Jesse Snyder
Jesse Snyder
Opinion Page Editor

What's a good name? One on a solid vehicle

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I am encouraged that General Motors will keep the names of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon when it reintroduces the mid-sized pickups next year.

It tells me that GM execs feel they don't need to apologize for the models they were making.

I know the intricacies of naming a vehicle, especially one sold in multiple world markets. Over the years, I've seen great names and horrid ones.

Call me cynical, but here's my rule of thumb on car names: Except for new-concept designs, any manufacturer that renames a direct replacement knows it screwed up the old one.

Sometimes the whole world knows a car stinks, so much so that even the name itself is poisoned. We'll never see another Ford Pinto or Chevrolet Vega, for example.

Successful designs that remain distinctive have great value, but over time every manufacturer has models that are hits and some that are misses. Most hits keep their names generation after generation. On misses, the name often fades.

You remember the Ford Mustang and F series and Chevy Suburban and Corvette. But the automakers dumped Edsel and Chevy Citation.

Some import brands have had very successful runs and kept nameplates so long car buyers know them almost as well as the brand: Honda Civic and Accord, Toyota Corolla and Camry, BMW 3 series and Mercedes C class. But don't expect revivals of those early efforts, the Honda N600 and Toyota Toyopet.

So bravo, GM, for keeping Colorado and Canyon. It's a good sign when manufacturers have confidence in a name.

You can reach Jesse Snyder at jsnyder@crain.com.

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