Land Rover has been in the news lately for having their new Defender out testing in camouflage. Even with that disguise, one can get a pretty good idea of what it will look like. It is going to join the long list of resurrected names from an automobile company that will use on a newly designed vehicle. So, how closely do a name and design relate and what importance does it have to a brand and the consumer?
There is an incredibly long list of cars that have names once associated with a different ancestor. Some of the most notable are the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, Chevy Blazer, and the Ford Ranger. In some cases, you wonder how the old and new vehicles are related? Upon launch of the Chevy Blazer, many enthusiasts were very disappointed with the way it looked compared to a name with a legacy that was attached to it. Especially with Ford bringing the Bronco back, which has enthusiasts concerned Ford might water down the legendary truck to compete.
All signs seem to point to the Bronco living up to its former glory though, potentially rivaling Jeep in their dominance of the off-road market. However, buyers tend to be shifting towards luxury off-road vehicles, and ones with iconic names top that list as well. Jeep is said to be bringing back the Grand Wagoneer, Mercedes just redesigned their G class SUV, Chevy has their attempt in the segment with the Blazer, and now Land Rover is reviving the Defender.
The new design of the Defender does not resemble the look of Defenders gone by. Consumers, especially enthusiasts, are keen to take note that names should match designs, most notably if it has such a long history. While the US market is not as familiar with the old design and name, I would be curious to know what other markets think. Americans have had many vehicles revived in name and design. Some have been great and others have flopped. Manufacturers should think long and hard before they decide to put an old name to a new vehicle.
The Dodge Challenger has recently outsold the Chevy Camaro for the number two muscle car sold in the US. It is quickly gaining ground on the Ford Mustang as well. You can read more about that here. I think Dodge has one of the best strategies in terms of manufacturing, marketing, and proven product, that factor strongly into the success of it outselling the Camaro and potentially the Mustang.
The Challenger design has been produced for far longer than initially intended or is common for the life cycle of a design. However, it has worked brilliantly for Dodge. They have been able to save money on all the factors that are expensive when a car is redesigned. That long life has allowed consumers and the general public to get very familiar with the look of the car. Dodge has squeezed every ounce out of the body and chassis. In 2018 there were 17 trim levels for the Challenger with prices ranging from $27,000 to $85,000.
Dodge has done brilliantly at marketing the Challenger. They communicate an aggressive, bold, and cool image about the car. Some campaigns use famous people, others just showcase the car, but all have colors and sounds emphasized. The Challenger has been marketed so well, and there are so many on the road, that I “challenge” you to recall a memory of one.
A few months ago I was able to rent a Challenger for a work trip. After spending over 12 hours in the car, I came to the conclusion that it was an incredibly practical vehicle. The car had four-cylinder shut off, so I was able to get about 30 miles to the gallon, but if I wanted to get a bit feisty, the other four cylinders would light up with the tip of a toe. It has an incredible interior room, a spacious trunk, stupendous looks, and an aggressive sound.
Whoever made the decision to extend the life cycle of the Challenger should be applauded. That decision has allowed the Challenger to grow into being one of the best muscle cars on the road, aggressively “challenging” for the first place spot. In my opinion, Dodge can do no wrong with this car.