By on October 26, 2010

The new CR reliability reports are out, along with their projected reliability for 2011-model-year automobiles. Some of the results won’t be news to most of you: the Big Three from Japan are all near the top, Ford’s ahead of the other domestics, and the Koreans are climbing the charts.

If, on the other hand, you’re choosing between a Porsche and an Audi, you might want to take a moment to hear CR’s opinions…

What’s the most reliable 2010-model family sedan? The Ford Fusion Hybrid. What’s the second-most-reliable? The Ford Fusion V6. In fact, you have to go all the way to fifth place to find a Camry, and that’s the four-cylinder hybrid. The six-cylinder Camry is rated worse than average.

CR opines that GM’s restructuring helped get rid of some undesirable cars, and their press release includes helpful images of the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, and Hummer H2. Ford’s doing well everywhere. Sure, the Fusion’s now known for reliability, but did you expect the Flex EcoBoost to lead its class? What about the Mustang?

Some notes on European cars, straight from CR’s release:

  • BMW takes a big hit -turbo-charged engines in the 1, 3 and 5 series caused a drop in reliability –Fuel system failures
  • Audi A6 (supercharged) A3, Q5 and Q7 are below average
  • The Jaguar XF has the worst predicted reliability rating in this year’s survey
  • Almost half of Mercedes models are below average
  • Volvo & Porsche –all models are average or better

And indeed, Porsche takes second place (behind Scion) in their predicted reliability ratings. If the Stuttgart crew has finally fixed their water-cooled crapwagons, color me mocha surprised… but that’s what CR is claiming.

Reliable doesn’t always mean desirable. The Acura RL tops the Luxury Sedan ratings, but would you buy one? Ditto the Toyota Yaris. The least reliable pickup truck is the Nissan Titan. Well, duh.

If nothing else, the issue is worth buying for its value as ammunition in Internet-forum wars. Next time somebody is bragging about their Mini Cooper Clubman or Nissan Cube, you can totally shut ‘em down. Just make sure your closet ownership of a Mercedes-Benz GL320 (the worst SUV, of course) remains a secret.

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112 Comments on “What Do Audi And Chrysler Have In Common?...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    MK of TrueDelta - do you agree?

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Where is Mr. Karesh?

    • 0 avatar

      Mr. Karesh was on the curviest roads available between Bridgeport, WV, and Detroit. Write-up of the entire five-day trip to follow.

      In general, these results agree with those TrueDelta has been releasing. One thing to note: CR’s results are based on the most recent three model years, so even if a car has improved in the most recent model years a bad 2008 can still sink the overall result.

      The problems with CR’s results remain the same: the data are already six months old, and will age to 18 months old over the coming year. And they’re still only giving us dots and not numerical scores.

      TrueDelta’s data is always more recent, even much more recent. Our results based on data through the end of September (vs. April) will be released next month. This also enables us to report on new cars much sooner–we had an initial result for the Jaguar XF over a year before CR did. Got slammed mercilessly in a Jaguar XF forum for that result, but every survey since has confirmed it.

      Our latest results at any given time:

      http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @Michael Karesh.

      Per the Consumer Reports website, their data is based on survey results from 1.3 -million- car owners. How many unique users have contributed data to True Delta in the last six months, accessing the site and adding reliability data at least twice in that time? (Please exclude users who have only contributed fuel economy data.)

      Consumer Reports is a non-profit. Is True Delta a non-profit or are you using the data you gather at no cost from us to make money? Please disclose the site’s main sources of income. Please be specific so that I can properly assess your sites impartiality and susceptibility to bias.

      I trust Consumer Reports data much more than I trust yours at True Delta because Consumer Reports has a much, much larger database (1.3 million to the 75,000 claimed on your website), they are non-profit and they adequately disclose their methodology (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/used-cars/reliability/reliability-histories-406/index.htm).
       

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      @Silvy_nonsense
      I’m not sure why you wouldn’t “trust” TD’s results.  They rarely disagree with CR, they are just more informative.  And his formula is open.  If you know any statisticians have them check his work.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      A problem with TD, as I see it, is sample size.  Also, when I look at my vehicle type, I see a list of problems, but I do not know whether they are weighted.  That is, would a faulty glove box door be rated the same as, say, a transmission failure?

      I participate in TD, but my car/year has a population of 18 with an average mileage of 13.5K.  There are four variants among the model (engine, body style, etc) and three countries represented.  I’m not saying the information is not somehow useful, although I’m not exactly sure how it is useful.
       

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, CR does not adequately disclose its methodology. They use a lot of words to make it seem like they do, but many critical bits of info have never been disclosed as a matter of “policy.”
      They do have a much larger sample size, but blow this substantial advantage through huge methodological flaws. If you ask the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how many people you ask.

  • avatar
    Sugarbrie

    As others have said from time to time:   Initial quality is worthless. All the old Japanese cars on the road shows where the real quality is.
     
    Despite all the recent B.S.; it is safe to say that your new Toyota will likely be still on the road well north of 200,000 miles, if you remember to change the oil a few times, and replace the few parts that do break.
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      CR attempts to measure reliability over a long time span, not just initial quality.

    • 0 avatar

      the CR reliability ratings are ***projected*** ratings for new cars, based on ***past experience*** of the same models, information gleaned by sending questionnaires to their readers about their experience with their cars. Thus, these are very different from JD Power’s [worthless] initial quality ratings. If CR rates the Camry 6 as “worse than average,” then it’s time to stay away from it. And if CR says the Fusion is the most reliable car, and the Mustang’s best in class, I can feel the earth moving under my feet, in a good way, and it’s time to celebrate that a big American car company seems to have done things right for once.

    • 0 avatar
      Sugarbrie

      Yes, I am aware of how CR attempts to rate cars.  But if they knocked down Toyota because of the recalls, why not Ford’s and Honda’s (for catching on fire !!!). ??

      Do they score the defects? Does a transmission falling off the car rate higher than the buttons on the radio falling off? Somehow I doubt it.

      Power train failures should count more. I doubt they do considering the poor reliability of Honda transmissions and the high ratings they get.

      I can still get where I am going without a radio, or a glove box latch that does not close properly.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      They aren’t knocking Toyota for recalls.  Toyota’s quality is not what it has used to be and there is a mountain of evidence to support that statement from numerous sources.  The hatchet job on Toyota has been mostly done by Toyota doing it to itself.  Consumer Reports rated the Camry and Tundra below average all the way back to 2008.
       
      Consumer Reports, as a publication, has probably helped sell more Toyota iron than any other publication in North America in the last thirty years.  Are you really suggesting in a very subtle way that they are part of the vast government conspiracy?
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Sugarbrie
       
      If you have a look at how CR rates vehicles you’ll see it’s actually fairly comprehensive.  “Major” engine or transmission do weigh in higher than, say, body hardware and they do break down breakdowns by category (and explain what those categories contain) going back seven years per car where the data is available.
       
      They also publish an “owner satisfaction” metric, which is worth looking at as it tells you that buyers might enjoy their car despite it’s poor testing performance and/or poor reliability.
       
      It really pays to read CR’s auto reviews.  I find that people generally don’t, or do but let their preconceptions about what CR does get in the way of objectivity.  They aren’t perfect (for example, they often slow to report on new models) but they’re better than their critics give them credit for.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      As noted major failures account for more weight in reliability than minor ones.  However, recall that yes some Hondas did catch on fire but you now have to consider that other automakers had fire issues too, such as Fords 16M cars/trucks sold over 15 years weigh in with their defective cruise control devices which could catch fire at anytime even in the middle of the night parked in a garage.  Still some 8M of these have not been fixed.  That to me is a bigger concern than a transmission failure b/c you park your Ford in a garage under your bedroom and go to sleep.  You do not want to be in that Car-b-que.

    • 0 avatar

      David H: the flaw in your logic is that “worse than average” means as little as 20% worse than average. A difference of 20% translates to fewer than four additional problems per 100 cars for the latest model year, and not many more for other recent model years.

      Personally, I wouldn’t be concerned until a car is “much worse than average,” which means 45+ percent.

      Better yet, actual numerical scores that would make it more obvious how small the differences often are. Which is why TrueDelta provides actual numerical scores.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Quality surveys need to capture the cost in time and money the owner experienced.  For example, the Honda B7XA automatic transmission used in 1998-2002 V6 Accords is inherently messed up, but Honda also ate the cost of repair by extended the warranty in many cases.  As a result, Honda owners experienced less of a loss than if the manufacturer screwed up and then told the customer to go pound sand.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I agree — NEW car reliability is worthless. Isn’t that what warranties are for? Three to five-year reliability statistics are more meaningful to most people (unless you bought a new Jaguar XJ).

  • avatar

    @gslippy: I agree. MK, please reveal the conspiracy of BS. A few of these ratings seem questionable. Is CR in someone’s pocket?

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Errrrr, ya.  Thousands upon thousands of government employees received a bonus buried in TARP funds to:
       
      a) Become CR subscribers
       
      b) Provide bad reviews for Toyotas
       
      c)  Give good reviews to Fords
       
      However that still shoots holes in the whole “Government Motors” someone must be paying them off believe seeing how Chrysler remains in the toilet and GMs gains was more from the vehicles that got the axe no longer being made versus changes in the new vehicles they’ve launched.
       
      You did read the TTAC review of the Chevy Cruze.  Right?  The one where it said that the Toyota Corolla is completely outclassed?  Is TTAC part of the conspiracy too.  Who can you trust?
       
      Pass the tinfoil, time to make a hat – they can read your thoughts you know.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry, as noted above I see nothing out of line with these ratings, at least when I take into account how they are calculated.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Regarding Consumer Reports vehicle reliability data: “These charts are based on 1.3 million responses to our 2010 Annual Auto Survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center”

      Source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/used-cars/reliability/reliability-histories-406/index.htm

  • avatar
    Crosley

    What’s funny is people will still swear up and down that Japanese reliability is just an urban myth, that the Big 3 make MUCH better cars, and it’s all a big conspiracy.  That the poor quality of the Big 3 is just a distant memory from the 1970′s.  But once again, the Big 3 finish near the bottom, with KOREAN car companies now eating their lunch.  Pathetic.
     
    Also a shame is European cars used to be the world standard, now they’re nearly disposable, suitable only for short term leases that are still covered under warranty.  Am I the only one that old enough to remember when people bought Mercedes-Benz because of it’s world-class reliability?  Now they’re junk.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    It’s not all crap.  I remember one of the print mags having major issues with their XF long term tester, most due to electrical gremlins.  Sure, it was covered under warranty, but if you pay that much for a car, do you want to deal with the hassle of having it in the shop all the time even if you don’t have to pay for it?
     
    The Fusion has proved reliable even from the initial 2006 models, so there is no reason to think that the new models won’t share similar long term durability. Similarly the Ford CUVs use proven engines (the 3.5 V6 has been around since ’07 and has a great track record, and the EcoBoost is a version of that engine) as well as proven transmissions and proven platforms, the reliability shouldn’t be a surprise.
     
    While initial quality might not be the be all end all of long term reliability factors, it’s probably safe to assume that a vehicle that has short term reliability woes will likely cause some trouble in the long term as well.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” … it’s probably safe to assume that a vehicle that has short term reliability woes will likely cause some trouble in the long term as well.”
       
      True dat. Just ask VW owners of the late 1990s through mid 2000s :).
       

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Here’s just a snapshot of the “Most reliable” sedan out there! Great Job CR!

      http://www.fordfusion.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2956&sid=2fafd3cf666a4346a42f5a50d9685558

      http://forums.automobilemag.com/70/7761889/ford/2010-ford-fusion-transmission/page9.html

      http://www.edmunds.com/ford/fusion/2010/consumerreview.html  About half of these ones include their love for the car, yet their disgust in the Tranny?  wonder why?
      Any more questions?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @John Horner:
      Quite right about VW.  I dumped my 02 Passat after 3 short years because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford the same repairs I was receiving under warranty, and there were plenty of them.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      @ Suprarush: Anyone can pull up disgruntled customer stories online for any brand. Big deal. Shall I post a few Toyota threads? It’s fairly obvious from your post that you are an import fan, (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but give credit where credit is due. Ford has made great strides in reliability in the last five years, and Toyota has definitely lost ground on that front.

    • 0 avatar

      TrueDelta has received some complaints about the transmission in the four-cylinder 2010 Fusion. There was also an early no-start problem caused by a bad grounding wire. Combined these results in an “about average” score, which is worse than previous model years. But once these problems are resolved and fall out of the one-year window the rating of the 2010 is likely to improve to better than average.

      http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php?stage=pt&bd=Ford&mc=98

    • 0 avatar
      Disaster

      I’ve been reading a lot about the Fusion transmissions failing…or shifting very badly with no fixes from dealer.  This is an expensive item and therefore enough to keep me away from a Fusion purchase till this gets sorted.  I see just as many complaints about 2010′s with the 6 speed auto as with older Fusions…maybe more.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    CR’s data and methods may not be perfect, but is still by far the largest publicly available data summary we consumers can get our hands on. Their results generally pass the smell test.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Does CR actually publish details about underlying data — how many survey responses is it based on?  I am curious how that compares to TrueDelta’s database size.

    • 0 avatar

      CR’s sample sizes are usually far larger. But their methodology has problems that in some cases toss this sizeable advantage out the window.

      The largest: the survey asks “Were there any problems you feel were serious?” This opens the door wide for bias, not directly CR’s bias, but owner bias, whatever its source.

      Like a car? Then a problem will seem less serious.

  • avatar

    Heck yes, I would totally buy Yaris 3D, if I only had an excuse to do so.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Achtung! Eurotrash 3.0M Sport : sehr gut
    Everything else: Scheiss
     
    But really, I’d love to go from my Integra to a TSX, to a TL, to an RL
    [if it\'s still around]

  • avatar

    The Titan is a bit of a relic today. When did it first appear? 2004? With no significant update it will likely not do well as the years go by. And it has to be said that for being Nissans first shot at a Full Size Pickup, It has done pretty darn well. But its time for a brand new design. This one is too weak to compete with the tundra.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    There are many reasons why buying a car that doesn’t break while it is under warranty is worthwhile. If you have a tough work schedule, you value your time, and your dealer isn’t conveniently located, driving 5 different new BMW loaner cars in your first year of ownership doesn’t cushion the blow of having bought an unreliable car. Even in this day and age, a warranty is only as good as the company that issues it and the agents that represent them. I’ve had a few cars damaged permanently while receiving warranty work. I’ve had fights over items that are clearly covered. It is a burden whether they end up paying out or not. I’m much happier now that I’ve moved to cars from a company that makes them right the first time.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If nothing else, the issue is worth buying for its value as ammunition in Internet-forum wars.
     
    The noblest of pursuits indeed.  That’ll teach them to buy a car that I chose not to own.

  • avatar
    340-4

    I would much rather own a Chrysler product (truck, 300c, Charger) than most other makes – in particular, VW and Audi.
     
    How in the world do they rate so high? I got burned by VW, and from what I understand a 4-5 year old Audi is an exercise in torture. I won’t even mention parts prices.
     
    When is the next Fusion coming?

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @340-4, “From what I understand …”
       
      If you look at the TrueDelta data (far more detailed than CR) you will see that 2006+ MY Audis are typically rated as average reliability, with a handful rated better than average.  I did not spot any rated worse than average. But of course assumptions and generalizations are a whole lot more fun.
       
      And, yes, Fusion does very well at TrueDelta, too.

    • 0 avatar
      CHINO 52405

      I leased an A4 that I didn’t even see through to the end of the 4 year lease but it had no problems to speak of in the 3 years I had it.
      My 2004 VW Touareg on the other hand has me swearing off VAG for life – never, ever, ever again. 1 month after my 5 year powertrain warranty I had a bad solenoid in the bell housing, confirmed by the private shop (not dealer) I use. VW will not sell that solenoid and as such I had to replace the entire f***ing bell housing for one bad solenoid.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      Assumptions and generalizations? Sure, they’re more fun.
       
      And at times, from my personal ownership experience, following the industry for 30 years, close friendship with an ASE certified master mechanic, and word of mouth from friends and associates, accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @340-4, That’s anecdotal evidence, still, unless your “friends and associates” number in the thousands.
       
      I, too, could say I owned brand X model Y and it sucked, or a friend had a model Z and it was flawless.  But it’s still only a couple of subjective data points, and thus meaningless.  Just like you won’t be able to predict the next election result by simply polling the neighbours on your street.

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    The Fusion will be all new in 2012/13 time frame. If Ford were smart they would wait till 2014 to release and do as much research and studying of the moving targets that are the Accord and Camry that they can. The Camry just got a refresh this year and the Accord next year so their all new models wont come out til 2013/14 time frame. Ford she meet them head on those years and come out with something truly special.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Camry is no longer the bar.  Hyundai Sonata is out-Camrying the Camry.  They released all new models this year – that is the new bar – that and the Fusion itself would be a close second place.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      The Camry didn’t get a refresh just a new grille. The body panals are indentical as before along with the interior with it’s poor panal fits, loose fitting A-pilar trim and the mouse fur door panals that I have seen worn right through on several used examples. The 2009-2010 Fusion is a much better example of a proper refresh and the 2011 Sonata is a good example of all new. The Camry is now the oldest of the mid size sedans excluding the terrible Galant going into it;s 5th model year with the only noteworthy change being a slight displacement bump on the base engine from the uncompetitive 158 HP 2.4 to the barely competitive 169 of the current 2.5. Note that the Accord acheives 178 and 190 HP from 2.4 liters and Hyundai/Kia get 198-200 from the same liter engine as the Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      According to CR, the “bar” is the Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      I don’t know, the Camry seemed to hold it’s own quite well even in basic LE trim.
      Compare the stats at the end and it’s still quite capable.

      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/112_1005_best_selling_midsize_family_sedan_comparison/index.html

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Most cars are fundementally reliable these days. In my view reliability should be lower down the list in terms of prioritys when buying a car. Things like space, quality of finish and looks are much more important to me nowadays than reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      You’ve never owned a German car, have you?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I know some people have a beef with German cars but in my experience – I owned a Mark IV Golf (1999-2002) in the UK for 3 eyars – no issues. I owned for 3 years a Seat Ibiza TDi (2002-2005) which is essentially a Polo and again no issues. In the US I leased a BMW328i and in 35,000 and 3 years the only thing it needed was one oil change. Again no issues. Maybe I got lucky but with 3 German cars I had no issues spanning 1999 to 2010.

      Whereas the Toyota Sienna minivan I have (2008) had a fuel leak at 20,000 miles. So we can all point out anecdotal evidence but the bottom line is most cars are very reliable (less than 1 issue per year). Most of the issues are minor (i.e. the car does not breakdown and the issue is more a nuisance). I agree that other considerations like driving dynamics, quality of materials, fuel economy, design etc should be as important.

    • 0 avatar

      @mike: Most every car is reliable for 3 years of ownership, its the 5+ years when European cars (in America) are not only unreliable, they are way more expensive to set right. And most dealerships treat you like crap too.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Well, if you have a lot of money, and another vehicle, I suppose reliability isn’t all that important, but a friend who is going through Subaru hell would disagree. If it was just something like the radio not working, but the thing (I don’t remember what model it is, I only saw it once) has had electrical issues. Sadly, most of them came after the warranty expired and he and his wife have been stranded in it several times. AAA knows them by their voice when they call, and the dealer has been pretty worthless at trying to fix the problems, but has offered to take it off their hands. That dealer sells almost everything, so he might do it, if the trade amount is reasonable. I don’t know how many times I got called over the last year asking for a ride about 1AM when it decided to not start again.
      I don’t know why they bought it, the last Subaru they had was a problem filled nightmare too.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    I wouldn’t buy an RL neww, but used, sure.  300 bhp, AWD, very reliable.  Everyone I know who owns one loves it.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    My own expereince has been hit and miss. I have a 2002 Tacoma with 140k miles on it that has been dead stone reliable for me. Everything that ever broke on it was things the dealer touched.  I also had a 2008 Passat wagon that was dead stone reliable for me, and we just got back from a 2500 mile road trip in my wife’s 2006 Audi A3 that has also been dead stone reliable. (and service parts for it are actually quite cheap). Now, until recently, I also had a 2010 VW Jetta TDI  that made me scream my lungs out on a bi-weekly basis with all the things on it that broke. Choose a new car with caution,  but at the end of the day, choose one you like. all relationships have ups and downs.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The RL is awful. Just awful. Ugly, slow, torqueless engine, clueless transmission (still 5-speeds Acura? Everybody else is working on 8). Crap electronics, cheap materials, cramped, and uncomfortable. Other than that its great.

    I understand the desire for a reliable, well made luxury car. You don’t need to settle for RL garbage, just head over to the Infiniti dealer. The M has been a reliability all-star since it was introduced back in ’06, and the new one is so much better than the RL that it’s not even funny.

  • avatar

    I purchased a 2000 Saab 9-5 Wagon back in 2003, based largely on CR’s “Recommended” rating of that model.  Worst mistake I ever made.  I’m giving CR the benefit of the doubt on this one, but wouldn’t rely too heavily on their results.  I think a thorough analysis of the prior owner’s repair/maintenance papers and maybe some gut feelings will do more good in the long run when selecting a used vehicle.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The last time I flipped through Consumer Reports, which was about six months ago, I noticed how they were consistently inconsistent in reliability ratings of badge engineered products. Ford vs. Mercury. VW vs. Audi, etc. I’d suggest that CR is like everything else, an additional source, but not the final word. As soon as they feature a centerfold, I’m subscribing!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t think this is the case, or when it is there’s often assembly differences that can explain what’s going on.
       
      Ford and Mercury generally track each other quite closely, and VW and Audi don’t actually share platforms much anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Different assembly sites can make a huge difference.
       
      Pontiac Vibe was built in Freemont, California at NUMMI.  The Toyota Matrix was built in Ontario, Canada (NUMMI couldn’t build right hand drive cars).  “Badge engineered,” vehicles built at different factories in different countries.  This can result in a huge difference.
       
      Also depends on the demographics of the buyers, certain groups of people are far more likely to go into a dealer and complain about a rattle they hear at 1800 to 2000 RPM when it is 65 degrees out and I’m at 40% throttle on a 3% incline.  While another demographic will go, “huh, what was that noise, oh well,” and so this will sway survey results.

    • 0 avatar

      When two cars are essentially the same, CR pools the responses for them and issues identical ratings. This is almost always the case with Ford and Mercury.

      For some odd anomalies, compare different bodystyles of the same model. I wrote that up some time ago here:

      http://www.truedelta.com/pieces/anomalies.php

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      @ Holden
      NUMMI built both the Vibe and the Matrix as well as the Right hand drive version of the Vibe for Japan
       
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NUMMI
      #corrections

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I have always scratched my head reading CR’s take on so-called ‘reliability”. What, exactly, do they mean when some cars are called out for their issues? Out-and-out failure of the part involved? When they ding a car for “cooling”, “transmission” or something else, what is the problem? They do not elaborate, which would be valuable information. I take them with a grain of salt but respect their research at the same time, but I wonder at how much response they actually get and whether it’s truly fair on the part of their readers. I do agree with Sugarbrie in that small issues that do not affect me getting from point “A” to point “B” should not be weighted the same as a drive train failure. Curiously, I don’t remember much being said on the engine oil sludge issues with some of Chryslers, Toyotas and Hondas, either, although it was a big stink on the internet.

    Everything ever written is someone’s opinion, just like back in the days when Car & Driver magazine was accused of being communist for their overly negative viewpoint on American cars! I feel from my experience of looking at and occasionally subscribing to CR that they go out of their way to ding a car – one case in point: When the K cars came out, CR highlighted a photo of how high the guy pictured had to raise his foot to depress the parking brake pedal! They dinged the car for that! An extreme measure in my opinion to find fault with a vehicle that was better than most of the competition, especially the GM “X” heaps!

    When a subscriber to CR, I dutifully filled out the surveys very carefully and honestly, just as I track my cars on Mike’s TrueDelta when entering data.

    • 0 avatar

      The complaint about the brake pedal would have been in a road test, not the reiability survey. These are two different things.

      In the reliability survey, it’s up to each individual respondent to determine what counts. Report a minor rattle? Then it counts. Decide not to report a failed transmission because it was covered by the warranty and the dealer treated you well? Then it doesn’t count.

      The survey asks owners to only report serious problems. But rattles are among the most commonly reported problems. Serious rattles?

      My full critique of their survey:

      http://www.truedelta.com/pieces/cr_survey.php

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Michael, the parking brake pedal wasn’t a ding on “reliability”, but it was, I feel, a going-out-of-the-way effort to find something to complain about – how high it seemed for one to have to raise one’s foot to engage the parking brake. If I remember correctly, the man in the car didn’t appear any less than me (5’10″), so it’s things like this that infuriate me about CR. Now, to qualify that comment, I feel more so when it is a car I care about, but I do try to be objective these last several years since autos have been so homogenized and wear certain badges, but hiding their country of origin.

      By the way, I have all three of my cars registered on TrueDelta, too.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Is there a perfect metric for judging overall reliability of a vehicle? Probably not. I think CR paints an overall accurate portrayal of vehicle dependability with some margin of error. Michael Karesh of TrueDelta would probably echo similar sentiment. Hopefully he does as I’m anxious to hear what he has to say about this.

  • avatar
    Sugarbrie

    Regarding warranties, I owned a Gen 1 Audi A4.  Loved the car.
     
    It was 1.5 years old from in service date with 20K on the clock.
     
    It was not a CPO at the time.  I got them to CPO it for $1K more than the price we had already negotiated without the CPO.
     
    To get it up to CPO standards, they put on 4 new (better than OEM) tires, so I got part of my $1K back right away.
     
    So with the CPO tacked on, I had a car with a 4.5 year, 80,000 mile warranty.  Not bad..
     
    This is back when Audi’s included maintenance, so I also had free maintenance for 30K miles as well, which included one set of front and rear break pads and rotors.

  • avatar
    ott

    The Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura were undesirable cars? No, they were mismanaged cars. Before the current Malibu debuted, the Aura was THE new GM product everyone was gaga over. And the G6 offered a very engaging and feature-laden package for the money, and because of that, Pontiac sold boatloads of them.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Yes.  The G8 was so undesirable that GXP manual models are selling today for darn close to what buyers paid for them 12 to 18 months ago.  GT models have appreciated in 2010 after bottoming out in the fall of 2009.  Nobody wants those G8s!!
       
      If anyone can find me an unwanted G8 that has depreciated as hard as a Pontiac G6, please refer me to any V8 GT’s that aren’t in a salvage yard in the $12K to $15K range.  I would love to flip them for $24K to $26K.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Ott still has a valid point.  The G6s that have been beaten with the depreciation stick are the less desirable standard 4cyl and 3.5 V6 models.  Same with the Aura in the standard 3.5 trim with 4speed auto.  Check the prices of 3.6VVT models with 6speed autos for G6 GXP and Aura 3.6.  The prices have stayed steady and I consider the two to be desirable.  (Remember Ott works as a car salesman.)
       
      Having said that the G8 in V8 trim either GT or GXP is a genuine collectors car.  Prices have stayed high because many believe it to be the last North American gasp of the 4-door Zeta platform.  I personally pray that it is not but I also know better than to sit around holding my breath for the new Caprice.

    • 0 avatar
      Michel1961

      I’ve had a very bad 2000 Honda Civic (bits falling off), a very very bad 2003 Ford Focus (which CR had said was looking up in terms of reliability…) and I now have a 2007 Aura, which turned out to be a very good car. It’s resale value is currently comparable with similar Camrys or Accords. My reliability issues on the Aura are with the dealership, not with the car itself. You literaly have to go back 3 or 4 times to get the simplest thing fixed. I must have been to the dealership 40 times over the past 3 years with only 8 or so repairs to show for it, most of them very minor. If I only had to go once, this car would be on par with a Lexus. Does CR keep track of that ?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The G8 will be a collector’s car right up to the point GM decides (if they decide!) to sell it as a Caprice, at which point it’ll plummet.  Currently, if you want a large, rear-drive car with sporting pretensions and don’t want the slab-sided look of Chrysler’s LX offerings or the repair bills of a used 7-Series, it’s the only game in town.
       
      The G6 was a decent car for a Pontiac at the time, but it wasn’t a very good car overall.  GM had to put a lot of money on the hood to get it out the door in appreciable numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      psarhjinian – the Caprice PPV is based on the Holden Statesman, not the Commodore.  It has a longer wheel base and is almost 10 inches longer.  It is not the same car as the Pontiac G8.  You can still buy a Zeta platform car today, its called the Chevrolet Camaro.

      The GXP models will be collectible forever, and will likely appreciate sooner than the average car that becomes collectible.  The GTs will likely remain collectible.  What is stunning is its hard to even find a stripper V6 2008 base model that isn’t dogged out with 70K miles on it for under $20K.  Twenty-six percent depreciation in three years on a stripper V6 2008 model?  We should all be so lucky!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      The G6 was star-crossed, somehow got a bad reputation by being given away on Oprah’s TV show. It never seemed to recover from that event, and it wasn’t too long after GM was discounting them heavily. The SV model was sold to rental fleets, which look remarkably similar to the more expensive models. That didn’t help either.
       
      It’s a lot better car than most think, but frankly, it’s all water under the bridge.

  • avatar
    jmo

    If the Stuttgart crew has finally fixed their water-cooled crapwagons, color me mocha surprised… but that’s what CR is claiming.

    Everything I’ve read, going back 20 years, has ranked Porsche at the top in terms of both short and long term reliability.   Do you have any data to back up your assertion that their quality was ever even below average let along at the level of “crapwagon?”

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Part of this is probably anecdotal and bias-driven on Jack’s part.  Porsche people are kind of anal about the whole “water-cooled” thing.
       
      The other part is likely due to differences in use.  CR-reading Porsche buyers probably don’t do to their cars what Jack does to his.  You see this a lot in non-mainstream cars.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s important to remember that CR’s overall ratings cover the 2008-2010 model years. TrueDelta has limited data on newer Porsches, but what we do have suggests that they’re considerably more reliable than older ones.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnny Canada

      Search “IMS Failure“, a.k.a. crapwagon.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Search “IMS Failure“, a.k.a. crapwagon.

      Yes, and they are still above average in reliability.  Toyota’s sludge, Honda automatics grenade,  all cars have their issues – some more than others.  The statistical reality is that Porsche’s are, on average, more reliable than most other cars.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Porsche reliability is confusing. Most Boxsters sold during years when the engines were short lived. Cayennes are more complicated versions of the industry-worst VW Touareg. Part of Porsche’s good press program involves keeping a 911 variant in every monthly’s long term fleet at all times. Even though the overall review is always glowing to ensure another year of free 911 access, the repairs they detail for a year of ownership sound like something that would cause PTS flashbacks for a former owner of a 1976 Speke TR-7. Maybe people who spend more on options than others spend on high quality family sedans worry so much about appearances that they won’t admit in print that they bought the emporer’s broken down clothes.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Do you know why?  It’s because most Porshes aren’t daily drivers.  They might go quite a few years, but maybe not so many miles.  They’re cheap and reliable when compared to, say, a Ferrari or Aston Martin, but otherwise pertty expensive and unreliable.  Since they’ve gone water-cooled, they’ve been known to gernade engines in a variety of ways- most notably an intermediate shaft failure. Cracked cylinders are also a problem on some models.

  • avatar

    I know 3 Ford Fusion owners who can’t get from one oil change to the next without a ride on the tow hook for powertrain problems.  One of them just dumped their 2008 Fusion for a Sonata and can now safely take a highway trip without worrying about the tranny imploding.  There is something seriously wrong with the six speed tranny in these cars and the engine cooling system.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    For some people, reliability is nice but not the number one priority. I buy a car because I love it. My 2004 Audi A6 has been bullet proof. My old man’s 2000 A6 just had the throttle body boot replaced but thats been it in the 10 years he as had it. And both have the “maintenance nightmare” 2.7T engine. Our Fords, on the other hand, have tried to kill us numerous times with brake failure (2 Focuses and 2 Explorers). The argument that “you pay so much for a car, it should never break” is a valid argument from those who consider reliability the number one factor when buying a car. But you are really paying for the luxury, performance, power etc etc. If more money meant more reliability then a koenigsegg should be bullet proof but from what I hear you can expect at least 5 major breakdowns in the first 30k.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    CR doesn’t recommend my 2008 Impala yet it is the best car I have ever owned for both reliability and interior quality. Not one single items has failed inside including power window motor/regulators, A/C, power locks, remote start, instrument cluster, panal fit and finish are still excellent, there are no squeaks or rattles, the engine runs liquid smooth at idle and never misses a beat and the 4 speed automatic always shifts flawlessly. Now with over 70K miles the only issue of note is the typical GM intermediate steering shaft clunk making a left turn. This is more of a noise than a problem and doesn’t affect the car in any other way. A $100.00 trip to the dealer for new grease should fix the issue as it has done on my other W-body cars which have all been well above average in reliability. My parents 2008 Impala LS with 40K miles has never even been in the shop once other than oil changes and new tires. It still even has the original brakes and rotors! I know many other folks with 2008-2010 Impalas and they never break or give any trouble and so far I haven’t spoke with a person yet that didn’t like them. Not bad for an older designed car past it’s shelf life.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      They don’t recommend the Impala because it isn’t a very good car in terms of performance, not because it’s unreliable.  They do the same for the Yaris and Insight, and for years the Passat and Jetta were the flip-side of that coin: they performed well, but weren’t reliable, and thusly weren’t recommended.
       
      I’m sure your Impala is a nice car, but objectively there are several better cars out there.
       
      It’s important to understand what “Recommended” means: the car has to be decently capable, of average reliability, and pass crash tests.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      “My parents 2008 Impala LS with 40K miles has never even been in the shop once other than oil changes and new tires. It still even has the original brakes and rotors!” 

      40k is good for brakes to you?  My wife’s MINI is on 52k miles, original brakes, only fluid changes.  OEM tires made it 40k at least.  I sold my GTI w/ 60k miles (driven rather hard compared to your parents’ Impala, I’m sure) with tons of life left on the original brakes.  I got 45k out of the OEM tires and only changed them due to a puncture halfway through a 5000 mile roadtrip.  I got 80k miles out of the brakes on my 2001 Impreza 2.5RS.  If my 4Runner doesn’t make it to 60k miles on the original brakes, I’ll be livid.

      Note: I’m not a flatlander. Most of my mileage is put on crossing the App mountains that run up the spine of West Virginia.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      I had a W-Body 2005 Grand Prix GT2 (cousin of the Impala) for 4-1/2 years.  In 90K miles I did front and rear brake pads at 68K miles.  Tires at 60K miles.  Swapped the tranny fluid just because at 50K miles.  It had one TSB repair under warranty for hard start when using the remote start.  I seem to remember it had one minor recall for computer reprogramming, but I could be wrong about that.

      Most reliable car I ever owned.  Oh ya, and its been on the CR recommended list for used cars to buy since 2006 (haven’t looked up in the current issue).  The GM 3.8L Series III engine may have been built like a boat anchor, along with the 4-speed auto it was mated to, but you can’t kill them.

      Impalas are equally reliable from a platform standpoint (the 3.9 is way better than the 3.5) but it is so outdated and out classed it just can’t be recommended.  I woulnd’t be surprised to see the 3.9 and 3.8 engine models on the recommended used car list (again, will have to look)

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      The best W body car, IMO – My 2002 Buick Regal LS [3.8 4-speed] was a terrific car – good looking, well built, zero problems in 106,000 miles [gave it to my nephew recently], 30mpg on the road; full of content goodies, fun to drive [!] – what more do you want? OEM tires went 45K miles; first brakes 67K. CU dinged it for dated design, too.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @ponchoman: “Not bad for an older designed car past it’s shelf life.” What definition of shelf life are you using?
       
      Let me explain my idea: I’ve spent some time in a number of W-bodies, several of my friends & neighbors have them. I often marvel at the idea that my buddy’s 1992 Lumina (300,000+ miles) is the same basic car as my next door neighbor’s 2005 Impala. Granted, there are myriad changes between the models and the Lumina is a work beater, but the goodness of the engineering is still there. How are these cars past their shelf life if they are still selling at a pretty good clip, even 20 years later? I think that GM did a lot of things right and improved these cars, contrary to popular opinion that they are all left to die on the vine.
       
      I suggest in the wake of the multiple Panther jizz-fests we’ve just witnessed, we should have a W-body Appreciation Week. While they are not the J-body “cockroaches of the road” like mine are, there are a substantial amount of them out there and apparently a fan base to go with them.
       
      What do you say, Editor(s)?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      IMO the Intrigue was the pinnacle of the W-body.
       
      And, after owning a few of both, I feel that the H-body is superior to the W.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It’s a sad day in Munich when the most reliable vehicle BMW makes is the M3.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      My 1999 Mercedes AMG has been far more reliable than any of the lesser Mercedes we have owned; one of which lasted only six months. The dealers take better care of it also.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I tend to believe Consumer Reports, even if the dots and such are very arbitrary.  I tend not to believe websites where any fan boy can post comments, etc.  For example, CR says that Volkswagen isn’t tops for reliability.  Personal experience has proved that to me as well.  But if you dare mention that the Passat is a terrible car based on historical reliability someone will tell you how gawd damned great theirs has been and CR is just wrong.  For that I always remember that even a terrible production run can have some gems.  I drove a 1990 Taurus with an AXOD tranny for over 200k trouble free miles, many of which were tough stop-n-go city miles.  That car, specifically tranny, was a pile of $hit, but mine was flawless.  That said, odds are the next one off the line sucked.

    Still have my biases though, I just don’t try to contradict reliability ranks based on my own experience.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      How long the transmission lasted in those Tauruses also depended on which engine was installed in the car. Supposedly, the base 3.0 V-6 wasn’t powerful enough to cause problems with that transmission. I’ve known people who have gone well over 150,000 miles without any transmission trouble with that drivetrain. The 3.8 V-6, however, was apparently too strong for that automatic transmission. The same thing happened with the 1996 and later Tauruses with the 3.0 OHV V-6 and the 3.0 OHC V-6.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      My ’87 Taurus LX was the recipient of a special 100K warranty soon after I bought it; it failed at 103,000 miles. The A/C evaporator [$25 part; $500 labor]; distributor and front end [all the grease fitting boots died after 4 years] were also short-lived.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …My ’87 Taurus LX was the recipient of a special 100K warranty soon after I bought it; it failed at 103,000 miles…
       
      That’s the beauty of older cars with mechanical odometers…you remove the speedo and reset the mileage…no guilt at all…roll it back to 99K…

  • avatar
    threeer

    I guess it’s incidental (and probably not statistically valid) but I had to choke back my laughter (and virtual disgust) when they braodcast that the Fusion was one of the most reliable cars out there (one of the reasons I bought it).  4 years old and admittedly with a few more miles than average (100k), the clutch utterly failed ($1400), the starter went ($380) and while probably related, either I have a completely dead battery (I can live with that, it happens) or the alternator died…It’s parked in the garage, as I’m too torqued at it right now to even spend another dime on it.  Meanwhile, I confidently soldier on in my 1997 Tercel with 191k on it.  Like I said, my experience is only one data point, and maybe they are touting the reliability of different Fusion models than my 2006 four cylinder/five speed manual model…

    Bottom line is that I, like others that have commented already, take all data and reports with a grain of salt.  No single publication is the end all of reliability, so multiple sources are needed to make a (hopefully) informed decision.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Alternator, starter and clutch in 4 years and 100k miles would be an average of 0.75 problems per year which would make it one of the most reliable cars available.   I think a Lexus LS460 is 0.5 per year and at the other extreme a Land Rover is 2.2 problems per year.

    • 0 avatar
      Rada

      @jmo, you gotta be effing kidding me trying to compare the enormously costly failures of the Fusion with a Lexus. The number of failures maybe similar, but what the failures are is quite different. Toyota/Lexus owners may think a squeaky sun visor is a failure.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My two vehicles represent both sides of these CR surveys:
     
    ’00 VW Passat 1.8T: recommended back in the day …and it was a GREAT car for 3 years, no issues at all, however since then its become a serious POS. I can’t wait to get rid of it.
    ’02 Dodge Dakota V8: not recommended new or used …yet its been nearly flawless. Looks and runs 100X better then VeeDub so go figure.
    I previously owned Hondas and they were a pleasure with no problems. I’m always shocked that Dodge has been so good where as the VW is a nightmare considering its the same as Audi A4.
     

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Your experience with the Passat mirrors that of my friend…he recently traded a 2001 Passat with about 70,000 miles on the odometer for a brand-new Hyundai Sonata. He loved it at first, but that relationship went sour as the miles and years rolled by.

      In his words, “The VW was basically falling apart.”

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I agree with many here, never rely on only one source for reviews and research of ANYTHING, let alone cars, that said, I find CR to be a fairly good resource, especially if you read the detailed reports on a specific car as they buy and test them over a period of time, with each staffer checking one out and testing it, both on the track and in actual driving on public roads and byways and then compiling the data into one well detailed report, stating both cons and pros, from everything from great reliability, but mediocre handling, cargo space is so so, back seat cramped etc, that way, you get a pretty good picture of how the car stacks up over a variety of people over time.
     
    But that said, with the reviews of that car from CR, True Delta and any other sources, both in print or on line and add them ALL together and if they all say more or less the same thing, then you have your answer. That was how I reviewed for an external hard drive back in 2008 even though I never thought to read up on CR, but did C/Net and other resources and got more or less the same thing and in the end, the Simpletech simple drive was the one that made the least clunkers of the bunch for it was noted in all reviews that the larger Maxtor and Western Digital and Hitachi drives all had problems and were quite prevalent, things like poor ventilation for their larger capacity drives, poor SATA-USB interface and/or cables, things like that but the Simpletech was the least trouble prone of the bunch in the 500GB capacity I was after (and it’s good price point didn’t hurt either) and so that was what I went with.
    As for customer reviews, definitely read them with a grain of salt, but also watch how often certain things get brought up over the course of your research, if many people mention the same or similar problem(s), it’s something to take note and it may be enough to avoid that product/manufacturer.
    In the end, I find CR to be fairly good and probably the least biased of the sources out there if anything since they don’t take advertising and they then can downgrade a product, if it fairly deserves to be downgraded.
    Ultimately, you need to do your research, read up on reviews, the detailed ones and NOT just the new/used car issue/book but the detailed reports on each car, if you have access to their website, you can view videos of the car in action on their test track and then weigh the pros and cons of each car you are considering against your lifestyle and driving habits to see if a particular car is right for you.
     
    Ultimately I was able to reduce my short list due to the overall ratings/customer satisfaction ratings as the Yaris, the Scion XD and the Versa were all rated decent cars, but customer satisfaction was less than steller and that told me that while decent and competent, they were not spectacular so off the list they went, the Honda Fit rated well and as were the customer satisfaction but when I test drove it, it was fine, comfortable car for the most part, but just didn’t feel as sporty as I’d like, it’s still on the list though until I can get more test drives under my belt on other cars on my list (have test driven the Fiesta), which means the Soul, the Fiat 500 and the Mazda 2, although the motor concerns me in it’s overall performance.
    In the end, reviews, no matter where they come from will only help inform your decisions and thus it is up to you to decide what is the best car to purchase for your needs

  • avatar
    Emro

    “Next time somebody is bragging about their Mini Cooper Clubman or Nissan Cube, you can totally shut ‘em down.”
    *sniff*, i love my Clubman S :(

  • avatar
    Rada

    The only reliable metric I know is how many cars of a particular brand are still on the road, and the word of mouth:

    1. BMWs are crap. Many people I know got burned BIG TIME, I’m not talking pocket change here. These do not seem like isolated instances.
    2. No self-respecting person should buy a VW.
    3. Toyotas/Lexus best in reliability. My extended family is pretty much all-Toyotas, and zero problems beyond normal wear. Mind you, we keep our cars for 10+ years at least.
    4. The rest of Japanese brands are considerably worse.
    5. Unfortunately, not many people I know own latest Fords, so I just don’t know. (I hope they are good, because the new Focus looks quite good.)

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Umm…Rada.  In other words, the only brand out there that is worth buying is Toyota?  And that’s all you and your family “pretty much” own?  And Toyotas are the only cars that are still on the road (according to your “look and see” metric)?
       
      Great to get such an objective analysis.  Keep up the good work.

    • 0 avatar
      Rada

      I said they’re most reliable (which is what I value most), not necessarily the only brand worth buying.

      You can go ahead and buy a BMW. I wouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The only reliable metric I know is how many cars of a particular brand are still on the road,
       
      Not necessarily.  Resale values, or lack thereof, may make that expensive repair a non-starter.  A Honda that needs a new transmission may well get it but a same age Taurus might be deemed not worth the repair.  So that Honda gets many more years to rack up the miles but the Taurus gets junked.  With a new trans, the Taurus may well have lasted as long as the Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      frizzlefry

      You can buy a Toyota. I would rather eat a shotgun than subject myself to such a soulless driving experience.

  • avatar
    JohnnyPickleFeet

    Simple formula. reliability = engineered transportation appliance. Most and I mean 90% of the car buying public, want to get from A to B with no drama. They are intimidated by the car buying/leasing process, deathly afraid to try routine maintenance (oil/filter change out of warranty, change a bulb or wiper) and probably neglect the car for the most part under warranty and then pass on the problem to the dealer. Manufacturers in turn engineer products that cater to that type of consumer and when one of the millions of that model has issues, the owner is shocked. Is it really that devastating when a window actuator goes on the fritz under warranty? No. Yeah its a bit of a hassle to go get your loaner but by and large this stuff happens with a 20k or a 120k car. If the car offers some smiles then owners tend to be a little more tolerant.
    My 2008 G37s is a good car, in some magazines better than a 335i. Ive had a few trips to the dealer for SW upgrade, muffler (twice) brake squeak (ongoing) but almost three years later its been dead reliable. Is it fun to drive? NO. Do I look forward to carving up the back roads that I used to commute on daily (60 miles in total of S’s along the Potomac river) NO. It s almost as if the G is a perfect reliable representation of what a good GT should be without the driving fun. Japanese brands are like diet drinks, they offer all the taste without the calories but in the end the experience is not the same. My advice, don’t drink diet and don’t drive what promises to be the next best thing. Life is short


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