By on April 10, 2014
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“Steve, what car should I buy?”

“Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.”

“No really. I’m open to new ideas.”

“Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.”

“Ummm… are you sure about that?”

“Hell no! Now go buy me a soda and buy yourself a Camry!”

A lot of enthusiasts give grief to the mainstream publications in this business. Sometimes I kinda don’t get why because to be brutally blunt, the “best car”  is usually firmly planted in the third row of most folk’s priorities when it comes to buying their next car.

For all the manufacturers desires to offer power, performance and utility together in one great vehicle, most of the general public just doesn’t care.

They usually want a brand first. Looks second. Then there’s fuel economy, safety, perceived quality… and a long, long list of excuses to get away from the less popular alternatives.

The best new car is rarely the best selling car in this business. There are Mazdas that I love which have a snowballs chance in hell of taking on the Toyotas and Chevys. Even if they do a far better job of checking off most consumer’s real world priorities, it’s a moot point and an inevitable outcome.

If Volvo came out with a breakthrough product, I seriously doubt that most shoppers of prestige brands would even remotely consider it. Never mind that there are plenty of reputable sources out there that can help dispel those myths as to which models now offer the best bang for the buck. Volvo no longer ranks in the pantheons of marketplace leaders. Case closed.

Even when mainstream publication have the gall to endorse an Oldsmobile or a Suzuki over a Camry or an Accord, the result of that neighborly advice is that people just won’t take it.

Why? People are brand loyal, and they are bias loyal.

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That Ford station wagon that killed Aunt Edna’s dog 35 years ago?  Well, that just means Detroit cars are pure crap. Never mind that carsurvey, TrueDelta, and even the long-term reliability index I am co-developing have disproved a lot of those myths.

Cadillac can’t ever match a Mercedes. Mercedes isn’t as good as a Lexus. Lexus isn’t as good as a BMW. On and on through the merry go round of biases and BS until you can’t help but SAAB at the futility of recommending a great car at a steal of a price.

Kizashi! What? Exactly. It’s a great car if you play around with a stickshift version. You say you’re an enthusiast… but then when I recommend a stick version, you look at me like I’m from Mars.

The truth is that enthusiast cars don’t sell. The best cars for pure driving enjoyment, don’t sell. The Miata has been shucked in the low 10k range of annual sales for a long time now. Mustangs? An ungodly sales decline. There are some who blame these types of things on demographics or the police state. But I have a third theory.

American tastes increasingly resemble the American interstate. There is a sameness and sadness to the menu which is dictating that the best cars are psychologically unaccessible. Nobody wants to get off the straight and dull road that leads to the Camcrods, the Cor-antr-ics and the American badged truck.

Are all those models good? Well, yeah. But good seldom equals love. You want love? Go tear down a bias and rediscover why a great car is worthy buying.

Don’t forget the radar detector.

P.S. :  Feel free to share your thoughts below on great cars that have missed that elusive mark of mainstream acceptance over the years. I am going to be spending most of today getting a bonded title for a 21 year old Cadillac limousine. I will need intensive comic relief thanks to the interminable tortures that come with taking care of that type of title issue at the DMV. So please, feel free to share your stories and insights. I can always be reached directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com .

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132 Comments on “Hammer Time: Might As Well Go For A Soda...”


  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    SAAB 9000 CDE. My dad bought a 95 in 1999 with 75k for 10k. Car was loaded and flawless, its interior put any Mercedes and BMW to shame, and the V6 made for the ultimate in highway cruising. It certainly wasn’t as manic as the 9000 Turbos, but was extremely composed. Solid luxury car. He gave it to my sister, who traded it in towards a 2007 used Tacoma.

    • 0 avatar
      turbosaab

      Nice. Currently, any 2006-2009 Saab is a great deal (and some other models/years are good too, but more hit and miss). Cheaper than a same age/mileage base model Camry but much tighter platforms with twice the bells and whistles. The old days of spotty reliability and expensive repairs are gone, this era has many widely available GM components, virtually bulletproof Toyota (Aisin) transmissions, latest generation turbos that last the life of the car. Very few weak points.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I don’t agree with really ANYTHING you just said. Except that they are cheaper than a same age/miles Camry, because they are rubbish.

        Expensive repairs gone? Really?

        • 0 avatar
          turbosaab

          You don’t have to agree… most people don’t… that’s why used Saabs so cheap :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Is that why Saabs are one of the few cars that Carmax refuses to purchase or sell?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnnyFirebird

            Yeah, I made a mistake at appraising an awesome 2007 Saab 9-3 manual wagon with 100,000 kilometers (60,000 miles)… I got too emotional. I loved this car. It’s the sort of car I’d love to own. So I gave seven grand. Turns out, it’s not the sort of car regular people want to own. Sat on it for a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I own a 2002, which is outside of your bunch, so I won’t argue with you about spotty reliability. Repairs, however, are still expensive.

        I will say that the body of my 9-5 wagon is quite solid, the paint quality is very good; and with the exception of the “dot” digital display the interior seems quite solid after just over 100K miles.

        The mechanicals are another issue entirely.

        • 0 avatar
          turbosaab

          Fair enough. Yes, the 2002 9-5 wasn’t that great mechanically or electrically but most of the issued had been worked out by 2006 MY. Better turbos, better subframe bushings, better direct ignition cassettes, better PCV system to eliminate sludge issues. To the dismay of some purists, the SAAB digital dot displays (which always failed) were replaced with reliable but generic GM electronics.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So that’s 4 years of the 9-5 which were good, 06-09. Their other cars and other years sucked, all the way back to let’s say 1989.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    I’m shocked there is a market for a 21 year old Cadillac Limo.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I am going to be spending most of today getting a bonded title for a 21 year old Cadillac limousine.

    Well Steve, since you’re not Jack Baruth or Sajeev Mehta who might just wake up one morning and decide they have to have a Cadillac limo, I assume you already have a buyer or a purpose for said car.

    I think they’re are many cars that are great or even enthusiast oriented that get largely ignored by the marketplace. Brand and bland sell. I’ll be buying this year and I’ve committed myself to driving more than just the best sellers to see what great cars are being ignored.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Steve, what girl should I marry?”

    Someone’s going to hate you if you try to answer that one too. Best answer for both is “whichever one makes you the happiest” sealed with a big grin

    • 0 avatar
      TL

      I once had an uncle tell me that it took just as much effort to fall in love with a rich girl as it does with a poor girl. Of course this was coming from a guy who married my hairdresser aunt.

  • avatar
    319583076

    A generation of children who were raised by parents obssessed with self-esteem are currently coming-of-age. Self-esteem is great, when it is earned. However, it’s not so great and can quickly become toxic when it is simply endowed. Young people are fundamentally afraid to be different, they desperately need approval from both peers and authorities. It’s nirvana for the homogenized culture Steve speaks of, because America has successfully drubbed out its children all of the mythic qualities of Americans: yankee ingenuity, rugged individualism, etc. All is not lost, immigrants are still coming to this country with belief in the dream and the stuff to make it happen. It’s not surprising that the ossified American structures are opposing immigration, it threatens their homogeneity in message and audience.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Don’t bring that nonsense here. Cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        It’s a car-related explanation for car buying habits, the point of the post. It’s not the only possible explanation, so can you give us a better one?

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      Young people simply no longer see cars as meaningful distinguishers of taste. Material goods used to mean something, the car you drove used to be a basis for social judgment, a means of showing the world your preferences, style, and values. No longer. When anyone can have a luxury car off of a used dealer lot, when hipsters have appropriated every old and classic car, the car you drive doesn’t really matter anymore.

      People are more individualistic than ever before. Young people are creating start-ups, building their own apps, writing their own blogs for Adsense money, opening up galleries, buying art, branding themselves in ways that require creativity, intelligence, and ambition. Judging people based on their car is so 1950′s, for people born during the time of Sloan Jr.

      Nowadays, young folks judge each other and distinguish themselves (their tastes/preferences/values) based on their alma mater, the company they work for, the restaurants they eat at, the clubs they belong to, the books they read, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        >Nowadays, young folks judge each other and distinguish themselves (their tastes/preferences/values) based on their alma mater, the company they work for, the restaurants they eat at, the clubs they belong to, the books they read, etc.<

        Rubbish. This implies that young folks actually know one another and converse and develop judgments from there. All of those indicators require a near-intimate knowledge of the person. Status indicators are visual and accessible immediately. Car status is in pop culture – just like clothing brands, flashy jewelry, and huge watches.

        The "branding via a blog, art gallery, buying art" are the same hipsters which you've designated as appropriating all old cars. Or they have bikes or use public transport. That's a very minimal -sliver- of the younger population.

        • 0 avatar
          Dingleberrypiez_Returns

          Typical B&B armchair psychologists. If any of these dudes actually knew what they were talking about, they’d be killing it in marketing instead of commenting on this blog.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            right, because the sole validation of knowledge is material gain, especially material gain via profit-motivated deception.

          • 0 avatar
            romanjetfighter

            http://www.amazon.com/Distinction-Social-Critique-Judgement-Taste/dp/0674212770

            Not in marketing, but sociology, which is close? You don’t need to be an expert to make some offhand observations, and it doesn’t make you an armchair anything. If you’ve read Avoidable Contact articles, Jack kind of goes into it a little, especially when it talks about shoes or Porsches.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            These two things aren’t mutually exclusive. Some of these commenters could be killing it in marketing WHILE commenting on a blog. We’re in Web 3.something now, get on board!

          • 0 avatar
            fvfvsix

            Funny thing is… you have no idea what else we’re doing while we’re killing time on this blog. Myself? I’m killing it in marketing :) Seriously, things I read in the comments section here inspire some of my better ideas.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        branding =/= individualism. everything you wrote is about what other people think about your choices. branding is managing people’s perception of you. it’s disingenuous and anti-individualist. this is my point. young people are not individuals, they are weird, desperate, approval-seeking, automotons trying to manage their lives like corporate boards manage businesses. you’re coloring within the lines and calling it fine art. the map is not the territory, regardless of how you label the map!

        of course young people aren’t buying interesting cars, it’s too risky to their carefully managed ‘brand’.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam Hell Jr

          I don’t know whether buying cars is too risky, necessarily. However it is, for those of us who didn’t come from the right families, schools, and matriculate into the right industries and metropolitan areas, too expensive.

          I do generally agree with your encapsulation. But then, if you were born after 1980, you were told to do X, Y, and Z to get the worldly successes your parents’ bosses had. Regrettably what you ought to have done was learn Java and SQL. So the Gen-Y criticism is fair, I’d just add that you have to keep it in the context of twenty years’ social programming being ripped out from under them in about 6 months’ time.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Hey, uh, guys:

            You know there isn’t just one young person, right? It’s actually a pretty varied group of individuals, as makes up every other age range. Some of them are gormless losers, and others are bad motherfuc*ers.

            “Young people are X and Y!”

            No. You might be surrounded by as*holes, but that doesn’t mean everyone is an as*hole. It means you need more intelligent friends.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            There’s no reply button for ‘brenschluss’ so this goes here. I understand what you’re saying. Here’s context for you – my generalizations about younger people are based primarily on my interaction with them as an adjunct lecturer and industry advisor to graduate students, secondarily on input from full-time faculty at the same university, and thirdly from limited interaction in the workforce. Of course, the sample size is small and relatively homogenous, I understand that. But among the sample, there are some really strikingly consistent behaviors, those are behaviors I have generalized to the entire population, at my own peril. As one of my friends and faculty members states, “When I was their age, I tried to get away with as much as I could with as little adult supervision as possible. On the other hand, not only do they tell me when they will miss my class, but why, and often with details about what they will be doing and with whom they are doing it.” It is a generational rift, for sure. Not new, but it is different.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Regrettably what you ought to have done was learn Java and SQL”

            I would love to do Java and SQL (even [gasp] PL/SQL) as I am a T-SQL database/.NET developer in a world where my skills are no longer en-vogue. I keep hearing about phone this, services that, nhibernate and/or NoSQL is killer, whats a view, whats a stored procedure, databases are so old fashioned etc. I have personally seen NHibernate and “Agile” destroy the business reputation of a previous reputable healthcare company which later led to its sale last October. I’m watching similar stuff kill our products in my current job.

            @brenschluss

            I wouldn’t be so hard on him, I’m 32 and even I see a vast difference between myself and sub 26yos both professionally and intellectually. Groping everyone together isn’t accurate but there is no denying the common trends of so called “Gen Y”.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I know, I shouldn’t knee-jerk, but it happens.

            String-of-numbers, hearing that what you’re saying is directly informed by exposure to large numbers of graduate students is depressing, frankly, but it is what it is I guess, you’ve seen what you’ve seen. As you said though, it’s a small and homogeneous group. Graduate school seems to narrow down the number of personality types hanging around, from what little I know of that world.

            Both young and old can display all of the behaviors mentioned. I know plenty of young hermits and old timers who think that Facebook is just the GREATEST, so my experience almost directly opposes what I guess is commonly accepted. My sample size is only those whom I’ve met, but I bet the same is true of those here saying that kids these days…

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I suspect the reason most people drive boring cars is that most people’s drives are boring. Might as well get something comfortable and reliable when all you do is plonk along through traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Eggsactly! I don’t live in the burbs, so my “commute” is 10 minutes on city streets. However, this a.m., I had an early a.m. medical appointment in the burbs (about 20 miles from downtown DC. As I crept back to work in stop-and-go traffic at 10:00 a.m., I had a revelation that I didn’t like my Z3 as a commuter car, other than the fact that I could put the top down and enjoy pleasant temperatures (today, at least).

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Seconded.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I saw a perfect example on my way home today. There was a fairly recent Lamborghini sitting at a light in the left turn lane. Lambos being Lambos, he was in a semi-prone position looking up at the tailpipe of the CUV in front of him. And when he got going, he’d be following that same CUV since he was going on a two lane road.

    • 0 avatar

      No wonder: comfort and reliability are two of the biggest selling points for the average commuter vehicle. For decades, Honda and Toyota have offered products that succeeded and continue to succeed in offering both. As long as the average commuter has that, he/she could care less.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’ll agree in part, but at the same time mention that I’m almost the opposite of this. I used to be ‘brand loyal’, but my brand abandoned me in three different ways over the years–one of which was by getting itself shut down. I’d attached myself to another brand, but that one, too, got shut down. As such, I’m now somewhat brand agnostic, but there is one brand I almost refuse to consider for personal possession, even though I now own an example of that brand (which has emphasized why I don’t like it).

    I’m one of those who actually does look at many aspects of a vehicle before purchasing. When I was looking for an SUV 12 years ago, I went to Pontiac (Aztec and Vibe), Chrysler (Jeep Liberty and Dodge Durango), Toyota (Matrix and Rav 4) and Saturn (Vue). I expressly avoided Ford and felt the Chevy/GMC offerings were too expensive even before visiting the lots. The Pontiacs were underpowered (would have done better with a stick), the Chryslers too expensive (and the Durango simply too big) and the Toyota dealership was simply too ‘snooty’ and didn’t even let me test drive either model. I ended up buying the Vue with the EcoTec I-4 and Opel sport 5-speed stick. Interestingly, I sold the Vue to my father-in-law about 2 years ago and he loves it.

    Oh, I sold the Vue? What did I replace it with? Well, I decided I needed either AWD or conventional 4×4 to get around during the winter and at the time I couldn’t afford to keep two vehicles operational. I didn’t trade but instead made the rounds again–this time using a different set of parameters for my purchase which still precluded a pickup truck as an option (traditionally the better choices for 4×4) which narrowed me down to a selection of SUVs including Subaru and Jeep. This time the Jeep Wrangler won more on the things beyond mere 4×4 as it’s the only factory-built convertible top 4×4 on the market and yes, we do drop the top on occasion.

    But that now opens us up to the next new vehicle we plan to get. We now have a need for a pickup truck AND I want to keep at least one vehicle as a 4×4 (as compared to AWD). On the other hand, I want significantly better fuel mileage from at least one of the vehicles I own and I really don’t want to have two loans running concurrently. So, do I trade my now-antique F-150 for a newer 4×2 pickup? Do I trade my Wrangler for a smaller model and trust the newer AWD technologies? Do I spend the cash to mod my Wrangler into a Gladiator (pretty much double the cost and still have a 6-year-old Jeep)? Do I double the cost of my truck to get it mechanically and physically sound (at 25 years old I’d never see a penny of that in trade even though the physical part is some very minor rust (under the back window) and paint, along with a spray-in bed liner)? (Remember, I’m not a fan of Ford due to past and present experience with reliability.) I want something to reach the 30mpg+ mileage while still having the utility and foul-weather capability of a 4×4/truck. I can’t get both in either of what I have and neither of what I have offers what I now need from the replacement vehicle. Do I look for 4×4 with mileage and keep the truck (difficult) or do I get a 4×2 truck and suffer poor mileage until I replace the Jeep? No matter which way I go it’s compromise and the available choices are just not good.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    on BITOG the 2.4L in the equinox/malibu is showing high levels of shedding iron and fuel dilution. in other words, its a terrible engine.

  • avatar

    Olds Alero and Intrigue. Both cars were better styled and got better press than their Chevy/Buick/Pontiac counterparts of that era. Oldsmobile should have lived instead of Pontiac or Saturn IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’m with you on the Intrigue. That’s still a good looking car today.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        SO IS THE ALERO!

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The Oldsmobiles had less of that awful ribbed plastic cladding than Pontiacs did, while also being less whale-ish than Buicks.

          But nope, Oldsmobile had to die!

          • 0 avatar
            TL

            The Alero also came with standard 4-wheel disk brakes which the base model Grand Am didn’t have. Little thing, but it made a world of difference in feel.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I’m shocked GM didn’t de-content those out…unless they did.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Yea, but the Grand Am had RAM AIR!!!

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            The 4 wheel discs and 4 wheel independent suspension sealed the deal for me, lo those 4 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            That Ram Air sure didn’t do anything to make the 3.4 a more competitive engine in terms of HP/liter…

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            But, it did give the Pontiac 5 more hp and 5 more lb-ft of torque than the Alero V6.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Don’t be such a downer NoGoYo. The 3.4L equipped GAs and Alero’s may not have lit your pants on fire in a drag race but they cruised effortlessly down the highway and had enough torque to provide a pleasant driving experience around town.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The Alero is a fine car indeed, for the gentleman about town in Canada. I can’t see how it could be replaced with anything but a premium Verano!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            It’s not the worst motor in the world, but it is a little bit inefficient in terms of producing power…

            But if it works, it works.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Corey, when I submit my writeup of the process, you might see how twisted my criteria are. By which I mean my brain.

            I picked the Verano because of the options available, it annoyed me the least.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol, I recall when we discussed your requirements they were a bit… something. Ha.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          I could never forgive the production Alero for not looking more like the Alero Alpha concept that preceded it. It was just similar enough to be a disappointment.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree. Saturn effectively did die in 2002, it should have been official and Olds lived on.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I always liked the Alero. They are slowly dying in these parts though. Rust and the Dexcool moster never sleep. Maybe my sister will be able to save hers by moving to California.

      • 0 avatar

        In the Midwest (Kansas) the Alero is as common as Camrys and Accords of the same era and seems to have held up just as well. Totally agree Saturn should have gotten the ax when it died in 2002.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Everything of the same vintage seems to be getting rusty now. Our family business got rid of a few late 90s, early 00s trucks this year because the rust was finally too much. My personal ’98 Dodge Ram went from no visable rust three years ago to rust bucket this year. It is gone now. :(

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Here in Pennsylvania, if your truck is more than 10 years old, it’s probably starting to rust. I see plenty of early 2000s Rams, Super Duties, and GMs with rotted wheel-wells…oddly enough, it’s usually the back ones that rot. I see plenty of trucks with rusty wheel-wells out back and clean ones up front, maybe it’s mud and such getting stuck and never cleaned out.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I see relatively new RAMs getting rusty. The rear wheel well is a rust trouble spot for many vehicles.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I buy cars for people when I’m not at my day job. Like a conceirge service. I like buying cars *for* people rather than *with* people because most of the people who would rather someone buy a car for them care a lot less about details other than, “I want a car that is has decent reliability that costs under X and meets X practical specifications”.

    They put a lot of trust into my recommendations and accept what I recommend to buy. By avoiding known problematic vehicles irrespective of brand, and pushing them toward vehicles that are generally reliable, these people get great cars for little money. For example 3.5L Chrysler LH cars tend to go the distance, but have a damaged reputation because of the 2.7L equipped cars, so their resale is crap. A ton of well equipped car for little money. Stodgy 3800 equipped Buicks are uncool as hell, but keep on running.

    Sticking to this method has proven to be a lot better for my sanity than seeking out that one off enthusiast model that OCD guy must have. Then when reality sets in and the pile of sh1t rears it’s head, I have to deal with someone who’s looking to point fingers for their bad decision making.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Two people I work with recently consulted with me for car options and advice.

      I spent time explaining things and options and choices, etc, etc trading emails. When the day came, both of them (two or three weeks apart) went and bought the FIRST D@MN CAR THEY DROVE without considering the other options. Probably would have bought a different model had they ended up at the other brand dealer first.

      F*CKING KIDDING ME?!

      But I pretended to be happy for them anyway. I should have given them my dad’s quote. “The worst thing you can do when you’re buying a new car is get in a hurry.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Why do you think it’s so important for a car salesman to keep you on the lot and not let you walk?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          They just don’t listen! Both of them bought vehicles which were relatively speaking the worst of the options available which met their requirements.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Look at the bright side had either followed your advice and there was a problem with their cars, or they just didn’t like them it would be all your fault. Now, should they have any issues with their respective cars you can smugly tell them, “Told ya so”

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s true I suppose.

            One bought a very base model AWD Traverse, which is subject to the airbag recall.

            The other bought a base model CTS with the 3.0L engine they only used for two years.

            The CTS was not on my recommendation list for that guy, and the Traverse was at the bottom for the other.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Everybody knows people like that. One of them told me, “I ask around for opinions like quotes. Just because I asked for your opinion doesn’t mean I have to take it.” I couldn’t argue with that, so now I just provide points to consider.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yes, but mine was the only opinion they sought.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        Most people are impulsive and spent their lives grasping for various shiny objects placed in front of them without much in the way of long term thinking.

        I spent 30 minutes this week researching a new clothes iron before purchasing on Amazon, I doubt that most spend that much time researching new vehicles so don’t feel too bad.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I hope you ended up purchasing a German made Rowenta.

          • 0 avatar
            fvfvsix

            Aahhh. Rowenta – a company who’s figured out how to make the best irons with the absolute crappiest electrical cords. Been through two of them, and both failed the same way. I may just repair this one, but dang if it doesn’t make me mad.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            Heh, nope, all that research and ended up with a $25 Black & Decker!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It really is a great iron. You don’t wrap the cord around it do you? I’ve killed other appliance cords/connections that way.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Shows our disposable society!

          Example: My folks had been married over twenty-five years with the same TOASTER when we moved to Ohio thirty years ago this year!

          Since then, they’ve had at least FIVE! And TWO lawnmowers! TWO pairs of laundry appliances (in addition to what came with their house)! THREE lawnmowers!

          And at least THREE irons! (They started here with a 1960s GE workhorse!)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’d also point out (to their credit) they both kept the same spouse for over twenty five years. Your folks have the right values overall, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I don’t even own an iron, isn’t that what the dry cleaners are for?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Good post.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I wasn’t aware of any Chrysler V6 below 3.0L. I must have struck its existince from my memory.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Wasn’t the last Eagle Vision an LH car? Because my dad had one with the big Six and it basically snacked on air conditioners, driving my dad into the cold Honda embrace from which he, and the rest of my nuclear family, have never broken. I’ve also seen some Intrepids of that generation, and, at least in northern Ohio, they are to a vehicle rusted down to the transparent stage.

      To your point, though, my grandma’s LeSabre, about the same age, with the 3800, is apparently going to run until God himself smites it, slider thermostat and all. My favorite feature of that car is the trunk release, which causes the lid to spring forth like a blunt-edged reverse guillotine. I don’t know how many turns it goes lock to lock but I think it’s about 12. Also avoid potholes, which will set the suspension rocking from side to side for the next 30 seconds like a canoe in three-foot chop.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Yes, the Vision was an LH car. It had the 3.3 or the 3.5. My friend drives one as a winter beater. The AC does not work (it may have snacked on a few units as well), but it doesn’t matter in the winter. 270K miles and going stong right now.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Yes, some LH cars had evaporator core problems which took them a while to remedy with revised parts. Once they have a good evap in them, the probablem is usually resolved until seals get old and start to leak. The powertrains are pretty solid when properly equipped. The transmissions on the first gens were hit or miss, but the second gen cars especially tend to rack up the miles when equipped with the 3.5L/3.2L engines.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I had a second gen Concorde with the 3.2L. It was a great highway cruiser. These days, I see plenty of beat the hell Intrepids that somehow manage to survive.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    The new Honda Accord is pretty darn sporty. Why have anything else?

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    This article is quite the mish-mash of perceptions, and you’re scoring a 10 out of 10 on the “Huh?” Factor, but I’ll do my best to play along.

    Cars that are recommended are geographically related.

    My 70 year old dad lives in Mid-Missouri- the bible-thumping Ozark Mountains. There, you drive a truck. Even if you “ain’t farmin’ or haulin’ nothin’”. There’s Silverado and F-Series. Don’t think about anything else, or prepare to be “that weird liberal neighbor”.

    I live in one of the highest income cities in Missouri. It’s just outside of St. Louis, called “Town and Country”.

    On any given day in T&C, you’ll see countless import crossovers and SUVs. From what we’ve experienced living in T&C, it had better be black. White is okay. Silver gets a pass. Don’t think about any other color.

    The following SUV’s/Crossover’s have been approved by St. Louis County Elite:

    All late model MB SUV’s/crossovers
    All late model BMW SUV’s/crossovers
    All late model Lexus SUV’s/crossovers
    Honda Pilot
    All Acura SUV’s/crossovers
    GMC Yukon (NOT Suburban… beats the hell outta me)
    Toyota Highlander, Land Cruiser
    Finally, Range Rover or Land Rover

    Since it’s warming up, you are hereby permitted to drive your MB or BMW convertible. And your Porsche (SUV or car) is always welcome.

    Oh yea, LATE model Jeep Wranglers are okay.

    Everything else is non-existent and if you have anything else, prepare to be ignored or deemed “not worthy”. And if you have a truck in your driveway, you must only be getting work done to your house or yard. It had better be gone by the evening.

    Then there’s my family which lives in rural/working class/uneducated parts of St. Louis County. There’s an “anti-import code” in order. Mostly Focuses and older Chevy cars- Impalas, Malibus, the like.

    You do see many older Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees. I mean much, much older.

    A family in that area has a domestic SUV/crossover or a Chrysler van. No Honda Odysseys or Toyota Siennas here.

    These are the unwritten (that I have now, consequently, written) rules of the American order/socioeconomic classes and what they- or YOU- are expected to drive.

    I could get further into detail, but what have we learned here? Confirmation of what I said previously.

    It’s all geographical- and let me add, EDUCATIONAL- kids.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I love all the extra-long posts people write full of hyperbole about their yokel “elite” and their views.

      “These are the unwritten (that I have now, consequently, written) rules of the American order/socioeconomic classes and what they- or YOU- are expected to drive.”

    • 0 avatar

      This list also works for Westchester County, NY. The absolute top of the heap suburbs during the school run looks like a car show of $60,000.00 SUV. Make sure that whatever it is is the current body style, not the “last one”. That is for the maid to drive to the store.

    • 0 avatar
      guevera

      “rural/working class/uneducated”
      The fact that you would lump those three traits together does not speak well of you.

      Also funny that working class St. Loonies would still have an anti-import bias. Didn’t the last big three factory htere shut down six or eight years ago?

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “Well, that just means Detroit cars are pure crap. Never mind that carsurvey, TrueDelta, and even the long-term reliability index I am co-developing have disproved a lot of those myths.”

    Steve, I want to know what the best cars are. The last four cars I recommended to people were a Ford, two Hondas and a Hyundai (which I see you cited recently as questionably durable). I want to be ecumenical, but I also want to recommend (and buy) cars that won’t nickel-and-dime their owners over long-term ownership.

    Seriously, the Consumer Reports numbers I see still say GMs, Chryslers and most VWs except the naturally aspirated Golfs don’t hold up as well as Toyota (yawn) and Honda. Are those other surveys in disagreement with that? Is C/R an outlier?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Mr. Steve published an article on Yahoo Autorama or w/e it’s called now, about the best cars from a mechanic’s viewpoint. They are good value used, and suffer few reliability setbacks.

      Search it out!

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Found it!

        https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/the-top-10-high-quality–low-cost-used-cars-that-mechanics-buy-192211682.html

        Thanks for the tip, Corey.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      It’s tough for me to recommend cars to people by brand. In fact, I don’t ever because every brand can sh1t out a real stinker from time to time. It’s best to look at each individual model on it’s own merits as there are some good reliable cars made by companies with bad reputations that can be had for screaming deals.

      If someone couldn’t bother to do the research or find someone to help them, they could always play the better odds with the brands of better rep, but they’ll pay for it.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Here is something lost in those black and red dots.

      The gap between worst to first has never been more narrow. The worst in 2014 is probably better than all but the very best in 1984. You have to stay relevant – something has to be “worst” because if everything got average or above, what reason does a survey have to exist.

      The data isn’t invalid – the books aren’t cooked – the range and severity is very narrow today.

      Is a Chrysler 200 a terrible car? With a Pentastsr V6 no, it isn’t. Will it have more issues than an Aacord? Maybe. But unlike 30 years ago where issues were engines blowing up and transmissions falling out, today’s problems are largely rough shifting automatics, wonky infotainment systems, spongy electric steering, and CVTs that feel like they are held together with rubber bands. But are these REAL quality issues?

      One could argue that not being able to add a 120 Gig music library off of a Zune is a quality issue – but compared to where we were?

      The idea of worst to first is an old convention – the basement is not that far from the top floor anymore, I think that was in part the point of the story

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        By CR standards, my 2013 Accord Touring (V6) Sedan is Not Recommended; an unreliable POS! But that’s almost entirely due to the wonky infotainment units, most of the problems in which were fixed with a recent software upgrade.

        I just took the new survey from them — we’ll see what the data reveals about the 2013 and 2014 Accords this year, after the cars have been fixed (2013s).

        And I still love my car dearly, and would buy it again!

  • avatar
    fredtal

    A couple of folks have questioned my sanity for buying a Acura Station Wagon. Don’t think I’ll be consulted much in the future.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Totally true article. Everyone has different biases as to what a good car to buy is. Saw it on a daily basis selling cars.

    That being said, a great car that didn’t sell was a Mazda MX-3 GS V6. 1.8L, 130hp. It was very expensive back in the early 1990s. I bought an Integra GS-R instead at the time, but picked up a used MX-3 10 years later as a beater/commuter. It never forgot that rejection the first time and I paid dearly in repairs on that beast lol.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    While I absolutely agree with Steve on this, I think it’s about the same as it always was.

    1981, Chevrolet is in the midst of making some world class junk. Honda and Toyota is making some great cars. And because of the dealer network, familiarity, and what Uncle Vern drives, most people are choosing Chevrolet. It took decades of mediocroty and failed from the domestics and superior product from the Japanese to get us to where we are. In the interim, the media gave Chevy and others the benefit of the doubt on their products in comparisons and road tests.

    Now I would say that Honda is well on their way to reversing this trend for their own brand in much the same way. The CR-V is the best selling compact SUV on the market and is considered in the top level of most comparison tests, comparing over or tied with the CX-5 in every test. Thing is, I have driven both of them and the comparison isnt’ even close. The Mazda is so much better than the CR-V it’s not even funny, and I was, at one time, a Honda fan boy.

    Same goes for the mid sized sedan segment. Honda is considered the gold standard, but anyone I know that has cross shopped about anything else compared to the Honda has come back unimpressed with the Accord. Not that the Accord is a bad car, but there simply is no reason for them to put a lot of $$$ in developing a class leading car when they can sell as many of them without making the investment. Same can be said of the Camry. Just put some lipstick on this 10 year old pig, throw some cash on the hood, promote the hell out of it, and count the profits. This is how GM did business for years; just put “something” in the showroom and let marketing, dealer location, and other motivations beyond the quality of the vehicle itself move the metal.

    All truth from Steve, but hardly a new trend.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I agree with you on the CR-V but not on the Accord. The Accord really is an excellent driver. Very refined and more willing to play than anything else in the segment except the Mazda6.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The CR-V is in its third year of production, IIRC, and is in need of a refresh.

      It drives “loosely,” and the dash display (which includes the backup camera) is laughable. It handles OK for its size, but it’s not a sports car, for sure! (I had one of these for a few days while my Accord was having a couple issues checked. Perhaps part of it is that I’m not used to driving such a tall vehicle; I guess I don’t get this “SUV” thing!)

      And the four-banger’s MPGs, even in the middle of winter, couldn’t hold a candle to my V6 in the same conditions!

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve been keeping an eye on Kizashis as a daily beater. I love that you can turn the AWD on and off. And I think the interior is 1000x better than any of its competition. I have noticed that the prices have been creeping up around here lately. It used to be a drop dead bargain and now it’s starting to list where you would expect the price to be.

    Helping other folks car shop is definitely frustrating. I just went through it twice in 6 months with a buddy of mine. He was about to go over his Civic’s lease mileage so he, without telling me after I poured over car ads for a solid month with him, traded it in on a used GMC Terrain. 4 months later he tells me he can’t stand driving it and wants something else. Another solid month and he got a used Mazda3 hatch. Can’t complain about that I guess.

    The worst though is my mom. She flat refuses to lease anything from a dealer other than the one she has been leasing and buying from since 1988. I can run down the list and there is one exception and that was only because Saturn also had the GMAC lease program. And it took me several days of convincing her that was true.
    Oldsmobile, GMC, GMC, Pontiac, Pontiac, Pontiac, Saturn, (same family opened a Toyota dealer) Toyota, Toyota, Toyota, Toyota.
    She relies on me to find her a good car, I tell her a Mazda5 would be perfect for what she needs, she doesn’t even consider looking at it since she doesn’t like that dealership (actually Ford) and gets a Venza. Sigh.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Buy a Suzuki? Might as well go for a Skoda.

  • avatar
    Prado

    ‘The truth is that enthusiast cars don’t sell’ …. or maybe mainstream cars have gotten good enough to satisfy all but the most hard core enthusiast. In my real world, the Focus I am driving now, handles just as well at the Miata I previously had, while being much easier to live with on a daily basis. If my daily drive included mountain roads and race tracks, things might be different.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    I bought my car because I needed more passenger/hauling room on account of an expanding family. My choice came down to a used Mk V R32 from the same dealer I bought my previous (then new) Vee-Dub and a new Nissan Cube. Nissan wanted the sale more…they gave me a better deal and I got an extended warranty and all the other perks that make new cars the correct answer when they are ever a factor in the decision.

    The Cube was one of the last candidates because it would do enough of everything (except go fast) to remain interesting while still being practical. It’s an SUV on the inside with the footprint of a compact and 30-plus mpg in the city (which was competitive at that time with the Honda Fit of that generation, but those were as common as Kia Souls and one thing I did NOT want was the same car everyone else was driving).

    The choice I COULD have made and regret to a decent degree was the Mazdaspeed3. I’d be going to the gas station twice a week instead of once, but I have no doubt that was the enthusiast car perfect for the family man (this was 2012…the Focus/Fiesta ST’s were still a year away. If I’m making that choice today it’s the Focus ST hands down).

    But I have recommended the Cube to friends with similar needs who are shoppng smaller cars, and I am proud to say that my advice has been heeded at least once with satisfied results.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Pontiac G8.

    Lambasted for a cheap interior. Kicked to the ground as surely being available for 50% off sticker by 2010 (good luck finding a 6 model year old 08 GT for 50% off MSRP that isn’t salvage title) and will surely be a quality nightmare, long unsupported by GM and falling. apart by 2012.

    I would add almost every car built by Mazda in the last decade.

    An I’ll plead guilty as charged for my dismissal of the Acura ILX. I still say you’re better off getting an EX Civic bang for the buck – but fundamentally it’s a solid car.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      G8s were a really good buy back in ’08/’09. GTs are still regularly trading within spitting distance of what they were selling for 4-5 years go if in good shape and reasonable mileage. There’s no such thing as a Pontiac Tax, but there is a G8 Tax.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      I can’t wait for the Civic to get the Earth Dreams engine.

    • 0 avatar

      The G8 is really good. Isn’t the new Chevy SS just an updated/reboot of the same platform?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yup – it’s based on the VF platform, evolution of the VE. What I’ve read in the refinement department it well addresses the shortcomings of the G8 – for comparison sake the SS is closer to the 2009.5 G8 GXP.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’ve been pleased by how durable the cars have proven. Other than front suspension issues and finicky/delicate clutches on M6 models they’re surprisingly tough.

      That interior, though… it warrants all the hate directed at it. It’s bad enough that I’m tempted to trade in my manual GXP for an automatic Chevy SS just because the SS’s interior is of decent quality.

  • avatar
    naterator

    THANK YOU for posting that video! Haven’t heard that in years! Made my day.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      +1. Now we just need a reason to post a vid for “Lager & Ale”!

      BTW, remember those old school TV converters? Hilarious…

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      I laughed when I saw this – Mr. Lang from way down in Georgia posting a Kim Mitchell video. I would be even more amused if he knows the song.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Why do you say that? I lived “way down in Georgia” most of my adult life and we got radio, MTV and even the internet “way down in Georgia”

        • 0 avatar
          Monty

          No offense meant to any Georgians – it’s just that Kim Mitchell is the quintessential Canadian act, thanks in no small part to CanCon and the CRTC. Granted, he’s unique, but still his career existed only because we were forced to listen to a minimum of 35% Canadian content since at least the mid 60′s.

          I wouldn’t have thought that he would be known down south, and likely would be known for Max Webster rather than his solo stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Living in the Toronto area, I wish I could say I hadn’t heard that in years. I don’t know if it’s CRTC, or because Kim Mitchell’s one of the DJs, but Q107 (our former classic rock station) must play it every damn day.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    I’m not biased, I’m experienced. I had enough issues with certain makes that I bought between the mid-80′s and early 2000′s, that frankly, I have no interest in giving them another shot just yet. By most accounts, the domestics are building great vehicles now and I’m probably missing out on some real value and quality. Yes, that was a long time ago, but they had their chances with me. And know what it got me? For one, it got my wife sitting along an interstate at ten at night when my bought-brand-new 1996 Dodge Stratus gave up at 60k miles (that’s also pre-cell phone days for the younger ones here).
    My two present vehicles are a 2004 TSX with 212,000, and an 05 Odyssey with 117,000. And in that time each has had just one issue. Which brings up another point: the dealership experience. The radio console went bad on the TSX, and had to be replaced. Out of warranty of course, and the quoted replacement was near $400. They replaced it for free because, “radios shouldn’t die at 55,000 miles.” So, as I’m thinking about maybe possibly perhaps replacing the 04 as my wife’s commuter, I’m probably going to get the Accord. And if I decide to pull the trigger, it’ll likely be the only car we test drive. And if that makes me a bad person, well then, I’m a bad person.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    There is another factor that feeds into all of this. The dealer and support after the sale.

    -My father’s 1996 Ford Windstar’s drivetrain self destructed between 50 and 60K miles. Ford ran him through the wringer on when he got his oil changes, trans service, etc; even though they KNEW they had major issues with drivetrain reliability.

    -My brother’s 2001 Honda Odyssey, bought second hand, had a transmission go out at 98K miles. Honda replaced it, no questions asked.

    Taking into account the above, I would think that Honda and Ford could change their product lines and most consumer’s would still buy, or not buy, from the dealer they had good or bad luck with.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’m going to put the Kia Rondo out there – it’s from that time period between Hyundai turning Kia from a credit criminal-grade ticking time bomb on wheels to a legitimate automobile, and the point when Peter Schreyer’s styling and anthropomorphic hamsters made people pay attention to them. On top of that, it’s a weird, gawky tall wagon/minivan thing. But at the same time, it’s a fine, unobjectionable vehicle, plenty spacious, and because it’s an odd bodystyle, not worth a ton used.


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