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Ford’s Everest escapes Detroit’s three-bar grille

Grilled: Ford's 2011 Territory facelift featured a grille that was more in-line with the European “kinetic” design language, then the American SUV styling of the time.

Australian design centre creates variation to avoid Ford's US SUV grille design

22 Aug 2014

THE struggle over the design of Ford’s SUVs has taken another twist with the locally designed and developed Everest the latest model to avoid Detroit’s beloved three-bar chrome grille design for trucks and soft-roaders.

Ford's design teams outside the United States, including Europe and Australia, have been waging a subtle guerrilla campaign against the adoption of the three-bar design for all SUVs, which Detroit has been pushing as corporate design language since the mid-noughties.

Europe favours the “kinetic” design language that has transformed its Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo models in recent years, while Australia has been caught in the middle.

The three-bar grille has adorned Ford’s US – indeed, global – best seller, the F150 pick-up, since 2009 and was also found on the Edge crossover and the larger Expedition.

It was also used on the facelifted 2009 Ford Fusion mid-size sedan, the last US-designed Fusion before the Mondeo was adopted as the basis for the model in 2012.

Ford Australia used the three-bar chrome grille on the T6 Ranger but when it came to the 2011 Territory that was developed at about the same time, the local product development outfit did not think it suited a passenger vehicle as well as it did a ute, so they forced a compromise.

The large air intake on the 2011 Territory featured three bars, but they were outlines as opposed to solid bars, to give it a more sophisticated look. It was the first time since the 2004 F-Series that a Ford SUV or pick-up had not adopted the three solid bars.

At the time Todd Willing, who is now director of design for Asia-Pacific, said the main influence for the 2011 Territory facelift was Europe’s kinetic design philosophy “with some elements of the North American design strategy”.

The Everest appears to have reached a different conclusion again, although its grille is definitely more masculine, even aggressive, compared with the Territory.

At Ford’s Innovation for Millions design and technology presentation this week, Mr Willing said the 2011 Territory was the also first time there had been a trapezoidal grille on a Ford SUV, reflecting the kinetic influence from Europe.

“The trucks have held on to the larger section bars that have that very purposeful, really solid look,” he told GoAuto.

“In the case of an SUV, we have open rings. You saw it on the (2011) Territory.” During an examination of the Everest concept, a second Ford designer said the Everest had a three-bar grille, but Mr Willing had to disagree. As there are clearly only two bars in the Everest.

“It’s a three-hole grille,” Mr Willing said with a smile. “I think you can say it’s three graphic rings.”

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