By on March 15, 2010


That Bible of the intelligencia, Consumer Reports, has released its 2010 Annual Auto Issue, and once again, denizens of Cambridge, Austin, Berkeley, Eugene, and their sister university towns all over the land are parsing its pages, seeking cars that will maximize their utility. Or maybe I’m projecting. Anyway, with apologies to Michael Karesh and True Delta, here’s a summary of the work of the wonks from Yonkers and East Haddam.

“Top picks”–the best in each of ten categories, is COTY based on systematic analysis. The best car overall is the Lexus LS 460L, with “an outstanding 99 out of 100 in our road test…” This V8-powered, preternaturally quiet rolling living room “isn’t exactly fun to drive,” but it does “deliver brisk acceleration and a relatively good 21 mpg overall” (same as the porky Accord V6), says CR. Best sports sedan: the Infiniti G37 for the fourth year in a row–test score 95; Best in greenitude: the Prius. Chevy takes the honors in both SUV (Traverse) and pickup (Silverado) categories.

The other Top Picks: Elantra SE (small sedan), VW GTI (sporty car), Nissan Altima (family sedan), Forester (small SUV), and Mazda5 (family hauler).

More big news: Hyundai jumps from ninth to fourth place overall among the manufacturers, confirming the Buddhist view of the world that everything changes. (I know, I know, but somehow, I can’t wrap my mind around Hyundai’s ascent. They should at least change their name, like Datsun did.) The CR overall manufacturer scores factor in reliability on the one hand, and road test scores–everything else–on the other. Hyundai earned 73 out of 100 points despite less than stellar road test scores, where it tied Toyota (74/100) for eighth place. You might think Hyundais must be particularly reliable to pull themselves up from these mediocre road tests, but the reliability graphs, while good, have fewer filled in red dots than Honda (77 overall) and Subaru (ditto).

While Asian manufacturers soar, the Americans… well, it hasn’t been this bad since the British burned down Washington during the War of 1812. Two decades ago, the MIT-based authors of The Machine that Changed the World predicted we would overtake the Europeans in reliability by the end of the ‘90s. But the ‘90s ended with our manufacturers still dominating CR’s list of “used cars to avoid.” That trend continues, with Chrysler scraping bottom (46/100), most of its models having below-average reliability or low road test scores, followed by GM (57), with “spotty” reliability and “too many older models [with] subpar performance.” Ford earns an encouraging 64, despite “some older models” that drag down its score.

Meanwhile, the Euros have us all–even Ford–beat, despite the downgrading of MB (69) and BMW (67) for their “frustrating controls.” Reliability in MB and VW (72)–long a stain on German engineering–has improved. CR notes that the VWs Golf and CC now have “excellent” reliability, and the Jetta 2.5 is “above average” (B). But reliability is ebbing in some Beemers.

In another noteworthy development,  “Older cars have become far more reliable than they were even five years ago,” according to CR. “There has never been a better time to buy [used].” That may be, but for Toyotas and Hondas, there’s no good reason to buy used if you can afford new, because depreciation is strictly linear, says Greg Nowell, a professor at the State University of New York, Albany.

Nonetheless, don’t assume that all cars from top manufacturers are up to the standard—check the reliability tables! says CR, noting that 2000-2003 Honda Odysseys have unreliable transmissions.

Odyssey slushboxes notwithstanding, in terms of reliability, Honda sweeps the “best of the best” used cars, 2000-2009, topping 6/9 categories, with Lexus ES, Infiniti M35, and Miata taking “upscale cars,” “luxury cars,” and “sports & sporty cars,” respectively.

GM dominates worst of the worst ‘00-09, with 16 out of 33 entries, mostly trucks and vans–17 if you count the Korean “Chevy” Aveo. The rest: six Chryslers (Sebring fans will smile to know that their fave convertible made the list), five VWs, the Audi A6 Allroad, Kia Sedona, Lincoln Aviator, Merc R-Class, and Mini Cooper convertible.

CR’s “owner satisfaction” scores are interesting because they sometimes sharply diverge from the stereotype of CR’s subscribers, reflecting, perhaps, a greater diversity of demographics, as well as that different people love their cars for very different reasons. Owner satisfaction may be about cost and reliability, but it is just as likely to reflect love, however irrational. For example, in first and third place, we have the Dodge Challenger V8 (92% of owners would buy it again), despite a lousy road test score, and the base Corvette and the Porsche 911 Carrera S (89%, each), despite the former’s underwhelming reliability.

But the Fusion hybrid takes second place (91%) and the Prius takes fourth (88%). Can we infer that greenitude inspires love—especially when it comes with a patriotic flavor? Does this reflect CR’s demographics? We’ll examine those questions in a subsequent article.

Scraping bottom in the buy-it-again category, at 37%, is the Sebring (4-cyl sedan), followed by the Nitro (38%), the Caliber (45%), and two Chevies, the 5-cyl. Colorado (45%), and the Cobalt sedan (49%).

Top fuel economy scorers: Prius (44mpg), the oxymoronically-named Smart ForTwo Passion (39), which is also the slowest car to 60 mph, (14.6 sec), Honda Insight EX (38), VW Golf TDI manual (38), Civic Hybrid (37), Fusion hybrid (34) and on down through several others to the Mini manual (33).

Best values, in order: Fit, Prius, Golf (2.5), Civic EX, Jetta TDI, Elantra SE, Corolla LE, Camry LE (4-cyl), Forester 2.5X, and Camry Hybrid. Worst values include the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, the Hummer H3, and the Cayenne S.

Cars you’re most likely to be caught dead in: the Aveo and the Kia Rio, as well as the 4790 lb. Dodge Dakota—but not the Smart–proving that safety is more than just having more metal than the other guy. (Consumer Reports did not use my glib phraseology on this matter, or anything even remotely resembling it.)

Several notable “Highlights from the auto track:”

* The ’10 Taurus’ score sagged slightly due to “new styling that compromises visibility and accommodations.”

* CR’s Fusion test car had what Ford said was a glitch in the software that interfered with braking. A test driver “hit the pedal and didn’t feel the car stopping as it should have.”

* CR tested smart throttles on the MB E350 and the VW Jetta Wagon, and “…even with the accelerator wide open, hitting the brakes immediately disengaged the throttle and allowed us to stop the car safely.”

And finally, this: Consumer Reports has suspended its recommendation of eight Toyota models, based on the unintended acceleration problem. The models are all those that have been recalled: the ’05-’10 Avalon, the /’09-10 Matrix, the ’07-’10 Tundra, the ’08-’10 Sequoia, and some versions of the ’07-’10 Camry, and the ’09-10 Corolla and RAV4.

Consumer Reports buys its test cars anonymously from dealers, and conducts more than 50 tests and evaluations on each car.  Reliability assessments are based on subscribers’ experience with 1.4 million vehicles, assessed in an annual questionnaire.

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61 Comments on “Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue: The Good, The Bad, And The Green...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    there’s no good reason to buy used if you can afford new, because depreciation is strictly linear

    That’s what I always said… Nice to see some confirmation.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t understand – why would I pay $30,000 for a car that I can get 4 years later for $15,000 ?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Nguyen Van Falk

      Someone needs to take some more math classes.

      Depreciation is not linear. Saying so is dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I don’t understand – why would I pay $30,000 for a car that I can get 4 years later for $15,000 ?

      What car? I see a lot of people who get their numbers from MSRP rather than from the prices people actually pay for a car.

      Show me some actual purchase prices vs. prices purchased used and we can see about this.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Even if depreciation were strictly linear, it wouldn’t mean it’s a good idea to buy new if you can afford it.

      If you assume car N costs $50,000 and depreciates 50% per year (let’s say it’s a Saab), you can buy car N once every 4 years for 16 years. You buy it new:

      $50,000 * 4 = $200,000 for your cars.

      You buy them all when one year old and drive them 10,000 more miles than you’d have driven them otherwise:

      $25,000 * 4 = $100,000 – plus, say, $2,000 conservatively for each car during its final year, when it requires more work or isn’t under warranty or whatever. So your total outlay is $108,000 for buying used, $200,000 for buying new, with the negative that for 8 of those 16 years you drove a car 12 months older than you would have had you purchased new. Wait, what? OK, here – if you buy new, you spend four years each driving a car that’s one, two, three, and four years old. If you buy used, you spend four years each driving a car that’s two, three, and four years old, and four years driving a car that’s five years old. You’re driving a car that’s older than you would otherwise for two of each four year set.

      If my logic and math are correct, the question is whether four years of a one-year-old vs. two year old car, and 4 years of a four-year-old vs. five-year-old car, spread over 16 years, is worth $96,000, right?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      PeriSoft,

      Use a real example. Run the number on a 2010 Civic vs a 2006 Civc.

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew

      “If you assume car N costs $50,000 and depreciates 50% per year (let’s say it’s a Saab), you can buy car N once every 4 years for 16 years.”

      If these are your assumptions, then a 2 year old saab would have no value.

      Your initial assumption is not valid if you’re discussing linear depreciation.

      A more valid example would look at a vehicle that loses $5,000 in value a year.

      Buying a new vehicle every 4 years for 16 years would infer that over each period of ownership, there would be a lost investment of $20,000 or $80,000 in total.

      Even if the depreciation isn’t strictly linear and used vehicles lose value less quickly (lets assume this vehicle is losing only $4,000 a year if bought when slightly used). In this case, an investment of of $16,000 per vehicle or $64,000 a year in total.

      Although this indicates a $16,000 in savings for buying used, this isn’t very significant when you consider that it is spread out over 16 years and the person buying the car can afford a $50,000 car in the first place.

      Thus, buying used may save you a few bucks, but if you can afford to buy new, the added expense may not infer a large financial loss relative to the total cost of owning the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      I don’t understand – why would I pay $30,000 for a car that I can get 4 years later for $15,000 ?

      Umm…maybe you need something to drive right now, and don’t want to walk or ride the bus for another four years?

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      > I don’t understand – why would I pay $30,000 for a car that I can get 4 years later for $15,000 ?

      Well, maybe you are like me, and want to keep a car for 12 or 14 years at least, and the peace of mind of knowing exactly how it was broken in and maintained from new is worth something. Then there’s that new car smell and so on. And coming into the office and showing off that new car. That last one was a joke, btw.

      I found that when I bought used cars, I tended to not trust them as much, and the maintenance expenses and hassles seemed to aggravate me more than when it happened on my “new” car that I’ve bonded with for the last seven years. I’m not saying all this is rational or even cost-effective, but you asked, so I thought I’d try to explain.

    • 0 avatar
      tbp0701

      I’ll bite. All quick searches and grabbing the first things that popped up, from my Ohio zip code, all manual, no options checked on the new cars, all the used cars are from dealer listings:

      From Auto Trader:
      Used 2006 Infiniti G35 Sedan – Mileage 24,284 – $17,990
      And Cars Direct:
      2010 Infiniti G37 Sedan Base 4dr Rear-wheel Drive Sedan – Target Price: $30,292

      Auto Trader:
      Certified 2007 Honda Accord EX V6 – Mileage 35,807 – $16,395
      Cars Direct:
      2010 Honda Accord 3.5 EX 4dr Sedan Target Price: $24,157

      Auto Trader:
      Certified Used 2007 BMW 328i Sedan – 41,830 miles – $22,900
      Cars Direct:
      2010 BMW 328 Sedan i 4dr Rear-wheel Drive Sedan- Target Price: $32,662

      I have my own conclusions, there, but I’ll let you decide your own.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      The linearity is with highly reliable Japanese cars, like the Honda Civic, and it can only be true for the second through fourth or fifth years or else the car would eventually be worth nothing.

      http://www.kbb.com/new-cars/honda/civic/2010/pricing-report?id=261093&category=sedan

      Let’s use the Honda, and KBB.com for example. They have the residual being, 62%, 54%, 46% and 38% for 2,3,4 and 5 years, respectfully. While that is a linear 8% drop, per year, it is a whopping 38% drop the first year…which might be a bit lower if you beat MSRP, but generally you don’t beat MSRP, on Honda’s by more than 5-10%. If you keep going, at 8% a year, you only get 5 more years out of that Honda before it equals 0 dollars. We all know that is not true.

      You can see this trend with several new cars, which suggests the best deals to be had are when buying one year old cars and then keeping them a very long time. If you can hit year end clearances, where there are big discounts, new cars might be palatable. That was the case with our last new car purchase, that we picked up at 15% below MSRP.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Any charts available online for complete list in the different categories etc?

  • avatar
    Ion

    How did Chrysler score last year? Because I don’t remember them being at the bottom last year, and since outside of the ram and a rebodied charger they havn’t had a new model in years there should be little to no change in their score.

    • 0 avatar
      Andrew

      If I recall correctly, last year Chrysler tied for last.

      Even if I am recalling incorrectly, you make a very important point. They haven’t had any new models or significant vehicle changes since last year. Their low score may be an indicator of their competitors pulling ahead more so than Chrysler becoming worse.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I look for a used car with a superior price to value ratio, a decent car the public is shunning for no good reason putting its resale value in the toilet. The best deals are on used domestic midsize cars and minivans, like the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Grand Caravan. Fearing costly non-warranty transmission and air conditioner repairs consumers will not pay high prices for them. You can buy a used one for a very good price and bank the rest of your car budget for future repairs, if needed.

    Alternately, seek out a reliable but humdrum model like the Kia Sedona or Lincoln Town Car. New cars typically lose 20-percent of their value when they are driven off the lot and about 65-percent after five years. The Sebring, Caravan, Sedona and Town Car each lost more than 67-percent after just two years, and a whopping 82-percent after five years! Also worth considering are the Buick Allure and Lucerne, Ford Five Hundred and Fusion, Jeep Commander, Lincoln LS, Mitsubishi Galant, Pontiac Vibe, Saturn Aura, Volvo S80, full size SUVs and full size pickup trucks. A helpful dealer may identify others.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      I don’t think a Sebring is worth it no matter how cheap it gets, but I second the Fusion as a good used buy. My girlfriend picked up a loaded ’06 Milan V6 last year for about $12K, which is 50% depreciation after 3 years. A similar Accord EX V6 would’ve been at least $5K more, and the Milan is supposed to be just as reliable as the Honda.

    • 0 avatar

      I also just ignore the CR best value list. The observer effect applies here: used cars listed as a CR best value now command a higher price. I am not going to pay extra for CR’s unexplained red dot.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      While I agree with the first part of what you said, find a “sleeper” that people ignore, I have to disagree with your choices…certainly the Sebring…and Kia Sedona, which aren’t high up there on reliability charts.

      You can often find deals on sister models, or cars that got reliable in the last years of their life. For example the Mercury Villager can be found for less than the Nissan Quest…but they are the same car. The Lincoln LS was a decent car in it’s last year of life. Infiniti’s often command less than Lexus or Acura, but are every bit as good.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Last year Chrysler product where right at the bottom, same as this year! I didn’t renew because of the down rating of Toyota, especially the RAV4 which I own and have had none of the troubles indicated by CR!

  • avatar

    You can find more details on the CR lists here

    http://www.consumerreports.org/april

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Depreciation is strictly linear? You mean, if I keep it too long, its value will drop below zero?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Nguyen Van Falk

      Yes, own that car long enough and you’ll have to pay someone else to own it! You should see how much it costs to get someone to take that Model T off your hands. It eclipses the GDP of many third world countries.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I began to dismiss CR’s auto reviews after it declared Chrysler’s subcompact had unsafe handling in the early 1980s. Then the next year – with no changes to the car – there was no longer a handling problem. But I continued to give some attention to CR’s reliability ratings. I abandoned those as well in the 1990s.

    There’s something about the methodology that just isn’t right. I suspect – but can’t prove – that the “love” factor might be influencing the results. Some owners may be in denial. Perhaps some don’t count problems handled under warranty – for which they didn’t have to pay – as problems. I’m just not sure.

    One final note, re: paying for used cars versus new cars. It has long been my position that, unless one is paying cash for the vehicle in question, buying new is almost always better than buying used. Not only is depreciation a factor, so is the higher interest rate that one will have to pay on a used car and the lack of a warranty. The fact that I will keep the new car longer puts it over the top – at least for me. Now, there will always be those skinflints out there who will never buy a new car – and more power to ‘em. For me… I say life’s too short. Buying a new car every 8 years or so is one of the few ways in which I truly indulge myself.

    Now, I may be influenced myself by my own notions of how good or bad certain vehicles are – especially when CR’s data challenges them. For example: “CR notes that the VWs Golf and CC now have “excellent” reliability.” I just can’t get my thoughts around this – and don’t believe it for a second.

    It doesn’t matter. Like many enthusiasts, I am prepared to deal with slightly lower reliability in order to own a car that truly pleases/interests me. But that only goes so far – even with me.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Like many enthusiasts, I am prepared to deal with slightly lower reliability in order to own a car that truly pleases/interests me. But that only goes so far – even with me.

      Does it go as far as an RX-8?

    • 0 avatar
      Loser

      “I say life’s too short. Buying a new car every 8 years or so is one of the few ways in which I truly indulge myself.
      Like many enthusiasts, I am prepared to deal with slightly lower reliability in order to own a car that truly pleases/interests me. But that only goes so far – even with me”.

      Preach brother, I’m with you 110%!

    • 0 avatar
      jplane

      Plus, one bad used car purchase and all that supposed savings go right out the window.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Yeah I received CRs Auto Issue in the mail (trial subscription, canceled but subscription department still sent it too me.) As someone who is planning on buying a car in the next 6 months, all it did was confuse the crap out of me. New or used? Ford or Honda or Hyundai or Kia or GM?

    BTW does anyone have any links to prove the math on a used car vs a new car? How does a longer warranty affect the math? (Hyundai vs. Ford for example.)

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      http://www.money-zine.com/Calculators/Auto-Loan-Calculators/Buying-a-New-or-Used-Car-Calculator/

      The issue it doesn’t help with is adjusting for the reduced service length of the car. For example a new civic is by definition going to last three years longer than a used civic. So, if a typical civic lasts 15 year and 175k miles a 3 year old civic with 45k miles would have used up 20% of its service life.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      As someone who is planning on buying a car in the next 6 months, all it did was confuse the crap out of me.

      I suggest you hold off and don’t worry. If you wait another 4 years you can get it for half price.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      jmo thank you. And your right it doesn’t factor that in. If you plan on driving a car until it’s long since paid for and till it’s used up, is new always better?

      @mpresley thank you for a good laugh, I needed that.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Dan, I got my last two cars for no money down, less than 3 percent interest, with the exact color and options I wanted. So for me, yeah, it was worth it to buy new. The fact that I won’t have to go through the car buying experience for another decade or so is a bonus.

      Before that I saved a lot of money by buying used, and I do miss the days of not having a car payment. But I’m getting older and life is short, no regrets. Plus the wife is happy.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      There are other factors to take into account that may save money on used cars.

      1. Smaller loan, therefore less money spent on interest.
      2. Lower value, therefore lower insurance premiums.
      3. Less concern with little dings…therefore less repairs (especially true when comparing lease to used purchase.)
      4. Lower sales tax.
      5. Lower vehicle registration fees, in states that charge fees based on vehicle price.

  • avatar
    twotone

    CR should stick to test-driving washing machines and toaster ovens. The only value they (or better yet, JD Powers) offer the automobile industry is compiling repair and recall statistics. Auto depreciation is not linear — more like half-life radioactive decay.

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I concur. CR is out of its league when it comes to autos. By insisting on “easy to read dots”, you can have two cars on the cusp and one will be average and the other better than average yet statistically there is no difference. When a friend or co-worker asks why do I have a such a negative attitude toward CR, I ask them what are you really into? Golf? Bikes? Cameras? Say its cameras. I ask “do you go to CR for camera advice?” Hell no is the answer. “CR wouldn’t know a f-stop from a bus stop.” To which I say “why are cars different?”

      There is one good thing about CR, though. Plenty of really competent cars get brushed off by the “”no red dot, no buy” crowd which simply makes a lot of really good cars become good used buys…

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    “CR should stick to test-driving washing machines and toaster ovens. The only value they (or better yet, JD Powers) offer the automobile industry is compiling repair and recall statistics. Auto depreciation is not linear — more like half-life radioactive decay.”

    Fully agree, I check their stats and they’ve helped me avoid GM and Chrysler junk, but their car reviews sound like the cars were driven by that idiot in CA who cannot control a Prius.

  • avatar
    jmo

    If you plan on driving a car until it’s long since paid for and till it’s used up, is new always better?

    It all depends on the deal you can get. New, used or lease it all depends on the best deal you can find.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Best sports sedan: the Infiniti G37 for the fourth year in a row–test score 95;

    I’ve considered a used G35/7. Then I drove a E46 328i. Maybe it’s my German blood, but the 3 is a better driver and seems more solid and intuitive.

    Now I hesitate due to job uncertainty. Plus I should find an good indy BMW mechanic. I’ll probably end up driving a used, manual Altima (again)…

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “While Asian manufacturers soar, the Americans… well, it hasn’t been this bad since the British burned down Washington during the War of 1812.”

    While I’m loath to defend the Brits, the White House burning was in in retaliation for the American burning of Newark (the church scene in The Patriot is based on this, but with time shift and role reversal), and the burning of the fledgling Parliament in York. Lest anyone be confused.

  • avatar
    don1967

    While I cannot fault the intentions of the good people at CR, I also cannot help but think that their conclusions are 60% what we already know and 40% what they think we want to hear. Michael, I have signed up with the expectation that you will do better.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think Jeep needs to make a Wrangler “CR Edition”. Give it a nylon interior, absolutely no top or doors at all, 4.10:1 final drive, and the loudest legally allowable exhaust.

    It could be an attempt at a perfect “0″ from a CR road test.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Interesting to note that the more narrow focus a vehicle is, the worse the toaster testers rate it. The Wrangler is about as single purpose as a vehicle can get. A Camry is a competent all arounder but really excels nowhere. It does not offer best performance, comfort, mileage, utility, etc but does well, or well enough in most categories. That is what makes for a good Maytag. And that’s why they don’t like vehicles such as sports cars or off roaders.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      In CR’s defense, they have liked some of the sporty-focused vehicles out there (like the Miata and WRX).

      However, their road test scoring system seems to totally ignore off-road ability and doesn’t weigh towing heavily. IIRC, the Liberty, Explorer, Xterra, FJ Cruiser, Wrangler, and H3 all have received fairly low CR scores. I think the Xterra does best with like a 58/100.

    • 0 avatar

      I could actually see this working from a marketing angle for Jeep, positioning the JK as the ultimate “bad boy” vehicle.

      They could even make a limited edition with Whale Skin Spare Tire Cover, Baby Seal Eyes Off-Road Light Bar and Rain Forest Wood Interior.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Time out here on the “new cars are a better value”.

    I recently spent around $11,000 on a C5 Chevrolet Corvette. What $11,000 new car cruises imperiously down the highway in high gear with tons of power in reserve, averages 25 miles to the gallon with the air-conditioner and twelve-disk stereo blasting, makes a travesty of the notion that a sufficiently committed sport compact driver can keep up with a powerful sports car on secondary roads, and treats the driver, passenger, and pedestrian to V8 music as you bullet along?

    To match its capabilities in a new car, you’d be laying out well over $30,000 for one of the ponycars with the top engine option or a top-line turbocharged compact from Subaru, Mitsubishi, or BMW. Even if the new car retains 2/3 of its value over three years I’d have a better deal if I had to send the ‘Vette to be scrapped then. This doesn’t even count your finance charges on the twenty grand in that time.

    There are of course certain late-models that are clearly over-valued. The latest Civic comes to mind; you can buy a 2007 car secondhand or a new one for very similar money. Same goes for several late-model German cars where you’re advised on one hand to never consider purchase without a warranty by the experts and shown that the warranty appears not to be worth much money by the prices of the cars nearing or just past the end of said warranty.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    One disappointment with Consumer Reports is that they own a .8 mile road course and neither open it for kart racing nor publish the lap times of the cars they test at such effort and expense.

  • avatar

    That .8 mile road course is amazing to drive. I just wish I’d taken Skip Barber first, so I could have gotten the max out of it.

  • avatar
    lucaselectric

    Finally, CR calls out Hyundai for their lackluster driving dynamics, even by economy car standards.

    I’ve been saying it all along.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Auto Trader:Certified Used 2007 BMW 328i Sedan – 41,830 miles – $22,900
    Cars Direct: 2010 BMW 328 Sedan i 4dr Rear-wheel Drive Sedan- Target Price: $32,662

    That looks like 1/3 off for a car that has used up 1/4 of it’s usefull life. However, if you add the cost of repairs and mainaince over the next 4 years I think it’s a wash. I mean 4 years after buying the used BMW you have an 8 yo BMW with over 100k miles and that gets real expensive real fast.

    If the 2007 BMW was 12,900 or 17,900 I’d say it was a deal – but at 22,900 I just can’t see it.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Auto Trader:Certified Used 2007 BMW 328i Sedan – 41,830 miles – $22,900
    Cars Direct: 2010 BMW 328 Sedan i 4dr Rear-wheel Drive Sedan- Target Price: $32,662

    Indeed a 2003 BMW 325i is listed on Edmunds at $8,361 so buying new or buying used at 4 years you’ve lost the same 10k. So, why buy used again?

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Because you can’t lose more than $8,361 on the ’03.

      Long term, you’re always better off paying cash for used cars. If you can’t pay cash you can’t afford it. While different makes and models vary, you’re usually getting the worst end of the depreciation curve by buying new.

      It may seem like a common indulgence to finance a new car every 6 or 7 years, but ending up in a low-income retirement apartment is a common existence too.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Included in this article is a graph of each manufacturer and the # problems reported over a 10 year period. Worst at 10 years: VW, then Hyundai,then Chrysler. [Though CR claims Hyundai’s improved over the last 3 or 4 years and the bad showing reflects the brand’s bad old days.

    But that equates to 120 problems per 100 cars, which is,if my math is correct, 1.2 problems per car.

    At 10 years old I would expect 1.2 problems in a car….Yet the chart looks quite dramatic with all it’s colored lines representing each manufacturer.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Regarding the “worst values include the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara,” no one buys a Jeep for it’s mpg rating and the typical family car value (i.e. mall cruising/ commuting). It’s a very cool convertible, not to mention when owners actually take them off road into God’s creation where the Wrangler excels.

    I really hate typical car media reviews of the Wrangler that complain about it’s bouncy ride and want to soften it up for mall cruising. That is why the Jeep has it’s own magazines, such as JP and other four-wheel drive magazines that spend a lot of time talking Jeep. Not to mention the massive amount of aftermarket options.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Re: Used Cars. Back in 2001 I was shopping for a new/used vehicle. Brand new loaded up 4cyl Accords were going for $26-28k and dealers were unwilling to budge on window sticker price. However, a two year old model at 36k miles just outside of manufacturer warranty was going for $16,500 from a private seller. Is there any difference between a ’99 Accord EX-L and an ’01 Accord EX-L? I didn’t see anything that mattered. Same engine, tranny, interior fit & finish, etc. So I bought used for roughly 39% less. Today that vehicle has 170,000 miles on it. Only major repair work has been the 100k timing belt/water pump change. Replaced the struts/coil springs at about 120k and tires/brakes as needed. All told I’ve got under $5k into it parts/labor for 134,000 miles of driving. If I had bought new I’d still have 134,000 miles of driving but would’ve have paid at least $9,500 more up front and still would have had to do most of the same maintenance I’ve already done, minus maybe one set of tires. What’s the lesson. Initial depreciation is a bitch – even on a CR loved Honda. Buy late model used cars that still have life in them and you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    My wife & I bought this when we saw it on the news stand. She’s leaning away from the Mazda5, realizing it’s probably bigger than we need (no kids now, 2 kids max within the next 5 years or so). She’s now looking at audi’s and an enthusiast website won’t convince her that 6 year old A6 is a money pit, something like CR with it’s dot system WILL. Probably best $6 or so I ever spent.

    In any case we are now looking at used A4′s in the 20-25 range (carmax). Sure is cheaper than a 2010 at $32+

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      A six year old car, unless pounded daily, should not be a money pit, period. If it is, it is poorly designed. I never understood how a car could be so desired, yet people have to sell it before the warranty is out for fear of four figure repairs. Are German cars really so frangible? Heck, a rental grade Taurus will typically last for years without major repairs and it is hardly a model of engineering. So why are the fancy Germans – and the not so fancy Germans – so problematic?

  • avatar
    jmo

    Long term, you’re always better off paying cash for used cars

    So if you have a new Corolla and after incentives and cash back it’s 15k and a two year old Corolla is 15.5k (I’ve seen it happen) then you should buy used? Why do you make such incorrect statements?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I think what he’s saying is that if you’re going to buy a used car… then it’s best to pay cash for it. I agree with this 100% and said so in my first post way above. Interest rates are much higher on used cars than they are on new cars (shop around, you’d be surprised) and often cancel most, if not all, of the price advantage of buying used. Are there ever exceptions? Of course. But generally speaking, this is very true. Especially since even Honda will offer subsidized, below-market financing (often as low as 0%) a couple of times a year.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      jmo:

      You find the car you’re interested in, locate the steepest section of the depreciation curve and let the other sucker pay for it. You obviously don’t buy late model used if there’s been little or no depreciation on that model. I know it happens, but it’s still anomalous.

      Pick another car or go down the model year or mileage spectrum until you get that 40-50% mauling out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      One should always go for new when there is amazing deals…like a new Corolla for $15K. The reality is one gets the best deal when one is the most flexible. Don’t read CR and convince yourself you NEED a Honda Civic. Look at a bunch of cars that fit your needs and then buy the one that has the best deal. This is akin to going to the Supermarket and buying the cereal on sale. Don’t get yourself fixated on one make or model.

      “So if you have a new Corolla and after incentives and cash back it’s 15k and a two year old Corolla is 15.5k (I’ve seen it happen) then you should buy used? Why do you make such incorrect statements?”

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    http://www.allpar.com/cr.html

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I agree with quite a few points made by Allpar…I recall firsthand the comments when I bought a Ford Probe…I was told I was in for trouble. yet if I said I bought a Mazda MX-6 (almost did) the comments were all positive…


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