The avalanche of utility vehicles creates a challenge for designers:
How do you take a two-box layout and distinguish your brand from dozens of its other boxy brethren now populating parking lots?
“I don’t look at it as any more challenging than doing a sedan,” says Ralph Gilles, global head of design at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “We love it; we embrace the challenge.
“I think crossovers, when they showed up six, seven years ago, they were a little bit formula. But now you’re starting to see some great variations.”
It helps if your product already has a solid brand identity. FCA provided distinctive looks for the Jeep Compass and Renegade, the New York-born, Montreal-raised designer said in an interview with Automotive News Canada at the Los Angeles Auto Show in early December.
“So you could say at least in our camp we’ve played with the two-box [wagon] formula and created very distinct personalities that match the brands and underscore the brands’ ethos,” he said.
The face gets a lot of attention, but brand cues are important. People have not questioned the look of FCA’s Alfa Romeo Stelvio or Maserati Levante, said Gilles.
“They just say. ‘Oh yeah, that’s a great Maserati, that’s a great Alfa,’ so you can translate those forms and the expression of those forms onto a two-box platform,” he said. “The beautiful integration of the Alfa Romeo grille on the Stelvio just works.”