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These Are the Worst Examples of Automotive Badge Engineering

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Image: General Motors

I would like to nominate the collective badge-engineering that happened when GM killed off Saturn and Pontiac during the 2007-2008 financial crisis and subsequent bankruptcy.

The Saturn Outlook replaced the GMC Acadia (despite being the same car). Yes, GM literally rebadged a car as a replacement for its nearly-identical platform-mate. The Saturn Vue ‘became’ a Buick — but GM never actually shipped it to anyone and instead rebadged it a third time as the Chevrolet Captiva Sport and sold it to Hertz. The Pontiac G2, already a badge-engineered version of the Chevy Aveo, became a trim line of the Aveo in the middle of 2010. Also future Saturns all became Buicks with no regard for how they’d fit into the lineup which is how the Opel Insigna became the Buick Regal.

Lots of weird things happened when the clock ran out on Saturn and Pontiac as SamTheGeek reminds us — Opels-turned-Saturns-turned-Buicks, after all. But the Saturn Outlook effectively being revived as the first-gen GMC Acadia’s mid-cycle refresh was one of the weirder ones I didn’t notice. Kyree has the details:

You are correct , and most people don’t notice that. The Saturn Outlook shared most of its shape with the GMC Acadia, but with some distinctions, like the wheel flare shape, rear light apertures, and wraparound rear windscreen. Overall, the Saturn was more chiseled.

The Saturn Outlook was discontinued with the rest of the Saturn brand in 2010. But, when GM decided to facelift the remaining three Lambda crossovers for 2013, it decided that the Saturn’s shape better fit GMC’s then-new blocky, chiseled theme…and so quietly switched to using the Outlook tooling. Even the rear bumper cover, in its entirety, was snatched from the Outlook for the 2013 Acadia.

As far as what happened with Saturn and Buick, I’m sure GM realized it was more profitable to sell the rebadged Opels as Buicks than Saturn, and they mostly fit quite well into the lineup. Buick needed compact and midsize sedans, and the Opels fit the bill nicely. The Encore was a particularly good idea.

The Cascada, however, was an interesting indulgence in a world where such cars (which also included the late 200 Convertible and Eos) were dying off left and right.

Suggested by: SamTheGeek, Kyree

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