By on December 24, 2011

All told, this has been a successful holiday season for your humble editor. I have showered myself with gifts, avoided annoying family entanglements, kept my pimp hand weak strong, and made sure there’s a three-hour gap in my Christmas to re-watch Michael Mann’s Heat in its glorious entirety.

And yet… I’m dissatisfied. Perhaps because there are ten simple things the automotive industry and/or its various players could do to make this the best season ever, and as of yet, none of them have been done. So here’s my list, delivered nice and late. Warning: mixture of hatred, sarcasm, and foolish sincerity ahead.

#10: Get the Chinese crap out of iconic American automobiles. There’s no simpler way to say it. Ford, please fit a decent, American-made transmission to all the Mustangs. If you need to, just toss in the GT500 transmission, charge everyone a fair amount for the difference, and rest secure in the knowledge that the right thing has been done. GM, you don’t get a pass on this either. Every Corvette sold in this country should have American-made wheels. It’s that simple. I don’t want to do 195mph on wheels made by suppliers who can just close their doors and reopen the next day under a different name. We won’t even talk about the electronics. Just fix the running parts, okay?

#9: Mercedes-Benz should formally apologize for the W220 and W210. Every customer who purchased a new S-Class or E-Class from those infamously troubled generations should receive a letter in the mail, hand-signed by Dr. Panzer Kampf-Wagen or whoever is running the show nowadays, apologizing for selling them an utter piece of junk. Hundreds of thousands of customers were basically swindled. They thought they were buying a Mercedes-Benz, not a cost-cut half-plastic embarrassment. Make it right. And throw them a little incentive towards the price of a new (and presumably better) Benz, just to make up for the abysmal resale on, say, the 2001 S430.

#8: Kill the Caliber. Okay, I guess that one’s been done.

#7: Buy all the Calibers back. Well, a guy can dream.

#6: Extend the warranty on the Cadillac Northstar. All of them. As dismal as the Mercedes-Benz S430 was, at least the basic mechanical parts were generally sound. Not so the Caddy four-valver. It’s great to drive and the name is also really cool, but they have become infamous for reliability issues. Now would be a good time for GM to show that they are serious about making Cadillac a world-class brand. They could do this by extending the warranty to match that of existing world-class brands like Hyundai, Kia, and Mitsubishi. If you really want to impress people, and if you really want to do something about Cadillac residuals, extend the warranty backwards in time. There’s precedent. Honda did it on the exploding-tranny Acuras. Surely Cadillac can match Acura.

#5: Go ahead and release the real 2012 Honda lineup. Oh, you’ve certainly had your fun with us, you crazy Japan-people, you. We Got Punked! I’m laughing. I really am. So now you can pull the wraps off the Civic, Acura TL/TSX, and CR-Z that you really want people to buy. I can hardly wait. DO EEET NOW. Obviously anybody who accidentally bought the current cars will get to trade, right?

#4: Let’s get Car and Driver and Road & Track off the newsstands. And AutoWeek while you’re at it. Seriously. Those of us who remember these magazines in their prime (not that AutoWeek ever had a prime, but you get the idea) are just depressed by reading them now — and the younger drivers don’t care. Close their doors and give existing subscribers, none of whom paid more than $6.95 a year anyway, their choice of Grassroots Motorsports or Shaved Asians to finish out their terms. Reading these once-great magazines now produces the same uncomfortable feeling I had when I heard that Jaco Pastorius had died in a gutter. Let’s make the dignified choice.

#3: End trim discrimination for manual transmissions. We live in an era where just-in-time manufacturing and supply have revolutionized the way cars are built. There is no reason whatsoever why the Hyundai Elantra Limited can’t be had with a manual transmission. Same goes for any other number of cars on the market. I’m not asking anybody to take the completely wacky step of fitting optional manuals on cars which don’t have them available now. I’m not living in dreamland. I understand that it’s critical for every Nissan Maxima sold to be crippled with that ridiculous Completely Vapid Transmission, and I can see how it’s simply too much hassle to offer a stick-shift in US-market Mercedes-Benz sedans, what with the extra $10 million it would cost to test the powertrain combination. That kind of cash pays for a lot of hidden goodwill programs on the W210 (see #9, above). I’m just saying: if you offer a manual transmission in one trim level, offer it in all of them. TSX Wagon, I’m looking directly at you. It can be special order only. That’s okay. I will wait.

#2: Porsche. Try finding it in your God-damned hearts to engineer, build, and sell a sporting 2+2 made to last a lifetime under a combination of four-season street and casual racetrack usage. Take all the money you waste on lifestyle marketing, accessories catalogs, special promotions, unique tie-ins, PR, free trans-Atlantic business-class flights for sycophants, hybrid drivetrains for five-thousand-pound crapwagons, special advertising sections, long-term loaners, Peter Cheney’s garage door, full-color glossy posters featuring frog-faced, thyroid-deficient trucksedans, whatever special tools are required to make sure the Cayman’s engine pushes less air than the 911′s, and any other unbelievably stupid thing you’re currently doing — and put all of it into creating a decent car. Just do that. Just put aside the thirty years of self-aggrandizing detritus you’ve built up around a once-legendary brand. Just build a car that will run 200,000 miles with careful maintenance the way (some of) the air-cooled cars did. I want to buy a Porsche. But I’m not a big enough fool to give you $85,000 for something that will have major, unresolved defects and a 35% residual five years after I take delivery.

#1: I’d like my colleagues to look in the mirror. If you’re writing in this business, today would be a good day to take stock of who you are, what you’re written, and the things for which you personally stand. Today would be a good day to remember that, although your super-best-friends in the PR business may pay for your daily driver, send your family on vacations, and pick up the tab for your drinks, your genuine and true responsibility is to the people who read your articles. My son is two and a half years old. The day will come when I am dead and he will only have what I’ve written to guide him as to who I was. He will see that I was flawed, intemperate, promiscuous, and occasionally naive to a fault — but he will also see that I believed in my readers and was passionate about creating content in which they could believe. Will your son be able to say the same? Or will he say, “My father (or mother) was a pawn of people who bought and sold him for the price of a monthly car payment”? Here’s a litmus test. If you had more interactions with PR people, fleet managers, and industry buddies than you did with your own readers last month, you’re part of the problem. Fix your wagon.

What are the chances I will get any of these gifts? Let’s be honest. It’s between slim and none. I have received one thing for which I am grateful, however: all of you at TTAC. Time and time again you have demonstrated that, collectively, you are the greatest group of partners any writer in the automotive world could wish to have. Merry Christmas to me, indeed.

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96 Comments on “Ten Simple Things The Industry Could Do For Me This Christmas...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    Merry Christmas Jack, you wonderful bastard.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    That was awesome, Jack. Very few have the balls to stand up for whats right, the way you do.

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    Well said sir! Merry Christmas.

    … garage door … :)

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    “…I believed in my readers and was passionate about creating content in which they could believe.”

    And that’s why I believe in you Jack (and Farago – God rest his automotive soul).

  • avatar

    Brilliant. I was going to argue Car and Driver ( I want Alterman to succeed and Phillips makes me laugh), but then you had to invoke Jaco Pastorius.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    #9 Why?

    Most of them were probably leases and the original drivers have since moved on to either another MB or something else. As long as they had bragging rights, I doubt most of them cared.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Actually, from what I see, they are actually holding up well in the long term. Both cars have their issues for sure, but they do seem to keep going. The 210s major flaws are front spring perches rotting out in the salt belt, and the all the springs braking. The drivetrains are pretty solid.

      The 220 has many issues, but it is also very complicated and complication increases the chance of something failing. It seems to be better than the 221 though. Those are having some real issues at low miles. I think that’s why they are rushing the new one out.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        What are the chances the new one will be less frail than the W221s? Mercedes: Each of our cars is better than the next!

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I suspect it will actually be way better than the last. Each 2012 vehicle has been a big step up, the refreshed 204 C-Class, the new 166 ML, even the E has gotten some improved materials in just 1 model year. I think they are starting to feel the pressure from the competition. The new ML for example is in my opinion the best luxury SUV right now.

  • avatar

    (not that AutoWeek ever had a prime, but you get the idea)

    They were good, but that was a long time ago. Satch Carlson had some writing talent. The ads in the back were the only place you could find interesting cars for sale besides Hemmings and maybe rarely in the local Tradin’ Times.

    When I was a kid we’d pick up the Forvitz or the Algemeiner Journal for my Zayde. The NY Yiddish papers would ship out weekly editions to “out of town” shops. My grandfather used to describe it as getting day old news a week late.

    Getting race results from Autoweek was better than waiting a month for the buff books.

    The day will come when I am dead and he will only have what I’ve written to guide him as to who I was.

    JB, you’ve said that you want to see your son reach his 21st birthday. I’m sure that the time you spend with him, the lessons you teach him in those 21 years, will have more of an impact on what kind of person he is and will be than what he reads of your writing once you are gone.

    BTW, you might want to raise your goal to his 30th birthday. My son, my only son, whom I love, Moshe, is 27, he’s married, his wife is expecting their first child, and last night I had dinner at their place. It’s a lot of fun and deeply rewarding to see your kids as adults.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Jack’s comments about Porsche’s poor long term reliability are right on. In part, it’s why I have an Infiniti G37S instead of a Cayman.

  • avatar
    Szyznyk

    Wishing for a worthy successor to the Town Car or a new Mark IX should be #11.

  • avatar
    timmruss

    Merry Christmas Jack,

    Our X-Mas wish is a 991 review and coments about electro-mechanical steering.

    So that we know the truth, not what the propped up media lies pushed by Porsche PR.

    Best

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Yep… I have almost bought a Porsche several times… but after my son’s catastrophic engine failure in his Boxster (and one of my buddies having to replace the head on his 911 at 90,000 miles) I have been dissuaded from ever buying a Porsche… pretty car, fast and cool… but I can’t stand calling the AAA tow truck on a regular basis (something my other son has done, quite regularly, with his BMW 328i… another car on my “no buy” list).

  • avatar
    mitchw

    I believe I read you, JB, mostly to see how you say it.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    My wish is that the US automakers would make 2 doors again, especially in the smaller cars.Buddy of mine bought a Cobalt 2 door in ’09. The dealership he bought it from calls him regularly to see if he wants to trade it in on a new Cruze. He always answers,”Sure, I’d love to come and see a new 2 door Cruze”. Salesperson knows they just wasted a phone call

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      A bit of welding, new metal over the handle indentations, skim coat of Bondo, full respray, custom interior door panels, and front seats out of a Camaro.

      Am I missing anything? Well, no, the dealer probably couldn’t be persuaded to have it done at cost over invoice.

      Sadly, the two-door Focus is dead as well, although I’d rather have the wagon in that case. They already build the damned things in Europe, after all.

      Anyway, I guess it’s Civic or Forte time for your brother in a few years unless he’s okay with RWD. Shame.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I couldn’t agree with #3 more! I don’t care if I have to wait a month for a build-to-order car. Don’t insult me by telling me I have to buy a stripped down car if I want to drive the way I choose to drive. Believe it or not, people who drive manuals actually like to have nav, alloy wheels, cruise control, leather seats, and a moonroof too.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      You might want to talk to an Infiniti salesman about a G37. The one model with a manual transmission is the top of the line.

      Like you, I wish manual transmissions were available at all trim levels. However, it they can’t get it right, I am satisfied if they get it wrong my way.

      • 0 avatar
        mr_mike

        While being at the point in life where a G37 would be nice, there are a lot of us out here that would like to have a stick in something more practical for our young families. My ’01 Alero was a perfect example of what the companies could do. They put a package together that had leather, moon roof, alloy, spoiler, etc with a 5-speed. I bought 2 ’06 Vues that were also nicely equipped (based on the what was offered across the whole line) with a stick. But when looking at the Mazda 5, the stripper model is the only one available. In 3 colors. With the only options available dealer accessories. No leather, no moon roof, no heated seats. While I know these can be added aftermarket, I’d sooner have them installed at the factory and be covered by warranty. I know I’m part of a minority in the US, but I can actually drive a stick with my kids in the car… not that i have the option in my Grand Caravan (which, contrary to most, I’d actually order with stick if I could).

        Anyway, good article Jack, and I do appreciate TTAC’s contribution to the auto world…. I may not agree with everything, but I do respect the manner in which you deliver your messages.

        Merry Christmas to all!

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        The Maxima with nothing but the awful CVT is a particularly sore point as I had a succession of MT Maximas in the ’90s starting with an ’89. These were practical family sedans with a decent fun-to-drive factor.

  • avatar
    Caraholica

    Merry Christmas Jack, You are the man, especially in these here parts.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    “#3: End trim discrimination for manual transmissions.”

    I totally misunderstood that bullet point. I was starting to think that some guys were doing REALLY well with stick shifts.

    Where the h*ll did you get that awful foto for the OP?

    Merry Christmas from Western Michigan to all.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      “Where the h*ll did you get that awful foto for the OP?”

      Looks like Krampus, the German Christmas demon. Which may explain a lot about Porsche engineers.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @rocketrodeo: uhh, maybe. The Krampus I’m thinking of is more like a goat man, or at least the ones that visited my house as a child.

        Either way, I’d be doing the same thing as the child in the photo, and I’m 49 years old! Yikes!

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      Yes please. #3 is a major problem. It could be easily rectified with no cash outlay, and would yield many more sales and happy customers. Win-win. And I agree with Jack – special order is fine.

      Kia Rio5 SX, I’m looking at you. You, too Optima. Germany – you’re not off the hook either. Ahem, A3. And Mazda, don’t think you can slink away, what with your asshole packaging of the new SkyActiv 3.

      • 0 avatar
        TCragg

        The Mazda aversion to manuals must only be in the USA. According to Mazda Canada’s site, the 3 and the 5 can be configured in any trim level, SkyActiv or not, as either a 5- or 6-speed manual, or an automatic. I think the take rate on manuals may be a bit higher in Canada, but it lends credence to the argument that you can offer a manual option without huge volumes to justify it.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    LMAO ! Agree with all especially no. 3 . How many perfectly good cars were ruined for purists when they dropped manual trannys ? Too many ! Manual transmissions not only enhance the driving experience , but also will when driven without abusing will last the life of the car in most cases . Maybe that’s part of the reason they are being phased out ? Love that pic BTW Jack !

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Maybe that’s part of the reason they are being phased out ?

      They are being phased out because only a tiny minority of buyers is interested.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Enthusiasts need to realize that their preferences don’t match the general public’s. The vast majority of Americans don’t want a manual and don’t care about FWD/RWD. They don’t miss the panther, and they have no need to race. They buy appliances because they want appliances.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Auto only for appliances is fine… but when you market and sell a sport model, how can they not offer a stick?? And what Jack is suggesting isnt to develop sticks for all cars, if a car already has a stick offered, there is no good reason in the world not to offer it on ALL trim levels, at least as a special order. This goes double for cars that are sold in other countries that way, and specifically not in the US.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Great post.

    (but I still dig the W210 AWD Wagons especially in the E430 trim)

    Merry Christmas

  • avatar
    orick

    Also, to all makers, please stop the small rear window and huge blind spot trend. You can make a car that has good visibility and good looks. It’s not that hard.

    And to Honda, please stop beat your new cars with the ugly and bloat stick and go back to the agile handsome cars from yesteryear.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      +1 on the windows. I would add the need to kill the excessively & unnecessarily large wheels as well. SUVs aren’t race cars, and giving them wagon wheels only hurts their ride.

  • avatar
    sandmed

    BMW should apologize for the E65/E66/E67/E68 7 series.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Honda is so far behind it’ll be a long time before they return.

  • avatar
    340-4

    This article is the best Christmas present I could have hoped for from TTAC. I would present you with a full gallon of my 100-proof, year-aged eggnog if I could (although this year’s batch is accounted for – maybe next year).

    And, this is exactly the reason I gave up on buff books I’d subscribed to for, in some cases, a decade or more. A wince-inducing, cringe-causing, fist-pumping distillation of Many Great Ills which also happen to be Many Great Truths.

    Genius.

    Perhaps, Santa willing, in a few years I can get a 300C with a stick… or a Porsche that won’t leave me like a Hollywood Divorce…

    Best holiday wishes to Jack and all at TTAC!

  • avatar
    HungryHill

    Writing like this is the reason I’ve gone back and read ALL of Jack’s reviews and comments. Keep it up.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Absolutely yes on no.3. People don’t buy manual transmission because they’re poor. Not anymore. Maybe decades ago. To have manual available on base model only, while the “sport” version came with auto only is just stupid. Ford Focus, I’m looking at you.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      You can get the stick on the Focus with a pretty well loaded SE w/Sport Package, you just can’t get the combo of stick+power seats and nav, which I agree is a bit of a bummer. The upcoming Focus ST will offer a stick and likely all of the electronic goodies for someone who wants all of the options plus the manual.

      It’s rare that I get someone on the lot willing to take a car with a manual, and even rarer that I get someone outside of a Mustang customer who would prefer it. I could see the logic in making them available for special order though, and charging whatever is needed to make the added complexity is needed on the assembly line to make it happen.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I think you’ve nailed it: They don’t make sense for spec cars that sit on the lot, but it shouldn’t be hard to give people the option, especially if you order from the factory anyway. If some trim levels have a stick already, you’re not looking at a complex assembly line change anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        As an almost-buyer of a new Focus (SE with sport package), I have no problems with the way the car can be equipped (I happen to think that buying a built-in nav system over a standalone unit is kinda crazy). I might want leather seats as an option.

        But what I wouldn’t want is the boy-racer ST version, which is just too over-styled inside and out. And 240 or whatever HP its rated at is more than a person is really going to use.

        The clutch and tranny combination of the SE I drove is absolutely fabulous. What I would want in that car is about 40 more HP and it would be perfect. That’s it!

  • avatar
    daviel

    Very well put, Jack. Merry Xmas! C&D hasn’t been worth a s*** since Jean Shepherd shuffled off this mortal coil.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Lol, why not settle for something more realistic, like peace on earth or something :P The only thing I can see is remotely realistic on your list would be the Manual transmission wish. I couldn’t care what happens to any Mercedes, as I never liked any of them, and all Porsches that were interesting were aircooled, so no intrerest in the novelty models they have produced in the latter years. Buy an older one, and keep it in good shape. And I like the Caliber… (mostly because it looks like a hotwheels design, which I guess is why no-one else likes it, But I loved the PT Cruiser too :p)

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    11. Making real station wagons, especially midsize, available in the U.S.

    Yes, I know the Government has a large part in this with CAFE rules.

  • avatar
    carguy

    You’re spot on about Porsche. Owning a Cayman can even turn an atheist to daily prayers for his engine. That is why I only buy used so I can put enough money aside to pay for another engine if/when the damn thing grenades. Maybe someone from Toyota can help them?

    Merry Christmas and a rocking New year!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    “TSX Wagon, I’m looking directly at you. It can be special order only.”
    The Missus rejected the idea of a stick in our TSX wagon, saving me the aggravation of getting one. I was told by the dealer a V6 was a special order possibility but after the earthquake no longer.
    FWIW the paddle shifters are really cool and effective.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Paddle shifters offer all the inconvenience of having to shift yourself, without the payoff of applied skill. Unless you’re involved in a timed competition, the saved fractions of a second are of solely acedemic interest. The obsessive focus on track times over driving pleasure is why we have so few lightweight tossable enjoyable offerings available. I’ll take a 6-speed Miata or Elise over any paddleshifted spec sheet every time.

      • 0 avatar
        sidedraft36

        I’m with Steve on this one. Paddle-flapping is not “shifting.” Maybe its cool if you are an over-paid F1 jock or a F&F lifestyle Fan-boy. But, honestly, how can you be a car enthusiast and not be able to drive a stick?

        And I hate when manufacturers try and toss me a sop by telling me, “we have all the shift for yourself fun of a stick with our new ‘Dink-o-matic’ auto-manual shift feature!” Horse Apples! They don’t even have the shift quadrants right – other than goofy ZF boxes with their over-and-down first gear engagement – what manual tranny lets you shift strait forward to go up and strait back to go down? Couldn’t even get that one right, could ya!

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      This comment is exactly why manuals are in trouble here… most people, even “car guys” cant seem to understand the difference between a real manual and flappy paddles! Your TSX paddle shifters are NOT cool and effective, they don’t work any better than just letting the car shift itself. The automatic still has a torque converter and still numbs the performance.

      At least the DSG in VWs actually improves performance, while admittedly still removing most of the driver interaction you get with a real manual. But it annoys the hell out of me when I mention I have a DSG and some guy tells me how he also has paddle shifters in his G35/TSX/Charger/whatever. You should at least know the difference.

      Note: Yes, I regret buying the DSG, even if its not a regular automatic. And the worst part is, I don’t even get to use the “wife” excuse like everyone else, my wife prefers stick shifts, she insists on manuals for her own cars!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Actually I’d like to see wagons offered by manufacturers again. Most of the domestics don’t have wagon versions of their cars and it isn’t so hard to make them. Previous generations used the same doors as the four door variant.
    Wagons would be a preferred alternative for the ridiculous CUV/SUV/minivan problem along with getting Mom out of the 3 ton Suburban.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Honda used to sell a Civic wagon called the Shuttle in some markets. It was packaged very efficiently with no corners cut in terms of having parts and proportions optimized for the function of being a great small family hauler. It was available with the best drivetrain components in the Civic catalog, from Si engine, through 6 speed manual transmission, to viscous coupling AWD. They sold in numbers that Lotus would laugh at. Eventually Honda jacked up the ride height, butched up the styling a bit, dumbed down the packaging, and simplified the drivetrain offerings. They’ve had the best selling vehicle in a huge segment for many years in the form of the resulting CRV.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        My grandfather owned two Civic Shuttles after each other (an 88 and an 89, they were only available as 4wd here) and after they had been used up (crashed one, the other rusted away) he bought a 1st Gen CR-V, which he just traded in for a used Fit (Jazz over here) And I now own the boxy 2nd gen CR-V, which is indeed a quite practical boxy wagon, just with rubbish fuel economy (which I shouldn’t care about since I’ve owned so many old cars, but the fuel tank is a joke range-wise at 15 gallons averaging 22 MPG)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The CRV is probably the best crossover, and certainly the smartest. I think it would return better highway mileage if it rode at Civic height and had an aerodynamically dictated shape. My point wasn’t that the CRV is bad, just that people didn’t buy enough of what many of us claim we want.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        I didn’t take it as slamming of the CR-V either, I completely agree with you. They managed to make the best out of the increased height and hatch-mounted spare-wheel, by increasing the interior space and head/leg room, instead of just making a show-off car like many older SUV’s (and later crossovers) But they had to update the styling and kill the rear seat shoulder room if they were going to keep selling it. For me though the head room is abundant (I’m 6 ft tall) and I don’t need the ground clearance much (although the ‘sometime’ 4wd comes in quite handy at times) Other than that it’s near perfect for my needs, and I can’t wait for the oldest kid to grow out of the house so I can find a nice used Element :P

  • avatar
    jbltg

    12. New car dealers and service departments that don’t suck.

    Thanks for a great list and articles in general! Happy new year!

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Check W220 wikipedia page. Hahaha. Someone added in Baruth’s quote.

  • avatar

    Jack thank you for writing here everything that any self-respecting car enthusiast has been thinking all year long. I wish Mercedes would pay me back for my three months of W220 S-Class ownership… I really don’t like to tell people that I bought a used S65, especially car guys, because they just point and laugh or very rudely run away snickering amongst themselves. All in all if American consumers all actually cared about what they drove, we might be able to get all 10 of these gifts under our tree next year…

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Agreed.

    Acura’s rationale for not releasing a TSX Wagon with a 6spd Manual (AND SH-AWD) was that it would cost about $40k and cut into TL sales.

    Personally i’d rather have an EXTREMELY reliable JDM spec Accord WAGON with a 6spd and SH-AWD and eat A4 Avants for lunch :)

    V6 wouldn’t hurt either…just sayin’

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      A TSX wagon without the tech package was around 30 K and with it 34 so I don’t see it hitting 40K.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Just look at the price difference between the TSX sedan manual vs. auto, thats exactly the same price differential they would have if they offered the stick in the wagon too. The SH-AWD would add some cost, but once again… whats the price difference between the TL with and without it?

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        About $5k. Keep in mind the import costs with TSX being it’s a Japan model.

        I was quoting a Wagon with V6, manual AND SHAWD. (A TSX V6 runs about $38k, Tech).

        Honda brought it over to the US with the Audi A4 Avant in its sights. Given the sales numbers however, well…

        I never got an answer as to why it wasn’t at least offered with a manual.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    “Every Corvette sold in this country should have American-made wheels.”

    And tires. I cant stand it when I see a “buy american” bozo driving a Chevy with Chinese made Hankook tires.

    And what good is all this V6 horsepower ? I’d gladly give up some of the 265 horsepower of my “midsize” V6 pickup to achieve better than a dismal combined 15 miles per gallon. I’d be just as well off with a full size v8.

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    Hear, Hear, Jack! Bravo!

  • avatar

    Good list + Well-Said!

    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, Jack.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Jack:

    With regard to your wishes for Porsche, you may get them (sort of). With each new iteration, Porsche is blurring the lines between sports car and performance luxury car. As that line continues to blur, Porsche places itself more and more in competition with other makers and in less of a position to make its own rules.

    You can see the pressure coming from Porsche’s stable mate Audi (R8 and an R4 on the way), Jaguar (CX-16), Lotus (not there but getting better) and on the low end with the latest Toyota/Subaru sports car. The pricing on current Porsches is a little ridiculous, but there is a silver lining.

    It’s called a used Porsche. A three year old Porsche generally looks just like a new Porsche, and because so many are “garage queens”, it is not hard to find that car with 15,000 miles (or less).

    As for current models, the competition may not force Porsche to reduce prices, but at least the cars might come decently equipped from the get go.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Mr Baruth, I have been lurking here since Farago described pontiac torque steer by referencing Ferrari’s prancing horse. My Christmas included Murilee’s terrific Impala series and now reading yet another of your fantastic entries Im breaking comment silence.

    As cojent as point #1 was about the soul-killing other rags, the juice in this post is Michael Mann angle. Heat is one killer film. Hell, I didnt even KNOW what panther love was until I saw Pacino chuck a TV set out of his black on black on black steelies unmarked squad.

    I’m grateful to be looking forward to another year of TTAC reading, thanks to your wordsmithing and also to the rest of the gang for making AND KEEPING this site the oasis of everything automotive that it is.

  • avatar

    Yes!!! And thank you for including #7, which is my pet peeve. I always used to hate the dorky little Neons until the Caliber came along. The Caliber did for the Neon what Bush#2 did for President Nixon.

  • avatar
    jhott997

    Ahh yes. The obligatory TTAC snide political comment. Wouldn’t be a day without one….

  • avatar
    jhott997

    Totally agree with #3.
    Unfortunately, the OEM’s have completely ignored the manual transmission in the US market. I worked for 10 years in product development and the manual trans is given very little if any consideration in the transmission organizations. Most “transmission engineers” can’t even drive a car with a manual transmission. Sad. Pathetic. Telling…

    Totally agree with #2.
    Porsche has lost the plot. The cars are WAYYYY too expensive. If you have owned one, or three, like myself then you know what I mean. Yes, they are great cars to drive but generally speaking they don’t justify the relatively lofty prices. The used market for late-model 996, 997, 986 and 987 models proves this.
    The “sporting 2+2 made to last a lifetime under a combination of four-season street and casual racetrack usage” now resides in 4 short but well known letters and 1 number: BMW M3. I am sure this will be challenged so if you wish to challenge suggest a better alternative please.

    Have a good day.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Definitely agree on the Caliber. In years to come, people will be amazed to learn that it replaced the Neon rather than vice versa.

  • avatar

    What’s your problem with the new 911?

  • avatar
    alan996

    Agree on the Northstar. Sometimes this poorly designed engine does some good though. Witness the below quoted news article and my response to it.

    “At about 12:45 a.m. Lyons police stopped a 1989 Cadillac DeVille with Nevada plates after they suspected that the occupants may have been involved in a burglary in the suburb, police said.

    When Lyons police tried to stop the car on the 4300 block of South Harlem Avenue the car fled on the I-55 Stevenson Expressway, police said. The Cadillac continued northbound on the Stevenson until the engine blew and the car stopped just east of Cicero Avenue, police said. Two suspects fled from the car but Gear was apprehended and charged, police said.”

    “”Captured courtesy of the oil leaking, seal blowing, aluminum, sleeved, pig, Northstar engines, way to go GM…””

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The photo that is leading this post must be one of the worst photos that I’ve ever seen.

    That poor kid will be traumatized for life. The only thing that could make it worse would be to give him a Caliber for his first car.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    One more if I may, allow cruise control to be selected w/o having to get the top of the line model or having an inferior dealer-installed unit which ends up costing a lot more.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      Good suggestion. I remember the legions of unfortunate buyers who believed the dealer’s promises and ended up with a hack job cruise control system poorly spliced into the vehicle’s electrical wiring and vacuum lines – and that’s minor compared to the horrors of the execrable dealer installed ARA A/C units.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I come home from the first round of visits to this?

    Outstanding. Love the opening photograph. Perhaps next time find a shot of a kid in the clutches of a squad of schwarzpeters.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Great read Jack, I’ve read this article 3 times (on my smart phone) but couldn’t comment because I was in Chicago and far too busy.

    #10, #6, #3 are my biggest beefs with the industry. Mustangs should have durable manual transmissions even if it means going back to 5 speeds and a temec.

    Even gently used only a few years old Northstars are stupid cheap and I have heard that the engine got better after GM did some tinkering for the RWD version but I still hesitate on pulling the trigger, even though I actual like the angular look of the DTS and STS of the last few years.

    One of the worst I’ve found with manual trans descrimination is Hyundai/Kia. Good case in point is the Sonata which Hyundai cared enough to give it a 6 speed manual and then made sure if you ordered hardly any options you had to upgrade to an automatic.

  • avatar

    I like the #5: Go ahead and release the real 2012 Honda lineup.. i’m definately gonna trade mine hahaha.. Honda will be the best New Car 2012 , you gotta check them out

  • avatar
    brettc

    I also agree with #3. I was actually looking last night at the Kia USA site and trying to price out a manual transmission Rio wagon. You can only get a manual with the lowest trim, which makes no sense. Manufacturers need to realize that there are some people that might still want a higher trim model and still want to “row their own” gears.

    Anyway, I hope everyone had a good Christmas/Holiday!

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    Great read. I was all ready for more non-sensical Jacky B ramblings, oh that guy…

    And then I read #2. And the Hallelujah chorus started in my ears, and the sun got brighter, and I saw the light.

    Here’s the deal guys. I will gladly forget every other compromise ridden used “fun” car if you can fulfill Jack’s hopes and dreams on this one. I will drive over, sign the next 4 years of a chunk of my salary to you, and wear every god awful piece of merchan…I mean, APPAREL that you require me to buy to join your club.

    But you won’t, because deep down, you don’t really make cars for people anymore. And it’s sad.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The best thing the car industry could do for me is build a mid-size pickup (Dakota-size) with a diesel or a turbo V6 (ala EcoBoost) – I do not want a full-sized V8 truck!

    And stop this silly CUV/SUV craze by taking these current “wagons” and lowering them back down to reasonable ride heights.

    As for manuals, their days are clearly (very sadly) numbered… at this point only sports car will be left with 3 pedals. When the Maxima (the 4DSC remember?) went CVT that is the day the dream died, so its all downhill from here.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Jack — +1 on making time to watch Heat.. thats my all time favorite movie! I think I might try to make that my holiday tradition as well!

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I happened upon a Dilbert comic relating to #1:

    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2007-02-22/

    And yes, Heat may be the greatest movie ever. But I chose to watch A Claymation Christmas Celebration instead. It has been at least a decade since I last saw that piece of my childhood, so I was due.

  • avatar

    While I agree wholeheartedly with #3, if I could get just one automotive industry wish granted, it would be this: make all cars to a reasonable standard of quality, and support the customer when the inevitable mistakes happen in design and manufacturing.

    I feel like most of the automotive universe is simply off limits–even if something is affordable, it may be a bad idea to own it the day the warranty lapses. Or possibly long before that…

    So, when I shop for a car, I feel like the first thing I have to do is exclude choices based on reliability. That’s a drag. In other words I want shopping to begin with thinking about cars that I like, rather than cars that I fear. The reliability issue colors my entire view of the industry and ownership.

    However, I have a very low risk tolerance and a desire to keep cars for 10+ years, and I realize not everyone is like that.

  • avatar

    #8 and #7 Cracked me up!


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