By on February 6, 2008

cadillacctsv01.jpg When I was at Car and Driver and for a long time thereafter, the label 'Preview' was applied solely to quasi-road tests that involved driving a preproduction car, driving a car that we weren't allowed to instrument and test, sneaking into a mule, or some other actual experience in an existing vehicle. (The "You can drive it but you can't instrument it" situation was probably the most common one. The last Preview I ever wrote described the original Maybach; I put 400 miles on the beast.) And now, only a few paragraphs into C/D's current cover story on the new Cadillac CTS-V ("Cadillac's 550-hp M5 Beater") we learn that the buff book's "months away from a first drive" of the supposed Bimmer beater. It's a blatant admission that the piece is a rewritten press release. The CTS-V, they say, "should be worth the price of admission." How on earth does Tony Swan know that? And then there's Steve Smith's column on Carroll Shelby's legal hysteria. Who owns a computer, even a TRS-80, and didn't already know all that shit two months ago? I'm stunned by how far C/D has sunk.

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26 Comments on “Stephan Wilkinson: Car and Driver Sinks to a New Low...”

  • avatar

    TRS-80 rules! C&D bad! I can’t wait for my subscription to finish out so I can stop clogging my brain with all their praises to mediocre machines.

  • avatar

    Don’t worry Stephan, C&D will make up for it by clogging the next issue with a very special advertising section.

    Right next to their glowing ‘review’ of the very same car.

  • avatar

    Don’t worry Stephan, C&D will make up for it by clogging the next issue with a very special advertising section.

    Right next to their glowing ‘review’ of the very same car.

    A tactic employed by any number of those insipid entertainment magazines. Keith Ledger at a coke party, anyone…oh, OK. It never happened.

  • avatar

    I agree that a “preview” should add something new to the knowledge about the car. Just big pictures and third party information doesn’t cut it. I can go to Cadillac’s website if that’s what I want. I do cut some slack to Smith for that column. Not everyone keeps their eyes on Ol’ Shel and I think it’s acceptable fodder for commentary in the magazine. Old? It is guilty on that account. I was particularly disappointed by the STI/Evo/R32 review. Since when is track performance weighted that heavily? I know some folks will take them to track days (even though two are Rally car based and one is really more of a GT in my opinion) but the vast majority want to know how it functions on the street where they will mostly be driven. I just got the feeling they paid lip service to that.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    It’s Heath.

    (Or, it WAS.)

  • avatar

    you think the magazine is bad, catch carrion and drivel tv -thrill to Tommy Kendall praise every single vehicle as per the term of his contract.

  • avatar

    Speaking of pandering to a manufacturer recently Wes Raynal in an Autoweek “Short Stint” review said a few honest things about the Lexus GS 460. Dutch Mandel’s reaction made me think he was worried Lexus might cancel their advertising check for that week. But, I give them credit for at least putting Raynal’s comments up.

  • avatar

    My subscription didn’t make it past the redesign. They seem to want that “scoop” relevance in the Internet world, but that just means they’re losing legitimacy.

    C&D used to be THE arbiter…they put the 3-series on the map, proclaimed the Accord best, and found little gems like the B13 SE-R and made them into enthusiast icons.

    No longer.

  • avatar

    Yeah, but for $2.99 a year (last year’s subscription was totally free – some might say this year I got jacked in comparison, but I decided $2.99 was priced about right), I get pretty pictures to look at in the bathroom.

    Seriously, though, the magazine’s getting thinner by the issue (literally and figuratively).


  • avatar

    Trash 80! Thanks for that trip down memory lane.

    Yes, it only takes a few minutes to get the complete value out of a C/D. That’s why I only see it when waiting for the wife at a store, or waiting for a plane. Geez, another reason I hate to fly the airlines.

  • avatar

    Good job calling them out on that one Stephan. As I got to the second page I was checking to see if the article was one of those ever so fascinating special advertisement sections. Truly disgraceful.

  • avatar

    It is sad. I’ve read that magazine since my childhood in the 80s. I’m not going to cancel my subscription quite yet, despite reading multiple automotive blogs.

    Why don’t they invest in purchasing an already established online automotive website? Is HFMUS is stuffing that poor design and confusing interface on them?

  • avatar

    C/D has really been sucking up to Cadillac in the past few years. Must be all those special advertising sections.

  • avatar

    I skipped it. I don’t read the advertisements.

    C&D is really getting friendly with GM. The CTS and the Malibu were recent “10 Best” cars despite coming in third behind non-10-best Nissans in their comparison tests.

    The comparisons are the reason I’m still a subscriber.

  • avatar

    I used to come home after school on the first of the month, breathlessly awaiting C&D to show up in the mailbox, and I’d read and re-read every article. The cover stories in the eighties left permanent marks on my memory. Still have every one of those issues in my library.

    I still subscribe just for the nostalgia factor, and the fact that a 3 year ebay subscription was about eight bucks. But the redesign really does blow….wonder how Csaba really feels about all this?

  • avatar

    I really miss C&D’s old mentality of editorial freedom. Sure, they were blatantly biased on some products (BMW), but at least you knew where they stood.

    For a while I kept returning to Car and Driver for the once great comparison tests, until I picked up an issues testing SUVs. The pictorial showed the expected rock climbing and mud-jumping. The Jeep Liberty, despite being the best off road, came in dead last. I know SUVs are rarely used for their intended purpose, but shouldn’t this be worth something? Worse still, there was little in the write-up to explain the positioning.

    Car and Driver’s last remaining bright point is John Phillips. Yet we see less and less of him. His and Mr. Yates point/counterpoint article on the Dodge Ram SRT-10 was possibly one of the funniest things I ever read.

  • avatar

    Is this something new Stephan? They were pulling this crap forever…The Internet just exposes them.

  • avatar

    John Phillips’ (sporadic) writing and Pippa Garner’s illustrations about the only reasons left to read C and D.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    C&D is floundering in the internet age. I would start jonesing for my monthly copy if it was even one or two days late. Then I noticed the newsstands were getting the latest edition a week sooner than I was as a subsciber….smart move on their part to cut down on ‘sharing’, I guess, but it just pissed me off.

    Alas, after 35 years of subscribing I let mine lapse this last go ’round. The new format sucked, the special advertising sections got very annoying, and it seemed the quality of the writing went downhill. Even the holiest edition of all – the annual new car issue – well, I’ve been able to chart the changes on an on-going basis here on the webs.

    All things must pass.

  • avatar

    Remember the best part of the automotive press. Any flaws in the car are only discussed in the article for the redesign. Only then will they reveal that the prior model, which was “loved”, actually had wheels fall off, crankcases drain of oil, and every third one had fatal electrical bobbins.

    Until the new one is designed and tested, you’ll nary hear a word about “known issues”.

    OTOH,the press will obsess about certain things, like Idrive. BMW eventually started giving cars without it for tests so that they didn’t get back half an article ranting about idrive and half about the car.

  • avatar

    I grew up thinking C&D was the truth, and I used to love Tommy Kendall as a racer. But after seeing Tommy gush over some lame ass Dodges and reading some of the past 2 years of C&D I realise that people will do anything for money. Anything. C&D is dead and Tommy needs to go back to racin’.

  • avatar

    I’m about done with C&D too. Lack of interesting content other than JP (PB has become a tiresome old crank) and the comparison tests are ultimately predictable.

    However, I doubt I’ll actually have to make an effort to cancel or let my subscription lapse. At the rate its going the magazine will be so thin as to just disappear…

  • avatar

    Nice to see you posting to TTAC, Stephan.

    I thought I was getting a decent value paying $5. Guess not.

    Anyway, it’s hard for me to cancel my C&D sub, since I’ve had it since 1983. Still have all of those old issues–the ones from the 1980s are so much better than today’s.

    But would I start a new sub now? Highly unlikely.

    As soon as a saw the redesign, I posted on C&D’s forum. Many other people chimed in to say that I wasn’t just an old crank overly used to the old style, that the new design was that bad. And they arrogantly responded that they didn’t care what we thought about it, they were keeping it.

    Even the redesign isn’t as bad as the increasing emphasis on special advertising sections (with the C&D logo on them), the manufacturer-sponsored video road tests, and so forth. The publisher seems to put the most effort into developing new ways to sell out.

  • avatar

    I became a car nut at a very young age when I picked up a Car & Driver in the waiting room of the hospital where my dad was a patient. Nobody else in my family was interested in cars. But at age 10, I was hooked. I became a subscriber to C&D and R&T … I had to “buy a check” from my mom by giving her cash in return for a check to mail in.

    But, I don’t bother with them anymore. The interesting stories, the great writers … they are gone.

    RIP C&D/R&T/MT.

  • avatar

    My 35 year old CD subscription will lapse in a couple months. I will not miss it.

    They went from the penthouse to the shithouse in about a year. I’ve been waiting for the end of my subscription for a while.

  • avatar

    Hey Michael: any chance you want to dust off the C&D that had a review of the Yugo? I think BY may have written it. Regardless, it was the funniest car review I’ve ever read, at least in my head. It would be interesting to have another read and see if it holds up.

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