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]