Five Awful Examples of Badge-Engineered Vehicles
“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asks us in Romeo and Juliet. The answer is “Not much,” especially when talking about badge-engineered cars. This term refers to virtually identical models released under different brand names, with little more than minor cosmetic differences between the two vehicles. Here’s a look at five of the worst examples of this long-abused practice. Cadillac Escalade/GMC Yukon
PHOTOS: See More of the New 2015 Cadillac Escalade
GM in the late 1990s and early 2000s seemed to think that it could get away with anything. This helps to explain why the company thought it could slap a different grille on a Chevy Yukon and transform it into a Cadillac. Ah, the glory days before auto bailouts!
Pontiac G3/Chevy Aveo
PHOTOS: See More of the 2009 Pontiac G3
While it may appear that we’re picking on GM in this article, the company just can’t seem to break itself from the rebadging habit. Case in point: the G3, which was a rebadged version of the Chevy Aveo from 2003. Adding injury to insult was the fact that the G3, just like the Aveo before it, sucked in every possible way.
Consumer Reports blasted it for both fuel economy and safety. The fact that the Aveo was a rebadge of a vehicle built by Korean firm Daewoo, which is itself legendary for building rebranded knock-offs of other company’s vehicles, didn’t help things any.
Mercury Mystique/Ford Contour
PHOTOS: See More of the 2000 Ford SVT Contour
While GM is clearly guilty of some of the worst rebadging debacles, its competitor from Dearborn is hardly blameless. Case in point: the Mystique from the mid-90s, which was a not-so-brilliant copy of the Ford Contour. The word “mystique” means “an air of mystery and reverence around something.” But there was nothing mysterious about these twin vehicles and certainly nothing to revere, unless you count the level of gall displayed by Ford.
Lexus LX/Toyota Land Cruiser
PHOTOS: See More of the 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser
While American automakers regularly indulge in these kinds of marketing shenanigans, their Japanese competitors would never stoop so low, right? Think again. Who recalls the Lexus LX 450– a fine example of the best in luxury automaking? Only problem was that the Lexus was simply an overpriced version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? How about a lame excuse to tack thousands onto the sticker price of a Toyota?
For our fifth example of badge engineering, let us turn our attention to the brands under the Chrysler umbrella. Given that Dodge builds fine pickup trucks, it’s a shame that the company took part in what was perhaps the most blatant example of badge engineering in automotive history. The marketing geniuses behind this move didn’t even bother to add a few cosmetic changes when they let go this slap in the public’s face – unless you count the nameplate, of course. (See also; Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager)