By on June 17, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight: There are very few inanimate objects which inspire my personal distaste, contempt, and revulsion as much as the Toyota Prius does. It’s a sad, sick, suppository-shaped little plastic box which exists for the sole purpose of letting spoiled, faux-progressive Americans feel virtuous as they continue to consume the lion’s share of the world’s finite resources. I will go to my grave believing that the Japanese Government subsidized its development for the purposes of economic warfare on the United States, and that the Prius lost money for years in a way that no automotive nameplate that does not begin with “Aston” would consider even vaguely defensible. Sometimes, the Prius even kills its own assembly-line workers. In my perfect world, it would extend the same service to its smug, open-mouthed, emo-glasses-wearing, lane-blocking owners.

I could go on, but you get the point: I hate the car. And yet, when I read Jay Shoemaker’s infamous single-star review of the latest model, I cannot help but think that in his place, I would have given the blandmobile from Toyota City four stars . . . or, whisper it, five.

TTAC stands virtually alone among major automotive news sources in providing its reviewers carte blanche to review a vehicle as they see fit. The flip side to this is that the reviewer is understood to speak for himself, not for the site as a whole. The road tests in magazines like Car and Driver are intended to represent the opinion of that magazine, not that of Tony Swan or Patrick Bedard in particular, so the opinions of the individual writer are smothered beneath a leveling flow of groupthink. The reader is therefore reassured that Car and Driver conducts all its reviews using approximately the same standard, and that one may read individual reviews of competing products and obtain a useful comparison by doing so.

Bland consistency is the secret behind Ray Kroc’s billions and billions served, but it holds no sway on this website. Our reviewers judge cars by widely different standards. The new Mustang? I loved it, but Farago thinks it’s lousy! Our methodologies differ widely. Sajeev Mehta examines assembly quality, Robert considers market positioning, I recently took a drum-rear-braked Ford Focus to a public trackday and passed an Exige by cutting an entire corner on the track and showering the Hethel hearse with dirt and rocks. We’re all different and we’re all permitted to have our say.

With this in mind, I’d like to receive some guidance from TTAC readers as to how I rate cars, and if the other reviewers choose to take heed as well, that is up to them. From my reading of the comments surrounding Jay’s test, I have concluded that there are three major suggested rating methodologies:

1.  Rate the car in accordance with how well it performs its particular intended mission. We rate the Prius on its efficiency, the Veyron on top speed, and the Sonata on how well it matches up to the Accord.

2.  Take the core qualities of a car for granted and rate it on its ability to perform other tasks. We assume the Prius is efficient, so we judge it based on excitement or aesthetics. We know a Veyron is quick, so we rate it based on its usability.

3.  Consider how the vehicle stands within the overall automotive marketplace and rate it accordingly, adjusting for price or not as you see fit.

Let me take those in reverse order. I’m not a fan of “overall rating”. Consider the Honda Civic. Compared to a BMW 335i, the Civic is a piece of garbage. Compared to an Elantra . . . not so much. Which comparison is more important? Nor do I like the idea of rigorously price-adjusting ratings, because it leads to comparison tests where the Infiniti G37 “beats” the aforementioned 335i despite being wholeheartedly inferior.

The second idea, advanced by several TTACers in the Prius-test comments, also leaves me a bit nervous. I don’t like the idea of rating a Lotus Elise on storage capacity. You could argue that most of the major magazines use #2 as their guide, which leads to universal praise for well-rounded cars like the Honda Accord. The Accord’s a great car, but for some people the Altima is better and for others the Camry would satisfy more, precisely because those two vehicles stray from the “all-rounder” idea to emphasize individual features.

Which leaves us with #1. That’s how I like to rate a car. The Mustang GT500 is a five-star car because it’s the best ponycar you can get, the Prius is probably a five-star car because no other hybrid delivers the unique features and experience to the same extent, and the BMW Z4 is not a five-star car because it falls short to the Boxster in all the ways that really matter.

What do you, the TTACer, think? I’ll read all the comments, attempt to figure out what the majority opinion is, and deliver my next review (the 2010 Ford Fusion SE Duratec six-speed) to your specifications.


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93 Comments on “Editorial: Star Search...”


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Get rid of the stars, period. It just doesn’t work, given that there aren’t any consistent parameters. Even if the feedback from this editorial gives you the parameters you’re looking for, who is to say that any other reviewers will adopt them? As long as TTAC works like it does – giving their reviewers the long leash, the star system intrinsically makes no sense.

    The recent Prius review strongly reinforced my position. I agree with you that it should have been rated (at least partially) on these two things: Is the new Prius better than the old one (every other review says yes, including the handling); and is it an effective high-efficiency car? Let me clarify:I have no problem with the Prius review as it, given its obvious subjective tone. But to marry it with stars makes no sense.

    On the rare occasion I do a review, I omit the stars, period.

  • avatar
    grog

    The only thing I dislike about any of the reviews are when the thinly-disguised political agenda rants creep in. For example from your post:

    …plastic box which exists for the sole purpose of letting spoiled, faux-progressive Americans feel virtuous as they continue to consume the lion’s share of the world’s finite resources…

    That’s about as subjective statement with nothing but anecdotal evidence to support it at best. Furthermore, it has *nothing* to do with what car nuts may or may not like about the car.

    Drop that kind of stuff and keep the reviews the way the are, ie. all over the map. *That* is one of the few things that keep many of us coming back to the site. I often like the reviews of cars you hate more because that typically highlights aspects of the vehicle that others may find appealing. It also makes one thing a bit harder in terms of “defending why I think this is a good car” when somebody rips off a great screed about why (insert hated car of choice here) sucks so bad.

  • avatar
    psu_13

    I don’t like stars. I like reviews that are interesting and indicate that the writer spent some time thinking about how to communicate his experience with the item to the audience while also taking the interests of the audience into account. So purely personal reviews filled with a lot of unjustified invective are also not that effective to me.

    All in all though, I never even look at the stars.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Consider the cars intended mission (period)

  • avatar
    commando1

    I say screw ratings/stars/thumbs/et.al. They appeal to the lowest common denominator, not TBTB.
    BTW, screw how we feel. Just keep writing from the heart.

    PS: Your diatribe of the Prius was dead-on and I give it a “10″ (wink-wink).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Jack,

    Assign it as many or as few stars as you like.

    Shoemaker’s one star tells me he’d rather drive an Aveo. I’ve driven the Prius myself and it’s nowhere near that bad.

    It would be equally crazy for you, I think, to assign it five stars. That suggests you’d be equally happy driving it as you would that 300hp Lotus. I believe this is not the case. Five stars would not be Baruth’s review, which is the review I want to read.

    The Prius will just have to wait for the KixStart review to get a chance at five stars. And, if that ever happens, I’ll be rating it as the transportation-oriented person that I am and I’ll be thinking about the other transportation appliances that I know and {love | loathe}.

    Maybe the right solution here is for the reviewer to review the kinds of cars that the reviewer would really consider. Would ever have a reason to consider an Aveo? No? Don’t review it. Someone who’d consider the likes of a Yaris, a Fit and an Aveo should probably review those cars.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Your upcoming review would IMHO serve to highlight difficulties of choosing a singular methodology for determining a star rating. What should a Fusion be? Another Camcordimabu? What are they?

    Like psu I don’t really pay attention to the stars. I read the review, take note of the specific points and try to draw from the review and the author’s other articles what perspective they take. Then I glance at the stars and either they jive with the article (and author) or they don’t. It is neither here nor there…the writeup is what leaves the impression on me.

    BTW looking forward to the Fusion review. Previous review of 2009 (08?) S-trim left me wondering if the SE would be better, and the Fusions are on my constantly maintained irrespective of buying schedule short list.

  • avatar
    BDB

    If you’re going to have stars at all, can you please include a key so we know exactly what X number of stars means? I.e., whether one star is just poor or godawful and terrible, etc.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    “faux-progressive Americans feel virtuous as they continue to consume the lion’s share of the world’s finite resources”

    I call this the “Prius phenomenon”–conserving in one very conspicuous area but guzzling energy elsewhere. For example, some people at my company drive 5 miles to the train station and take a 10-person van 5 miles from the end of the rail line to work as part of their daily commute, but are strangely horrified that I sometimes drive 2 miles directly to work in a vehicle that makes merely average fuel economy numbers.

    Personal vehicle use is just the start. A few years ago I estimated that $1 of electricity puts about the same amount of carbon into the air as $1 of natural gas or $1 of gasoline. One Prius driver I know has $200/month electricity bills year-round and $200/month natural gas bills during the “winter” months. (“winter” = temperatures range from 35 to 75 degrees) They are emitting carbon dioxide at the equivalent rate of 1800 gallons of gasoline a year, but they managed to cut 100 gallons of actual gasoline use.

  • avatar
    GuernicaBill

    Oh, there are stars at the end of the reviews? I never noticed them before!

    That said, the great thing about this website is that the reviews are well-written, opinionated, and entertaining. What more could you ask for in a car/music/food/movie review? Who cares how many stars the car gets?

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I like the stars – it lets me know what’s coming. Perhaps have a by-line: This car’s mission is __________. I may or may not agree with the review and that’s ok.

    I like if politicizing is done in a humorous way, but not as a social jab (like the comment above). Although the Prius is not for me (I’d like a Fusion hybrid wagon myself), I’m thankful there are thousands of people who like them enough to save a lot of fuel by driving a high mpg car. Their purposes for doing so (and in broadcasting the fact through such a notorious vehicle) I could care less about. They’re saving fuel.

    Thanks for meeting my needs.

  • avatar

    Vehicles should be rated on how well it performs its intended purpose with additional feedback based on personal taste but as an example if your predisposed to dislike small economy cars you shouldn’t review them. Just as someone who hates truck shouldn’t review trucks etc.

  • avatar
    shabster

    Option # 1 is what I’m looking for.

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Why not just have a set of star ratings:

    Fuel economy (1-5)

    Transportation appliance function (1-5)

    Fun to drive (1-5)

    etc?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Your last paragraph makes a lot of sense. Keep the stars, but make them subjective within the car’s context.

    Your first paragraph is why I’ve been losing interest in the online automotive community. I love cars, but the car community seems to be radicalizing and pushing people like me away. You guys can expect to lose the support of politically liberal car guys even though you’ll probably be needing it in the upcoming years.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    I look at the star ratings section for the comments that accompany them. The entire review is reduced to a set of 11 one-liners, and they’re usually pretty entertaining.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I agree with Jack, and find it best to rate cars in their context.

    That said, I assign stars according to competitiveness, desirability and lack of serious flaws.

    The best car in any segment easily gets four stars in my book. Often five, if it’s not boring.

    A sexy car is desirable. A car that has a certain joie de vivre is desirable. If it’d be embarassing to own, it can’t be desirable. Thus, no toff cars and no a**hole cars top my lists.

    Obviously this is all very subjective. Which doesn’t matter, as long as it’s transparent.

    Finally, lack of serious flaws means I’d never give a runflat-tired BMW or a uglybland Geely more than two or three stars.

  • avatar
    shabster

    Grog is correct. Keep politics out of it.

    Although, I agreed with your description of Prius owners, but it probably needlessly upset some readers.

    Oops. I just did it myself.

    Sorry.

  • avatar
    salhany

    4thed or 5thed on the politics. The attacks on ownership groups of certain models add nothing. And I’ve seen them on more than just Prius owners. It’s annoying and childish.

    I fully agree that the car should be judged on both its market segment and what it’s trying to accomplish as a vehicle.

    I’d keep the star system, but with the understanding that it’s the author’s personal opinion on how well the car fulfills its mission, and not TTAC’s as a whole entity. I’d also like more Second Takes on vehicles when possible: if Baruth hates a car and Farago loves it, tell me.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Suitability for the intended mission profile is the most important factor in my view. How well does the model being tested do the job it is being sold to do, particularly in comparison to its direct competitors?

    A level of fit and finish which would be excellent in the $20k sedan category would be abysmal if found in a Maybach.

    But, slandering the owners of a particular make or model adds nothing to the discussion of a car and pushes people away for no good reason. I’m with Carlisimo when he says: “Your first paragraph is why I’ve been losing interest in the online automotive community. I love cars, but the car community seems to be radicalizing and pushing people like me away.”

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I agnostic on the stars but one of my pet peeves would be a “review” of a car that’s more like a roast, i.e. the reviewer starts off with a preconcieved notion of what the vehicle is (and who the intended buyer/driver is) and then uses his “review” to excoriate the car and/or it’s presumed purchaser.

    Examples would be a right-wing sports car guy reviewing a Prius (as in this article) or a left wing sports car guy reviewing a pickup or SUV and using the “review” as an excuse to make baseless and stereotypical judgments about the drivers of said vehicles (Sanctimonius NPR-listening democrats or uptight Limbaugh-listening republicans.)

    Slamming a Prius because it doesn’t accelerate well, or a Trailblazer because it “rides like a truck” makes no more sense than slamming a Boxster because it doesn’t have enough ground clearance to take on even a mild jeep trail, or slamming a BMW M-series because it can’t tow a 5,000lb trailer.

    Those “reviews” may be entertaining to read but they aren’t really “reviews” since they start off with a premise and then every detail is used to reinforce the premise. And no, the occasional damning-with-faint-praise comment (as in “this vehicle doesn’t suck as much as I’d assumed it would) doesn’t change that fact.

    It also provides no value to the potential customer who might be cross-shopping several vehicles in the same category.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I’d favor a system of like/dislike. You could do it with smilies, or thumbs up/thumbs down. What did you like or dislike about the car?

    On the Focus: I like the fact that I could toss it around the corners faster than a Lotus Elise. I dislike the fact that the Focus isn’t sold in the US. And so on…

    On the Prius: I dislike the fact that people buying it buys it because of… and so on. I like it because it actually is a pretty competent vehicle in the usual Toyota fashion, and that it’s the best hybrid sedan out there.

    At the end of the review, the likes/dislikes rows up into an overall impression. Was the car good or not? Did you like it or not? Does it hold up to the competition or not? Smilies, thumbs up, and so on…

  • avatar
    Bancho

    WHere I live (outside Seattle) the Prius is just a car. I’m not sure how Prius owners in other parts of the country are, but here they seem to have picked it because it suits them and the traffic in the area we live in well. I’m not lining up to trade in my vehicles for one, but I’ve ridden in them plenty of times and they are good, sound transportation that meets the needs of a lot of drivers. If more people drove them, there’d be even more oil left for the people who’d rather drive something more interesting.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Keep the stars. Especially on a site where a car reviewed can at the same time be the greatest ever at one thing and the worst ever at another, the stars are often the only way to tell how the reviewer weighed all the opposing qualities.

    And I don’t get your hate for the Prius. It’s one of the most well designed cars in years for lane sharing. Reasonably narrow, properly sized mirrors, not too tall and sufficiently slow witted there is little chance of one suddenly swerving unannounced the way a similarly well proportioned Civic with a fart can is wont to.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Stars??? I seriously didn’t realize the reviewers quantified their reviews with a rating system. I had to look to find them in the previous review, of the Jetta TDI.

    Personally, I don’t read the reviews for the information quotient, I read them for the entertainment quotient. Each reviewer has their own style and biases, which provide for much amusement. (I would love to read a Jack Baruth review of a Toyota Yaris, or a Eric Stepans review of a Hyundai/Kia mini-van!)

    Frankly, I enjoy each review on it’s own merits. Change the basis of the reviews, and they will still be enjoyable due to the madskillz of the authors.

    I read TTAC precisely because it isn’t R&T or C&D or Motortrend. I get the unvarnished truth, from the author’s perspective, which is exactly as it should be.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    If you must keep the stars – frankly I ignore them and just enjoy reading the descriptions of the cars – then I vote for rating the car relative to other cars in its class. This is slightly different than method #1. For the aforementioned Prius, I would rate it compared to other small economy cars (yeah, I know, I know, it’s a midsized hatch, whatever) that people might be cross-shopping it against, in other words against its competition. In this manner, price is not strictly a factor nor is how well it acheives its goals, but they are factors in the overall evaluation. To use the Prius example again, compare the Prius to a Civic, Corolla, Mazda3, etc. The Prius would get the nod in terms of capacity and gas mileage, while the Mazda3 comes out on top in terms of smiles per mile (IMO) and cost and the Civic and Corolla fall somewhere in between in those four categories. In this manner you are not comparing a Ford Mustang GT500 to a Civic, yet you are also not judging it based on what you believe its intended goal is (does the Aveo meet its goal of being a cheap, in all senses of the word, competitor in the compact car market; therefore, it deserves 5 stars?), which could result in some pretty interesting star ratings, at least if I were writing the review.

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    @grog, @shabster – Respectfully, I couldn’t disagree more. First, individual personality is part of what makes TTAC, TTAC, as illustrated in Jack’s C&D example. I’m adult enough to understand that I don’t agree with everyone else’s politics. Besides being impossible, it typically matters very little in a car review. And when it’s obvious, it’s easy to put it into context.

    “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed, if you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” Mark Twain

    I think that most people are viewing the stars incorrectly – as having a perfectly direct correlation to the car being reviewed. This is not Consumer Reports, TrueDelta or TheTruthAboutCamparos. This is a site about great writing, open biases, and submitting to the best audience on the web. The stars are a reflection of the author more so than the vehicle.

    For example, how is the marketing miracle that is the Prius a one-star car? I want to read that review. Who in their right mind would give the live-axled Mustangsaurus five stars? I must read that review. Liebermann and I would be on opposite sides of the tear gas at a polical demonstration, but he’s a damn fine writer. If someone reviews a Taurus and gives it three stars, I’ll fall asleep before I can click the link. It’s a so-so car compared to other so-so cars where the winner has the most cup holders and I could give a shit.

    @Jack Baruth – I want to know your opinion based on whatever you can back up. The review and the star rating are judged in that context – as should be all writing.

    @TTAC – Please keep up the snark, the politics, the great writing. Consider TB&B to be grown-ups and ignore whining liberals! (I kid.)

  • avatar

    Rate the cars compared to their competition.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Oh, and regarding “politics”, slurring owner groups etc., as long as it’s entertaining and kept below some sane fraction of total TTAC output, why not? It goes both ways. I know plenty of Prius owners and such who delight in making comments much more derogatory than the above about self evident anatomic deficiencies of those preferring the kind of big V8′s I suppose Mr. Baruth likes.

    If such a thing exists, rather than stifling the “creativity” of current reviewers, maybe TTAC could look into hiring a reviewer or two more into cars as “socially responsible” transportation than as high powered playthings; if nothing else to lose the reputation of being “right wing.”

  • avatar
    AKM

    Jack, you raise valid points. I’ve said all along: drop the star ratings. They lack purity of form and only serve to confuse. I see their point for the people, often 1st time visitors, who glance at a review, get a bit lost in the jargon and obscure jokes (which I love, by the way), and just want to see if the car is good.
    However, it does not really fit with the site’s mission or “brand positioning”, and should therefore be dropped.

    The only way I could see to make them endure would be to rate a vehicle against the segment’s benchmark, without price adjustment. The prius could be compared to, well, another economy car such as a toyota corolla or honda civic, the G37 against a 335i, a Volvo XC60 against a Mazda CX-7 or possibly a Lexus RX350, and a lamborghini against a ferrari.
    When a car reviewed IS the benchmark, then it could be compared to the previous generation of that car.

    Obviously, that implies that said benchmarks have been tested too, which is not necessarily easy to do.

  • avatar
    topgun

    For starters, I support a contextual review of any car. Begin with asking the manufacturer what the intended mission/purpose of the car is and then proceed to test whether it meets the mission criteria as well as or better than competitors with the same price/mission profile. This is the simplest and most objective way of reviewing. Everything else is merely subjective/personal statements of preference and taste. I may be a petrolhead but I realize that a majority of car buyers aren’t like me. All they want is a reliable, fuel-efficient A to B transportation appliance and I don’t begrudge their preference. Hence, even though I personally dislike the Prius, it does meet the above criteria very well, a mission statement that I’m sure Toyota was also hoping for.

    Oh! and the political rants and thinly veiled attacks on buyers of certain cars aren’t necessary!

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    @M1EK – It exists. Click the link to the right of the stars to get the star breakdown by category. That would be the less subjective area of the review.

  • avatar

    I say it’s important to write from your heart. You can also include one paragraph that looks at the reviewed car within the context of its mission. That way we can have the best of both worlds. Having a car reviewed by two or more different dudes helps, as well. The star rating might be kinda useless ultimately, but it gives us a quick-to-the-point idea on what the reviewer thinks.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Very simple system:

    1) The reviewer has to be a good fit for the model. Shoemaker would never consider a Prius. Frank Williams would not be at home in a Yaris. I would be a bad candidate for a full-sized SUV. Put us in a Maybach, an Audi, and an Insight respectively, and you would have three great reviews.

    2) The comments are TTAC’s self-correcting mechanism. It’s actually pretty interesting for me to read all the feedback because I hear perspectives from a very wide and articulate spectrum. So long as the writer isn’t flamed we should keep it this way.

    3) I like the stars. So long as the reviewer doesn’t have an extreme dislike or preconceived bias, the star system works quite well.

    Politics? I don’t mind. If it gets too silly I just scroll down and read something else.

  • avatar
    grog

    I’d also like more Second Takes on vehicles when possible: if Baruth hates a car and Farago loves it, tell me.

    Particularly if you can do it in the vein of the old SNL “Count/Pointercount” skit ala “Jane, you ignorant slut.” Some good natured chops busting between two car reviewers who have different takes on cars always makes for fine snarky reading.

    That’ll also fill in all the spots where you’ve by now pulled the political stuff. ;)

    Seriously, the ole Siskel/Ebert approach to car reviews would be pretty cool.

  • avatar

    Rate the vehicle for its intended purpose. But that means you have to define what the vehicle’s intended purpose is, which can be tricky. Especially in these days of crossover fever.

    Lose the star scale if it is not a constant measure applied by all reviewers. If each writer has his own idea of what makes a car star-worthy, than the scale is nearly useless.

    I say keep the politics in! Makes for much more entertaining reading. Funnier too. Plus now that the government has become a part of the automobile industry, how do you factor politics out?

    And then there’s this pet peeve of mine about TTAC and most of the auto reviewing press: TTAC and its reviewers seem a little too obsessed with interiors. I’m pretty sure I’ve read reviews where half the article is dedicated to the center console. I do want to know if the interior is made of cheap materials, exhibits poor ergonomics, or has non-functional controls. Beyond that, spare me the aesthetic studies of interior design. This isn’t Architectural Digest. I’d rather get more info on the mechanicals. And more on the reviewer’s driving impressions.

    Otherwise don’t mess with success! You have a winning formula here. Minor tweaks and updates are welcomed, but you don’t need to go to the drawing board and release a brand new model for 2010.

  • avatar
    beken

    Write what you have to say. It’s how you communicate your ideas that keep me coming back. If the language becomes objectionable, I can read something else. But I enjoy the candidness of the reviews. The rating system is somewhat irrelevant other than the author’s recommendation to check out. It is highly subjective.

    If Toyota really wanted to sell more Priuses, (Prei?), they should take it racing. I would like to see how well the Prius does in, say, the GT2 or GT3 category of Le Mans.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I don’t really care about reviews that much. With very few exceptions, they usually bore the crap out of me, so use whatever rating method you think makes sense.

    Jack Baruth (about the Prius):

    It’s a sad, sick, suppository-shaped little plastic box…

    Well, bearing in mind the visual you just gave us all, then you’d better move out of the way quick when my Prius approaches your car from behind and I flash my headlights to pass you. I wish more people would move over instead of hogging the left lane.

    I’m speaking in generalities here, I know Jack is a rabbit off the line…

    Jack Baruth (about Prius drivers):

    …spoiled, faux-progressive Americans…smug, open-mouthed, emo-glasses-wearing, lane-blocking owners.

    I’m not spoiled or “faux-progressive” (whatever that means). Who’s smug; I’m just trying to get to my destination with all body parts still attached. And what are emo-glasses (I don’t know because I only wear reading glasses, and never while I’m driving).

    I don’t block lanes (see above). I do commonly find myself being blocked by big SUVs and minivans, although that perception may simply be my frustration at having my vision of the road blocked. I do think that even busses often go faster than some drivers (of all types of vehicles), and that’s even when the school bus is stopping to load/unload!

    Just goes to show, not everybody fits your perceptions.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Jack, I would like to see the following rating system used:

    German: The best thing ever, ignore the reliability and the fact that it is on fire.

    Ford: The best thing ever for other people to drive, ignore the Chinese fit and finish from the world’s most notorious supplier abuser.

    Japanese or Korean: Sucks, not German. Unless you are using it in a race and actually have to win.

    GM or Chrysler: Sucks, not a Ford.

    Oh, wait, you’ve already taken care of it.

  • avatar
    Samir

    I like leaving the stars undefined. It makes the system a parody of magazines who rate cars on absurd scales of 312 points on 45 subjective criteria. If the reviews are individual, why does the star system have to be standardized?

  • avatar
    Wolven

    I just wanted to say that if you rate all vehicles with the same honesty you rated the Prius above and by the same standard of freedom, beauty, and function that a car SHOULD provide… you’re doing it perfectly in my opinion.

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    I also like the star system as it gives me a quick look at what to expect after the jump.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    I would like reviewers to list what cars they own or lease.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    I never put too much faith in a single review because I usually don’t fully know the reviewer’s point of reference in relation to mine. You think a Miata sucks compared to a Boxter (rightly so) but I don’t care because I am only looking at the Miata price range and I am comparing it directly to it’s competitors. I devour the comparison tests because they usually point out the minor differences in the cars that people actually make buying decisions on.

    Perfect example: when Toyota brought (back) out the MRSpyder and GM produced the Solstice/Sky. Every publication out there did a standard review (good car for it’s mission) and a head-to-head comparison against the Miata. Both nudged out the Miata in hard numbers, and it was duly noted. Bench racers stop here! But when you drove them side by side on real roads and compared them directly as a whole package the Miata was almost always declared the better car because of other things like storage space and “feel”. These are the wonderful, important things that come out in a direct comparison.

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    There are very few inanimate objects which inspire my personal distaste, contempt, and revulsion as much as the Toyota Prius does.

    Exactly fits the definition of hyperbole.

    And I guess that’s where I went to the next item. BTW – maybe you should get around more, if you mean this? And I’m not just talking about cars.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    For me the wildly variable, personally charged, “ratings” of the cars by some TTAC contributors has led me to regrad this as the least important, most irrelevant part of this site.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind hearing a strong opinion on a vehicle that may differ from mine (irrational, unsupported, jingoistic caricatures of the alleged owners on the other hand are pathetic-no I don’t own a Prius).

    Prius, Hummer, Vette or Super7. I buy a car for what I want from it, not what someone else projects on it.

    But tying an opinion in with a value statement (stars) is not meaningful, IMO.

    Rate it on how it does it’s job.

    If you hate cars that aren’t oriented to enthusiasts why test them? You aren’t in the target group anyway so your view is probably less than relevant.

    Since this is an enthusiast site perhaps a twin rating would be of use.

    Primary rating on how well the vehicle does it’s job.

    Secondary rating on enthusiast’s considerations.

    Then maybe a personal rant/rave comment on the end.

    BTW Jack, thanks for asking. Seriously.

    Let’s raise the bar a bit here.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    rodster-might want to go back and read the Miata/Solstice comparos.
    The Miata consistently stomped the Slowstice in the numbers.
    Pretty much handed it it’s hat in every area but styling.

    That said, you have some good points.

    Take care.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    NickR

    I recently took a drum-rear-braked Ford Focus to a public trackday and passed an Exige by cutting an entire corner on the track and showering the Hethel hearse with dirt and rocks.

    Jack, you know, there is this thing called YouTube for just that sort of thing.

  • avatar
    James2

    So far I am the only person to pick #2… must be the C/D brainwashing. I think it is safe to say that the Prius (to pick a picked-on car) will easily meet its intended goal of saving gas, so to me the other aspects of the car (performance, handling, utility, etc.) should become the primary subjects of the reviewer’s review.

    Aesthetics are subjective, but then so is almost every other aspect of a car –so why focus on the car’s intended purpose in life? We need to know about the other aspects and with only 800 words to go around, every adjective becomes doubly important.

    I agree with the person above who said we need more Take Twos or a Siskel/Ebert style review.

    Stars, what stars? As with movie ratings I ignore them. But, if you must have them, the stars should be applied within context of its market positioning (i.e., how well does a Prius do X vs. the Insight).

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Its interesting that you mentioned CarandDriver as producing an Orwellian “Groupthink” in its car reviews. Before the rag decided to update itself, it used to have five bar graphs on their sides to show you how the rated car compared to its competition in price, speed to 60, gas mileage, braking, and handling. The So-What to this is the reader instantly identified his 1995 Taurus as being in league with the likes of Camry, Accord, and whatever POS GM pooped out at the time.

    Every car is designed for a specific mission. A Minivan is not a 12 sec car, autobahn burner or Heavy duty pickup and is successful if it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Secondary rating on enthusiast’s considerations.

    I’m interested in the “enthusiast” label here at TTAC. What does it mean?

    I think of “enthusiasts” as people who appreciate a “fine” car. It can be a Civic Si or a Mazda 6 or a S550 or even a Camry. People who put a lot of thought into their choice of car because they care about what they drive.

    I could certainly see an enthusiast buying a Camry. If they were driving 40k a year and needed something that would last 10+ years, I’d say Camry is the way to go.

    What I can’t understand is people who call themselves “enthusiasts” who are driving 89 Cutlass Cieras and 98 Neons. Obviously you didn’t put any thought into what you drive and don’t care about cars.

  • avatar

    Hybrid.
    80% of choice #1
    10% of choice #3
    10% madness, nonsequiturs, lunacy, quirk & fart jokes.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Prisoner #1: Where are we?
    Prisoner #2: I don’t care!
    Loo: And these?
    Dr. Klahn: These are lost drunken men who don’t know where they are, but do care! And these are men who know where they are and care, but don’t drink.
    Prisoner #3: I don’t know who I am!
    Prisoner #4: Yeah. and I don’t drink.
    Dr. Klahn: Guards!
    [moves prisoners]
    Dr. Klahn: Do you care?
    Prisoner #5: No.
    Dr. Klahn: Put this man in cell #1, and give him a drink.
    Guard: What do you drink?
    Prisoner #5: I don’t care.

  • avatar

    Definitely the first methodologie is the most important. If I’m looking at buying a Camry, I have a different set of priorities than if I’m looking at a Mustang. But in addition to looking at whether or not the car does what it is intended to do, you have to include a review of whether or not it’s a good car – build quality, aesthetics, ergonomics, value, etc…

    From what I’ve seen on this site, the majority of the reviews do that. Which is why, whenever a friend mentions they are researching cars, I send them this site.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Jack’s “articles” remind me of The Muddle-Headed Wombat children’s books.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    None here are directed to test one car over another. Given that, I’d like to think people are rating cars in which they have at least a passing interest. So rate the cars based on how they compare to others in their class, and throw in your opinion.

    Above all else, write well…

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    What’s with this Prius fixation anyway? The damn thing is just an odd-looking economy car with an unusual drivetrain. The rest is just about you, not it.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    The Prius might deserve 4 or 5 stars IF a hybrid was to only way to get good gas mileage, but that is not the case. There are cars like the Jetta TDI which deliver good gas mileage and are still fun to drive. So the rolling video game deservedly gets one star IMHO

  • avatar
    Shogun

    Keep the stars. It is one of the things that got me into TTAC in the first place.

    But yeah, I’m going with the majority: give out the stars based only on how well it performs in its niche. Of course subcompacts are the least powerful in this automobile industry. But should we really be giving a Honda Fit a small amount of stars just because it’s lacking compared to the Accord and such?

  • avatar
    jmo

    ccd2 raises an intersting point.

    “There are cars like the Jetta TDI which deliver good gas mileage and are still fun to drive. So the rolling video game deservedly gets one star IMHO”

    The Prius is significantly more reliable than the TDI – how much should that count? If the glorious day comes and they start selling Alfa’s in the US again; How do you weigh the reliability and durability of the Lexus IS vs. the passion and driving pleasure of the Alfa 166?

  • avatar

    Thanks to everyone so far.

    @no_slushbox: Except for the fact that I bought a 2009 Ford Flex Limited AWD with my own money a few months back, I think you’ve come uncomfortably close to the truth :)

    Sometimes, in these relatively short columns, a little bit of verbal flash-bang grenade really does distract people too much. I was as “hard” as I was on the Prius in the opening paragraph because I wanted to make it absolutely plain that I detest the car… but I think it probably deserves four or five stars, the same way I would cheerfully hand out top ratings to the F-Series Super Duty despite its decidedly non-environmental qualities.

    @Stein X: Thanks for suggesting that I “get around”. In the past three years, I’ve “gotten around” thirty-seven racetracks, many of them more than once. Maybe that’s why I have a one-track mind when it comes to cars, pun intended. I’ll leave the Euro-boy-in-eyeliner perspective to you, my friend.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    There are no set standards for reviewing a vehicle. This is why there is such a dysfunctional system at work here. Trucks are are reviewed through the lens of a passenger car, hybrids have judgement passed down on them through the lens of a sports car, luxury cars are judged based upon whether or not they fit the reviewer’s interpretation of what that brand should be making, etc.

    The result is an arbitrary system that churns out beautifully written pieces of completely useless information. How can the casual or regular reader come to an informed decision on what cars they should be looking at based on these reviews? The simple answer is that you can’t. Not until there is some consistency in how vehicles (or at least vehicle classes) are reviewed.

    Absent this kind of consistency, the star rating system must be abolished.

  • avatar
    crazybob

    I don’t believe the stars should be related to the review text in any way, which would make it much simpler (and less important) to select specific rating criteria.

    The review itself is a subjective opinion. It can’t be quantified. You said that you hate the car, and I would be disappointed if you wrote a positive, or even slightly positive, review of it. Perhaps I’d tolerate a sentence noting that the car was indeed comfortable and economical, before going back to ranting about the woeful handling.

    However, the car’s standing relative to its peers (or even its ability to perform tasks outside its main purpose) can easily be quantified. I would absolutely understand and identify with a completely negative Prius review followed by five stars and the comment “does what it says on the tin”. Conversely, while I’d enjoy a glowing review of a new Exige, followed by five stars for being brilliant at what it does, I’d also accept a single star for being uncomfortable and hopelessly impractical.

    I know this doesn’t help pick criteria very much, but what I’m really trying to say is, don’t worry about consistency between review and rating, because in truth they’re representing different information. Write the review you want to write, and then assign stars based on what the car actually achieves. Probably criteria #1, ability to do what it’s meant to do.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s a sad, sick, suppository-shaped little plastic box which exists for the sole purpose of letting spoiled, faux-progressive Americans feel virtuous as they continue to consume the lion’s share of the world’s finite resources.

    Come on, Jack, tell us how you really feel.

    I was reading this site for months before I even realized that there were star ratings, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked at them. As far as I’m concerned, they could disappear and I think we’d all benefit from discussions free of “Why does a get x stars when b gets y?

    The reviews here aren’t so much useful (well, for commodity metal) as they are an interesting backstory and perspective-gathering option. If you want “how does this vehicle rate within it’s class”, well, Consumer Reports has that tied up, locked down and duct-taped and wearing a gimp mask in a closet. Where TTAC does well is in highlighting the intanglibles that are worth considering, but aren’t quite objective. Stick with that.

    If you must rank, do more “versus” reviews. They’re always worthy of discussion and analysis, and do provide a lot of value to the consumer**

    ** I always loved Edmunds’ comparo of a Ferrari 308 GTS with a Kia Sedona. TTAC needed to publish that.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I’ve read and disagreed with reviews that harped on a minivan’s poor track performance or a mustang’s solid rear axle. Minivans generally have poor handling but haul kids and groceries better than a 335i does. The mustang has solid rear axles because mustangs are supposed to have solid rear axles. People who buy them don’t care for IRS.

    I see comments about crappy interiors in 13K dollar cars. That is expected. Not in a 65K car or in a premium sports sedan.

    I give kudos to TTAC for actually publishing negative reviews, no one else has the balls to do so. This site does not have a long term love affair with Toyota or Honda unlike CR.

    Maybe certain cars should be reviewed by certain people, those who are more in line with the cars. Run of the mill sedans and minivans reviewed by a group of three reviewers who are exposed to this class of vehicles often. Sports cars by another group, Luxury by yet another. But that might not be possible for RF with current staff levels.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I like number one.

    I also have a lot of trouble understanding the language used to judge interiors. I can’t remember whether hard plastics are good or bad, and I don’t know how hard a hard plastic is.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    Definitely Number 1 Jack.

    This makes the most point, because after all, a car was designed (disregarding who paid for the development) to serve a specific mission.

    you cannot de-rate a Chevy Silverado 3500 for not cornering like an Exige, or being as efficient as a Jetta TDI and you cant de-rate an Exige for not being able to carry the kitchen sink.

    i think the overall star system should be scrapped. and rate the car on in its intended mission only, with personal comments on the things that relate to personal opinion on the side and not affecting the overall rating.

    I’m not encouraging grouped opinions, just rate the car on its intended purpose and let it rip with the rest on the side.

  • avatar

    Keep it simple. You have to judge in a holistic way how a vehicle serves its market segment.
    The new Prius wants to be a mainstream car for people who might otherwise buy a Camry or a Civic, so that’s how you need to review it.
    If driving comfort or refinement sucks compared to a Camry you take away stars, and if equipment level and fuel economy are great compared to a Civic you add stars.
    Comparison with a Lexus IS-F would definitely not be germane.

  • avatar
    AndyR

    I think that Steve Lang has the crucial point here. Reviewer personality plays stronger than any other consideration when I read a review here. A large body of the reviewers have come to be regulars, and their individual experience and voice shine through. When the new german sports machine shows up on these pages, I expect to see Jay’s name on the byline. Likewise, I know more or less what he likes and looks for (making the Prius review that much more of a non sequitur).

    Reviewers should remain true to their style, and brash is Jack’s. I am surprised that people still manage to get worked up over his particular tone and delivery. (At least people are paying attention?)

    With regard to the cars themselves, I would hope that what we look for as reviewers is as complex as what we look for as consumers. Price, style, fun, practicality, uniqueness, quality of materials, efficiency – all of these play a role. The reviews that fixate on a single failing miss the point – there are few truly abysmal cars out there. It is better, I think, to compare against the other available options across *all* of the above spectra. A Hyundai Genesis, then, needs to go up against both the Lexus *and* the Buick.

  • avatar

    The poll is irrelevant. Blanket black and white rules for grey areas always turns out bad.
    Evidently Rule 1 appears important, but sometimes only 2 and 3. Or none at all. because every car is different:

    Politics are essential for any and every Prius review with little else but mpgs and its displaced environmental destruction included. Political affairs are its sole reason for existing ever since the first celeb pulled up to the red carpet in one. At least Tom and Katie had the good sense to come in their Veyron.

    Marketing strategy is important in understanding the Hyundai Genesis coupe. Most mags got this wrong by comparing it to the Mustang and/or Camaro. Hyundai cleverly positioned it both as an upscale accord coupe And as a cut-price G35 so it would compete with nothing – more buyers are more likely to shop it then. Although I’m clueless as to what potential Mustang buyer would really consider it.

    Bringing price into the equation usually always spells disaster. Car and Driver seems everytime to rate the Corvette better than the 911 and the Boxster better than the Corvette. Extrapolation shows C&D finds the Boxster is better value than the 911. Oh dear.

    What about masquerading genealogies? Does the 300C have the back-bone of the 1996 E-class? Yes. Does it matter? No. Is the Land Rover Range Rover a crossover based on a sedan? Yes. Does it matter? Yes.

    Google confirms most people don’t understand the difference between the Acura TSX and the TL. Besides the obvious size, hp, mpgs, etc, they struggle to work out the real difference inducing the usual cop-outs, ”The TSX is smaller and therefore more nimble and handles better..”. Baloney. They’re confused by their instinct to look at it top-down.

    Bottom-up is how car design and marketing actually work and it goes like this:
    Honda makes 2 accords. The Japanese Accord is one. And the 2nd is the same car thats stretched to fit larger engines and larger people and is called the American Accord. Then they’re both luxed-up with acura emblems and such and Honda sells inherently identical cars next to each other in Acura showrooms.

    But their biggest difference is the important one for buyers. Price. So its easy to choose. How much honda do you want? its like buying wallpaper. If you want 9ft 2in of Honda – buy the Acura TL. 8ft 10in, the TSX. In need of honest value? Get the accord. Bigger ego? Get the Acura and pay the price with your wallet.

    But the TSX handles better than the TL because its lighter, right? Bunk. The TL feels exactly the same as the TSX with 1 of your fat friends in the back.

    So to all car reviewers, keep the status quo. There is no such thing as pure objectivity.

  • avatar
    Joel

    It’s funny; by the time I get to the stars rating, at the very end of the article, I can just about guess what the star rating for the car will be. So, they then become more of a finishing touch on an argument, as in whether the car reviewed is any good or not. I also find it entertaining how tied up people get in those starred ratings, as they are a very coarse guide and tell very little about the car overall (that is the job of the review).

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Does TTAC honestly have the people, time and money to effectively review automobiles?

  • avatar

    ravenchris

    Define “effectively.”

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Does TTAC honestly have the people, time and money to effectively review automobiles?

    Will the Federation have the people, time and money to boldly go where no split infinitive has gone before?

  • avatar

    “Fix the cigarette lighter.”

  • avatar
    blau

    “Fix the cigarette lighter.”

    nice.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote:ccd2 :
    June 17th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    The Prius might deserve 4 or 5 stars IF a hybrid was to only way to get good gas mileage, but that is not the case. There are cars like the Jetta TDI which deliver good gas mileage and are still fun to drive. So the rolling video game deservedly gets one star IMHO

    I agree. The Prius is not the only game in town so it deserves a lower rating for it’s controvertial styling, mis placed and spacey dash location, dull driving dynamics and high cost. There are other better ways to get good gas mileage starting with a Jetta TDI, Ford Fusiuon hybrid or the Honda Insight for example, so the Prius deserves it’s low rating. It’s refreshing to hear some truth about a vehicle instead of a bunch of tree humpers rating a car because it makes them feel better and makes big brother government happy.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    ponchoman49: “… Jetta TDI, Ford Fusion, Honda Insight…”

    Exactly how do the challenger rate?

    Jetta TDI: EPA rated 34/41mpg? We’re supposed to be impressed? Nowhere near a Prius! Uses diesel; more CO2 per mile, diesel engine not cheap. I’ll bet the Prius interior is more roomy. Legendary VW quality? Next!

    Ford Fusion: Nice looking sedan. Less flexible cargo space. Can’t touch Prius fuel economy in town or on the road. $4K more than a Prius. Next!

    Honda Insight: Cheaper than a Prius but not by much. Cramped interior in comparison to a Prius (especially the rear seats). Fuel economy better than a compact car but 8mpg or so short of the Prius. Next!

    If you pick the right criteria, your challengers probably have something going for them but if you do value good fuel economy, the Prius has a massive edge and the Prius has some other features that make the car very competitive. And, for what you get, it’s very reasonably priced.

    People are going to have to get over the idea that “tree humpers” and “tree humpers” alone like this car. It sells pretty well; there aren’t enough “tree humpers” to pick up 10K and more per month, continuously, since 2005.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    How would I answer Christopher Dodd if he should ask me to define ethics.

    English is not Latin.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Since I don’t know when to shut up, I’ll add…

    I think a lot of the anti-Prius sentiment stems from a Detroit fan desire to see Toyota fall flat on its face and the fervent hope that the Prius is an example of a giant Toyota miscalculation. It is Toyota’s lightning rod for this because it’s Toyota’s most unique offering.

    So, people, that’s not happening. The Gen 2 Prius sold better than most of the vehicles in GM’s catalog. Factor out fleet sales and get doubly depressed. I expect the new Gen 3 will sell very well.

    Can Toyota miscalculate? Sure. The Tundra, which is probably a very good pickup, hasn’t gained much traction. I understand why Toyota did it (they figured they were leaving money on the table) but it didn’t work out.

    But heaping scorn on a car that’s selling very well is just deranged. Good sales means people like it. It also has tremendous owner loyalty.

    Further, Detroit fans hoping to see Toyota fall flat on its face to ensure GM’s recovery should think again. Detroit has been thoroughly sampled by most Toyota owners. If Toyota doesn’t offer what they want, there’s Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. Hyundai strikes me as very likely to benefit from any other manufacturer dropping the ball. Their cars are very good values and carry a long, comforting warranty.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Either use a well defined and consistent star system, or none at all. “Individual” star system doesn’t make sense.

    I mean, it’s like employers hiring new grads (more or less) based on their GPA’s. Since the new grads are from different colleges, there is a common belief that the grading standards of one school are very close to another.

    If one college uses a vastly different standard, it’s not going to go well. It might as well not assigning grades at all.

  • avatar
    wsn

    # Scott VanPala :
    June 18th, 2009 at 5:19 am

    So to all car reviewers, keep the status quo. There is no such thing as pure objectivity.

    ————————————————–

    But there is relative objectivity.

    That’s why we give students marks and count presidential election ballots.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Robert Schwartz :
    June 18th, 2009 at 1:17 am

    I like number one.

    I also have a lot of trouble understanding the language used to judge interiors. I can’t remember whether hard plastics are good or bad, and I don’t know how hard a hard plastic is.

    ——————————————–

    Same here. Other than the seat, the pedals, the steering wheel and some power nobs, I don’t intend to touch any part of the interior. If I do, I must be in trouble.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I think a lot of the anti-Prius sentiment stems from a Detroit fan desire to see Toyota fall flat on its face and the fervent hope that the Prius is an example of a giant Toyota miscalculation. It is Toyota’s lightning rod for this because it’s Toyota’s most unique offering.

    The anti-prius backlash is not the creation of some Detroit fan’s desire to see Toyota fall (although they probably won’t do much to help them cushion it). Such a belief can only be described as the belief of a Prius driver who thinks too highly of themself and the car they’re driving. Some would even call it the, “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” syndrome.

    The real anti-hybrid backlash seems to come from Prius fans themselves who refuse to give other hybrid vehicles (or any other high-mileage vehicle for that matter) the time of day. This only justifies the belief that the Prius is a lucky stroke for Toyota and that anybody who buys one is doing so out of the image factor and nothing else.

  • avatar
    wsn

    ccd2 :
    June 17th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    The Prius might deserve 4 or 5 stars IF a hybrid was to only way to get good gas mileage, but that is not the case. There are cars like the Jetta TDI which deliver good gas mileage and are still fun to drive. So the rolling video game deservedly gets one star IMHO

    ——————————————–

    At least the rolling video game is stilling rolling, unlike that smelly junk that spends its entire life in a repair shop.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    quasimondo: “The real anti-hybrid backlash seems to come from Prius fans themselves who refuse to give other hybrid vehicles (or any other high-mileage vehicle for that matter) the time of day.”

    What vehicle is that? Jetta TDI – 34/41 on diesel. Hardly worth shouting about. Fusion – 41/36, very impressive. Props to Ford. But 10-14mpg less and it’s an extra $4K and, inside, it’s a mid-size car, just like the Prius. Insight – 40/43, very impressive. But nearly the cost of a Prius, smaller and still 8-10mpg short.

    How much recognition do you think they deserve? They don’t do nearly as well as the Prius on fuel economy and they don’t offer something significant (in the appliance sense – maybe the Jetta handles better when it’s not in the shop) in return.

    “The Prius is a lucky stroke for Toyota and that anybody who buys one is doing so out of the image factor and nothing else.”

    People who believe that are fools. Luck has little to do with the Prius. Determination, engineering, good cost control, good managmeent and good marketing made it a success. It’s a mid-size, mid-price car with excellent utility and fuel economy. If this is regarded as a lucky stroke, it’s only because people think a useful and practical vehicle is an anomaly, rather than sensible practice. It’s practical transportation. Of course, looking at the families with 2 kids and an SUV – or two – for no particular reason, I understand that practicality rarely enters into a purchasing decision.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Kixstart, your casual dismissal of the efforts of eveyone who is not toyota (what, no criticism of the dismal efforts behind the camry hybrid, rx400h, or ls600h?) sends a clear message to other manufacturers: don’t bother. Why should they if their best efforts can never ever ever measure up to the prius?

    Perhaps they should stick to what they now best: gas guzzling suv’s

  • avatar
    Strippo

    English is not Latin.

    And an excuse is not a justification.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    quasimondo: “Kixstart, your casual dismissal of the efforts of eveyone who is not toyota (what, no criticism of the dismal efforts behind the camry hybrid, rx400h, or ls600h?) sends a clear message to other manufacturers: don’t bother. Why should they if their best efforts can never ever ever measure up to the prius?”

    What makes you think they never can? Is that what this is about? That, like the dull child, they should be praised for picking out socks that match each other? I expect they’re smart enough to figure out that they didn’t match the leader.

    What about Toyota’s second efforts? They spread the development costs around to other formats that don’t market as well to those who want a high-mpg car as the Prius does. And they get relatively low unit sales. No surprise and nobody looks at that because the focus is on what does sell.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    What makes you think they never can? Is that what this is about? That, like the dull child, they should be praised for picking out socks that match each other? I expect they’re smart enough to figure out that they didn’t match the leader.

    On the contrary. I think they can, and I think they’ve done a fine job. I bring up Toyota’s second efforts because unlike the Insight and Fusion Hybrid not one of Toyota’s non-Prius hybrids can reach 40-mpg. I bring this up because I think that despite using the same Hybrid Synergy Drive sytem and having a head start on development especially against Ford, this is appalling. This kind of effort coming from Toyota makes what they offer even more unacceptable than what Ford, Honda, or Volkswagen has brought to the table. I bring this up because to shame what these manufacturers have been able to do as a second rate effort unworthy of consideration is simply wrong and they deserve better than that.

    I must be living in the past because last I checked, a vehicle that can manage 40MPG was simply phenomenal.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    quasimondo: “I must be living in the past because last I checked, a vehicle that can manage 40MPG was simply phenomenal.”

    In the past, it was. The figure for class competitiveness is now 50mpg. Welcome to 2009.

    Do we praise automakers for engine power that’s not class competitive?

    quasimondo: “I bring up Toyota’s second efforts because unlike the Insight and Fusion Hybrid not one of Toyota’s non-Prius hybrids can reach 40-mpg.”

    And? That’s Toyota’s second efforts. Everybody else’s first effort is comparable to Toyota’s second effort, at least as far as fuel economy goes. Toyota gives you a choice of vehicles with hybrid technology. You can get a conventional looking car that gets very good city fuel economy and pretty fair highway economy or you can get a 50mpg car.

    In fact, Ford has bested the Camry, by a notable margin, for conventional car with hybrid drivetrain. Good job, Ford. But one wonders what Ford could do if they went all out. Unfortunately, they didn’t, so we don’t know what they could do. Too bad.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Truly.


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