By on April 26, 2013

 

Reader Summicron manages to both praise Jack’s review of the Dodge Avenger while also bringing up a very interesting point. Summicron writes

Baruth does the best job I’ve ever seen of answering the question:

“What does this hardware actually do?”
versus:
“What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”

This immediately made me wonder what vehicle is most unfairly maligned by the auto press and popular opinion?

The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger are most frequently singled out by the automotive media and armchair auto execs as some of the biggest stinkers for sale right now, but as Jack’s review shows, they really don’t deserve the bum rap they get.

My own nomination is “any crossover”. The amount of hate that this segment gets is, in my opinion, totally unjustified. I was at a launch event not too long ago where I overheard a fairly prominent journalist (in terms of access and audience, not necessarily talent) bragging that they “did not review crossovers, because who gives a fuck”. When I published a fairly positive review of the Infiniti JX35, which is guilty of being a CUV with a CVT, there were legions of negative comments decrying my fairly positive assessment. Such a vehicle was evidently a capital crime against all that car guys stand for. Meanwhile, the notion that some people want a CUV for any sort of rational reason seems to dumbfound a very vocal minority. Clearly, millions of consumers each year continue to make the wrong choice and must be re-educated. I still think the CR-V is brilliant (but boring to drive, yes).

But my real nomination will come as a shocker to many of you who insist that TTAC is nothing more than a propaganda arm for a nefarious anti-GM conspiracy. Are you ready for it? It’s the Chevrolet Malibu. I had the chance to drive the 2LTZ with the 2.0T engine and, well, it wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t say it’s top of the class, but there’s no way that it deserves the absolute dog-piling that the critics gleefully participated in. The 2.0T powertrain was quite powerful and dare I say smoother than in the Cadillac ATS, MyLink was simple to operate and it made a comfortable cruiser along I-95. The back seat was a bit small, but not enough to upset my brother, who is 6 feet tall and wears a size 48 suit jacket. And the trunk was certainly generous. I generally concurred with Michael Karesh in thinking that it was a pretty good car. It seems like the Malibu just became the unfortunate whipping boy for a journalistic corps that couldn’t tell human excrement from Swiss chocolate. The again, I haven’t driven the other versions, and Karesh was none too impressed with the eAssist. But who cares what I think? Let me know in the comments.

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157 Comments on “QOTD: What Is The Most Misunderstood Vehicle On The Market?...”


  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I think it’s the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. I don’t even think Hyundai understands what they want from it anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The automotive press seems confused too: Is it a Korean Mustang/Camaro or is it a Korean Thunderbird/Rivera? In my head I”m happier thinking of it as peppy grand tourer.

      • 0 avatar
        Cubista

        Or (since the introduction of the Toyobaru twins), is it (in 2.0T R-Spec trim) a Korean GT86?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Just saw one in the parking lot… its 2+2 in back and about the size of a Mustang so I would lean toward pony car. I don’t see it as a grand tourer, its not elegant enough.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Agreed. But if they made one that was closer to the sedan, it might qualify as a grand-tourer or personal-luxury coupe, like the Buick Riviera and Ford Thunderbird.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            I love the Riviera, and if I ever have more than, lets say, eight cars, a final generation supercharged Riviera will definitely be one of them.

            But the Genesis Coupe is not trying to be a Riviera. It is the 1990s Japanese sports car that everyone claims to miss (e.g. Supra, 300ZX, 3000GT), except dirt cheap and more advanced than any of those cars ever were.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Yup. The Genesis Coupe, with the two liter, is a whole lot like you’d imagine the 200SX / 240SX would be if Nissan were still producing it today.

            I’ve driven a few Silvias, and the feeling of the current GC 2.0T is a lot like the S14/S15 chassis. Especially when compared to the 86, which is more like a more modern MX-5 with a fixed roof.

            Two doors, four seats, turbo-four, good LSD, long wheelbase, Cheap.

            That is likely why Nissan is so indecisive when it comes to building a new Silvia. A modern Silvia would simply be too close to the 370Z in size and power.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Pleased to meet you. The entire Riviera line is what got me interested in cars, particularly the eighth-generation 1995-99 Supercharged models. I’m on the hunt for a 1999 Silver Arrow Riviera—one of the last 200 Rivieras to be produced—that isn’t overpriced.

            And I agree; the Genesis Coupe is no Riviera. There’s a reason that market died out for anything that isn’t cheaper than a Mercedes or BMW, and I think people are too harsh on the Genesis Coupe.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Likewise. I don’t think either of them look as good as the Riv, but the Camaro and Challenger are both affordable personal luxury coupes. They really should have been called the Monte Carlo and Monaco, but nobody knows what those are.

            The names are somewhat unfortunate since the people looking for a track/sports car like the original Camaro or Challenger will want a Mustang or Genesis Coupe, and the people that might be in the market for a personal luxury coupe probably think the Camaro and Challenger are too sporty or small, when they are actually large, comfortable cars (except for the Camaro headroom).

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      So true. Is it a track car you can tune up yourself like the 2.0T R-Spec, or is it a cheap G37 coupe like the 3.8 GT? Who knows. Hopefully they sort it out for the next one.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Why would anyone screw with a 2.0T and f-up the 10 year warranty? It is an amazing track car/solo car/daily driver off the lot.

        Baruth does not misunderstand the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T, he pegs it as the best sports car on the market short of the Miata (and ahead of the FR-S/BRZ):

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/boomerang-basement-bolides-second-place-hyundai-genesis-2-0t-r-spec-yo/

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      The Genesis Coupe is probably the 240SX of 15 years hence.

      No one wants them right now, but in two decades the hot rodders will have bought and used them up.

      You’ll be lucky to find a 300,000 mile, fifth-owner beater.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        This is absolutely true except that the Nissan 240SX was sold in the US with a 2.4 liter truck engine instead of the 2 liter turbo that Japan and Europe got in the Silvia/200SX. Hyundai is giving us the 2 liter turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      It’s a knockoff G37 coupe. The stylistic cues are more than obvious.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    BTW Derek, the Malibu’s purpose is to sell more new Impalas.

    “Malibus back seat a little tight? Well let me show you this Impala over here…”

    There are times when I think there are many misunderstood cars but then sometimes I think I’m just out of step with the times.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      This may be a case where the Malibu was purposely degraded to make a case for keeping the Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        Ever since the Vega, the theory as always been that GM has intentionally made their smaller cars as un-user-friendly as they could get away with in an effort to get customers to move up to their much more profitable big cars.

        It might have worked, too, except GM never counted on the Japanese, which is where most small car buyers went, instead.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Well, that would have been the case here *if* the Cruze didn’t also have a lot of room for its class. And although I like the Malibu and I like its styling, I’m surprised that GM didn’t learn its lesson from the outgoing CTS, which was a tweener when it should have been either dedicated-compact or midsized.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            What about the 20 years before the Cruze was introduced?

            My dad was one of those guys who owned and maintained/hacked/tuned a string of GM cars. Then one day, went across the street to the Honda dealer, bought one, found it was vastly more reliable and efficient.

            I’m glad GM got the memo, but they missed out on 20 years of chances to sell my dad cars during his big earning years by employing this foolish strategy!

            But I still miss those 1990s Honda Accords! They were truly excellent cars for the time, and still not half bad!

        • 0 avatar
          Jason_in_SD

          Sounds like you said “And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”

  • avatar
    patgolfneb

    Removing ego from reviews? Not inflating minor difference so one vehicle can be declare the big winner? Focus on who car is for instead of what isn’t? No moire great american novel auditions? Clearly a closet commie!

  • avatar
    Dan

    Re: Malibu.

    You’re exactly misunderstanding it. A loaded $32,000 luxury car to smoothly and quite powerfully cruise the interstate while using the touchscreen to jump between four different kinds of internet radio is all well and good. The Malibu may do that pretty well. But that’s not where it’s competing to sell a thousand cars a day which is what the segment is about.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Agreed. There are some aspects in which the Malibu is not competitive–especially when compared to the acres of backseat room in the Accord and Passat–but it isn’t a turd either. I wouldn’t even call the 200 and Avenger turds, because while they are rather cheaply-built and lacking, they are also appropriately-priced.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The problem is the one of the main reasons for buying a new 4 door family sedan is a new addition to the family. Enough room for both a rear-facing infant safety seat and the infants parents is mission-critical to the market segment that the Malibu competes in.

    • 0 avatar

      DAN

      Absolutely right.

      I loved the Malibu – maybe not with the slow ECO setup – but I felt it was an incredible car and if I didn’t mind driving slow and on budget – I’d buy one.

  • avatar
    buck-50

    All Honda products fit here. Take the Civic. The current civic is a pretty amazing car. My wife’s 2007 has the new body style, the much-maligned 2-level dash and, horror of horrors, an automatic transmission. It works great. Is it exciting? no. But not everyone wants exciting. My wife didn’t. She wanted good gas mileage, safety and reliability. She has gotten all 3, in spades, in a car that’s big enough for a family of 3 to drive across country in reasonable comfort. (ask me how I know.) The trunk is gigantic for a car that size. The interior is bulletproof. It’s not sumptuous, it’s not luxurious, but the seats are comfortable for someone over 6 feet tall and for regular folks, for long stretches of time. And it’s cheap. We bought the base model. No frills, but honestly, are alloy wheels that important? (no, they are not.)

    For most car buyers, a car is just a way to get from point a to point b while carrying a kid. And for most of us, driving does not mean winding country lanes and perfect apexes, it means stuck in traffic, 18 miles an hour, bumper to bumper. And for that the Civic is awesome. THe important controls for that kind of driving – Climate and stereo- are easy to use. Turn on the AC and the little one in the back seat stops freaking out so you can concentrate on the bumper in front of you.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      Yes!

      And even for people who will pay more to get a somewhat sporty car, most of them need it to be good transportation first. The safety and reliability need to be good and the mileage at least okay, and it has to be tolerable to drive in traffic and possibly for long trips. Very few people can justify a car that sucks as transportation just because it’s fun on winding roads or on the track.

  • avatar

    If I may, I’ll do the opposite. You see, in Brazil, whenever a car is launched, the press heaps praise on it. Whatever it is. Consumers are usually suckered in by anything new and shiny, too. So my nomination is the opposite, the car that gets praise piled on it, not by what it does (since it does it poorly), but by how it makes its customers look: the Hyundai HB20. More expensive than competitors, less roomy, less refined. But boy does that design make owners look trendy and cool!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think the problem a lot of enthusiasts have with large CUVs is that they are seen as “minivans in denial”.

    And the problem most had with the CR-V was not that it was a CUV. They thought it was ugly and felt it didn’t do enough to distance itself from the previous generation to justify the “all-new” label.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I have more respect for a family car buyer that buys a minivan/wagon over one that buys a CUV simply because it isn’t a minivan/wagon. I have never hated minivans like most do, I think they are the perfect replacement for the full sized station wagons of yesterday.

      • 0 avatar
        akitadog

        What’s your level of respect for those who buy CUVs because affordable, reliable wagons just don’t exist?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          I gritted my teeth and bought an Escape when I wanted a wagon.

          A year later, I manned up and got a minivan!

          I’m much happier. The van is more useful, more efficient, and nicer to drive. And, frankly, I like the image better too.

          CUVs are better than they look. Despite the poseur styling, unnecessary height, occasionally poor MPG, they really are designed to be family cars that are good at the requirements of everyday living. That’s worth something.

          But I still wish I’d just manned up and bought the minivan instead.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Derek, I think you nailed some pretty strong contenders. Stylistically, I’d say the Chevy Cruze and Mazda 3. The Cruze is well proportioned and aside from out-dated looking tail lights actually is pretty nicely done as a design. I know everyone hates the smiley face on the Mazda 3, but I look at the bullet-nose and the sweeping fenders, and the well-intergrated tail of the trunk and I’m in love.

    As far as overall under-ratedness goes though the current Civic is also a contender and perhaps the Chevy Sonic.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    All that said, TTAC is hardly immune from claims of unreasonable bias:

    The article about the Great Wall pickup being sold in the UK talked about “dreadful” reviews in the UK auto press, but every single review I read (via Google) said it was perfectly acceptable, especially for what they were selling it for. Not a luxury car, by any means, but a perfectly normal bargain compact pickup. (Something we sorely need here in the US.)

    And the article thrashing the new Impala linked to a Yahoo review that, yes, did trash the car. But as some of the comm enters to that review noted, many of the criticisms made no sense whatsoever (complaining about “slowness” when it’s actually pretty fast) and that the reviewer was anything BUT an actual auto journalist.

  • avatar
    Petra

    The Dodge Challenger seems to get a lot of flak, IMO. Supposedly enlightened journalists are always complaining about how it weighs too much, and it doesn’t handle very well, and the visibility is lousy and the interior sucks. It’s a Muscle Car, dudes! What did you expect?

    • 0 avatar
      Pinzgauer

      See atleast for handling part I dont buy it. Both the “Super Trak Pac” optioned and SRT-8 models I drove had very good handling and nice steering. Perhaps the base suspsension/steering is bad, I dont know as I didnt try one. Seriously, for $495, I dont know why every R/T doesnt have the Super Trak Pak.

      I agree the interior is absolutely horrible though.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I think it is true that there are very few “bad” cars currently on sale in the US. Every model has some sort of pro and con going for it. A select few in each segment manage to be very good at mass appeal. There is quite a disconnect between what the average car buyer wants and what the automotive ethusiast/auto media want. Also consider that the quality gap between best and worst brands when put into a graph may look dramatic, but in reality, are very close.

    I think a clear case of the automotive media piling on was the last Civic before the refresh. The market clearly did not agree with the criticism from the media. My personal pick for most unfairly slighted by the media would probably be the Cruze. Though it has definitely not received the beat down some other cars have, I think it represents an excellent value in a conservative tasteful package. Outward expressions of frugality, however, are verboten.

    Certainly, the opposite is true as well. I think there are plenty of vehicles out there that do not deserve the praise they receive. BMW immediately comes to mind, anything made by Mini and most Subarus. None of them are bad cars per se, but I dont think they quite deserve the pedistal they have been placed on.

    I think the disconnect is growning between the buying public and the media/enthusiasts. The auto media has certainly been guilty of piling on and kicking a car when it is down. I think it is fueled mostly by the audience they serve which demands their sacrificial lamb. Its the nature of the beast. Every car cannot receive a positive review. Certainly there needs to be marked distinctions drawn between the expensive brands and the lesser vehicles. Otherwise, how do we as car buyers justify spending 2 and 3 times more on a car when a Chevy Cruze would have fit the bill perfectly for a lot less.

    I dont own a Cruze or work for GM btw.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agree with the Cruze. I get one as a rental every now and then and its prefectly acceptable. I prefer it over a Versa and some of the other “pentaly boxes” Hertz offers up. I find the interior to be well done which is normally the weak point on GM vehicles IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        I think this situation is different in America but outside of the US the Cruze debuted with the old 1.8 n/a four.

        Let’s not kid ourselves, the Cruze is homely if not ugly.

        It does have a nice interior though for the money.

        Now the Cruze is available as a hatchback and later, a euro style wagon with a 1.6 turbo ecotec motor.

        This is the car that they should have debuted with.

        Problem is the damage is done and where I am the Corolla Mazda 3 and Civic and the Koreans eat its lunch and none of them have the motor the Cruze has. Shame.

        To many people, the motor isnt the most important thing but to enthusiasts (and people like us), its everything.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I don’t think the Cruze is homely. I think it’s handsome and mature. In the past few years, nearly everyone’s revamped their compact cars to have more features and be better looking, and in the process they’ve thrown all sorts of swoops and effects into them, making them look as if they cater *only* to a younger crowd. For the record, I *am* one of those people from the younger crowd, but I don’t feel as silly and juvenile when driving the Cruze as I would when driving, say, the Elantra or Focus. The Jetta is another car that is handsome without overdoing it.

          • 0 avatar
            MPAVictoria

            I agree with Kryee. The Cruze is far from homely. I would actually say it is the best looking car in its class.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I also consider the Cruze the best looking in the class.

            Cruze takes a beating at least partly from politics and its Daewoo roots.

            I rented one once and liked it quite a bit. Extremely quiet on the highway with a comfortable ride. Not sporty, but not incompetent either. I’m not sure why so many dismiss it when shopping the C class. At least it is very good at something, where most cars in the class are unremarkable appliances.

            I think it suffers from uncomfortable seats, but seats can be pretty personal.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            Yup, agree. The Cruze has the least tortured look of cars in its class and most others. It is quite handsome to my eye without all the excresences, bulges and surface “excitement” of the rest. Corolla is worst.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            Count me as another person who agrees with Kyree. The Cruze is a nice, conservative design that will age well.

            Disagree with wmba, below, regarding the Corolla. No one outdoes Hyundai when it comes to “excresences, bulges and surface ‘excitement.\'” Not that I like the Corolla, mind you.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Misunderstood by enthusiasts-Camry
    Nothing else comes close IMHO.

    The level of nastiness thrown at it for not being cheaper (but just as nice) 3 series is pathetic.

    It is exactly what it’s intended customers want.

    Enjoy.

    Bunter

  • avatar

    The Malibu has the most misunderstood car on sale today. The 2008-2012 Malibu had a really ugly rear. They fixed the styling on the new model. The car gets unfairly criticized for rear leg room when it is about the same as the Altima and more than the Sonata, while providing the most trunk space. GM made the situation worse by introducing the mediocre Eco versions first. Throwing lame a** wheels on the car has hurt it even more. I personally think it is one of the best looking mid-sizers out there (Could be my GM bias). Has a road presence equal to none. The car should also age very well unlike the gaudy Sonata and Altima. Wheels make or break the new Malibu and the styling comes together very well in person. Pictures somehow don’t do any justice for the car.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBQziLWsf-A
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvcDVpYejcE

    I wrote this a month ago explaining the lackluster sales….
    “What we need to understand is that there are only X amount of buyers out there willing to buy a GM “car”. The 2008 Malibu had an easier time selling well since it shared the showroom with crappy siblings like the Cobalt, Aveo, previous gen Equinox and Buick didn’t have any decent cars yet. For someone who wanted to buy a GM car or a 5 seat crossover but couldn’t afford a Cadillac, the 2008 Malibu was the only decent choice available. Fast forward to 2012/13, the new Malibu now has to compete against a vastly improved Sonic, Cruze and Equinox. There is also added pressure on the upper end from the Buick’s Lacrosse, Verano, Encore and the GMC Terrain.”

    The current Malibu is easily salvageable. GM needs to do away with the Eco versions. Make polished 18” rims standard. Redo the crappy interior design (The materials themselves are class leading. The boring center stack and weird vents need to go)

    • 0 avatar
      Tomifobia

      18″ rims standard? No thanks. I live in the land of the frost heave and deferred road maintenance. I don’t want to have to replace one or more tires (or rims) with each spring thaw, so I’ll gladly live with a taller sidewall. There’s no reason why Chevy can’t simply offer more interesting wheels in smaller diameters. Quote:

      “What does this hardware actually do?”

      versus:

      “What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        So much this. Large rims seems to be a crutch for designers these days. OR it is almost required for a car to look good, given the slab sided cars being rolled out currently.

        Either way, if I am buying a midsize sedan for my family, the last thing I need is the added cost of trying to replace 18″ rubber, and the cost of a suitable winter tire package. I downsized from my stock 16″ alloys to 15″ steelies with caprice style center caps. They are extremely maintenance friendly and more economical to buy good quality rubber.

        • 0 avatar
          SpacemanSpiff

          Amen Dave. The 17″ wheels on our Outback are stupid. It’s not even the turbo version. 15″ or 16″ would be fine! I hate paying more for the 17″ tires!

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Plus, wouldn’t replacing 2″ of metal rim with nice, flexy sidewalls result in a cushier ride over our wretched streets?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Yessir, it rides pretty nice and the extra sidewall is extra beneficial in our winters here.

    • 0 avatar
      zaxxon25

      Recently purchased an 40K ’08 LTZ as a daily commuter. My criteria was full-feature 4 door sedan with biggest bang for my depreciation buck. When I couldn’t find a decent all options Saturn Aura XR (which was #1 on the list) the Malibu was a strong 2nd choice. It’s an extremely competent driver, as quiet as a CTS and reasonably fun to push. The 6 speed transmission always prefers efficiency to power but is willing to respond when asked. Still haven’t mastered the paddles but they do work as advertised. Two tone interior is disco funky but you won’t find me on the best dressed list either.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    Nissan products generally… the Maxima comes to mind as the most prominent. The standard summary is “OMFG this makes no sense it’s a clone of the Altima” or “OMFG it makes no sense because it’s priced like a G37″ when it’s completely different in terms of interior, base engine, features, target market, etc. It’s a strange beast, a wannabe luxury car from the poor man’s Toyota brand with zero luxury cachet.

    Basically a CVT, no matter how favorably reviewed, means it’s going to be misunderstood and discredited. Almost every review on this site of Nissan’s recent generation – Altima, Maxima, Sentra – has praised the CVT and commenters still are saying “CVTs suck I’d never consider one.”

    And then there are the “oddball” cars like the Juke, Cube and Altima coupe that nobody understands but seem to remain useful in the stuffed Nissan lineup.

    Let’s not even start with the LEAF as that’s possibly the most polarizing car this side of the Impala. :)

    Disclaimer: I own a stick-shift hatchback and am not advocating or defending CVTs, they still scare me from a reliability/long-term upkeep perspective. But if every review says they are as good or better than a conventional automatic in terms of performance, noise, fuel economy etc then I am at least going to consider the possibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      Good call. The trim level of the Cube that I drive has no gearbox option BUT the CVT. While it is quirky and definitely requires a “getting used to” period, it definitely serves its purpose well; I average between 34-36 MPG despite driving almost exclusively in red-light-to-red-light suburban conditions in one of the most un-aerodynamically fit cars on the road today.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I really appreciate the fact that Nissan is able to make quirky, polarizing cars…and still get a lot of sales while doing it. A lot of people may not like the Juke and Cube, but the ones that do like them seem to absolutely **love** them. We had a Cube as a rental and I was surprised at the fact that a box on wheels was able to get very near to forty miles-per-gallon on the interstate while handling like a traditional car and offering tons more space than one. While the looks aren’t for me, I really can’t discount the Cube on anything.

        To me, Nissan is the Japanese brand with soul, the one that dares to be different, and that goes for everything from the Juke to the Murano to the QX56.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I don’t think any of those things are neceassarily pot shots at the car, but explanations from a business standpoint as to why they hardly sell any Maximas.

      I don’t think it “sucks” as a car, (it certainly doesn’t “rock” either), but I do question the business need for it to exist.

      • 0 avatar
        TorontoSkeptic

        That’s why it’s misunderstood. I’ll admit I don’t quite get the Maxima myself but you might be surprised to learn that the Maxima is quite popular, selling about 60k units a year in the US.

        That means it’s outselling the Cadillac CTS, Nissan Murano, Lexus ES, Honda Fit and a bunch of other “popular” and much more frequently discussed vehicles. I don’t think I’ve seen an auto site review a Maxima in 3+ years.

        http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/01/2012-usa-auto-sales-rankings-by-model7.html

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          So in it’s class, the Maxima outsells the Avalon, an equally redundant model, and sells about as much as the Lacrosse. And that’s about it.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The new Avalon has blown past them both, although the Maxima is still selling 23% better than the Lacrosse. I’m surprised that the Maxima sells as well as it does, but then again I can’t claim I’ve seen a Lacrosse in the past couple years around here either.

          • 0 avatar
            TorontoSkeptic

            The Avalon was lovingly reviewed on TTAC this week. The last review of a Maxima I could find was three and a half years ago.

            If the question is “most misunderstood”, I still think Nissan generally and the Maxima specifically sums it up for me. The Avalon is understood: it’s a retiree’s car. The Maxima is a budget brand’s luxury full-size, with a heritage as a sport-oriented V6, that now has the same dimensions as the Altima but costs $15k more.

            Re the competitors, I think “full-size” is a totally meaningless category. The Impala and Maxima are not competitors. The Avalon and the Maxima, maybe, but pitched to totally different markets.

            They’re all toast anyway long-term…

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/chart-of-the-day-full-size-sedan-freefall/

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            $15K more? I don’t think so. Even if they did have MSRPs that were that high, you can actually pick up steep discounts on Maximas…

          • 0 avatar
            TorontoSkeptic

            Re: the price, in Canada they only sell the top-trim Maxima, starting price $38k. Base price for Altima is $23k, so yes it’s really a $15k difference. Probably explains why the Maxima is way less popular here than in the USA…

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Maxima and LaCrosse are pretty much dead even the last three years at around 60K annually. The Avalon is hardly half the Maxima or LaCrosse sales.

            Not sure about the Maxima, but with Avalon newly out and LaCrosse this fall should prove an interesting race.

            http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/toyota-avalon-sales-figures.html?m=1

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      “the Maxima comes to mind as the most prominent”

      I recently had a Maxima as a rental and I hated it. Would much rather have a Altima. It’s a step backwards from previous generation Maxi. Also a colleague said looking out at the hood reminded him of the old “oval” Taurus. Ouch! Criticism well deserved on that ugly pile.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Buicks always seem to get misunderstood. Are they dressed up Chevy’s? Downplayed Cadillacs? Do they compete Lexus? Or are they more of a Volvo-type player?

    Every review tries to categorize them with someone, when really, Buick is an anomaly. To understand the brand, you have to look back upon its own history, and not equate them with anything in the market.

    Also, to Summicron’s second question: What will snobs think of me if I buy it? I say that for anyone under 60 considering a Buick is wondering just this. Taken on their own merits – quality, reputation, content – Buick represents a good value, but some people just can’t get past the Old-Man-With-Pants-Pulled-Up-To-His-Moobs stigma.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      I want to give you a medal for the expression “Old-Man-With-Pants-Pulled-Up-To-His-Moobs”. Please provide your address so I can send you a Full Cleveland ensemble and three mismatched wire wheel covers.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Meh. CUV’s: family vehicles for people who abhor minivans. Not as practical as a minivan; not as capable as a true 4wd vehicle. Use more fuel than a minivan; about the same as a true 4wd. This said by a former minivan owner who got talked into a CUV (Pilot) by his wife. I actually felt more secure driving the AWD minivan in snow than I do the Pilot.

    The other dichotomy is that most auto reviewers are focused on how the thing drives, and less focused on other more practical aspects. The enthusiast’s cheering for the Ford Focus is a great example. I’ve rented a Focus; and I almost bought one. Apart from the horrible DCT, the Focus is a great drive (although not over-endowed with power). But when you look at the practicalities, things break down. The hatchback has surprisingly little room behind the seats, even if you fold down the back seats. The back seats are small for the segment and for the size of the vehicle, marginal really for adults. And the way the dashboard curves into the passenger space to meet the door means that getting into even the front seats is a little awkward if you’re tall.

    “Horses for courses” as they say.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““What will snobs think of me if I buy it?””

    I’m going to follow this up with another question:

    “What will snob *in me* think of me if I buy it?”

    This is perhaps the final question I ask myself prior to purchase. I personally am not all all concerned with what others think… 90% of them know little to nothing about the automotive world or what motivates me to make the purchases I make.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      This is well said. I agree 100% – it is all about ME. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, and I freely admit to being both an automotive snob and a purist.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Zowie! I’ve got a day off from work, I’m watching Gangs of New York and now this….. my name up in pixels! Thanks, Derek.

    But let me, as always, come from left field and give due thanks to all the snobs and performance junkies for reliably trashing any vehicle that attracts me.

    In Little Big Man General Custer called Jack Crabb (Hoffman) “a perfect inverse barometer”; i.e., if he says left, go right. That’s how I read car reviews on enthusiast sites.

    So, in the words of TV’s Andy Levy,
    Thanks, snobs!

    Oh, and my candidate like Bunter says… Camry.

  • avatar
    TorontoSkeptic

    Can’t believe nobody’s said it yet: the Corolla. It is the anti-car, the car for people who don’t like cars. I consider my mother-in-law the typical owner. She has no interest in cars, how they drive, what they look like. She treats her Corolla like utter crap. It’s parked outside 365 days a year, never washed, rarely maintained at even a basic level like oil changes, and lent out to various irresponsible family members who drive it 90 mph+ (yes that’s possible) and run the tank down to completely empty.

    In spite of this the thing is a rock, 12 years old and shows no sign of giving up any time soon.

    I always laugh when people say Toyota reliability is overrated because the owners are uptight and maintain them so well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most people I know who own a Matrix/Corolla treat them like garbage and they still start every day, never break down and get good mileage.

    Yet every comparison of compact cars is going to say the Corolla sucks, it’s overpriced, there’s no reason to buy it vs a Ford, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      suspekt

      bless you for this post!! I totally agree with you…

    • 0 avatar
      NewLookFan

      +1000. My girlfriend has been merciless on her Matrix’s transmission for over 10 years, and it runs and runs. Even the power windows and locks still work. Yes, the driving position is a bit wonky, buy I’ve never seen such a reliable car in my garage. Should be my next car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Totally agree. I would never buy one but the Corolla is the definition of reliable A to B transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Mid-90s Japan-sourced Corollas pretty much define the term “bulletproof”.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Absolutely. It’s an excellent transportation applicance and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Rather than dissing it for what it isn’t, it should generally be praised for what it is.

      Strangely enough, “Maximum Street Speed” Baruth understands this car better than most of the rest of the automotive press. “It had different priorities.”

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      They truly are the perfect car for people who don’t care about cars. However, many of us DO care about cars and driving. I don’t care how tough and reliable they are, there is zero joy to be had behind the wheel of one. Heck, even a panther at least lets you indulge in fantasies of driving a cop car.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The Corolla seems to be the single young female, utilitarian car of choice. Or it was at one time before the Toyota bubble bursted and the Koreans came on the scene. My buddies wife laughs at her single friend that just picked up anothe silver Corolla…after turning in her previous one! Same color too!

      That “ledgendary 35 mpg”. And the “look at that new Toyota” campaign must work for some. But it is an old chassis that probably is bottom rung in fuel economy.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Funny this coming up today.

    I have recently spent a few bucks maintaining wear items on my 270000 kms 2002 Alero. It is reliable, economical, comfortable and paid for.

    However just yesterday I got asked “You’re an engineer and your driving an Alero?” Just like that.

    But Summicron hit it on the head. It does exactly what I need it to do. Snobs don’t get it. And I am happy with that.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Most unfairly maligned?

    Toyota PRIUS!!!!

    Especially by journalists who just dont get it.

    I am a gearhead. I love hard-revving rip snorting engines packaged in timelessly styled cars…. BUT, dare I say it, the Gen2 Toyota Prius is the best car I have ever owned and my only regret is not buying one sooner…

    – Soooo smooth
    – Soooo quiet & RELAXING
    – Unreal fuel mileage
    –> Let me expand on this. Just as you must adjust your driving style to best enjoy a proper manual transmision vehicle, so must you adjust your driving style to capitalize on how the Prius operates. And let me add this. The greatest achievement of the Prius is not necessarily the genius HSD system…. it is actually the way in which the car manages drag and driveline friction…. once you learn to master ‘preservation of momentum’ vis-a-vis the extreme low friction characteristics of the driveline, the mileage dividends are simply unbelievable… 60mpg is a very normal R.O.P. (return on petroleum!!, my new investment ideom)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Do you think these benefits of Prius could also be had in the other HSD models, or is your praise literally due to the Prius design?

      • 0 avatar
        suspekt

        I am not sure if the other HSD models can pull off some of the tricks up the Prius’s sleeve but I suspect they can as the design is very similar.

        When you spend some meaningful time in a Prius it is literally quite impossible going back to a conventional ICE car. Couple of these special abilities include:
        – above 42mph, the prius can achieve a mode where the engine spins at 900rpm but the fuel injectors are off. The battery is drawing very little current (5 amps or so) and the car will literally travel tens of miles slowly losing velocity. It’s like a high speed cruise where the battery is being used to very nearly eliminate driveline friction. If you are on even a minor down slope grade, no fuel will be used
        – below 42mph, the prius can operate in what is coined “stealth” mode. Basically, if you are aware of impending traffic slowdowns or approaching red lights, you can literally roll ( NO regen, NO engine running, NO battery draw) roll to your target braking zone and then start using regen.

        The power of the above 2 modes is phenomenal. They combine to make stratospheric fuel economy possible.

        AND, dare I say, make driving fun. The Prius is a hoot to drive. It’s unfortunate many of you see it as an appliance when in reality:
        – it frees up cash flow to spend on things that matter in life
        – the ultra quiet operation reduces stress on the body
        – driving it is fun!

        Can’t say enough about the Prius. HSD is much more then a battery pack and motor-generators. It completely changes the way people should approach driving.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      suspekt,

      Yep. Toyota’s other, high-tech transportation appliance. Praiseworthy in its own way.

      28,

      HSD by itself is a pretty good way to get power to the wheels but the Prius brings a lot of ideas together to maximize utility while minimizing fuel consumption. It’s sort of Toyota’s idea of “Skyactiv.” An HSD Camry is just not the same kind of thing.

      I’d like to see the “Prius” concept brought to a real minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thx for the info. I’m intrigued by the HSD system (and to a lesser extent that of the Volt) but I’m not sure the snob within me would approve of a Prius. Other models perhaps…

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          It’s probably more of the “smug appeal” of battery assist ICE. Most vehicles have some type of fuel economy monitor, not to extend of the battery cars, that allows the driver to adjust driving habits for the greatest yield in energy. I hear it from one Volt owner all the time who is probably well over 80 mpge.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            How could people possibly get any “smug appeal” out of a car that gets so thoroughly trashed?

            There are undoubtedly people driving it who do so to reduce emissions or consumption on priciple. It cost them extra to do so. Is there something wrong with that? Is there something noble about waste?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @KixStart

            Seen this South Park?

            http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e02-smug-alert

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            South Park? Are you serious?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @KixStart

            Heh… I’ll take that as a no.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            I have seen it. My question remains, “Are you serious?”

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “How could people possibly get any “smug appeal” out of a car that gets so thoroughly trashed?”

            Granted SP is over the top with its characterization, but such people exist. University communities and gentrified urban blocks are full of them.

            Have you never been dismissed by an eyes-closed snob? They exhibit a nearly religious obduracy. And they drive Piouses.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Best defined here:

            http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Toyota%20Pious

  • avatar
    patgolfneb

    When you compare average income and new car prices, for most people total cost, price + mileage+ reliability+ resale for the size vehicle desired trumps everything else. Buying used makes that even more the criteria. We all love luxury and performance but the premium for self indulgence has increased. The quality and bit of fun in my Mazda 3 hatch, 6 speed, 2.5, made the choice easy. You get 80% of the performance and reasonable comfort at 1/2 the cost, especially after warranty costs.

  • avatar
    burakvtec

    for me ,Hyundai and kia models are misunderstood(talking for europe), Hyundai i30 and elantra for kia optima and ceed are nice models but people prejudice with the past White trash image. I have a civic elegance 2009 and my father liked my car ,this month he wanted a similiar city car like mine instead of his old 98 passat, I checked new 2013 honda civic interior ,it is horrible hard plastic comparing to mine. I went to Hyundai dealer, Hyundai elantra has no doubt better design and quality dashboard than honda even l m big fan of honda.but the salesman said they have still 2012 models not sold.I was suprised actually.in my country,people prefer as a compact sedan ;vw jetta,toyota Corolla,opel astra sedan they have diesel engine that’s why but still soulless cars,boring interior and exterior design…

  • avatar
    200k-min

    “What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”

    I’ve gotten to quite like the Kia Optima. Does everything I’d ever need a car to do and it higher trims it’s actually quite luxurious. Now I know if I bought one I’d get snarky comments about driving a Kia, yet if I bought another Accord or god forbid, a Camry, nobody would bat an eye. Why? I also rather like the new Fusion, but everyone thinks about the old oval Taurus when they think Ford. Fair, not at all but the prejudice is there.

    A friend just got a Dodge Charger. I didn’t say anything but my first thought was “Chrysler makes unreliable garbage.” Ooops, I do the same thing.

    Vehicles are not mis-understood, it’s just people have bias. Enthusiasts often have similar bias and given the sales volume of Camcords there is similar bias in the masses. It will fluxuate with time but it is what it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      I’ve always liked the Optima, too. That is, until I read the recent article that says the Optima is a favorite with sub-prime buyers. Now my inner snob says “nope, nope, nope!”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s interesting to hear, I wasn’t aware of that fact but now that I hear it, it seems to fit with whom I see driving them.

        I think of two things when I think of Kia: the noticeable change of “Sportage” in their commercials being pronounced as “Sport-age” (as it should be) to the douchey “Spor-ta-ge” and the first gen Kia Rio, which to me screams “please kill me”. This brand could roll out a Silver Spur and a Corvette, and I still won’t take them seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      We test drove 2 Kias before Christmas – Optima and Sportage. Both very impressive, equal or superior to their competition. Loads of zip, well-featured, well styled. Almost bought the Sportage.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I WANTED a new Malibu last summer, but the Eco-thingy turned me into another Impala.

    I’m quite pleased, BTW.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      GM put off a lot of buyers for launching the Malibu with the mild-hybrid powertrain, which I drove and found to be wholly-inadequate as compared to the 2.5L and 2.0L turbo engines, which are smooth and have plenty of power. I think the initial reviews (which were only *of* Eco models) did more to damage the car’s reputation than its few shortcomings as a model.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    That’s easy: the smart car. Most reviewers hate it, internet know-it-alls are convinced of its apostasy, and the general public is afraid of it.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I don’t think the Smart is very misunderstood. It has one, and only one, useful purpose: driving around in cities where parking is scarce and tight. I’m pretty sure reviewers and the buying public understand this. (Except for the strange people I see trying to commute down the local interstate in the thing.)

      Outside of that single use case, it truly is an awful, pointless, vehicle. You can get a LOT more (and better) vehicle for the same (or less) money if you do not have the previously-mentioned need to park in undersized spaces.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I agree. It is definitely a niche car, aimed squarely at people who live in densely populated cities. In the city, probably as a second car, it makes a lot of sense. It is not understood by suburban and exurban North Americans, who malign it because it isn’t suited to their own needs. Which is precisely why it “won” the TTAC TWAT vote.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      And by extension, the Scion iQ/Aston Martin Cygnet. Actually, the Aston Martin is not misunderstood – the sole purpose for its existence is well-documented.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Oddly enough, I saw an iQ sitting at the lights today, and for whatever reason, the only thought I could really muster towards it was, it seems to fit its clothes better than the Smart. Yeah, its a puny city car but it looks right for what it is.

        Dare I say is has some flare?

  • avatar
    Jimmy7

    The Volt. Not quite electric, sometimes a hybrid, hated by many. “Too small” and “too expensive” and “too green” and “not green enough” are the complaints even before the inevitable tirades about unions and bailouts. But it does its job perfectly; I get over 45 miles on a 10 hour charge, and 40 mpg when I forget to plug in.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I almost nominated it, myself, because it is so often unfairly criticized (unions, bailouts, Obama photo-ops, whatever).

      The problem, though, is that it is also so readily fairly criticized.

      – It absolutely is too expensive.

      – It is small.

      – It isn’t the premium ride experience the Volt fans insist it is (which they do, so they can justify it to themselves).

      – It wants premium – WTF?

      – It has very mediocre range-extended fuel economy. This, to me is the killer… $40K MSRP for a car to avoid burning electricity but if you take it out of town (the purpose of the range-extender, after all) it burns more electricity than the competition. For $40K, I expect it to take on all comers and meet or beat them in all regimes.

      – It’s not particulary attractive. It it was really good-looking, I think people would be more inclined to overlook some of its shortcomings.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimmy7

        After incentives of $7500 federal and $1500 in California, a base Volt costs $31,000 in California before any GM/dealer rebates and bargaining. That’s the average price of an average new car. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases-test/new-car-transaction-prices-in-february-2013-rise-to-nearly-31000-industry-incentives-down-4-percent-from-last-year-according-to-truecar-194185871.html
        It’s big enough for 4 people and luggage. I like the ride just fine, and you can’t find a quieter car.
        Yes, it takes premium gas, so that costs me an extra 15 cents a gallon. Over a year that’ll cost me all of 8 bucks. WTF, indeed.
        It gets 40 mpg when running on gas. That’s better than my friend’s Fit. Since I only am using a tenth of a gallon or two a day, I find it adequate.
        Thanks, Kix, for making my point. I’m sorry that you don’t like the way my car looks.
        But I’ve driven 11,600 miles on $246 of gas. The Volt does everything that they said it would.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          @Jimmy7, you are pushing almost 200 miles per gallon. Plus you are not driving an economy car like some hybrids. The Volt does not drive like an economy car.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Jimmy7,

          Oh. Well, please forgive me for thinking it should be somewhat competitive on its MSRP, without cash back from the government.

          $31K is still $7K more than a Prius. And Lutz was confidently predicting this thing would be cheap – before they actually had the reality check of building it.

          The missing seat remains an issue and contributes to the notion that it’s small. You might be willing to tolerate that because it’s an EV but the general population looks at value and capability long before they get around to asking whether or not an “EV” is right for them.

          And you might get 40mpg out of town but if you check Voltstats.net, the average is 34 or so. I am unimpressed.

          And so is the market. AFter rebates, zero percent financing and government help, sales have stalled out. GM’s bold predictions of 120K/year in the near term (I believe they were referring to 2013, initially) are now the fodder of jokes. Even priceless HOV access hardly helps.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            One other thing… premium was a cheap trick to improve the efficiency of an existing ICE by raising the compression, instead of building a more efficient engine that could run on regular.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Three of the things you typically bitch about regarding the Volt are caused entirely by the enormous T shaped battery that allows it to go 35-50 miles on a charge.

            1. Lack of 3 person seating in the rear is caused by the battery.

            2. Fuel economy is worse because of the weight of the battery and other components to allow it to drive the way it does. Volt weighs about 800 pounds more than the Prius.

            3. That battery is also really expensive thus making the vehicle cost more than you think it should.

            You act as if these shortfallings (in your eyes) were caused by incompetent engineering and planning.

            Premium fuel? If you actually read interviews with the engineers who did the work, you could see that the increased compression improves the fuel economy. If they lowered the compression, it would lower the fuel economy to the point where the 15 cent a gallon savings would have been a wash. The premium fuel has the added advantage of lasting a bit longer in the pressurized tank (more cost and weight by the way to preessurize it) for those customer who use very little fuel.

            Criticizing the Volt fuel economy after the 40 mile charge has run out is kind of like ragging on the Prius for not being able to tow a small boat. The primary goal of the Volt was to have a plug in car that met the needs of the average driver in this country to drive on electric in their average day with a gas back up in case they needed to go further.

            When all else fails, you jump over to tax rebates as if your beloved Prius never got any taxpayer support in the US or Japan during its rise.

            By the way, I have zero problems with the Prius. None of this was meant as criticism for that vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            1 – Right.
            2 – Right.
            3 – Right.

            None of that contradicts anything I wrote.

            It was obvious to everybody, except Bob Lutz, that the Volt was going to suffer from all three of those problems.

            Too right the giant battery sucks up a bunch of space and caused the loss of a seat. But it’s not news that cars with compromised seating are hard to sell. You may have noticed that Volt Cheerleader Number One has abandoned his Volt in favor of a C-Max Energi.

            Very true that the extra weight does not improve the Volt’s fuel economy. The mediocre range-extended fuel economy narrows the range of possible driving profiles where the Volt becomes a half-way decent value proposition. If you drive a very short distance, why bother with the fuel savings afforded by a $40K car? You’re not spending any money on fuel, anyway. If you drive long distances, there won’t be any fuel savings, so why bother with a $40K car? By the way, the Prius has a 100-150lb battery as it is, so the Volt battery, at 450 lbs is 300-350 lbs heavier than the Prius battery. Where’d the extra 450-500 lbs of Volt come from?

            As for the cost, everybody knew that the car would be expensive except, again, Bob Lutz, who claims he threw a hissy fit because the greatest Automaker in the world was going to be upstaged by some cretin grom Sissicon Valley who Didn’t know the first thing About building real cars to get this project off the ground. That’s some serious market research in advance of your product development. The most shocking aspect of Bob’s inability foresee the cost of this car is that he should have been no stranger to batteries; he was the guy who steered Exide into bankruptcy.

            Yes, the premium fuel business is very much a cheap trick, even if the “savings” of getting to mediocre mileage offset the cost of the fuel. And it’s still a black eye. In its quest for MPGs, Toyota developed a highly efficient faux Atkinson cycle engine that uses regular. Mazda developed a DI engine with a lot of extra tricks – still uses regular. GM pulled an engine off the shelf and shaved the head or maybe increased the diameter of thr crankshaft. Raising the compression to achieve 34mpg was the best they could do on a $40K compact car? One where they were touting the technology as highly advanced?

            As for the rebate, the size of the Volt rebate is more than double the maximum rebate for the Prius. And, here’s the thing, the Prius proved itself with 5K units/month sold for about a year before those rebates came along. People saw the value in the car and started buying it without a bribe. Once that rebate was available, people had to make appointments to meet the delivery truck and grab a Prius before anybody else could get to it. Even $7500 plus more in many states plus HOV access in CA and elsewhere can’t get the Volt to move at a steady 2K/month.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            I never said the 3 items contradicted anything you wrote. Where did I write that?

            My point was that the very things you criticize the Volt for (seating/fuel economy/price) are caused by the thing (battery) that makes it unique.

            The other components of weight difference? I’m guessing its a combination of the extra crash protection a lithium ion battery needs, the cooling system GM decided to use, the engine and electric drive train unit, things like a pressurized gas tank etc. What’s your guess?

            Where you are hypocritical is when you criticize them for being ‘cheap’ by modifying a vehicle off the shelf while also criticizing how expensive the vehicle is.

            How much more expensive would it have been by developing a unique engine to squeeze out a few more MPG’s to satisfy you?

            You are correct in the the Volt isn’t for everyone due to price and other factors. If you commute 100 miles a day, you would be fool to buy one. When you put pen to paper, almost zero scenarios result in a cost win versus a Cruze.

            Prius had limitations early too. A decade into the vehicle, they have branched out with a compact version/a bigger version/a plug in version.

            I would imagine you never would have built the Volt if you would have been in charge. You probably wouldn’t have greenlighted the Prius either given its early lack of ROI compared to a Corolla.

            As far as the predictions of sales volume. Lutz is hardly the only person who made statements of future sales volumes on hybrid/EV’s and looked foolish. Ask Nissan. Hell, you can go back and look at some of Toyota’s predictions and chuckle too.

            In 2007, Toyota predicted that all of their vehicle would be hybrid by 2020.

            http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1027404_toyota-cutting-hybrid-costs-claims-every-car-produced-will-be-hybrid-by-2020

            In 2012, they hit 14% of their global sales as hybrid. Lot of ground to make up in 7 years especially with the US market share of hybrids in the low single digits. Either Toyota thinks the US market is dramatically going to change in the next 7 years or Toyota won’t be selling many cars here….or it was a foolish statement.

            As far as early predictions on a price in the high $20,000 range…here’s a good piece on how and why that happened.

            http://adage.com/article/news/gm-s-bob-lutz-chevy-volt-wound-40k-price-tag/138244/

          • 0 avatar
            Jimmy7

            In a thread about misunderstood cars:

            We’ve established that a Volt has a list price of $40,000, but nobody ever pays that much. People misunderstand how much it costs to buy one.

            We’ve established that the use of premium gas in the gas generator/engine costs very little in return for the increase in efficiency, but some critics think it’s a big deal.

            We’ve established that some people sometimes need a bigger car.

            We’ve established that mileage varies. My 40 MPG was last Thursday and Friday through Los Angeles traffic. Stop-and-go, low speed, no hills, temperate climate; all good things for hybrids. Some people won’t do as well.

            And we’ve established that some people own a Volt, and some people have opinions about Volts. The stats don’t give you the whole picture of owning the car. The car is misunderstood.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      The Volt does not deserve to be given a chance until it detaches itself from the taxpayer’s tit. It is entirely appropriate for people to resent this car and not give it a chance. It costs much more than buyers pay. People have no conscience about being on the dole. As a matter of fact, they think they deserve it. They crow about how smart they are to take money other people earned and use it toward the purchase of a car for themselves. Then they find it distasteful when those unwilling donors object. These objections are referred to as “tirades.”

      If this car cannot survive without subsidies, it deserves to die. If buyers cannot afford it using just their own money, they should buy a Mitsubishi Mirage. I have been told they are great cars by numerous people who have never driven them.

      • 0 avatar
        Jimmy7

        Absolutely, all car-buying decisions should be based on avoiding corporate welfare.

        http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/14907/foreign-owned-auto-plants-netted-$36b-in-subsidies
        Foreign-owned auto plants netted $3.6B in subsidies

        • Honda, Marysville, Ohio, 1980, $27 million*
        • Nissan, Smyrna, Tenn., 1980, $233 million**
        • Toyota, Georgetown, Ky., 1985, $147 million
        • Honda, Anna, Ohio, 1985, $27 million*
        • Subaru, Lafayette, Ind., 1986, $94 million
        • Honda, East Liberty, Ohio, 1987, $27 million*
        • BMW, Spartanburg, S.C., 1992, $150 million
        • Mercedes-Benz, Vance, Ala., 1993, $258 million
        • Toyota, Princeton, Ind., 1995, $30 million
        • Nissan, Decherd, Tenn., 1995, $200 million**
        • Toyota, Buffalo, W.Va., 1996, more than $15 million
        • Honda, Lincoln, Ala., 1999, $248 million
        • Nissan, Canton, Miss., 2000, $295 million
        • Toyota, Huntsville, Ala., 2001, $30 million
        • Hyundai, Montgomery, Ala., 2002, $252 million
        • Toyota, San Antonio, Texas, 2003, $133 million
        • Kia, West Point, Ga., 2006, $400 million
        • Honda, Greensburg, Ind., 2006, $141 million
        • Toyota, Blue Springs, Miss., 2007, $300 million
        • Volkswagen, Chattanooga, Tenn., 2008, $577 million
        Total: more than $3.58 billion

        My car payment for my Volt is what I was spending on gas each month and the money goes to Detroit instead of Saudi Arabia. The electricity is generated by SoCal Edison. The federal tax credit of $7500 is based on money that I earned. I hope you enjoy your Mitsubishi; I hear the Tirade is a hell of a car.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          GM, 20 billion and counting, with no end in sight.

        • 0 avatar
          Jimmy7

          Anybody remember the 6,000 lb loophole?
          ———
          It’s not just a Hummer, it’s a tax break
          If you use the big SUV for business, you could deduct nearly $38,000

          “In the mid-1980s, he said, Congress tightened rules about how much money can be written off on luxury automobiles used for business — but excluded vehicles with a gross weight of 6,000 pounds or more, partly an attempt to help farmers afford tractors, large trucks and other heavy equipment.
          But many SUVs, including the 6,400-pound H2, fall into that heavyweight category, and now a new class of small-business owners and the self-employed, such as construction company executives, doctors, real estate agents and lawyers, is qualifying for the deduction.”

          http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/It-s-not-just-a-Hummer-it-s-a-tax-break-1105474.php#ixzz2RmFLaVuB
          ——-
          “Looking for a big break for 2011?

          Thanks to the temporary tax cut deal President Barack Obama and Republicans struck last December, you can write off the full cost of purchasing a new luxury SUV—provided it’s used 100% for business and its gross vehicle weight is more than 6,000 pounds. Qualifying 2011 models include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (MSRP: $106,000) , the BMW X6 M (MSRP: $89,200) and the Ford Lincoln Navigator (MSRP: $62,635).”

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2011/04/08/how-to-take-a-tax-write-off-for-a-new-porsche-bmw-or-cadillac/

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I think the Fisker Karma is the most misunderstood car. People think it is attractive and can be saved with a conventional drivetrain. Its a cartoonish joke of a car with the looks of a sedan and the capacity of a coupe. The trunk is 7 cubic feet. The rear seat in this 196.8 inch long, 5,383 lb sedan has 35 cubic feet of space. How small is that? The 166.7 inch long, 2,705 lb Scion FR-S has 31 cubic feet of rear seat space. Real luxury sedans are in the 50 cubic foot neighborhood. The Fisker is thought by some to be advanced, but it sets packaging back to about 1930.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      …and besides, it is the next thing to vaporware.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Pretty disingenuous to put it that way, but a good scheme to character assassinate the Fisker by diverting the punter’s attention from what the reality would be. Reminds me of our Conservative government’s attack ads. Well done!

      Here’s how I see it from a more logical perspective:

      Pitch out the batteries to gain six inches of interior height and lose an easy half ton, get rid of the huge electric motor behind the back seat and its controller to gain another few hundred pounds, lighten the chassis brakes and suspension to reflect the weight loss of the preceding, replace the GM2.0T with the new BMW 2.0 turbo as they had already contracted for Version 2.0, reconfigure the interior to take into account the extra space provided by all the deletions and it would be a Jag XK competitor, without the saggy, surgy Ford 2 liter Ecoboost.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        You seem to have it confused with some other car. The Fisker’s batteries were in the center tunnel, not under the floor. Karma occupants were already practically sitting on the ground. The problem is the roof’s height, not the floor’s. You’re a poor judge of what is and isn’t logical, or real.

  • avatar

    Prius, Volt, Teslas and even Fisker

    First, the militant greenie straw man is brought out for a beating, followed by some reference to going 5-under while blocking your progress.

    Next, they’re inappropriately compared to everything under the sun, provided it shows that only a fool would purchase such a thing.

    Then it’s time for the political rants about bailouts and DOE loans (despite the fact that the Prius received at least as much funding back home).

    Lastly, the high-end ones are criticized for being expensive toys for the rich. Certainly can’t think of any companies that make lots of money selling expensive toys for the rich.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I *COMPLETELY* agree that crossovers draw an unwarranted amount of vitriol from car enthusiasts that lament at the demise of the wagon, especially here among the TTAC crowd. It’s like they have them foaming at the mouth. The Camry is another car that I feel gets abused. However it is one of the best-selling vehicles in America—and not because it’s underpriced—so there must be *something* right about it. As far as the Malibu goes, I think it’s handsome…and it drove fine even with the standard 2.5L I-4.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    “…a fairly prominent journalist (in terms of access and audience, not necessarily talent) bragging that they “did not review crossovers, because who gives a fuck”.”

    You could have pointed out that more people buy a crossover each year than bother to give a fuck about the rag this person works for.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Subaru Outback. All I hear is “too big, Subaru has lost its way, blah blah blah”. Guess what? It’s a FAMILY vehicle, not a WRX or BRZ.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Agreed, and I would be guilty also. But I am a non-family having wagon lover, so my options are getting limited.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I don’t know about too big. I’m not a big guy (height or width-wise) and I find my 08 Outback to be “just right”. I can’t imagine someone taller or fatter finding that car comfortable.

      For the American market, carmakers have nowhere to go but bigger.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    I was thinking BMW X6, but everybody understands that it is a pointless extravagance. Except for the people who buy them. All it says is: “look at me, I had a suitcase full of money to blow on wheels and I have so little imagination that this is what I got.”

    • 0 avatar
      raded

      I’d go a step further and say the BMW X6M. Ugly as sin, confusing purpose, but apparently very fun to drive. Not my cup of tea but I can see someone wanting something like that.

    • 0 avatar
      wsimon

      I think the important word in determining who buys an X6 in that sentence was the word “blow”.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      When you’re BMW and you make all kinds of profit—partially because of smart business decisions and partially because of reputation—you can charge a fortune for a quirky vehicle that not many people like, and not lose your shirt over it (like Honda did with the Acura ZDX).

      In my mind, BMW is not in a bad place with the X6, especially since it has been confirmed that there will be a second-generation model.

    • 0 avatar
      zaxxon25

      Every time i see an X6 or Crosstour I think “Americans may not get to drive a Citroen, but thankfully we can choose one of these instead.”

  • avatar
    wsimon

    I’d go with the Volvo S60 as the most misunderstood vehicle on the market. It’s basically a 3-series/C-class but more comfortable, and the handling tradeoff is completely acceptable for 90% of buyers in the entry-level luxury market. It seems to be most maligned for its badge; the Audi A4 is in essence the same thing as the S60 but with less comfortable seats (Volvo seats are fantastic, sleep in one overnight and you’ll understand exactly what I mean), and it does just fine saleswise.

    As a Prius owner I have to strongly disagree with it’s inclusion on this list; people considering one know exactly what it is. If anything, it is one of the few universally known vehicles on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      oldfatandrich

      Sleep in one overnight ? How long have you been homeless or have you installed S60 seats in a remote corner of your parlor ?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      @wsimon

      I’ve driven S60, (but not the T) I agree on its merits but I’d say it is more akin to a tighter driving Accord than a 3-series/C-class… I have never driven an A4 so it might share a similar feel to it (maybe the S60T is a different?)

      Plenty of models carry similar “universal” cache be it negative or positive: Explorer, Escalade, Corvette, Camry, Corolla, F150, Grand Cherokee, Taurus, Range Rover, Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car.

      @oldfatandrich

      I have leather Cadillac passenger buckets as desk chairs, a blue ’88 Seville’s in my bedroom and a tan 91 Deville’s in storage.

  • avatar
    raded

    It hasn’t been around for a while, but I’d put the Pontiac Aztek in there. No one could get past its looks, but apparently it’s a fine SUV for tailgating, camping, or other outdoorsy events.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    Styling wise, as a proud owner of one, my choice is the current Mazda3. I love the look, especially in hatchback form in black (what I have). It is far better looking to my eye than the new Focus and Elantra, which seem to get heaps of praise for their overwrought styling.

    I don’t see a smiley face, I see a bullet nose, like someone else said here…

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I vote the Nissan LEAF. What does the hardware do? It goes 80 / 100 miles on one charge. It will get you from A to B. Remember the same rules apply to a Leaf as any other car. Drive, fill up, drive, fill up etc. If you need better range buy a manual transmission diesel, those things go forever on a tank.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Mazda MX-5 Miata. The last honest affordable sports car…and people outside the enthusiast community saddle it with a “girl’s car” tag. (And there is nothing wrong with women appreciating sports cars, either!)

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “Clearly, millions of consumers each year continue to make the wrong choice and must be re-educated.”

    This is what ruins car hobby. All the ‘everyone must drive a ‘XXX’ by the multitude of purists. Pick any vocal fan base, Ford Panthers, Priuses, even pickup trucks.

    My non-purist car is the new Civic, more solid than the ‘cutting edge’ Focus, and will be on the roads longer than the Kia Forte, which some fan-boys praised for its hydraulic steering. aka The carburators of today.

    I actually have the best time at the Chicago Auto show when I go with my regular friends, no contests for ‘who has the best taste’ or arguin over which car make is ‘the best’. Just basic ‘look at this’ an try these seats.

  • avatar
    otaku

    I would nominate the 2008 thru 2011 Ford Focus for at least an honorable mention here. That car was mercilessly bashed by virtually every magazine and website on the planet (with the exception of JB), just because it didn’t adopt the second gen Euro chassis, it wasn’t sporty or swoopy enough for the so-called enthusiasts, and it lacked dashboard materials finely crafted from hessian wall-weave. BFD…

    Right around that time a friend of mine rented one for a few days and I found it to be a rather pleasant little car. Despite all the haters, I was so impressed that I decided to trade up to an ’08 coupe. Why you ask? Well, turns out that it’s solid, dependable, and delivers fuel economy comparable to just about all of its compact car peers. IMO it was quieter and smoother riding with more comfortable seats than the either the Civic (especially noticeable on the highway) or the Mazda 3, while it offered slightly more front seat passenger space and a larger trunk for thousands less (after some haggling with the dealership). As far as I’m concerned it does exactly what it was designed to do.

    • 0 avatar
      CriticalMass

      I agree. There was something about the simplicity of that design that I admired, and noticed, when it went by. A few rentals later and what I think I saw in it was some kind of design honesty (overblown I know but I appreciate simplicity). And it met its brief of providing transportation just fine, no apologies.

  • avatar
    CriticalMass

    I felt the last iteration of the Malibu was very well proportioned and, in those versions with some limited chrome, looked more upmarket than what it was. The redesign robbed it of that as well as grafting on those skin cancer tail lights. Now, it just looks stupid, never mind the silly back seat. When I see one, old or new, I often wonder if they messed with it to “reposition” it downmarket. Perhaps they needed to get it out of the way of whatever the “new Impala” will be in the end. But that’s just me.


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