By on March 23, 2009

Loads of flames this weekend. The police stop video had members of the Best and Brightest morphing into the Mean and Nastiest. Please remember that TTAC’s posting policy is clear: no flaming the website, its authors or fellow commenters. Feel free to rip apart an opinion, but do not diss the site, the scribes or the folks. We also don’t allow meta-discussions about our editorial stance or style underneath an unrelated post. For example, I exorcised this broadside from thoots’ comment re: my Toyota Venza review:

As some have said, this is no ‘review,’ this is an ‘editorial.’ And it’s the kind of thing that makes me go elsewhere, rather than *cough* actually consider paying for somebody’s personal diatribe against car-like crossover styling or whatever it is that he or she happens to hate. Geez, just say that you prefer school-bus-style visibility, and get on with your life, could you? Crimony.

After a few emails with thoots—the proper place for site criticism—I’ve agreed to open the subject up for debate and turn off the anti-flaming directive. So, what’s wrong with TTAC’s reviews? What should we do to improve them?

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82 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: What Constitutes a “Proper” Car Review?...”

  • avatar

    I’ve only read a few of the reviews on TTAC (they don’t deal with the UK) but what would be good with be a small compare and contrast against vehicles in the car’s class (i.e Toyota Prius compared against the Ford Fusion hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu).

    That would help people get a better picture of the car being reviewed.

  • avatar

    I don’t think the reviews need major improvement. I think it is more of a matter of knowing where the author’s point of reference is. For example, does the Venza just suck or does it get its suckitude from the fact that it’s bad for Toyota branding. I also think people get hung up on the number of stars a vehicle receives.

  • avatar

    Works for me – the word ‘niche’ springs to mind. There are places to go for stats, places to go for advertisement friendly prose, places to go for fanboyism, and places to go for snark. I’ll take an extra helping of snark, please, and go heavy on the obscure references.

  • avatar

    I don’t have any problem with your reviews because, as with any auto rag or newspaper, they are your opinion. We all have opinions on the perfect car, or how a car should look, drive, feel, what conveniences they should or shouldn’t have, etc. People shouldn’t base their selection of a car based on your words, or anyone else’s. There are a lot of cars out there to choose from, some make it, some don’t. Obviously some please more people than others, or at least perform the role that more people want (Camry, F-150, Corolla all come to mind), and some are low volume niche vehicles for the few that want them and are willing or able to compromise in some areas (Corvette, Wrangler). This website is formulated by opinions, both from the writers and the forum members. For someone to roast your opinion and to tell you that you’re a moron to have it is shortsighted on their part. The press has absolutely roasted the vehicle I drive, for example, and I love it anyway. An opinion is just an opinion and I will be entertained by yours, but still formulate my own when I purchase my next vehicle. Please continue being blunt, I much prefer it to the pandering done by other media outlets.

  • avatar

    Yeah for the most part, the reviews are ok – but sometimes I get the feeling that TTAC is going out of its way to find something negative to keep their edge. Like dinging the 750i because it’s not a hybrid. Why not just review the car as it is – if you prefer hybrids (or wagons, or RWD, or domestics etc.) that is fine, but it doesn’t mean that everything that isn’t a hybrid should be taken down a star. I don’t get that.

    I love the Chrysler reviews though. Please don’t change a thing about them – pure entertainment.

  • avatar

    i don’t think there is anything wrong with your reviews. there are no standards for professional car reviewers (i’m aware of) so i just find one whose opinions i respect and take it from there. i don’t always agree. i thought your review of the venza was too harsh and i thought clarkson’s love affair with the alfa mito too generous, but that is ok. readers should be able to comment on your reviews though and i certainly didn’t find thoots’ comment offensive in anyway.

  • avatar

    I believe, as long as you evaluate the car in question, it counts as a review. Print magazines include tons of PR fluff in their “reviews,” so why is your review not a review simply because you included opinions?

    If he wants an opinionless review, may I suggest or

  • avatar

    My main beef with TTAC reviews is the recycling of manufacturer supplied perfectly posed, lit, and art directed so far beyond reality as to be useless photographs.

    Being a “car guy” I also like the reviews of far-from-new cars. Sometimes it is nice to see how far we’ve progressed, or fallen, as the case may be.


  • avatar

    As I’ve said before, reviews and editorials are almost the same – Both are expressions of the opinion of the author, which you may or may not agree with.

    To remove all opinion from the reviews (as thoots and many others have advocated) would turn the reviews into little more than a regurgitation of specifications and figures.

    That said, I do think the star ratings are meaningless and worthless.

  • avatar

    I read the reviews mainly for their entertainment value. Much like Top Gear reviews: 90% entertainment, 9% review, 1% fact.

    When I first came across TTAC, I assumed that “The Truth About Cars” was tongue-in-cheek. I mean come on, car reviews – particularly the gonzo-esque ones at TTAC – are almost entirely subjective.

    If you could change one thing (which you can), I would tone down the inside-baseball stuff and the extended smart word-plays. They’re a difficult thing to get right, and often make the text so dense that I can hardly following what is being said.

    “Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.” Winston Churchill.



  • avatar

    Cars should be reviewed from the point of view of what the car is supposed to be not what the reviewer wants the car to be. It is ridiculous for enthusiasts to complain about the handling and horse power of a commuter/grocery getter.

    It reminds me of bad movie reviewers who cannot bring themselves down to the level of the prols and admit that they enjoyed anything that would not be shown on Masterpiece Theater.

    Not every freakin’ car is supposed to be a sports car.

  • avatar

    I think the problem with some of the reviews are the point of reference of the author. Speaking of the Venza review, the review seemed more of a critique on Toyota’s line-up and on cross-over vehicles, not some much the vehicle itself.

    I think thoots was right. This was just as much an editorial as car review, if not more.

  • avatar

    Other than being in agreement with thoots, I think the problem with TTAC’s reviews is that you really don’t have an angle.

    Car and Driver, Motortrend, and Road & Track (and their websites) are aimed at car enthusiasts who value 0-60 times and lateral g’s. Robb Report is aimed at the nouveau riche who want maximum prestige. looks at how easy it is for moms to attach a kid seat and how easy it is to clean kiddie’s spilled ice cream. looks at whether the seat heaters work and whether the stock tires suck in winter. Consumer Reports evaluations appliance reliability and comfort over performance.

    Mind you, you’re not the only ones with an identity crisis., well, who knows what they stand for either. But they have pretty pictures, so I can forgive them.

    Here’s my suggestion: this site is about truth, right? How about car reviews that address the perception gap between what the vehicle is, and either what the public or the marketers think it is?

    Some cars try too hard being a sport sedan when they’re not; some cars are worse in quality and durability than they’re perceived as in their marketing and price points; some are better than the public will admit; some do exactly what their target market wants them to do, whether car enthusiasts like them or not.

    That could be your angle. After all, we’ve all seen what happens to weak brands that try to be all things to all people.

  • avatar

    I would like to see the cars reviewed without taking the manufacturer into consideration. Example would be: “the new Chevy Malibu is a great car but it’s made by Chevy who also made the horrible Vega and forgettable cars like the Celebrity/Lumina and previous generation Malibu and who needed our taxpayer dollars to get to where they are today and will probably not be in business next year” Drive the car, note that it’s made by XYZ company and compare it to it’s competitors. The past is the past. Lets get over it. All car companies, even Toyota, made plenty of mistakes before and still are. Thats the point of a current review, to see where they are now and how they compare with other like competitors.

  • avatar

    Snark is good. I like snark! What I have a problem with is the incredible bias directed against large SUV’s. Guess what folks: they don’t make cars with headroom any more. Full-size SUV’s and trucks are all us really tall folks have to choose from and they’re too damned short as it is. Please keep that in mind.

    How many on this site have lauded the “full-size” Panther platform? Just try and be over 6’2″ and sitting upright in that car. I remember one nitwit suggesting a Prius as a good substitute for a Tahoe! You might not like a Hummer but for a 6’7″ guy it is one more “brand” to choose from in a wasteland full of clown cars designed for midgets.

  • avatar

    We need more Lieberman- please find a way to pay the man. I loved his reviews.
    As for the other reviews they just don’t come frequently enough to be considered a main component of the site.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    Cars should be reviewed from the point of view of what the car is supposed to be not what the reviewer wants the car to be. It is ridiculous for enthusiasts to complain about the handling and horse power of a commuter/grocery getter.

    I wholeheartedly disagree. If you’re a father who longs for a good-handling family hauler, wouldn’t you want to know which minivan/wagon/CUV is the boy-racer wannabe in disguise? (Cough, cough, Mazda5 with row-your-own tranny.)

    If that’s not what you want, I hear Mother Proof is pretty boring.

  • avatar

    MattVA, thoots-

    I disagree. Is the reviewer really supposed to put on blinders and ignore the rest of the marketplace, and judge a car purely on its own merits? That would be worse than useless. It would be boring.

    It’s not the job of the reviewer to judge the median consumer reaction, and then parrot it back for the reader. I want to know what they actually think, and in that respect, TTAC reviews are very good.

  • avatar

    Actually, I like TTAC’s reviews just as they are.

    They’re unvarnished, and they’re unwashed. That’s just fine. I subscribe to Consumer Reports for the statistics, and I get Automobile and Car and Driver for the ‘fair’ comparisons. I get AutoWeek because- why do I get AutoWeek?

    Back to TTAC and car reviews – I like the fact that they’re viewed purely from the perspective of the guy who is doing the review. When I buy a car, I don’t really give a damn what the assistant school principal in Iowa wants. Keep telling me what you think.

    I also like the reviews of older cars. They’re good for perspective and good entertainment.

    Remember – it you try too hard to be what everyone wants, you’ll end up being nothing.

  • avatar

    Lines like:

    “Second, valves open in the mufflers changing the sound from Howard Dean’s scream to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman showing Joker his war face. Lastly, the shocks get firmer and the ride goes from mercilessly painful to f-you. I absolutely love it. Forget violence, you are now driving war.”

    Speaks more to me about a car than any amount of 0-60 times, etc.

    and I have to agree with chuck on the photos

  • avatar

    I am fine with the review format for TTAC. In fact I really look forward to the car reviews, both late model and fallen heroes. I am entertained and somewhat informed, agreement or not is irrelevant, we can all formulate our own valid opinions if we are curious enough to pursue the matter. For particularly contentious machines the 2nd take review may serve as due diligence for a given vehicles meddle.

  • avatar

    I enjoy your reviews as entertainment, although if I were buying a car I would certainly take as many other factors as possible into account. That said, I bought my Cayman based largely on the glowing, nay, reverential review on this site. However, I do note the following about your reviews:

    – Sometimes a little too much jargon
    – Some reviews appear to betray a pre-existing bias for or against the vehicle
    – Some reviews don’t seem to always weigh the merits of a car against others of its class. The Porsche is an infinitely better car than my xA, but the each fill their niche quite well.

    I did think the Venza review was pretty harsh, but the overall point was good; i.e., what’s the point of the Venza at all?

    I will credit one of your reviews with the best line ever “… a better power to weight ratio than Napoleon.” Unfortunately I forgot the author. Gems like that will keep me coming back.

    Note that these are just my gut impressions, I have no data. Remember, though, perception is reality.

  • avatar

    I like the reviews. However, if perceived brand bias is a problem, at the top of the rating summary, have the first category be “Author’s Bias against the Brand” or somesuch. The author can self-grade.

    Disagree with above. Less Leiberman if possible.

  • avatar

    Don’t change a thing. This site can’t be all things to all people. Its strength is its unique point-of-view.

    The critical reviews here compliment but do not replace research available elsewhere (CR and true-delta for reliability info, manufacturers’ website and main stream press for product features, Top Gear for time-wasting entertainment, etc.)

    I doubt that many do, but you’d be a fool to limit your research of a vehicle to one website!

  • avatar

    Change NOTHING. The anti-flaming rule is why i read these comments. Other sites are so full of meaningless vitreol (sp?), i do not pay any attention to them. I like these comments cause thy are thoughtful.

    As for the reviews, i like them enough to keep reading. Many times reviews in other publications are so gratuitous, they are obviously paid for. Here, they seem more real.

    so CHANGE NOTHING. Don’t let a small group of bullies cause you to change an editorial policy that makes this site unique. If people want to spout nonsense and personal attacks, there are lots of unmonitored places they can go to. Craigs list “rants and raves” pops to mind. Geeze, have you ever read that?

    If all but one comment has no flaming in it, delete all the others, i will be happy with one comment. You will then attract the “best and brightest”, not the “worst and he stupidest”.

    Let it be the way it is. I’m countin on you.

  • avatar

    This is the first general interest automotive site that’s actually really grabbed my interest and kept me reading multiple times a day. No other site’s succeeded in keeping at least this seemingly-always-in-a-niche-market-buyer/seller coming back. For what my presence is worth, that’s something. Otherwise, it’s strictly very specialist sites for me.

    The reviews have a lot to do with that. I really dig them. I wouldn’t change a thing really. The very fact that so much of the criticism so far seems all over the map–i.e., no one single complaint really dominating–tells me you’re doing a good job. Keep up the jargon, keep up the contextual thinking, keep up the subjectivity and opinion, keep up pretty much what you’re doing. Just try to do more. That would be cool.

    I do agree with Chuckgoolsbee: more of your own photos please. Are the logistics/legalities of that really that hard? Hell, if you need a photographer for your LA-based reviews at least, if my schedule allows, I volunteer! (I have a good camera and know how to use it). Surely others in other cities can do the same. Harness the B&B!

    The stars ratings are fun! Keep them! If anyone is actually getting hung up on that, I suggest they rethink their critical thinking skills. In fact, you should apply them more often, even to the most exotic, weird cars you review.

  • avatar

    They are opinions; everybody has one.

    I agree with many of your opinions; on the Venza, I did not.

    Keep up the great work!

  • avatar

    Sometimes Sedans are reviewed like sports cars. Most people looking for a 4dr sedan are not corner carvers, and those that are spend a lot more money on a 3 series or 5 series BMW. Holding a 20-25K car to sports car standards of acceleration, handling and braking is a bit much it seems. The Hyundai Sonata review is an example of this. I’ve met quite a few owners that are pleased as punch with the car’s performance and don’t see it lacking enough to warrant criticism.

    Old car reviews are fun, how about a poll or two to pick the car, generally, that will be reviewed next? OR have readers submit their own classic rides for a review?

  • avatar

    Replace the artificial with genuine content in the reviews.

  • avatar

    If I want to read nice, polite, always-positive-reviews-that-love-BMW-and-anything-with-a-big-engine-in-it reviews, I head over to Inside Line or the others. That’s not what TTAC is. Reviews are subjective, yes, but that’s EXACTLY what I love here. I might even disagree with some of them, because they are opinions, but you know what? I think it’s great to have somebody’s (who happens to have driven lots of cars and know about them) opinion.
    Keep the reviews the way they are.

    But I still struggle to access the star-ratings.
    And if anything, that’s the one part I kinda dislike, as it’s often difficult to reconcile the text and opinions therein with the notation. That said, I understand that they do broaden the appeal of the review.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Comments like “when it comes to winter driving, the Venza is the worst all-wheel-drive vehicle I have ever tested” are definitely inappropriately harsh and have no place in a professional review. I definitely think the Wall Street Journal should retract their review of the Venza as soon as possible.

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    No disrespect to any of the reviews posted on this site, but to me reviews are a dime-a-dozen. I can find them anywhere. The presence, absence, or quality of reviews on this site doesn’t influence whether I visit this site.

    I come to this site for the editorials and the comments. Even when I disagree with them I find them to be insightful and well above the quality found elsewhere on the web.

    And even though it is sometimes controversial I like the attempt at a no-flame policy. Most discussion oriented websites quickly devolve into childish name calling, but this site seems to stay above that.

  • avatar

    I don’t bother reading reviews of American brand vehicles or economy cars because I know it’ll be nothing but hard plastic and poor fit etc.

  • avatar

    I like that I can tell what the reviewer doesn’t like. There’s no “Lake Wobegon Effect” here.
    Cars that are below average in some respect and these are clearly, sometimes brutally, called out.

    If there is a flaw in the reviews, it’s the seeming need to find –something– to beat up on, sometimes in greater proportion than the original failing.

    I can live with that, to avoid the inoffensive pablum that other sites shovel.

  • avatar

    On some reviews here, there seems to be too much effort into making the review clever. It ends up reading like a Family Guy episode; little content and lots of gags. Which would be fine if the writer didn’t hide his thoughts on the car too deeply into the cliche’s. It ends up with a “how did this get 2 stars” or “how is it a 5 star vehicle” all over the comments.

    A summary paragraph does wonders! It’s not all reviews or reviewers here but seems to be happening more-so lately.

  • avatar

    The Kia Soul review was awesome. It was relevant, fair, and had a comparison that made sense (Honda Fit) to me. In fact, I test drove one and wound up buying it. The reviews here are usually attacks on the vehicle, rather than what I picture as a fair assessment. As a result I typically don’t read reviews here anymore as they seem to be over compensating (“Look at me badger this vehicle! No car maker can buy my opinion!”). There are a few gems though, like the Genesis Coupe was pretty good, the Kia Soul, and the comparison between the Subaru Impreza and Toyota Matrix. So, more of that would be nice.

    There will be lousy cars that come across your door, but reviews shouldn’t seem so excited about attacking them.

  • avatar

    If the site was called “Rants about Cars,” I’d say the reviews were fine. Many authors (not all) seem to have an axe to grind before they even start writing, and it usually doesn’t have much to do with the merits of the car. Occasionally it defeats the merits entirely, Clarkson-style.

    Things I care about:

    Detailed comparisons of seat comfort, control placement, and sightlines. Can you park it? Does it feel claustrophobic? Are the bolsters designed for narrow Japanese bottoms, as in the RX-8? If it’s coupe, can you get to the backseat with a modicum of dignity? Do tall people brush the headliner? Are the gauges legible?

    Graphs of torque and power curves, overlaid with comparable vehicles if possible. Control lag, either in the throttle or transmission.

    NVH, in terms of engine smoothness, vibration in the controls, wind noise at highway speeds, tire thrum, and so on.

    Ride quality, ideally on an absolute scale across all cars, and not just “acceptable for a car this fast,” or whatever nonsense most rags print. Some reviewers called the sport-package G35 ‘kidney-crushing’; if a luxury sedan is that bad, where does that put a Ferrari? Would you be willing to drive your grandmother somewhere in it?

    Limit behavior. Is it controllable? Does it snap-oversteer? What nasty handling traits emerge of the stability control is turned off?

    Centering tendency. Does the car want to go straight? Cars better in turns tend to be worse on the highway. What’s the compromise in this vehicle? Does it wander all over the place? Is the steering so sensitive that highway driving requires constant corrections? (see: Porsche Cayenne)

    Actual miles per gallon in the course of testings, and a description of just how lead-footed or traffic-prone the driver was.

    Basically, everything I’d find out (or want to found out) on a test-drive. I know what the car looks like and the history of companies that made it. What I want to know are the practical things that might convince or dissuade me from buying one.

    I was hugely impressed with the Camaro SS review on Jalopnik and Jack Baruth’s Mustang series on his site. That’s the quality of writing I love to see on TTAC, when it does appear. Both would be unpublishable here because they’re double or more than the 900-word limit.

  • avatar

    There’s nothing wrong. Could we please move on, now?

  • avatar

    Don’t change anything Bob. “Change” for the sake of “change” is a risky endeavor…. Think Nov 4, 2008.

    Remember, you can please some/most of the people, some/most of the time. But you can never please all of the people all of the time.

    TTAC’s writers and commenters are the best group of informed, witty, pithy, word-smiths/writers I’ve come across on any web site whether I agree with them or not. I come to be entertained as well as informed and it’s hard to get both on most sites.

    TTAC is one of a very few sites that I visit everyday.

  • avatar

    Three comments:

    1. I read all the reviews about cars I would seriously consider buying.
    2. When I’m actually researching a car purchase, I go back and reread the reviews for the cars I want to buy, or ought to give an honest look.
    3. I read the vast majority of the reviews on vehicles I couldn’t care less about.

    I think #3 is the most telling.

    Perfect? No. Entertaining? Yes. Informative? Yes. Worth my time? Yes.

    I think the most likely cause of the lack of detail is the word limit (800 words if memory serves). Would longer article limits help reviewers give us a clearer picture? I suspect yes, but I think we need to hear from the reviewers to know for certain. Only they know what they are taking out or keeping out of their reviews to keep within the word limit.

  • avatar


    Everyone has a camera. I’d rather see cellphone shots at 320×240 than more manufacturer press photos with the reviews. The Infiniti/Audi review was great because of real pictures.

    The 750i was not because it talked about fuel economy. Like, seriously. I can’t wait for a followup on that one.

    Other than that it’s all great!

    Oh and also I’ve noticed that periodically there will be a review with no star ratings page attached, both the XC70 and most recent Compass review did that I think. It’s like not having a date line.

  • avatar

    If you really break it down, a review could cover three main items:

    1. Utilitarian function of the vehicle – does it do what it is supposed to do? In most cases that is schlepping 2 to 7 people and their gear around in comfort. This is very much Consumer Reports territory and is not in the least bit interesting to most casual readers as most vehicles do what they are supposed to do. TTAC does well to stay away.

    2. Subjective – or how the vehicle makes you feel? This covers everything from the look, sound, touch and driving experience of the vehicle in question. This is bound to stir an argument as one persons sporty suspension is an others choppy ride. One loves the aggressive exhaust note while the other complains of too much cabin noise. This is for most cars the heart of the review as is mainly about aligning personal preferences with the product experience. TTAC has gone further than anyone in this endeavor by providing “second opinion” reviews to provide different views of the same product. Well done – keep it up and don’t be shy about third opinions if necessary.

    3. Financial aspect – this covers everything from purchase price, running costs and resale value. Edmunds is a very competitive player in this segment and apart from maybe pointing out some extreme cases of financial pitfalls, I don’t see how TTAC could add much value in this area.

    In short, its about the subjective stuff which TTAC does very well. Keep ’em coming – in particular the second opinion reviews.

  • avatar

    I have no issues with TTAC reviews. It’s not gospel…it’s a review.

    Carry on, soldier.

  • avatar

    When parts of your reviews are very contrary to what other reviews says – which happens often – you guys need to dedicate more space to explaining why. Your phrases are exceedingly verbose; it’s nice writing but that’s the wrong approach when your word limit is so low. I think that’s the problem, that your review style doesn’t fit the 800-word format. You spend a lot of time panning the cars’ styling but most of us don’t care about that – we need you to tell us what we DON’T know about a car. If you had all the space in the world then it wouldn’t be a problem, but every sentence about how a car looks is one less sentence with real information.

    If you keep the 800-word limit (which I like), please focus more on optimizing the information-per-word ratio over writing with flair.

  • avatar

    The recent addition of multiple TTAC reviewers driving the same vehicle gives us readers different viewpoints of the vehicle, and helps crystallize what the reviewer really expects from a vehicle.

  • avatar

    I can’t say that I find something wrong with the reviews it’s just that their focus is not on the things I wish to hear about cars. Zero to sixty time is only relevant as a comparison to other cars. I don’t drag race, anymore, and that parameter is often over accentuated. I care about how a car is made. How the engine and transmissions transmit power. How the suspension smoothes the ride and supports the car while providing control for handling. Is it Macpherson struts, torsion bars, trailing arms? Do the brakes stop quickly and evenly without fade? I do not care about seat stitching and complementary coloring. I care about the interior’s layout and if the controls are intuitively placed and if they perform their function with little fuss spent on them. I like to drive a car not be a semi-active passenger in the driver’s seat. The radio’s performance is superfluous to a driver. Reviewing a car with any creed of performance and writing that the automatic transmission or the dope slap paddles performed well wastes of my reading time. And I couldn’t care less about the ridiculous truck reviews. I grew up with pickup trucks. My father drove one his entire life. Basic 6 cylinder, work-a-day, no bumpers, vinyl bench seat, sans radio, trucks driven until they died and replaced with the same thing, different year. Your truck reviews seem to focus on the interiors and the bling accessories. The reviews seem to be focused toward the suburban mall crowd who care about the interiors and when the press the gas pedal it goes fast. How it actually works, they have no idea.

  • avatar

    Too much hyperbole sometimes; they come off like a personal attack. If something is lousy, just say so and why and then move on.

  • avatar

    If it wasn’t for the hipshot commentary then your car reviews would be indistinguishable from those available anywhere else on the internet. Don’t change it. They’re only any good if there’s an agreement/disagreement that I can engage in that requires I think for a moment.

    Your Venza review/editorial served its purpose as it gave commenters the motivation to hash out stationwagon vs. SUV, Toyota vs. fun, visibility vs. style, same-company sale cannibalism etc… Limit the review opinions and you take all of the (way more interesting) broader issues out of discussion and you’ll end up with Toyota fanboys agreeing with each other in the comments.

  • avatar

    One of the reasons I visit this site almost every day is for the “truth” aspect of the majority of the posts. It’s nice to hear what somebody actually thinks of the car. So in my opinion no drastic changes are needed.

    However, having said that there’s two smaller changes I’d like to see. First and foremost, you (and every other author on this site) should limit the number of Jeremy Clarkson-esque witticisms in your reviews to a maximum of three. I know that it’s the irreverance that sets this site apart from the rest, but still, you don’t have to throw a smartass comment into EVERY paragraph (eg. the dog vomiting thing in the Venza review. I know it’s not a good car, but was that really necessary?)

    Second, what like.a.kite said. Post pictures of the actual test cars. For example, a big part of the recent stripper American sedan comparison test was about the interiors of the cars and yet the posted pictures were straight off the manufacturers’ web sites and were of the loaded and leathered models.

  • avatar

    Oh yeah, and you need video. You could drive for 10 minutes talking about anything you’d like and informed viewers will still get a good sense as to your driving style and the car’s capabilities. Video cameras with external and internal mounts are actually consumer cheap now, buy a few.

  • avatar

    TTAC has a niche, and it’s a crucial part of the big picture. TTAC is my mother-in-law who hates everything.

    I can find performance-focused reviews, reliability-focused reviews, and mother-focused reviews in plenty of places. But to balance that out, you really need a Nitpicker-focused review. If I’m going to spend $25,000 to take something home (or I’ve been dragged along by the friend who is doing so), you’d better believe I want someone to nitpick the absolute everloving crap out of it.

    I would chime in on the pictures. I guess you guys are going for a more “professional” look with the manufacturer-supplied photos, but to post amateur photographs would play to one of your strengths: the close-knit group aspect.

    rjsasko :
    Guess what folks: they don’t make cars with headroom any more. Full-size SUV’s and trucks are all us really tall folks have to choose from and they’re too damned short as it is.

    As the owner of a Scion xB who had a perfectly-comfortable 6’6″ boyfriend at the time of purchase, let me be the first to tell you that you are simply looking at the wrong cars. :p Unless you’re a professional basketball player, or insist on wearing a stylish stovepipe hat all around town, there are much better solutions to your headroom issue than purchasing an Escalade.

  • avatar

    I would leave the reviews as they are…well, sometimes I wish for more about the ergonomics, seat comfort. These things are vital to enjoying a car and some of your reviews don’t say much about them.

  • avatar

    I think the arbitrary 800 word limit need be changed to a minimum.

  • avatar

    I do enjoy reading the reviews here, mainly because they are subjective and opinionated which gives them a true sense of being believable and something written by a live person.

    What I most want from a review is a sense of the how does the car feel? what sensations does the driver/passenger experience in this car versus other cars? Is it pleasurable or disconcerting to ride in the car being reviewed. These are the thinks I really care about and things I don’t know unless I go a drive the car myself.

    And while the dash may be made of hard plastic doesn’t matter so much, but the leather or cloth on the seats does matter, tell me if the leather smells like leather should or is it odorless like a vinyl chair. Is the leather soft to the touch and comfortable to sit on, or does it feel hard and uncomfortable.
    What is it like to drive the car, do driver inputs result in immediate or delayed response from the drive-train. How does the transmission shift? This is what is of interest to me as a potential buyer.

  • avatar

    Junior Mint:

    As the owner of a Scion xB who had a perfectly-comfortable 6′6″ boyfriend at the time of purchase, let me be the first to tell you that you are simply looking at the wrong cars. :p Unless you’re a professional basketball player, or insist on wearing a stylish stovepipe hat all around town, there are much better solutions to your headroom issue than purchasing an Escalade.

    Would your shorter than I former boyfriend have extra-long legs or an extra-long torso with “normal” inseam? I’ll bet the tallness is in the legs. I can assure you that long torso folk have a rather difficult time finding autos they can sit in without lying down. And that INCLUDES the Scion xB! Knees bend while upper bodies do not. When your boyfriend stands on a phonebook and looks me in the eye and tells me your xB is more comfy than a Tahoe that’ll be the day. And plastering a smile on his face, telling you how great it is, and cramming into an xB is probably why he left you for someone with a non-clown car.


  • avatar

    Many above have nailed it: by definition, a review is opinion and a simple recitation of “facts” doesn’t bring much to the table.

    There seems to be an industry trend of finding everything not to like about anything,and at times TTAC does go a bit overboard on that.
    The other side of that discussion is that it is often refreshing to find a reviewer who really likes the the car for one reason or another.

    The reviews of older cars have been generally well done, and a feather in the cap for the site.

    Changes I’d make in the TTAC reviews include treating the readers more like the grown-ups they are. Some of the ghastly metaphors and forced similes simply strain the article and divert the reader.

    The strike-through text should be reserved for fifth graders. I’d like to see the snark-asm used with great care and restraint, too. Some is good but there’s often way too much in any given piece.

    That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

  • avatar

    To avoid echoing comments above, I’ll start by saying “I tend to skip the reviews when they appear on the front page.” I’ll give you some reasons for why I skip them and let it up to the editors to decide if there is merit in changing anything to gain my eyeballs.

    – When? There are not enough reviews.
    – How? The reviews tend to be chaotic at best. There is no format. There is no way to pick out the information I may be looking for.
    – Why? There is no goal in the reviews. Do you even post them for a reason other than filler on slow days?
    – Who? I often have no grounds to tell what angle the review is told from. Is this review of a minivan being done by a wanna-be day racer? Who is this reviewer and why are his remarks/comments/criticisms valid to my world?
    – What? I’ll just leave that question there, since it is covered by “How?” and “Why?”.

  • avatar

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. Oh, and I would like a bit more cheesecake.

  • avatar

    When I shop for a car, I read reviews from all over the Internet. Like someone else said above, car reviews are a dime a dozen, but they’re not valueless; in fact, their value comes from the different approaches that different authors take in reviewing a vehicle. What is important to one author may not be important to another, and in the process of reading and understanding such widely divergent points of view, I ultimately learn new things about what I want in a vehicle.

    Therefore, it’s obvious that I really like the reviews on this site and, contrary to what some others think, believe that personal opinions add much to their style, feel, entertainment value, and most of all, usefulness. After all, we are car enthusiasts and probably have more opinions regarding a particular car than politicians have regarding ways to boost the U.S. economy. So why should fellow enthusiasts, such as the writers of this site, keep their opinions in check? Above all, the reviews on this site distinguish TTAC from other automotive-related websites. There are plenty of places to find objective reviews, but if some readers have their way and all car reviews are required to become standards of objectivity, the Internet will become an extremely boring, monotonous, and uninspiring place for us car nuts.

    I visit this website at least once a day and I look forward to reading the reviews (and editorials) for the same reasons I enjoy reading Jeremy Clarkson’s reviews–entertainment value with the addition of facts delivered in an often hilariously stylish and verbally elegant manner.

    One thing that would be nice to have is pictures that are taken during the review instead of using stock images supplied by the manufacturers or taken from their websites. Why? Sometimes the authors describe pieces of trim that look cheap, panel gaps that are monstrous and/or ridiculously misaligned, or particular cars that look awkward from certain angles. It would be great to actually see what they are talking about.

    Other than that, the reviews on this site are top notch. Overall, no complaints!

  • avatar

    Please, please stop over-using German phrases. It’s not funny, and it doesn’t do anything to help reviews, except confuse the reader.

    Stop being overly negative. The overall impression I get from most reviews is that they’re trying too hard to be negative. I know you’re trying to tell us the “truth about cars”, but it’s hard to take this site seriously sometimes.

    Get some DECENT pictures, for the love of all things. It doesn’t look professional when you have washed out, cheap looking pictures to go along with the reviews. And please, no press shots.

    “Too much hyperbole sometimes; they come off like a personal attack. If something is lousy, just say so and why and then move on.”
    -I couldn’t agree more.

  • avatar

    “The strike-through text should be reserved for fifth graders. I’d like to see the snark-asm used with great care and restraint, too. Some is good but there’s often way too much in any given piece.”

    Agreed. It isn’t funny, just like the German phrases.

  • avatar

    TTAC reviews–fine and varied. Take those on the Venza: one slam, one mild boost. One commenter provides a link to the Wall Street Journal slam. More links could have provided quick access to other reviews on other sites.

    As a routine matter, provide a roster of links with every review for comparisons to takes of the same model on other sites.

    Where TTAC stands apart is in the quality of the users’ comments.

  • avatar

    Some reviews are boring, but the Venza review definitely was not. That’s great in my opinion.

    In most cases, I don’t care what the writer has to say about how the interior looks, unless there’s something really notable. Just show me (w/ photo) (with apologies to Eliza Doolittle) and let me make my own judgment.

    I wouild like to know about the turning circle.

  • avatar

    They’re waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too short. D:

    Sometimes it seems explaining opinions or descriptions of the interior/exterior/driving in the review are cut short.

    You have great writers. Awesome writers. I’d say the 800 cap isn’t taking full advantage of their skillzzzz. :D

  • avatar

    the star system sucks

    not enough review of how the car drives.

    Too much focus on the interior of the car and other stuff pistonheads don’t give a damn about – the soft touch texture of the dash really might excite housewives and people with heart problems, but I want to know about steering feedback, throttle response and at the limit behavior.

  • avatar

    Longer reviews, reviewer-taken pictures

    With the on-topic stuff out of the way:


    The Tahoe doesn’t have a particularly exceptional amount of headroom, or room in any direction other than sideways, which makes perfect sense given that it’s a body-on-frame vehicle with a high ground clearance, and neither of those things lend themselves well to interior room. Both generations of the xB handily exceed the Tahoe in terms of headroom, and quite a few crossovers and tall wagons will match the Tahoe for space. Unless, of course, you have really big shoulders.

  • avatar

    +1 on waftable torque’s comment

    “How about car reviews that address the perception gap between what the vehicle is, and either what the public or the marketers think it is?”

    Consider the questions – how true is it to design intent?, how true is it to how its sold and marketed?, and how true is it to how the public perceives it?

    You already mostly do this and having an opinion on any of those questions is inescapable.

    rjsasko – the long-torsoed should choose GM. They love sticking the seats directly to the floorpan. Gives’em that sporty feel.

  • avatar

    No review is believable unless said car is compared to a BMW, whereupon it comes up lacking, often severely. Unless we’re counting cupholders, of course.

    But seriously, how about a specs chart at the bottom. I’ve read here in the past that it’s hard to do. I don’t know html code, but really?

    I generally like the car reviews here because they offer a unique perspective that the mainstream mags don’t give. I even like when the writer is biased as long as the points are valid. It makes for passionate writing and good reading.

    Just remember: Specs chart.

  • avatar

    All Purpose TTAC Review (Domestic)

    I’d grown tired of driving either of my twin turbo, AWD, concept, hand tuned Subaru WRX STI/Phaeton/Porsche Boxter when I am not at Lime Rock breaking world records in my hand assembled, tweaked, lovingly restored tuned Subaru WRX STI/Phaeton/Porsche Boxter. That’s when I found myself in possession of one ChevdodgeoFord Midprice Sedanocoupe, straight from the Avis desk in hell. The red metal flaked monstrosity leered at me with it’s too big Pokemon, obviously borrowed from a three year old Accord headlights, put too far to the right and left quarter panels, ahead of the gaping wells for standard 18″ aluminum wheels and Cooper all season radials. Normally I only run my vintage Merc (that’s Mercedes S30 for you new readers) on the finest Korean shoes, but since the UAW has screwed the proverbial world out of hand vulcanized rubber with their VEBA accounts and throaty burble about promised wages and free beer at meetings there’s damn little left to put the right Reeboks on the wheels.

    The A Pillar represents everything wrong with today’s domestic auto, and I know because I once read an article about the X-body cars when I was a kid, it’s too fat, too heavy, too in the way, and only holds up the roof until Ron Gettlefinger tells them to, after that, all bets are off. And, like all domestics, just by looking at the paint I’ve shaved $3000 off its value.

    The windshield stretches back further than Jack Nicholson’s hairline until it reaches around to the cavernous calamity of chaos that is the C-Pillar. Following this Matterhorn of awful down over the curved bustle and round/square/Altezza taillights that went out of style last year, over the stern that appears to have been carved directly from a cursed pirate’s cheekbone sans mustache but featuring fresh gouges either from a sea-crazed parrot out for revenge, or the cutlass blade of a rival. Twin exhaust ports complete the look of insane clown, goading those unhappy and unlucky to be in trail to screw the consequences and stomp down for ramming speed.

    The door handles are not as refined as the ones I read about in Engineering Monthly that are slated to debut on the next Bugatti. But if that is the only design crime, then the SedanOCoupe is perhaps the greatest achievement in wrong wheeled awesomeness ever offered by a dying Detroit.

    Also I should note that ForDodgeChevCo have worked hard to solve their persnickety pandora’s pouch of panel problems and the gaps that in the previous model could, and indeed did, swallow whole mail carriers, are now almost visible but only from space. It’s as if the ChevDodgeFord engineers were all outsourced to Tata Motors and had to give up their slide rules and “com-pu-ters” for some weird Hindu religious holiday celebrating cows.

    The doors open wide enough to accept my carboniferous carriage and provide entry, behind the faux-cool plastichrome glue-on fender vents and Narcissian outside mirrors. I slide into the unblolstered seat that has the drag coefficient of cottage cheese in a Samuel Beckett play and the pleasing aroma of Steve McQueen’s ball sweat on a Hot August Night.

    The dashboard and center console provide a conundrum of curiously queasy questions; i.e. why is the transmission handle made of matter and not, for example, thought waves like in the Phaeton? Why does the radio/nav system only show me a welcome screen when the car warms up. Do the FordChryCadiCo engineers not want me to be welcome for my entire time in the car?

    Pondering these questions has lined up another depreciation hit and now the SedanOCoupe is worth less than my pocket lint. Speaking of which, the headliner that I spend several hours a day caressing my Boxter is much nicer than the one in this ChevFordDodge Co chariot of cheap. I am unsure as to which small, probably ugly, animal this material was shorn from, but clearly it lowers the overall appeal of the inside. The overall interior design owes more to Kurosawa movies than Chagall paintings, but we can’t all have our Forrest Tucker-cum-Frank Lloyd Wright and eat it too. I’d have liked less carbon fiber and chrome and more moose antler and woodgrained contact paper.

    Unlike, say, civilized cars that feature dash surfaces that are both soft to the touch and completely impervious to imperfection, the SedanOCoupe, as it is not shod in hand polished illegal Scrimshaw, gold leaf, Zulu drumskins, and underdash lights. The speedometer font isn’t Arial it’s Helvetica, and the placement of dials doesn’t immediately confound my delicate fingers as I try desperately to make this Devil’s Island Ride as cool and comfy Spring in Suburbia. Once heated and pressed the seats do an adequate job of not forcing a kickback to the Chiropractor’s Guild without making one feel like he’s wrestled two dozen angry laid off factory workers armed with metric wrenches.

    The SedanOCoup’s stock 250 HP 6 cylinder engine produces the same perspecatious, pittance of primary power that the poor pachyderm paces only the poorest Pinewood Derby participants. To call the SedanoCoup slow is to call the passage of geologic epochs the battle of Marathon. Putting this power through the wrong wheels only adds to the cavalcade of crimes. Since every time I leave a stop sign or red light I have to floor the surprisingly supple accelerator, the front end screams wildly into a veritable teutonic tectonic tenterhooked triad of under-steer, torque steer, and terror such that I have to actually hold the wheel to keep from careening off the road in a flaming ball of screaming death. Or, I could, you know, not drive like an asshole.

    Ha! Who am I kidding?

    Gripping the gargantuan garbage grinder that masquerades as a tiller and navigating this battleship of an iceberg out into traffic where, gasp, swoon, it doesn’t explode in a cloud of third hand recycled cheapness and leave my family fatherless and destitute provides a pleasant surprise. Flick on the standard 6 speaker stereo and Abba never sounded more Swedish. Or were they Swiss? I can never remember. I breathe a lot of gas fumes.

    Anyway. Throttle out from the normal highway cruise (123 miles per hour) into the twisties and it’s rock, roll, and vomit as the fully independent suspension heels and yaws like the Red Tailed P47’s of the Tuskeegee Airmen. Am I driving too fast? Maybe. But if I am going to be seen in a SedanOCoupe you bet I’ll hurtle through town like an asshole just to demonstrate my skills. One benefit of careening in the SedanOCoupe is that it clearly demonstrates the only good thought that went into the engineering of the whole package. I am not going out on a limb to even say that this car is suited only to driving to and from work, occasionally family trips to the store, and any other normal usage of vehicular transportation, but who does that, honestly? I want my cars bred for the track AND the mall parking lot! But when I stare lovingly at myself, in my flame retardent pajamas (e-bay $100, no kidding!) and make vroom vroom noises as I climb into my Corvette shaped bed, I can whisper to the night-gods that the SedanOCoupe is so close and yet so far.

    P.S. I have 5 Phaetons.

  • avatar

    Feel free to rip apart an opinion, but do not diss the site, the scribes or the folks. We also don’t allow meta-discussions about our editorial stance or style…


    As some have said, this is no ‘review,’ this is an ‘editorial.’

    The TRUTH About Cars earns its declared virtue by way of remaining free from the influence of manufacturers and the industry in general.

    Beyond that there is nothing sacrosanct about the opinions rendered by the site, scribes, or the folks. They (the reviews) are absolutely opinions, editorials – the Truth – as perceived by the authors.

    Parental authority is nonetheless the inherent right of those who present the opinions, editorials, and the perceived truth – even when the last line of defense of said authority is, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    Its just the way it is. Get over it.

  • avatar

    The sort of thing you are referencing here (about the Venza) is epidemic in all car reviews, the “I don’t like this particular body style, so this car and all other like it suck” stance. You run into that all the time. I couldn’t enjoy Brokeback Mountain, because it was a movie about gay cowboys, and I’m just not into that (no matter how good the cinematography is). Maybe thats the problem with the Venza, no matter how well executed, it is what it is, kind of like a gay cowboy movie on wheels (potential ad tag line for Toyota). My only long standing niggle with TTAC’s reviews is the strange fixation with “high quality materials” and “soft-touch plastics”. Who cares? One review went on and on about the headliner material. Honestly I could own a car for ten years and never look up there.

  • avatar

    What’s going on with the reviews is that you always seem to go against the other magazines on questions that should get the same answer, like how good the ride is, how cheap (or not) the interior is, or how good the steering feel is.

    2009 911 review:

    “Like ye olde Tiptronic, the PDK really likes to upshift. I started out normally from rest at an intersection. Before I reached the other side, PDK had shifted twice. By the time I reached 30 mph, I was in seventh; I felt like I was driving a Trabant with an aromatic leather interior.”

    Something so conspicuous as noticing that the car is in 7th at 30 miles an hour would raise the notice of just about anyone, especially if it’s in completely normal driving. And instead, every other magazine has said it’s perfect, implying that PDK does not do this. Also, in something that apparently was removed from the review, it said the interior contained more plastic than it should at this price range, which had also been a problem in the 996 (because it said “still”). It should be obvious to anybody whether something is plastic or not, and yet nobody else has noticed this in the five years since it was moved into the 996 generation.

    2009 TL review:

    “In reality, the TL’s engine is a sonic affront at anything less than 5000rpm. Whiny. Tinny. Cheap.”

    Again, the engine is the first thing you hear when you drive, and this implies that every other magazine that has tested the car must have deaf drivers, or the engine had some sort of rev limiter that kept the car over 5000 all the time.

    2008 BMW 128i convertible review:

    In fact, the 128i Convertible mit sport is your dentist’s best friend. I’m not saying the 128i is hard-riding, but the 128i is hard riding. You might even say there isn’t a modern car sold with a more punishing suspension.

    About the matching 135i coupe’s ride:

    “Ouch, runflats. Please stop hurting my spine.”

    Meanwhile, at Car and Driver:

    Nevertheless, the Evo was quick enough to shade the BMW 135i, albeit by less than a half-second. There were a couple of logbook comments about the Bimmer’s rubbery shift action and excessive up-and-down motion in the suspension, the trade-off for the 135i’s excellent ride quality.

    How difficult is it to tell whether a car’s ride quality is excellent or the worst currently on the market? All of these things should be obvious to any sort of car reviewer. I’m skeptical about whether this is really “The Truth About Cars”.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    I find the reviews entertaining. That’s why I keep coming back.

  • avatar

    Well, by the time I could get in here tonight, the thing has already scrolled off the front page.

    Other folks have essentially covered my general viewpoint, several times over.

    I’m certainly not saying what some folks have said — the negatives about sticking to strict formats, keeping it all boring and unified and such.

    I’m more concerned about this “snarkasm,” as one poster put it, quite well. While most reviews are OK, and some have been truly excellent, a number of them have turned into what seems to be some kind of contest to see who can squeeze in the most “snarkasms” into their reviews. And, by the very nature of “snarkasm,” these reviews all must be negative towards the vehicle.

    I perceived the Venza review as being about one-half filled with rants about visibility. I recall others that seemed to be almost 100% filled with “snarkasms,” like about the cheap, plastic interior in an econobox vehicle. What good is a “review” like that? It’s like listening to a blowhard who “likes to hear himself talk.”

    Bottom line, I just don’t see much value in raking a vehicle over the coals, time after time after time after time, for “being what it is” — whether that be a cheap econobox or a car-based crossover, or whatever. If it suffers — or excels — as compared to other vehicles in its market segment, then THAT is valuable information I’d like to read.

    And so on. You can actually say quite a lot in 800 words. Or you can waste most of it with “snarkasm.” And I guess the latter bothers me. Please accept my sincere apology for caring about it.

  • avatar

    I like the reviews at TTAC, especially when other contributors chime in with their impressions of the car.

    At first I thought you should bounce the star ratings, as they generate so much debate, but now I think you should KEEP the star ratings, as they generate so much debate.

    I would like actual photos of the cars reviewed.

    I would also like more pricing info.

    CAR & DRIVER (yeah, I know, I know) used to have a kick-ass feature where they compared the reviewed car’s stats to its two most logical competitors. Who ’bout something like that? Maybe links to other cars you reviewed…

  • avatar
    law stud

    I don’t ever get the sense that the reviewer even really drove the car around from the read. Also all I see are publicity pictures as well that echo that thought. actually takes their own pictures of the car and that gets me to read their pieces whereas here I don’t bother with the reviews as much anymore. They are just editorials in the sense they don’t review a car anymore. A review isn’t a formula to be followed each time. Write a reaction not a call to action about a car for once.

    Also, as others have said there is more gear grinding about a car in general then about what matters from something derived from personal experience. Too many of the reviews are quick pieces that are an attempt at reviewing all superficial appearances by judging the book by the cover. I appreciate a review that will tell me, hey the suspension is xyz, and that is better because Toyota/ Chrysler / BMW do it cheaper or better, or shittier or the transmission was outsourced from Tremec because the engine was too strong for their in-house automatic and Tremec makes the best transmission with strong shifts…. etc.

    Too much of the reviews don’t show any experience with cars and what makes them run inside and out. When a car reviewer can tell me, oh, Subaru uses xyz shocks that are not the cheapos coil spring Honda and Toyota use I’ll be impressed as I was when reading Motortrend’s car of the year review which is why I’ve paid for a subscription to their magazine before.

    You guys could do well to check out the new Honda Insight to Toyota Prius and actually make comparisons to which is better overall for whatever demographic the reader fits into.

    Also I don’t get the old car reviews. I just skip them. Car reviews are about car pornography, so give some pictures that aren’t press pictures god damn it. The only reason I even check out car and driver at the drug store is because they show the car naked from the metal skin by showing a diagram of the engine and axle, and such with measurements, it’s god damn beautiful. Get with the car porno business already.

  • avatar

    TTAC is not about finite details and 0-60 times. So keep your reviews as they are: Entertaining! Don’t change too much please.


    – You have WAY too much hyperbole per article.

    – Don’t ever use strike-through text (as that is for children in kindergarten with crayons and paper – you are using a computer here after all).

    – Stop the German/French phrases (as someone else suggested)

    – Make sure if you mention something in the text (e.g. a weird button placement, or strange detail) that there is actually a picture of this in the article. (This goes hand in hand with real photos by the reviewer. I appreciate these reviews are sometimes done with dealer demonstrators and a salesman in the passenger seat, but take some pictures after you are back at the lot).

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff


    If you’re wanting to display editing revisions with with markup, “ins” and “del” are just the ticket. Like the name implies, “ins” highlights what’s been added to the document with an underline, and “del” shows what’s been taken out with a strikethrough.

    1. John likes LOVES his new iPod.


    There are valid reasons for using strikeouts. As a supported HTML tag, it’s not just for kindergartners.

  • avatar

    Bump the word limit up, sometimes I feel like the author wanted to say more, but chopped some random stuff off because of the limit. Those things eventually come out in the comment section, but they’re usually good enough points to leave in the review.

    I like the humor, it’s better then not having it and makes me feel like it’s your opinion, which is the point of the review in the first place.

    That being said, maybe expand the rating system to “out of 10” instead of 5 stars.

  • avatar

    What I want from a car review is – how well does this car do its job? No more, no less. How well did the car company make their SUV, their midsize sedan, their truck, their whatever. And power numbers are used too much to define cars that shouldn’t have power numbers be their defining characteristic. And, honestly, I don’t care if you don’t like the front fascia or if you think the redesign makes the car look like crap – I’ll decide if I like the way a car looks and you (or someone) writing that you don’t like the way it looks does nothing for me or for the review.

    And it seems that acceleration is either “adequate” or “great” with the connotation being that can’t accelerate to 60 in less than 8 or 9 seconds is automatically underpowered and therefore is not as good as other cars in the segment that have overly ridiculous power numbers.

    These comments are not necessarily pointed at TTAC but just at car reviews in general. One comment I WOULD point at TTAC is the lack of pictures. I know that TTAC doesn’t have the money of most bigger reviewers but pictures are really important.

  • avatar

    Others have sufficiently captured the problem of too much cheeky, snarky, witty, what have ya words, particularly within the confines of the 800 word limit. Sometimes they make funny. Sometimes they grate. Tough act to keep in the air as a constant signature of style without coming across like – well, you know what. And that applies at least as much to us in the comment section.

    People have mentioned the Venza review as a recent example of one that just was out-of-touch or over-the-top. I agree. I liked reading it, but I doubt that I would come away thinking it is a one-star vehicle – and I really don’t like Toyota. It read as an editorial about why Toyota shouldn’t be producing this vehicle more than it did an actual car review. One star? I mean, come on, that shoots your whole star rating system to hell. You lose a lot of credibility, ironically enough, by that kind of inconsistency. I looked at the individual stars and could not see where a single star appeared multiple times that would have slapped an overall one star on it. Maybe a mention of it, but let’s talk more about the car. Speaking of more… here’s what I’d like to see in the reviews.

    * More text. The 800-word limit is exactly that – a limit to what your site could offer. It limits the reader in their understanding of the detail about the car because the writer never had the chance to expound on the details. Some like it, but I say that the 800-word limit reads like more of an executive summary than a detailed review.

    * Video. Where is it? Why isn’t it there? Cost? Surely there could be some way to host it either on TTAC or externally. I’m sure some of the readers might even be able to help out there. It’s like the site is on v1.0 of everything. No video, strict word limits on reviews, no good quality photos, no real in-depth coverage of actual vehicles and the time you spend in them. I have to go to one site for specs, another for photos, another for vehicle features/model comparisons, another for reliability, another for the owner forums, etc. No, we don’t want you to be Edmunds, but they do have all of that plus their blogs where they do indeed highlight real vehicle issues. The CTS comes to mind as a recent one I looked at. That was truth. We need that level of detail here.

    * Reviews and posts fall off the front page with no relationship to popularity. We can’t search on anything of note, particularly the past posts of reviewers and the B&B.

    * I want real detail from the reviews that can only be had with the media mentioned above, along with having actual owners that have spent more time in them to weigh in. You guys are at an obvious disadvantage in that regard because you aren’t furnished most cars like most of the rags. We understand that, but you should be creative. How about getting us involved as a reviewer community? You could even have a weekly or monthly car model that you highlight and have anyone interested go to the dealer and drive the same vehicle over the weekend and then comment on it, along with current owners of that vehicle that have spent months in it as their own.

    The real value from TTAC is obvious – you’re not paid to write glossies, nor are you beholden to a specific PC corporate nanny. You also have a great readership/commenter group. A lot of talent needs a more capable, expanded website to showcase that truth about cars in depth so that the public can turn here when they want to know about how that CTS is doing in the real world, one away from the ringers provided to the press.

  • avatar

    Please please PLEASE keep offending people and annoying readers!! Keep on making us form a feeling after reading a review. If we agree, let us smile smugly and nod. If we don’t, let us get angry and self-righteous. Just don’t make it BORING! It’s a review, not a report. I want one person’s personal experience with a car, their perspective, their feelings, their emotionally driven words. It’s my favorite part of this site.

    Sure, maybe if I’m shopping for a car, a review here may not give me the most useful information. So what?! There are plenty of sites out there for that, like among others. I’m going to read a bunch of them anyway. But my experience the past few weeks car shopping has shown me that most reviews out there are terribly BORING after the third or fourth article. Just word filler in between the same old statistics, coupled with the same old statements like “Model xx has a sportier suspension than model yy, so it was designed to handle well on the curves. Well, as you might expect, it does not disappoint!” No shit!? The sport model handles well? Didn’t the brand’s marketing department ALREADY tell me that? Tell me what you FEEL about it. Tell me what I myself might feel about it.

    Ultimately, car’s are different for different people, and everyone’s experience with any given car is a very personal thing. How do you make a good review fair and balanced? You don’t. You share a taste of the experience that the car gave you. Maybe it would draw the same reactions from me. Maybe it wouldn’t. But the fact that it did draw those reactions out of one person validates that review for me.

    Listen, I’m sorry one writer was biased one direction, and you can’t handle it because you’re biased the other direction, and yet it is his/her opinions that get to be plastered all over the front page. Big deal. Maybe the “improvement” needed is more use of the “Take Two” reviews, from someone with a different perspective. That way, we can read Take One, get offended, then read Take Two, and nod in agreement, thinking “yeah, this guy knows what he’s talking about, that other guy’s an idiot!” Self worth has been spared!! Sheesh..

    (Might hinder discussion in the comments sections though, leaving only shouts of “hear, hear!” on both sides. Anyway, sorry for ranting, it’s late, and the reviews are definitely my favorite of this site’s offerings, I’d hate to see them neutered because some outspoken people got all bitchy)

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