Designer Genes

 Platform sharing, it's all the rage in the automotive industry. It keeps development costs lower, and allows a manufacturer to bringa product to market quicker. Some companies make it work fabulously. Mitsubishi in the 90's took the lowly Mirage, and sprouted the Galant, Eclipse, Diamante, and 3000GT from it. I can't remember a review saying any of them felt like a bigger Mirage. Toyota has made it work with the Camry/Highlander/Solara/Lexus ES, and Lexus RX300/330. When everything goes well, it's a wonderful process, but sometimes companies falter, badly.

 The classic example is the Cadillac Cimarron, basically a dressed up Chevrolet Cavalier, and it was a dismal failure. GM seems to have learned their lesson, at least partly, as their shared models are a lot more distinct than they used to be. But sometimes, I think the car genes just won't allow you to hid the fact that two cars are close relatives.

 Pontiac's Aztek is like the Quasimodo of the automotive world, a horribly disfigured model that blemishes a marque that usually has some of the best looking models in GM's lineup. The Aztek's mechanicals are also the underpinning of the Buick Rendezvous, and somehow Buick got the styling right, well almost. From the B-Pillar forward it's a sleek, modern, and graceful design. Pleasing to the eye, it embodies the typical Buick flair, until you get to the C-Pillar.

 Everything then goes wrong, and it looks like one designer did the front, while a less skilled subordinate finished the rear. It's the Aztek gene, it has to be. It reared it's ugly head and gave the Rendezvous a hump on it's back, just like it's brother's. At least it spared the face this time.


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