By on January 24, 2013

I recently rented a midsize sedan from Hertz.  Hoping for a go in the latest Fusion, I was instead placed into a new Camry, though it may have been a 2007 Camry.  Differences between the two are only discernible to Toyota engineers, though a new campaign gives dealers the ability to tell them apart using a VIN decoder and a magnifying glass.

As I was driving the new/old Camry, I realized something: the phenomenon of cars that look like older versions of themselves isn’t unique to the Camry.  In fact, I submit that 2012 was the year of the mediocre redesign.  Naturally, I have several highly anecdotal examples to back up my grandiose assertion.

Forget about the Camry.  Let’s start with the Camry’s arch-rival, the Honda Accord, which was redesigned for 2013.  Allegedly.  As far as I can tell, the only real revisions are a lane change camera that probably cost $9 from China, and new rear tail lights that cost nothing because they were designed three years ago by Hyundai.

In all the whining about the 2012 Civic, the automotive press largely failed to mention perhaps its biggest flaw: it looks exactly the same as the 2011 Civic from virtually every angle.  This is especially troubling because the previous model was such an enormous leap forward in the compact car world; something of a new refrigerator with ice in the door to a 1920s icebox.  By comparison, the 2012 Civic is a stainless steel fridge that seems new and cool until you find out it can no longer display your magnets.

While you might think it’s hard to find a car more innocuously redesigned than the Accord and Camry, that car is the new Volkswagen Beetle.  Pitched as more masculine than the old model, it’s actually exactly the same, although now it has uglier wheels.  And maybe this time the brake lights will work.

The new Silverado’s tepid redesign has already been covered all over the automotive press, so there’s no need to mention it here.  Of course, that won’t stop me from doing it anyway.  The most important point is that I was wrong in an earlier article when I said the Silverado has no new engines.  In fact, Chevrolet is replacing last year’s 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8 with a new 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8.  In other words, the engines are getting the same “redesign” as the truck.

Meanwhile, Land Rover followed up its highly successful third-generation Range Rover with a beautifully-redesigned fourth-generation model: the 2012 Ford Explorer.

While the latest BMW 3- and 5-Series models are very different from their predecessors, they’re now identical to each other.  Based on my real-world driving experiences, turn signals remain a very unpopular option on both cars.

After seven years, Porsche customers finally laid their eyes on the new 911, only to discover it looks just like the old 911 except with entire paragraphs spelled out on the back.  Of course, the evolutionary 911 never changes much; instead it simply grows larger, wider, and more powerful with each passing year.  Kind of like Warren Buffett.  And like a share of Berkshire A, it also keeps getting more expensive.

It wasn’t just lookalike styling that made 2012 redesigns mediocre.  The Nissan Pathfinder traded its trademark towing capacity for bland lines.  The Acura RLX traded bland lines for even blander ones.  And the Cadillac XTS traded lethargic engines and front-wheel drive architecture for … lethargic engines and front-wheel drive architecture.  But without bland lines.

From the above, you might get the impression that I think all 2012 redesigns were bad.  That’s not the case.  From Escape to Fusion, Ford stands out as the carmaker that’s done a tremendous job this year with clean-sheet redesigns.  You’ll agree the next time you go to Hertz.  Unless they give you a Camry.

 

 Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta.  One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer.  His parents are very disappointed.

 

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82 Comments on “2012: Year Of The Mediocre Redesign...”


  • avatar
    Steve-O

    I concur! With so many tepid, safe, gutless ‘redesigns’, the buzz and excitement of the annual new car reveal season isn’t very exciting anymore, is it? Thats why the new Fords (and the Corvette) are generating so much discussion on the blogs/threads–we can actually debate some truly new design work!

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      Fords redesigns stand out so much because the previous versions were so tired and long in the tooth to begin with. They needed to make a big leap forward just to stay competitive. And the Fusions rear end looks frumpy compared to the Accord. At least Honda “borrowed” their design from an upscale Hyundai and not their own down-market Fiesta.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This is kind of a banal and predictable column. Complaining about a lack of exciting redesigns of consumer grade bread-and-butter family cars? You know, the least exciting genre of cars out there? And how, exactly, was 2012 different from any other year in this respect?

    The Accord’s Genesis tailights are a problem, but the Escape looks like a Santa Fe. The Fusion (kind of) like an cheap Aston Martin knock-off. Both are available with base carryover powertrains which should draw DeMuro’s ire, or small turbo engines that are supposed to produce better acceleration and fuel economy than competing larger I4s and V6s, but apparently do neither in the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      Doug DeMuro

      Respectfully, I disagree. There used to be a lot of very daring redesigns, even among “dull” cars: witness, for example, when the second-generation Altima became the third-gen in 2002. Or how about the 1996 Taurus? Or in 2001 when the Jeep Cherokee ditched its boxy look for the weird curves of the Liberty? When the TL went from gorgeous to … odd … back in 2009? I think it’s only recently that many automakers have lost the nerve to do these ground-up redesigns.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Your examples are certainly valid, but I think they are the rare exceptions to the long-standing rule.

        The only interesting redesign the Altima ever had was the 2002. Ditto for the 1996 Taurus. The Liberty may have looked different but was a mediocre redesign in every aspect but sheet metal. And with the TL I’m struggling how to interpret ugliness that makes my eyeballs bleed.

        Not that I disagree with the root of your complaint; I would love to see more interesting designs in everyday cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Acubra

        Funny how the cases you mentioned were all failures (and all terminally ugly).
        The change for the sake of change – so that some hacks could get excited and write something about it – is not always good for business.
        Customers know better and vote with their cash.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        You have a good point that some daring designs lost sales. The ’96 Taurus was a big mistake, and so was the design shift from the Taurus-based Continental that sold well to a much better platform that didn’t. I place the 3rd gen Altima in the same class as the 2nd gen Taurus, a car made larger with basically the same body style.

        The Taurus went from compact to midsize and the Altima did the same. Both were successful redesigns because sales increased, though the longer wheelbase and greater width was used by Nissan to make other styling changes to the Altima – but they were more incremental than radical.

        Your basic point, though, is valid. Based on history, it’s a major risk to make substantive styling changes to a best-selling car. How far down sales figures have to go before customers are ready for a major change is part of the art of marketing. The biggest mistake is not having the replacement ready when the time comes.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        >>From Escape to Fusion, Ford stands out as the carmaker that’s done a tremendous job this year with clean-sheet redesigns.<<

        Not really, even aside the major quality problems. In contrast, the 2013 Accord gained an astounding 42% increase in torsional rigidity from the already robust 2012:
        http://www.hondanews.com/channels/honda-automobiles/releases/2013-honda-accord-body

        While the Fusion, not so much:
        1-10%
        from "Advanced High-Strength Steel Technologies in the 2013
        Ford Fusion"

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Strongly disagree.

      96 to 97 Camry

      02 to 03 Camry (sorry if I got the year wrong

      Look at the evolution of the Hyundai Sonata from 2005 to 2009 to 2012. Certainly nothing “safe” going on there.

      Malibu 07 – 08 was a radical departure.

      LaCrosse 10 to 11 (I believe, going from W-Body to Epsilon II)

      Go back to the 90’s and the updates the Accord and Civic went through were certainly more radical.

      Cobalt to Cruze – they are night and day.

      The 11 to 12 Camry was more evolutionary.

      The 10 to 11 Corolla was a sad joke.

      The 11 to 12 Civic and the 11 to 12 Malibu were both poorly executed.

      But there are plenty of examples of bold changes made to bread and butter sellers.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. And you can go farther: how about when Dodge replaced the awful Monaco with the very very bold Intrepid? Or the Shadow with the Neon? Mazda ditched the bland 626 for the gorgeous first-gen 6. Even the 2004 Acura TL redesign mentioned was a huge departure from the transmission-eating 99-03 model. Big changes to big sellers. It happens!

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        APaGtth,
        I’ll concede some of your examples (Cobalt-Cruze, 07-08 Malibu, 91-92 and 05-06 Civic) and add the 2012 Focus to the list, but I’m not seeing your others.

        I’ve got to argue that if the 2013 Accord, 2012 Camry, and VW Beetle are indistinguishable from their predecessors to Doug, then most of your examples should be indistinguishable as well. Accord and Camry have been pretty conservative through the years.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        IIRC officially the Lacrosse changeover was for the 2010 MY, the 09 MY Lacrosses were W-body, possibly a few were sold as 10s but I doubt it. Also I believe in your Malibu comparison you meant ’12 and ’13, not ’11 and ’12 which were essentially the same.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Another version of Beige Bites Back? *yawn*

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Its not the quality, its the clicks. You and I clicked this link, knowing it would be what it was, and commented anyway. For now, TTAC’s strategy of rehashing & inflaming is working in the business context.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    “that car is the new Volkswagen Beetle. Pitched as more masculine than the old model, it’s actually exactly the same”

    Really? Get your eyes checked, you just let in a raccoon instead of the cat.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      +1

      Both are vaguely Beetle-shaped, for the reason that if you don’t make it look something like an old VW bug you call it a Golf. But I can spot the new design instantly.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      I agree. Even my sister now wants one now that it doesn’t look a toy out of her barbie collection when she was young.

      I want one with the classic steel looking wheels with dog dish hubcaps i keep seeing in commercials but can’t build on the vw website :(.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Exactly. The old car looked odd due to the almost 1/3rds proportions. The new car isn’t a screamer (for now) but looks so much like a fun retro sporty car now. It really begs for a convertible 356 body kit makeover….but that’s me.

  • avatar
    dwford

    You forgot the Kia sorento, which is now allegedly all new on the new Santa Fe platform but looks identical to the old one, the new Malibu which is a huge step back from the old one, the new crv is basically identical to the old one also. There is very little to get excited about with these new models

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Why pick on Toyota, the VW Passat looks very similar to the 90’s version, only bigger, I remember when the only thing that changed in the Impala from year to year was the tail lights, the Mustang from 64 to 66 was the side panel applique.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I agree completely.

    The same thing is happening in movies; there isn’t much originality left – just remakes of older movies, endless continuations of fantasy book series, and re-combinations of superhero stories.

    Kudos to any actual innovators.

    [Personally, I think the Dart\'s looks are catchy, except that its performance is so unrefined.]

  • avatar
    brid1970

    Honda’s applique lights “refresh”, on the deck lid of the Accord, was almost unbeleivable to someone like me who has come to rely on Japan’s ability to please the eye. And then Toyota’s latest re-skin of its Camry was even more disappointing.
    But I must agree with “30-mile fetch” that for companies that don’t care about us, but are merely appealing to the tastes of the masses, there’s assurance that the “bread and butter car” buyers will keep coming back.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Details must not be Doug’s thing. I can easily tell the redesign versus the old model at a glance on all of his examples. Heck, I can easily tell an R53 MINI against an R56 MINI.

    I like that models carry over a general look/feel from gen to gen. It creates a legacy that makes sense and it isn’t changing for the sake of change and it indicates, to me, that the design will age well unlike some of the major changes. *cough Sonata cough*

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    Wow, Japanese midsize family sedans aren’t styled by 14 year old boys on meth? The Porsche 911 still basically looks the same as it did in 1965? A pickup truck doesn’t have swoops and character lines??? Amazing revelations!!!!

    Please stop writing articles.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Wow, Japanese midsize family sedans aren’t styled by 14 year old boys on meth?”

      +1

      To quote Homer Simpson

      “Well I just naturally assumed”

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      No Japanese sedans would all appear to be styled by the same designer as the same basic things keep appearing over and over like the silly chrome strip uselessly placed at the bottom of the doors or the bangle butt syndrome or the boring slab side appearance that if you changed the badge virtually nobody would know the difference.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    This comments on the new Accord are way off base…

    …takes me back to 2003 when the MY2004 Acura TL was unveiled… most journalists called it bland and uninspired…. To this day, it stands out as a wonderfully clean, balanced, harmonious design that other cars of the time can’t lay claim to….

    2013 Accord
    –> …”..Let’s start with the Camry’s arch-rival, the Honda Accord, which was redesigned for 2013. Allegedly. As far as I can tell, the only real revisions are a lane change camera that probably cost $9 from China, and new rear tail lights that cost nothing because they were designed three years ago by Hyundai..”….

    The new Accord is one of the freshest, best looking 4 door designs I have seen in quite some time. It has the same pizazz and freshness the 2004 TL carried.

    Maybe spend some time looking at one under some nice sodium filled lights at night. The car has a marvelous tension in the sheet metal and wonderful proportions for a FWD vehicle…

    It has the “it” factor whether you see it or not.

    I know Kriendler throbs for the new Fusion, but as said before, the slab sided body cant cut the cheque the front & rear is writing. The Accord is the most balanced design out there among the mass market 4 doors (begrudgingly, I have to give a nod to the Optima as well as it has something special going on as well that is hard to define).

    Regarding your other nominees:
    –> 2012 Civic: I agree that the 2011 Civic didnt break the mold the way it’s predecessor did.

    –> 3 Series: I agree. I dont think the new 3 series advanced design wise from the previous generation.

    • 0 avatar

      We can argue all day about the Accord’s styling. I’m weird, though: I liked the 2003 redesign best! However, the resemblance to the Genesis tail lights is uncanny. Here’s a de-badged comparison: http://imageshack.us/a/img252/5567/accordgeness.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I am in complete agreement about the piss poor “redesign” of the Accord. I’ve never really been a fan of the CamCord cars… I prefer my Mazda 6.

        Also, its hard to argue with such strong pictoral evidence as presented above.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        I agree on both points. The ’03 Accord was its high point. I was behind a 2013 Accord on the highway last week and thought it was a Genesis for the first couple minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        I’m going to go with 1986–1989 Accord as the high point, in hatchback form, please. And perhaps the 1996-2000 Civic.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        Both look like an Infiniti I30 from behind.

        http://s1.aecdn.com/images/gallery/INFINITII30-I35-3259_5.jpg

        That said, I strongly prefer the new Accord to the 2008-2012 version.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I completely agree that the new Accord is a very clean and attractive design. It is definately an improvement over the 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      thesparrow

      1994-1997 Accord FTW! That was really a subtstantial leap forward at the time. In fact it seemed like Volvo almost copied it for their entire line of sedans for awhile…

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I suppose that’s why neither my mom or dad could spot the 2013 Accords which were mixed in with the 12’s at the Honda dealer. I literally had to point them out!
      Meanwhile across the street at Ford they both spotted the 2013 Fusion instantly and new it was a brand new design.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “From Escape to Fusion, Ford stands out as the carmaker that’s done a tremendous job this year with clean-sheet redesigns.”

    Seriously? Ripping off AM is a clean sheet design? Don’t get me wrong, if I wanted a midsize sedan I would wait until the engine issues are sorted out and get a 1.6 liter 6MT Fusion (unfortunately Ford will probably drop the manual option by the time the engine issues are sorted). But there is nothing at all original about the design.

    And the Escape just looks pulled and streched Fusion hatch. Which it is, but I thought the customers weren’t supposed to know that. The previous Escape looked much better.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Steve-O

      “And the Escape just looks pulled and streched Fusion hatch. Which it is, but I thought the customers weren’t supposed to know that.”

      They don’t know that because it isn’t true. The new Escape is based on the Focus platform.

    • 0 avatar
      kam327

      First of all, if a carmaker rips off design cues from the sports car segment and puts them into the mainstream midsize segment, that’s still taking a risk.

      Second, the Fusion grill is different enough from the Aston Martin’s in the automotive design world anyway. There’s only so many shapes and sizes you can design front grills in. Look at the ’13 Sentra’s rear taillights – EXACTLY the same as the ’12 Focus.

      Finally, my fellow poster is right, the Escape is an enlarged Focus. And what’s wrong with that? The Focus is an excellent chassis and the Escape is now a close second in handling in the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      You’ll be seeing plenty of Fusions at the rental counters once they catch up with the quality problems. Ford tried “radical” before and won w/ the Audi-inspired Taurus1 and lost big with the Taurus2.

      I suspect the Fusion will be more like the latter since its bunker styling is functionally poor and the Accord has won virtually all comparisons. Ford wanted a home run and instead got stomped on by the Accord. That must hurt.

      But hey Fusion buyers, thanks to the new Accord your Fusion has been marked down.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “And the Cadillac XTS traded lethargic engines and front-wheel drive architecture for … lethargic engines and front-wheel drive architecture. But without bland lines.”

    Not bland, but painful on the eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      AT least the DTS had the awesome sound of the Northstar at full throttle. The XTS’s V6 now sounds like most any generic Asian sedan out there with little fanfare or excitement.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Honest suggestion: I like the direction you’re going in with this premise but it reads like you’re trying to cover too much ground in a short article. I wouldn’t suggest a recurring series per se, but I would/would have broken this up into three to five separate pieces maybe each focusing on redesigns in a segment or small group of models each (Camry vs Fusion vs Accord). Not a full review, just the redesign features, ya dig?

  • avatar
    mjz

    At the Detroit Auto Show, people were climbing in the 2013 GM trucks thinking they were the new 2014’s. A friend pointed out that the new models were on display a few feet away. Sadly, they couldn’t tell the difference.

  • avatar

    Oh please, TTAC aren’t you above this tripe?

    First of all, if this article had been titled “bland redesign” or “unadventurous redesign” or even “uncreative redesign” I might have agreed. With a few.

    But to call a redesign “mediocre” because it doesn’t look much different (to you) is completely ridiculous, and means either the author isn’t paying attention or just doesn’t know what a good redesign looks like.

    The Liberty (as mentioned above) was a bold new redesign. But utter crap. The 1996 Taurus was bold and new. But wiped the Taurus brand off the map. The 2009 TL redesign was as bold as it gets, with a crazy new grill that everyone bitched about to high heaven. Those were different, but were they good?

    No.

    You see, the reality is that a “good” redesign has absolutely nothing to do with how different it does or doesn’t look. Honda nailed the Accord. Changed the styling a bit for the better, improved the interior, made it smaller, and made it more efficient. Toyota did the same thing, somewhat less successfully, with the Camry. Good redesigns. Redesigns that will sell well and be reliable solid cars for their owners for decades to come.

    And Ford? Well, they LOOK good. But if they were such good redesigns, why all the recalls? Why the endless quality concerns? While the generally unimpressive mileage figures (given the tiny, complex engines that are causing said recalls)?

    In the end, this author mistitled the piece (fair enough, maybe he’s not in charge of that himself?)…or he just doesn’t have any idea what the point of a redesign is. Either way, the tiresome, banal, whinging tone of the piece puts me off. TTAC is better than this.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Agreed – Honda nailed the new Accord by improving on the previous generation and making it better in every way. A much more cohesive design, even if the back end does look like the Genesis (a more expensive vehicle). At least I can trust the Accord’s fuel economy figures, more than can be said for a Hyundai.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        +1. I REALLY like the new Accord, and should have checked one out – I didn’t know what month they came out – but my Impala-love got the best of me in July!

        On the Accord: Incremental design improvement. I compare it with the 1992 Taurus. A game-changing original design that only got more refined.

        Just as the Taurus was improved, the Accord is VASTLY improved over the previous edition.

        To name a couple of things:

        a. No more “dog-bone” door handles. They looked hideous in chrome and were visible from the air!

        b. All the little crooked/odd angles in the tail lights and other places.

        Those minor changes now make it a great-looking, desirable car.

        I also agree on the Camry. The lines are much better – AND – a VERY important point: Toyota FINALLY came up with a back-end improvement that allows the “Camry” and model badging to be affixed LEVEL and not curving along the crease lines, like some drunk put them on. A design and optical no-no that drove me nuts!

        Incremental design IS NOT mediocre by any stretch if done right.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Zack I just can’t picture you in an Accord, you just have too much W body love. :)

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Whiners: Please check in your enthusiasts’ card, or at least log in to Jalopnik. If you can’t tell at a glance the ’13 Civic from the ’12, then you’re on the wrong site.

    Hell, I just realized last week the Corolla plastic grill changed! Progress, kids.

    Kidding aside, I think it’s no better or worse than it was 10-20-30 years ago. Sometimes you stretch, sometimes you don’t. The Fusion is a leap, as was the Elantra, Optima, Sonata, Escape, Equinox, etc. etc. Some are more subtle, like the Beetle, CR-V, Altima.

    You’ll get over it…..

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think we have had 2 decades of crappy design. A series of safe makeovers and very little of what could be called rolling sculpture. Just look how great looking BMWs were in the 70s and 80s and how bland they are now. Part of the problem are design regulations which limit everything from the positioning of the center break light to pedestrian safety. Many of these are sound regulations which reduce accidents but they also help to create a convergent evolution in car design.

    However, the consumer is also part of the equation. Manufacturers have figured out that mid-size family sedan owners don’t want to stand out in traffic. That’s also why such cars come in bland colors while you can get muscle cars in every lurid shade.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Another thing that seemed to occur overnight in the new Millennium was the idea that minimalist toned down exteriors and color were no good and luxury is defined by very understated tones. To a degree this is probably right. But when the manufacturers capitalized on this by removing every bit of exterior trim, switched from real names to letters or numbers, went over to all charcoal interiors, shared platforms on 2-3 models it was the car companies that ran to the bank at much of our expense.

  • avatar
    kam327

    The trouble is why would carmakers like Toyota and Honda take ANY risk whatsoever on their redesigns when dumb Americans keep rewarding them with top sales? If Americans continue to want boring appliances on wheels, the Japanese carmakers will be more than happy to oblige.

    Ford is taking real risks, in design and mechanicals. Their launch of new technologies has been much more rocky than I’d prefer, but at least they’re taking risks and learning from their mistakes.

    • 0 avatar

      How are they dumb? Please, do tell. Why is it stupid to buy the cars that continuously prove to be the most reliable, and provide the most value, often in packages that drive nicely and are very efficient (i.e. are fairly quiet, and/or moderately sporting). These are cars that tick more requirements on the list than anything else, how is buying one dumb? If Americans are dumb for following that criteria, than so are Canadians, all of Europe and, really…anywhere else in the world.

      And I say that as a person who won’t likely ever buy a family sedan, because I like “different” cars…but I respect and understand the reasons people do buy them.

      And P.S., Ford’s risks haven’t worked out that well, and are relatively recent in their development. The last Fusion did very well for them, and was quite a good product, but was as meat and potatoes as it gets. The last Escape? Same thing, but grew increasingly uncompetitive. The new models fix a lot of these issues, but aren’t head-and-shoulders above the competition, and fall behind when you consider their issues. I recently helped someone purchase a new car. I encouraged her to check out the Fusion initially…but after the recalls, I switched tunes. She bought an Accord, and couldn’t be happier. But we can revisit more risks if you want. The Contour? The 96 Taurus?

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      Yeah, I’m so dumb. I should probably let go of my spare refrigerator in the garage, errr AP1 S2000, and buy a Fiesta because they’re so “risky”.

      As far as Ford…let me know when you see an EcoBoost engine on fuelly that is actually delivering on its promises…as an engineer I am obsessed with the premise of forced induction, but would never purchase one for my daily driver.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    And yet, the Camry remains the number 1 seller. Toyota must be doing something right by pleasing the most people all of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      kam327

      I think part of it is they work the hardest to keep former Toyota owners in new Toyotas. My buddy was hoping to get away from Toyota but they made it so easy to end his over-mileage lease early and roll him into a new lease.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        That’s exactly what they did for our next-door neighbor. They bought her loyalty, because she didn’t WANT another Toyota.

        Chevy didn’t work anywhere near that hard to keep me…

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Zackman….Chevy didn’t have to work that hard to keep you. Your experience with the 04 Impala was all it took.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        kam327, yeah, it’s tough for Toyota to continue to keep their base because their competition is pretty tough. In our case, our very first Toyota was a 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited 4X4.

        We still have it because it is such a fine, problem-free vehicle. Then again, it was made in Japan! My wife’s three sisters also bought Highlanders, but theirs were made in the good ol’ US of A, and were rife with recalls and warranty issues.

        But to Toyota’s credit, they fixed ALL the issues and furnished loaner cars while the Highlanders were in the shop, some for several days.

        We would have bought another Highlander IF it had been built in Japan, but that stopped when they started making them in America, using American suppliers and American labor.

        So we bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4 V6 instead, made by the UAW and imported from Detroit. Although it has been trouble-free in over 24K miles, we’re not going to keep it beyond the warranty coverage. Don’t trust it beyond the warranty period. There’s still that decades-long reputation for anything Chrysler. Fiat hasn’t changed any of that. How could they? Nothing’s changed, except the name to Fiatsler.

        We probably will buy a Sequoia 4X4 the next time (2014) and take our chances for the warranty period on that vehicle. I’m too old now to repair these vehicles myself.

        But yeah, Toyota has its hands full trying to keep existing owners from switching to Accord, Sonata, even some to Altima. But some Toyota owners are also trading up to Avalon and Sequoia as they age.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        All excellent examples of effective marketing and dealer relations on the part of Toyota. The right organization can sell ice cubes to Eskimos, and more importantly, keep them coming back for more. Product is merely a variable in the equation.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Well there are a lot more elderly people out there than ever before and 9 in 10 folks driving these yawnmobiles are blue haired old ladies. That and Toyota is still considered a status name like Gap jeans.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Anybody who’s been expecting a huge leap in design from the new GM pickups hasn’t been paying attention. Stylistically-speaking, they’ve been evolving at a glacial pace since 1967. There was as little change from 1998 to 1999 as there is from 2013 to 2014, but GM’s customers didn’t seem one bit bothered by it back then.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I’m currently driving a rental Camry and again reminded how decent the car is. Sure it’s nothing great but most people don’t really care. They want a comfortable reliable car that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I wouldn’t get all crazy with the design either.

  • avatar
    DGA

    “While the latest BMW 3- and 5-Series models are very different from their predecessors, they’re now identical to each other. Based on my real-world driving experiences, turn signals remain a very unpopular option on both cars.”

    Ha ha ha ha…right on the money!

  • avatar
    Ciriya.com

    I hated the last Accord design. It looked like what would happen if a designer tried to blend a BMW and a previous gen Acura TL, after doing bath salts. The 2013 redesign isn’t perfect but it’s about 100 times better looking, even if it looks like they melted a Subaru Legacy.

  • avatar
    markholli

    I consider my observational abilities and attention-to-detail to be above average. I’ve always been able to spot the minor differences between model years – even the mid-cycle refreshes. That being said, the new BMW 5 and 7 series are indistinguishable from each other to me.

    If I saw one or the other on it’s own (and couldn’t read the badge at a distance) I wouldn’t know which it was. Only when they are parked next to each other does it become clear.

  • avatar

    I had noticed this and was going to comment on it! It seems to me that manufacturers are starting to get away with calling a redesign what is in reality a moderate or heavy facelift. As nice as the 2013 Legacy is, it wasn’t redesigned; it was facelifted. The same is true for cars like the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

    Then again, Ford had been getting away with doing this for years with its Explorer and Expedition vehicles (and their respective platform-mates), and more-recently with the Edge and MKX.

    Still it was particularly disappointing to see Toyota do it, because they know better than that…

  • avatar
    ajla

    ” In fact, Chevrolet is replacing last year’s 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8 with a new 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8 and 6.2-liter V8. In other words, the engines are getting the same “redesign” as the truck.”

    If you can find one tangible part off the new V6 that interchanges with the old V6 I will send you $20.

  • avatar
    Power6

    This seems like an old guy car rant ;-) Probably old car guys commenting too…

    Cars and car ownership have changed, cars are more useful and practical than style pieces, at least at the heart of the sedan market. I don’t think my coworkers who own Accords and Camries care one bit about how the car looks, maybe they care that it is inoffensive, that the new model looks a bit different from the last one, up to date interior?

    The style advantage doesn’t buy much in the big volume models, perhaps the least for the sales leaders vs. the competitors.

    I loved my ugly Subaru WRX not for what it looked like…hauling craigslist finds sideways in the snow VDC off with the wife screaming who cares what it looks like from the curb;-)

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Have to accept reality that it’s not the 50s/60s with radical restyles every year. There is only so much that can be done for aerodynamics sake.

    Most ‘excitement’ is with what features will be standard on a new model? e.g. Bluetooth is now on the base Civic LX, used to be a luxury.

    Another reality, looks don’t make a car drive better. To win sales offer more features for the money versus trying to look like a 1959 Caddy.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Also poorly executed redesigns:

    2010-2011 onward Corolla
    2012-2013 Altima
    2011-2012-2013 Civic
    2012-2013 Lexus ES/GS
    2008-2009 Sonata

    Notice how singers are singing old songs and movie makers keep remaking old movies. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees how badly out of ideas and boring/sterile things have become in this new Millennium. Look around you while driving. Highways all look the same, bridges have zero architectural eye appeal as the did 50-100 years ago and all look like boring slabs of roadside concrete, buildings are just large boxes of fake stucco and steel etc. It’s as if beauty, color and originality has been sucked out of the human race, especially the younger set.


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