By on November 19, 2012

The latest TWATs thread/shortlist update saw our commenters raise some valid and insightful questions about the awards process. I’ll try and tackle some of them below.

1) How do we know that the nominations are based on real world experience and not just bias/vendettas?

Short answer: You don’t.

Long answer: I moderate the comments every day and by now I am aware of all of the online personae that post here day in, day out. I can only take these at face value, but I am confident in believing that none of you have any reason to lie about something as inconsequential as whether not you’ve really driven a Toyota Matrix. Similarly, I know where most of your biases lie and when you are just exhibiting an acute case of fanboyism. So far, the responses have been well reasoned, thoughtful and free of invective.  A few choices on the shortlist stand out as being the first to get cut, but even then, compelling arguments have been made for them.

2) Pretty much all new cars are good today. If these are the worst cars on the market, we can’t be doing that badly.

It’s true, compared to 2008, when the TWATs were last run, the field of new cars on sale is exponentially better in every possible category. That doesn’t mean there are bad cars, or cars that don’t live up to the hype, or cars that are still truly bad (look hard, they’re out there). If you want milquetoast reviews that make excuses for the general goodness of new cars, you may need to go elsewhere for that.

3) Why bother?

Because it’s fun. Lighten up.

 

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46 Comments on “We Get Introspective About Our TWATs...”


  • avatar
    noreaster

    3) It’s juvenile. Grow up.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    4) Sometimes it’s fun to be juvenile.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    #5 – Because the vast majority of the people on this site don’t have the ability to drill a straight hole through a 2×4. Yet feel inclined to critique the design and engineering teams on how to build a better vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Have you met the vast majority of the people on this site and tested their hole drilling abilities? Data or it didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Sorry, but having worked with lots of engineers, the correlation between engineering knowledge and craftsmanship isn’t that reliable. Your statement makes no sense at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      XC600, I’m with you on that one. Most of these guys barely know how to change oil, yet they know all about a good car from a bad one. There is a word for that, I can’t remember what it is. When someone with the least amount of knowledge about something is the most vocal about it?

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Your analogy about changing oil as a measure for understanding a car’s competency suggests that only people with a minimum level of engineering/maintenance expertise is entitled to have an opinion about said piece of machinery.

        Just because a person may be completely clueless once the hood is open does not mean that they are not capable of being able to tell when one car drives better than another, or when one interior is more nicely trimmed than another.

        Of course, an understanding of the engineering that goes into the cars will undoubtedly help in answering “why” car X is TWAT, but if a car drives like S**T then I think most people on this site will be able to offer up that conclusion regardless of their engineering expertise.

        As for people being vocal about a subject, well it is the internet where there’s no shortage of opinions.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        AS usual Freddy, well said. Objective over the Subjective. My 1985 Poo-brown Dodge Omni was the easiest car in the world to change its oil, still the worst POS I’ve ever owned.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        What drives “better” is a matter of personal preference in most cases. You’re right about it being the internet though.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I disagree with the idea that a person needs a certain level of technical knowledge on a subject in order to have a worthwhile opinon of it.

        Especially when that subject is trying to make you buy something.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      What 99_XC600 is essentially stating is that even “professional” film, restaurant, literature, art or any other kind of critics are ipso facto irrelevant if they can’t themselves produce world class film, food, literature, art or whatever it is that they’re judging.

      That’s pretty incredible.

      I certainly won’t ever have the bona fides to talk about how fantastic or terrible any particular vehicle attribute is any more under such a regime.

      Hey, there wouldn’t even be a justifiable reason for TTAC’s existence unless the staff all become certified, well-credentialed engineers AND fabricators of modern motor vehicles!

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I don’t think there is one single person who has all the skills to design and manufacture and modern car so by your argument and my observation there is not one person qualified to critique a car…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        That’s a nice strawman, but there are some people who are genuinely clueless about engineering and design who comment on this site. That’s despite the fact that there are numerous editors/authors who are specifically dedicated to engineering and design.

        As you can see by my comment below, there is some small amount of truth to what 99_XC600 said, but it’s not gospel or anything.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        So going by your logic a construction worker that builds a bridge knows nothing about it because he’s not an engineer, he didn’t design the bridge. The guys building houses know nothing about them because they are not architects. The electronics technician knows nothing about electronics because he doesn’t design the stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Just take everything you read, as you would anywhere else, with a grain of salt. Even though someone might not be as technically apt as you are, they still may have something to offer in the form of perspective.

        As a juxtaposition, as someone who does have the technical background and OEM experience to give some very good insight on certain issues, my opintions are routinely debated on here just as anyone else’s.

        It doesn’t bother me. No one here has their business cards posted, maybe they do have some additional insight on an issue that I never noticed, even if I spent years working in that field.

        Of course some people are just full of crap, so take everything for what it is, a post on the internet and use it for what you will.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddie

      This thread raises the question of “why” a particular vehicle is TWAT. Was it concept or execution? Maybe the engineers at Monolith Motors are perfectly capable of designing a “car guy’s” car but the marketing weenies with their focus groups decided that the priority was overboosted power steering for little old lady fingertip parallel parking. On the other hand, maybe the engineers got the green light to do it right but fell on their faces.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    With an audience that is increasingly dominated by resentniks, this sort of “contest” is bound to create some ridiculous results.

    Based upon some of the comments in the last article, I’d be inclined to kill off the whole thing. Some of the “analysis” provided in the comments section compromises the credibility of the whole thing.

    Along those lines, some posters seem profoundly unaware of the fact that BMW has been selling 4-cylinder cars for ages, including the car that helped BMW to establish itself in the US market (the 2002.) Anyone who would argue passionately that BMW is only a 6-banger shop needs to do less typing and spend more time learning about BMWs.

    Others seem quick to typify Honda as some sort of GM clone because of the Acura ILX, forgetting that the ILX is effectively the latest US-market Integra, with no branding relationship whatsoever with the deservedly loathed Cimarron.

    And as far as I can tell, the Volt is one of the rare GM products that is well executed and generally does what is supposed to do, and quite nicely. It may not be your cup of tea, but just because it doesn’t suit your personal quirks does not mean that it is a poor quality cup of tea.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      But there’s only one ‘right’ type of car, and everything else must be crap. If millions of people buy a car, and they like it because it fits their needs well, they are stupid because it’s crap.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Hehe, exactly. A few years ago a few of us came pretty close to squelching comments like “no one needs AWD”, but that sort of idiocy never really ceases.

        What was really needed in this process was prohibited – defense of the accused.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I think we and the editors all know it won’t be a “be all end all” list of what’s what in the world of lousy cars. If anything it’s an exercise in determining reader’s tastes in what is lame. I’m fine with that.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Back in 2008 or whenever, there was a lot of schlocky crud still on the market. Carmegeddon and model updates have thankfully excised all of that, so that the “worst” cars sold in the US today are merely “not awesome”. TWAT outlived its usefulness, and this year’s round is a list of cars that internet know-it-alls dislike.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Anything that is not a diesel “estate” (I learned that word from Top Gear) with a stick is a TWAT!

  • avatar
    Mark Stevenson

    I was thinking about the TWAT awards over the weekend and it got me thinking about the automotive industry in general, especially after comments like “there are no bad cars on this list” seemed to surface.

    The industry, whether it be through awards, safety regs., emissions regs., or perceived quality surveys, is always marked on a bell curve. Being the bottom ranked car in a particular class does not necessarily mean the car is bad. However, compared to the competition, you may still be a failure. It is this bell curve perspective that demonstrates the weaknesses of perfectly adequate cars through comparison.

    TWAT does provide an insight into that bell curve. On the previous post, I mentioned the Mazda 2 as my personal nominee because of the experience I had with it and the fact that the competition has better options available in the marketplace. If you were to take the Mazda 2 back to say, I dunno, 1982, and put it up against the competition, it would win hands down as probably the best car in its class and it would rank better than most vehicles in some upper-level segments.

    All manufacturers, especially recently, have really upped their games when it comes to build quality, safety, efficiency, and fancy giznometry. But, it isn’t the modus operandi of TWAT to say “all cars are good”. The point is to find the cars in the segment that aren’t keeping up with the competition. The bell curve will keep moving forward and it is up to the OEMs to stay on front of the wave.

  • avatar
    imag

    I like it when you guys address comments made on the site. It grows community.

    A certainly don’t mind TTAC making a list of lousy cars. Upon seeing the list, though, I was genuinely surprised that there weren’t more vehicles that I thought were actually, tragically bad.

    To guide voting and discussion, I do think it might make sense to have guidelines about what you mean by “Worst”. Does it mean:

    - Poorly engineered?
    - Offensive to enthusiasts?
    - Last place in its segment?
    - Ugly?
    - Expensive to maintain?
    - Unnecessary?
    - Out of date?
    - From a brand I don’t like/country I don’t like?
    - Something else?

    I think the problem many of us had was that classically horrible cars (e.g. the Sebring) are poorly engineered with hugely apparent corner cutting, while many of the cars on the current TWAT list are incredibly well engineered, while perhaps oriented toward a different audience than most of the folks on here. If engineering should only be regarded as a small factor in the “Worst” vehicles, you might want to say so up front, to head off a lot of complaints about the results.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark Stevenson

      It should be based on whatever is important to you (and everyone else commenting on the matter). If you put performance above all other considerations, I’d hope the commentariat would have the sense to stick to commenting about performance-oriented vehicles. There are some of us lucky enough to drive a wide range of vehicles, know their intended demographic, and be able to speak for that demographic when looking at the vehicle and the segment in which it lives.

      While there are very few poorly engineered vehicles these days, at least when it comes to mechanicals, there are a few which don’t pass muster in other areas. With the large growth in infotainment systems (SYNC, CUE, UConnect, etc) there seems to be a lot of gripes in the performance or ease-of-use of these systems. Also, software bugs keep getting mentioned time and time again with regards to these expensive options.

      There are definitely vehicles in the marketplace that are wildly out of date (Nissan Titan comes to mind, along with the whole defunct Suzuki line-up).

      Honestly, it seems like people are trying to make this way more complicated than it has to be.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Criteria, guidelines, and actual reasons for why a vehicle should be a TWAT? It will never happen. The only time you’ve seen the vehicle is when you drive by a dealers lot; never mind you’ve never sat it in, far less driven it. Please by all means nominate because you don’t like it. You were getting a cup of coffee at work and heard some guy talking about his 2nd cousin who lives four states away doesn’t like his vehicle. Why that vehicle should be a top five nominee. All this is an exercise for readers to vent their prejudices about vehicles they don’t like. Of course they can all pay cash, if they chose; for the vehicle they detest. What this should be called is: “What new car sold today do you think won’t make 200,000 miles?”. That would radically narrow the field down; even if you think it’s butt-ugly or don’t like the body style. We can kvetch all we want but dealers keep the lights on by selling four door family sedans.

  • avatar
    jaje

    TWAT is still needed as Honda still sells the Crosstour and until a point the ZDX. How those fugly items ever passed the puke in a bucket test is beyond me. At least the Crosstour has some utility though. But it was so bad they removed the Accord name from it to not tarnish its vanilla sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      CUVs mandate that TWAT live on (not true SUVs with off road capability or immense cargo/people hauling room which some people actually need).

      When CUVs (which are typically no larger interior wise than their car-based counterparts, yet drive 3x as badly) fall out of grace with soccer moms everywhere, and the industry stops producing them altogether, maybe…just maybe….

      Naw. TWAT will still be justified.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        A great many of us find CUV’s a nice balance of off road ability, hauling capacity, and silliest of all; the ability to easily load the very old or the very young.

  • avatar
    rporter

    I think you need to have practical long term experience with a car to say it is the worst car in the world. I have owned a Civic hatchback, Ford Mustang, BMW M3, Triumph TR6, MGBGT v8, Smart car and now BMW 328i. None would so qualify Each has flaws and high points.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    I’ve noticed a lot of armchair-type commenters on TTAC think things like the cost of brake rotors determine whether a car is good or not. That seems silly to me because you can have great variability in the type and quality of brake rotors, especially when the manufacturer’s job is to make sure they’re suited to the car. As a result, I’m somewhat sympathetic to what 99_XC600 said, and these sorts of opinions cause me to not take these people seriously.

    There are a few other people who are not going to be happy with anything besides the mythical diesel manual transmission estate (fair enough, although I suspect most would complain that it’s too expensive) or some POS deathtrap compact truck with vinyl seats and roll-up windows (because, you know, modern advances suck, and the worst-engineered vehicles are the best, obviously), which doesn’t really produce interesting discussion or prove a mastery of automotive knowledge.

    The Volt-hate is very knee-jerk fanboi here too. Most of the knee-jerk types have probably never ridden in one, driven one, or even talked to someone who has. It’s all about proxies for other things they dislike.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’m fine with letting all that fly. After all, it is a user generated list on the automotive blogospere, hardly meant to be scientific.

      If you personally do not feel the opinions given matter to you, read on, as anyone else would.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “If you personally do not feel the opinions given matter to you, read on, as anyone else would.”

        When I see these sorts of posts, I do. Did you read what I said? “these sorts of opinions cause me to not take these people seriously”

        Seems like the CUV-hate comes out on these threads too, but I still contend that a CUV makes it easier for people who regularly carry at least 3 kids or 2+friends in car seats to avoid a minivan. Like it or not, there are people who won’t be caught dead in a minivan, and a rear-facing seat in a traditional wagon cannot be used for car seats. But I do think people over-value 4WD/AWD, and some of that money would be better spent on one’s own driver education.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Screw the award process, how about the name of the awards? I’ve been holding off moaning about it for some time, but in case many people didn’t notice, TWAT is a derogatory term for female genitalia in various parts of the world (namely the UK, Australia, NZ etc). You may as well have called it the “C U Next Tuesday” awards.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I suspect the editors would tell you that that’s a feature, not a bug.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Perhaps being called a TWAT on this side of the pond is much akin to being called a TWIT on the tea and crumpets side, however if one were in a pub in rainy old England and one called someone else a TWAT, one would most likely end up having ones face rearranged. It’s very, very rude and derogatory to women. I’m not kidding.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ Sinisterman it means the same thing in the US. Usage just goes in and out of vogue. Usually prefaced with ignorant/stupid.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a double dipping Englishman living in Australia. Maybe I should be doubly offended?

      I laughed at the whole naming bad cars as TWATS. I thought it was a reasonable clever pun, and a nice nod to us other english speakers. It’s not like it is calling someone in particular a twat.

      I don’t know if you are from England/AU/NZ, but it really irritates me when people get all up in arms of “That may offend someone!”, but does it offend you? If not, then let the people who it offends complain. Otherwise it just escalates a non-issue.

      Secondly, offending someone is just them whinging. It hasn’t done them any harm. Please note, I am making a distinction between insulting someone, and offending them. Calling someone a twat is different than someone complaining about using the word twat because that word offends them. So what? I really hate pumpkin, the smell of it makes me want to vomit, that is pretty offensive so I stay away from pumpkins. But I don’t try to stop others from eating pumpkin soup, even if the smell is awful.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    “Oh, oh!” she said, waving her arm so wildly she nearly came out of her seat.

    “Yes, what is it?” asked the teacher.

    “Will there be multiple choice on the test?” the student asked.

    “There might be,” the teacher said with a wry smile.

    “Wait!”

    “Yes…”

    “Will there be multiple choice on the test?”

    “That’s certainly possible.”

    “Wait!”

    ____

    You all remember that kid in class, right? So annoying. Just had to ask every obvious question. Couldn’t operate a pencil without knowing all the exact steps and rules and grading criteria first.

    Don’t be that student on this site, please.

    You want to nominate a TWAT, great. Have at it. Bring it on. But please — no more asking for the rules or guidelines of what makes a nomination TWAT-worthy. Quit trying to make this a rational, scientific exercise. It’s not.

    Instead, think this way:

    Am I being truthful? If so, give us an anecdote. Begin thusly: There was this one time…. And proceed to tell us a story which may, or may not, be so terribly truthful as to be boring.

    Or,

    Am I being entertaining? If so, point fingers and have fun at the expense of the TWAT. Make the reader smile. Or cringe. Or nod in agreement. Begin thusly: This car is so freaking ugly that…. And proceed to make comparison/contrasts with your mother in law. Or TTAC’s Tame Racing Driver. Just don’t be boring.

    Or,

    Are you furthering a personal agenda? If so, do so proudly and without trying to conceal your intentions behind reason or science or fact. Begin thusly: I hate this car so bad that…. And let the TWAT have it. Really bang away on it for us. Just don’t be boring.

    Or pedantic.

    Or lazy.

    Or argumentative.

    Or combative.

    This whole exercise is called a TWAT. That, right there, is a clue to stop taking it so dang seriously. So put down your hands. Because this assignment is mostly essay, and there are no rules, other than to stop trying to make so Dang. Many. Rules.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Okay, you’re right. The blog has shifted from incisive commentary on automobiles to what amounts to a generic car forum poll, completely overblowing the question, “What cars do you hate this year?” while bludgeoning a hardly funny acronym to death.

      That’s pretty compelling. The whole thing is basically a big troll.

    • 0 avatar
      Viquitor

      Brilliant.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    imag,

    Thanks for the all-or-nothing analysis of TTAC’s content.

    TTAC is, 90% of the time, still a place for incisive commentary about cars and the auto industry, I’d argue.

    It has evolved somewhat from Farago’s original vision, I’d concede. It has broadened and softened somewhat, which is a good thing. More inclusive. More moderate. Even-handed. But TTAC is still a source of serious material and discussion.

    So every once in awhile, it’s good to blow off steam. To let one’s hair down. To have a shot and head to the dance floor, lack of rhythm be damned. The TWAT nominations are the blog equivalent of tequila and the Macarena at your cousin’s wedding.

    So pick a car, troll away. Be silly. Be furious. Be absurd. Be sarcastic. Just be something, other than condemning the site for attempting to have a little fun just this once.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      This wasn’t a simple one-off poll with a bunch of storytelling on a Friday afternoon. It was an multi-post effort to compile a list of the worst vehicles of the year, which, if TTAC pretends to have any journalistic integrity, is actually a pretty serious accusation for automakers and the people who engineer and build those vehicles.

      And I didn’t see a lot of the great lighthearted storytelling you seem to be after; I saw a fair amount of aimless uneducated bitching about mostly good automobiles. That’s not fun or new; it’s a comment thread on Autoblog.

      Anyway, if you enjoy it, have at it.


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