Saab's Trailblazer                                                                                                    Vol. 4 - Mar 16, 05 



With the introduction of the Saab 9-7x, Sweden's bastion of automotive uniqueness has come full circle.  Once famous for its quirky designs and top flight engineering, Saab now has its first SUV, and its quite sadly now a mainstream American affair.  Despite GM's best efforts, the 9-7x lacks the functional elegance and Swedish sensibility that made Saab loyalists proud.  The real parents of this Swedish love child are GM and the ever versatile Trailblazer platform. Including the 9-7x, the Trailblazer has now spawned over 7offspring, sewing its oats across three continents and six brands.  With their sixth variant GM is getting closer to perfecting a platform and core design that is already well past its prime.  If the 9-7x was introduced in 2002 it would have been a hit - aggressive, modern, and quite capable. But it's not 2002 and in today's market, the 9-7x already looks passť, an Ikea-esque Oldsmobile Bravada in a land of FX-45's and XC90's. Despite an attractive front grill, clean lines, and new tail lights, all the Trailblazer dimensions are there.  Who does GM think it's fooling? Despite what Luz and the GM executives keep stressing, this is not a case of the media ruining a car. We understand that co-engineering and platform sharing are to be expected in today's automotive landscape. That economics require it. But economics do not require similar shapes, identical styling, and derivative designs. It doesn't cost anything to shape metal in a glorious fashion or for that matter even a slightly different fashion.
The Volvo S40 and Mazda 3, for example, are built on an identical platform but no one is panning those cars.  The S40 and Mazda 3, while similar underneath, resonate unique design themes that transcend any underlying similarities.  Not so with 9-7x.  Saab's first SUV is anything but. - M.H

1. Chevrolet Trailblazer
2. Buick Ranier
3. Oldsmobile Bravada
4. Isuzu
5. GM Envoy
6. Saab 9-7x

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