Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty Employee

Do SUVs kill brands?

It has taken almost 20 years to get here, but the shift in the enthusiast vehicle landscape is nearly complete. Way back in 2003, when Porsche introduced the Cayenne, many enthusiasts were aghast. How could a sports car maker build an SUV?

This is not a simple question. 


In the case of Ferrari yes it can be seen as just a money grab. Ferrari charges enough on the cars they can live and should live at low volumes. You should not see a Ferrari every day or in a Walmart parking lot. 


In the Case of Porsche it is a cure for volume they need to stay alive.  Porsche needed the extra volume as they are not selling cars in the volume or price range of Ferrari. It is ok as long as they do not tag the SUV as a 911 SUV. 


In the case of Corvette. Chevy has no need to sell a Corvette SUV as it is a pure money grab that could do more name equity damage to the Corvette name. 

#1 Corvette is a model not a brand. 

#2 Chevy has a very extensive line of SUV and CUV models. So volume is not needed. 


If Chevy wants to tie the name they should just take the Tahoe and give it to the Corvette team and let them tune it. Call it a Chevrolet Tahoe Z06  by team Corvette. Slap in a DOHC V8 lower it and tune it for handling and add larger brakes. But do not call it a Corvette. That mistake would be as large as naming the new Blazer a Blazer. 


Ford should never have tied the Mustang name to the Mach E. There is nothing Mustang about it. To me it is as bad as Olds naming 3 crappy FWD cars Cutlass thinking the name would fool people. Ford is trying this with the Bronco name now too. One really is a Bronco and the other in name only. 


Name equity and what people identify with it is something that is earned and hard to earn back if destroyed. Cadillac has been working decades to earn back name equity after the names were used on poor product. 


Each case needs to be looked at and the needs should be understood. There is no one formula for all here. 


The Ferrari deal is this. The old man would never have approved this and would have shot anyone even suggesting this. This is a product of a publicly held Ferrari that is now open to many poor ideas. 


This is not something they need or should do even just for the money. Image and name value are worth more here and they get more per car price wise to more than make up for not having one. 


Ferrari has also limited production to protect the image and equity so why start to mess with it now. 


Look at Maserati today. They once was a very exclusive company built on racing. Today they are just another car in the snow at Barnes and Noble parking lot.  Alfa is also becoming something less than special.  


"The old man would never have approved this and would have shot anyone even suggesting this." Ferrari would've sold toasters if it meant he could go racing. That was his real passion, not road cars.

Air_and_Water, truer words never said. Ferrari's road cars sold strictly to playboys and girls, half of whom, in the '50s, also considered dreck like Buick Skylarks, Cadillac Eldorados, Oldsmobile Fiestas, Packard Caribbeans; it was strictly wanting to, as the English put it, "cut a dash." They used the same instrument panel switches as Fiats long before Fiat took over Ferrari, none of Enzo's road cars rustproofed; strictly spin offs for jet setters who had to have the latest thing, only to move on after a couple years.

A friend owns a '63 Lusso. There isn't much to it other than its high revving sohc V-12, it sorely needing a fifth (overdrive) gear. The most notable thing about it, other than helping Maranello's racing efforts, is the '67 Camaro copied its body, just as the '55 Chevy aped Ferrari's grille.

Are Ferrari's road cars then and since fun to drive? Or course. But so are XK Jags and others with more low speed torque,  lacking the drama of high rpm. So now we've got Ferrari SUVs, just like Porsche for decades has sold handbags and sunglasses. Some salute any and everything  run up the flagpole, without knowing why.  Marque allegiance is comical as people rooting for a given city's collection of free agent ballplayers.

Absolutely. Enzo would've sold toasters had they funded his true love, racing. The same might be said for Ettore Bugatti. Ralph Stein and others   experienced with both reported Alfa's street cars had the same performance but were more reliable.

 According to Griff Borgeson, the wealthy young Count Felice Trossi,
president of Enzo's Alfa-Romeo racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, from 1932-on, long familiar with Alfas, Bugattis, and supercharged S series Mercedes -- you've probably seen Trossi's gleaming black SSK boat tail speedster --  was taken with Packard's new V-12 in 1932. Borgeson recounted:

"The combination of marvelous performance, along with safety, luxury, and
comfort brought about Trossi's enduring conversion to that marque and model. He began collecting them, buying at least two or three a year, each custom body more lavish than the last."
The count commuted the 171 miles separating his Biella home from Scuderia
Ferrari in Modena in these Packards, Borgeson reporting that "the bravura
with which he drove them is the stuff of legend." These 1932-39 Packard Twelves are what inspired Enzo Ferrari's and Gioacchino Columbo's premiere 1947 V-12.

The two marques "commanding Ferrari's intense interest," continued Borgeson, were Packard and Bugatti. If you want to know from where Ferrari drew his prancing horse imagery, recall Bugatti's love of "pur sang horse-flesh." Ettore Bugatti preferred a Packard Eight for long trips across the continent to his own road cars.

Skip the marketing and buff articles; note what the principals themselves drove. You may've sat in or driven a DeLorean. They are unusable by anyone taller than 5"11 or 6 feet. John DeLorean was 6' 4".

Meanwhile, a luxe marque can always sell a junior or more popularly priced model, but it's rare that a premium badge launched by a mass producer has cachet and succeeds. Toyota wisely marketed Lexus as a new brand.

We could make snarky remarks as to why anyone would want an SUV or "crossover" in the first place. My girlfriend thinks the latter look like wheeled hamsters in heat, regardless Nissan, Ferrari or Rolls-Royce. She drives a slick little dohc Miata, a premium and very real sports car regardless price.


He would sell cars but he would never sell a SUV. He was not even  happy with some of the things Fiat pushed in cars. 

The point is he had enough money from cars built on race cars that he had no need for toasters or CUV. 

If you note most of his street cars were just retuned or rebodied race cars. 

He would never wasted money developing a SUV. 



Oh, please. You people with your “the Bronco Sport isn’t a REAL Bronco” are ridiculous. It’s a name. Ford can slap it on whatever they want. Who put you in charge of deciding what’s “real”? 

Advanced Driver

No, losers with MBA's who prioritize money over making good things kill brands


Like when you can street park your Ferrari in a dirt parking lot at a trail head and ho hiking?



What is this "ho hiking" of which you speak, and where can I sign up?

I'd answer yes, SUV's kill brands, but not quite in the way the article states.

Since roughly 2018+ you can't tell ANY of the SUV "brands" apart unless you happen to see and recognize the badge on the grill.

I bought my wive a new Mazda CX-5 in 2021. Every other recent vintage SUV looks identical, even the expensive ones like Audi or Mercedes. Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan? Can't tell them apart at all. Even some of the grill badges are so similar you can't tell.

So when everything looks like it came from the same factory, why pay Mercedes or Audi (or Toyota) prices when you can get the identical SUV from a much less expensive brand?

So yes, the rash of identical-looking SUVs could well kill of some brands, in my opinion.
Intermediate Driver

Sure you can tell them apart. The RAV4 is waaay uglier than a CX-5. And the Porsche Cayenne is the only SUV with a sleek nose, rather than the dumb, blunt, butch truck-like front-ends most of these things are sporting. The Audis do have distinctive grilles, as do the Lexus models--here again true Toyota's ugly DNA. And the Mercedes SUVs look more handsome than the Mercedes cars.

True car people can tell them apart. My 10 year old son is pretty good at it. The designs are similar, but not identical.


I "graduated" from the Porsche Sport Driving School in 2008. Our instructor was Hurley Haywood. it seemed as though, of the other students there, I was the only one who even knew who he was.

Anyway, after a few 120-mph laps around Barber Motorsports track in 911s, Hurley asked, "Anyone want to go for a lap in that SUV?" It was a Turbo Cayenne. I said yes, and he told me to grab my helmet and get in. He proceed to go around the track at 160 mph, while talking to me like an uncle taking a kid to get an ice cream cone. I said to him that it looks like housewives from La Jolla to Miami have no idea that they are driving a rocket to go shopping.
He assured me that all Porsches are Porsches, period. That's my take on these things.

Yeah, but what does Hurley Heywood know? 😉

That's a great story. 🙂
Intermediate Driver

I think SUVs (Crossovers) from high-performance exotic and semi-exotic brands give non-enthusiasts the bragging rights of buying into the brand while driving a “practical” car (they are tall, top-heavy cars, for the most part) that are easier to clamber in and out of than the brands’ true performance machines. Besides boosting the auto companies bottom line, I bet these “aspirational” tall cars generate a lot of jacket, cap and polo shirt sales. But when you see those, just don’t be fooled into thinking they are driving the real thing.

Absolutely, they do. Sure, there may be exceptions, like the Cayenne, but MOST major car companies are ONLY interested in maximizing their bottom line, whatever that takes. Ford is a prime example, with that Mustang Mach-Ery. It dilutes the Mustang brand, probably the next step to killing off the Mustang entirely. 😞

The Mustang Mach E is doing surprisingly well. Your report of it’s imminent demise are a bit premature:


Reality Check: Porsche did not have to start making SUV's to survive. Nor did they have to make Panameras.

When the Cayenne was introduced, Porsche's two cars, the Boxster and the 996 (911) were very profitable. In fact, the 996 was the most profitable per unit of any car in the world. They didn't need to start making SUV's to offset the sports cars. That is a false assumption repeated endlessly.

The reason they started making SUV's is because ego maniac CEO Wendelin Wiedeking wanted to grow Porsche and take over VW and Audi. His plan failed and the exact opposite happened and Porsche lost their independence and he was out. Wendelin Wiedeking is the same reason the first Panamera was such an ugly humpback -- he insisted he could sit his 6'5 self in the back seat and be chauffeured around.

As a lifelong classic air-cooled 911 enthusiast and serial owner I don't mind, and have never minded, that they did an SUV. It is a SPORTS Utility Vehicle after all. However knowing what it all led to is annoying. As is the constant repetition of the lie that Porsche needed to start making an SUV to survive and keep making sports cars. NO. THEY. DIDN'T.


No fixing typos and grammar? Oh, well. I made my point.
Community Manager

Thanks, Sajeev.

Advanced Driver

If you want a good laugh watch The Grand Tour Season 2 Episode 10 "Oh Canada". They put 3 luxury SUVs: an Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Porsche Macan, and Range Rover Velarto to the the test in the Canadian wilderness.
They did three tests first a race track, second a barrel race gaming course, and last towing a boat through the mountains.
All three fail miserably.
Advanced Driver

Answering the question.
In a way SUVs do kill a brand for me. I don't like SUVs; I don't want one and I don't buy them. I'm confirmed that any type of SUV product is using up time of the manufacturers staff, such as designers, as well using space on the assembly line. That time and space could be spent on building attractive cars that I would buy. There are few choices for cars now because just about all efforts go to SUVs.
I've never been able to figure out the fascination people have with SUVs. They're not as useful as station wagons had been, they use more gas than a station wagon, and they're not as comfortable as a station wagon. And SUVs look like a military vehicle, as in not much art going on in their designs. If need be, I'd buy a minivan over an SUV.

Cant get new station wagons that can pull a wet stick out of a dog’s (rear).

I love wagons, but they haven’t been decent in nearly 30 years.

My Jeep has low range, 7,200 lbs towing, has WAY more power and torque than the LT1 GM wagons, and is very comfortable on long drives. True, I can’t fit a piece of sheet rock in it, but I have a truck for that.

Minivans are worse. Low slung, under powered, overweight, people haulers.

Why do you suppose station wagons became poplar?  Americans wanted bigger vehicles with more space. That hasn’t changed.

You profess your love of a bigger vehicle while also dissing other bigger vehicles. 


I get a kick out of purists that rant and are unlikely to buy a new vehicle anyway.
Here is a link to 2021 vehicle sales # by model.
Have a read and tell me what you would build if you were in charge?

Yep! You gotta love it when people shout “If I was in charge!” and then ramble off all sorts of stuff they’d “fix”. People vote with their wallets. If you’re not buying a new car every few years, you aren’t driving the market and setting the tone. 

Do SUV's kill brands? If the focus on the sports cars goes away then yes.

Can they dilute the brand? Well naming a crossover a Mustang (oops) or Corvette would do that but doing Cayenne or Macan no.

One would think a sports car brand should only do sports cars, especially if they are part of a larger group but for now it seems to work.

Porsche did the SUV for volume. VW is a company built on volume and Porsche is expected to do its part. The CEO needed more vehicles and was not wanting to go cheap like a 924 or 944 again. 

The Panamera is not of a volume to carry what is needed. 

Even the Lambo tech is leveraged with Audi. Bentley has shared the W engine tech. 

VW has done a good job of leveraging their tech across different brands to share costs. But yet they hide it well.


While the Porsche SUV models are generally VW based they did do a good job tuning them and giving enough power to overcome the sheer bulk of weight. 


The rumor is that after introducing its SUV Lotus will generate electricity by connecting a generator to Colin Chapman's rapidly spinning grave .

SUVs don’t inherently kill a brand, but a SUV/CUV heavy line up can indicate an image crisis.

Jeep and SUV is obvious, but Buick is on the ropes.

As SUV/CUVs are the natural progression after 80s nightmares, so it became that brand loyalty eroded away.

There is something to the mainstream fans, GM and Ford, but once we tiptoe into the Euro brands and exotics, the lesser knowns and eclectic collectors, what brand SUV they drive is like a factor of practicality over preference.

I could have got a Buick Rainier V8, but it had no low-range, so it was right out. Enter the second Grand Cherokee. It wasn’t a brand preference, rather the perfect fit of size, function, and ability. Towing, 4x4 and off-road capability, plus room for the family.

We have a Ford 3/4 ton. Again, not a preference, rather the perfect fit of capability, fuel economy (diesel), and rear seat room for kids. I had a GM truck, but it was steaming garbage off-road and that’s important to me. So, yeah, I’m the GM guy with non-GM daily drivers.

Back to SUVs…. They represent the family vehicles in a world of fickle gadget focused, feature demanding customers. Originally Tahoes were good because they were smaller suburbans with more capability than a front drive, heavy minivan. If you’re gonna get bad fuel economy, might as well have something with truck longevity.

Cars, well, there were lots of good cars, but all the regs made them unappealing, the gadgets were difficult to make them profitable, and let’s face it … if you can’t build quality, build profits.

So what about everyone else? Meh. When consumer tastes change, so will the line ups, or they will die. Porsche - not concerned. Buick - 5 years, tops.

Buick has been a zombie brand in North America for some time. Pontiac had more presence with modern enthusiasts (with Buick 80s Grand Nationals, Regals is the last interesting thing unless you're into the LS Roadmasters). What Pontiac didn't have is the corporate accountants eyeballing China and looking to the short-term payoff (and give me a promotion). The corporate types were not wrong in that China justifies Buick existing.

In fact I wouldn't be surprised to see the Buick brand spun off to a Chinese conglomerate and not even exist in North America.

Not sure it matters.

Lambourghini tractors don't hurt the brand.

There's been some lousy Chevy products over the years and Corvette enthusiasm remains strong. Some would chip in that there has been some lousy Corvettes...

What hurts a brand was the old tactic of moving a model downmarket: 55 Bel Air is top of the line desirable, by mid 60s it is midline, by early 80s the Bel Air is the stripped out version for short time then cancelled as the name's value has been spent.

Mustang... supposed to be a two door, 4 (5) seat coupe, fastback or convertible with side coves, black rect-ovaluar grill with a running horse in it, 3 vertical tailights on each side and a "smaller car" wheelbase but not tiny. But... just about every generation breaks some of these rules.

Can the Mach E be a Mustang... well if it speaks the design language then it is just an extended hatchback (Mustang has had normal hatchback before), lifted suspension (okay, maybe that is heresy), thick body with an electric powertrain (something that next gen Mustangs will have and might only have at some point...).

I don't like the Mach E, but I don't like the humpback 30s sedans the CUV craze seems to echo. So that's a CUV thing, not a Mach E thing.