The Silverado grille is what happens when you trust focus groups too much

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Heavy Duty truck designs continue to get more outlandish. Chevrolet shocked everybody with its Silverado HD a couple of months ago, and now we get to see all the designs in person at the Chicago Auto Show. If you paid any attention to the outcry and internet comments surrounding this angry face, you’ll know it wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms.

We asked Hugh Milne, marketing manager, about what Chevrolet thinks of all the criticism leveled at it, and how the HD ended up this way in the first place.

“How much of that reaction is from people who actually buy these trucks? I read all that stuff, I hear about all that. All of our research that we ever did on this, we’re talking to Heavy Duty buyers of all brands. This front end and this design over the top was one of our best-ranked designs,” Milne told us.

So in short, is how we got here. Most car companies use focus to help make design decisions. The court of public opinion doesn’t seem to agree with those focus for the time being on the many Silverado HD grilles, though. Comments sections across all of our previous posts and the internet writ large are littered with snarky remarks toward the HD.

Related: Chicago Auto Show photo gallery: All of the grilles

Chevrolet does appear cognizant of the controversy surrounding the truck. Milne posits that a lot of the negativity surrounding it won’t make much of a difference anyway, questioning where the reaction is coming from. It’s impossible to know if heavy duty truck buyers specifically are upset with the design, but positive reactions are hard to come by from onlookers. Still, he has a point, because truck buyers certainly appear to enjoy tough-looking designs. If any segment is going to like this face, it’s going to be this one.

As we look upon the array of grilles up close and in person, they’re not as offensive as the pictures make them out to be. The LT trim initially shown is still a bit egregious, but the High Country is much classier. None of them fix the double stacked headlight design on every truck, but you can do a lot to change the look depending on the trim you choose.

Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on the Silverado HD, we at least have an understanding of where it came from. Focus groups and market research don’t always produce a pretty vehicle. The Aztek happened, and many other misfires followed in its footsteps. Perhaps the “top ranked” designs in research don’t always translate to good designs in practice.

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