Monday, January 10, 2005

Alert: The World is Running Out of SUV Names!

by Tom Bozzo

SUV names, for automakers not wedded to alphanumeric codes, traditionally connote rugged outdoorness, as in Pathfinder, Explorer, Trailblazer, Pike's Peak, Trooper, Forester, Cherokee. As if the speed humps in the mall parking lot are actually logs and rattlesnakes.

The canary in the coal mine may have been the Porsche Cayenne — since when does Porsche need to use product naming to convince the world that their product is spicy — but Subaru blazes new ground at the Detroit Auto Show with the Subaru B9 "Tribeca."

Could there be anyplace less hospitable to the 7-passenger SUV? Or is this a clever marketer's way of saying that if the Subaru B9 can make it there, it can make it anywhere?

The Tribeca is also the debut vehicle for a new corporate face for Subarus. To my eye, it looks like the offspring from mating the Cayenne and the new A6 (with the Nuvolari grille inverted and constricted into more of a big nostril), and seems certain to test the extent to which Subaru marketers can conflate distinctive and attractive.
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