretty soon we will be back to this



    I cannot tell you how bad this is as a move for Chevrolet, loosing your own identity!! That is horrible!!!
    Last edited by mbukukanyau; 04-11-2012 at 10:23 PM.

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    Re: About Face: How Automakers Put Personality Into Their Cars' Front Ends

    Continuity is also in relation to evolving the " face " of your vehicles as much as it is about having the continuity between different brands car lineups.

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