Toyota on Consumer Reports' Downgrade: No Biggie

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The boys over at ToMoCo NA are not insensitive to the fact that their critics have seized on Consumer Reports' recent reliability downgrade as [alleged] evidence that they've lost their mechanical mojo. So Toyota's released a statement on the PR debacle that assures quality-minded pundits and punters that "we're taking measures every day to continue to sharpen quality and enhance customer satisfaction." Not exactly a major mea culpa, now is it? In fact, the missive is something of an FU to the company's critics, devoting the majority of its editorial space to reminding nay-sayers who's boss around here. "Toyota, Lexus and Scion models collectively led the industry with the greatest number of models, 17, ranked "Most Reliable" in this year's Consumer Reports Reliability Survey. With dozens of models from three dozen makes vying for a spot on the magazine's "Most Reliable" list, only 39 were chosen. Toyota, Lexus and Scion models accounted for 44 percent of the list. Toyota, Lexus and Scion earned three of the top six places among most reliable makes. Collectively they ranked third place in reliability among all automakers." Clearly, Toyota Motor Sales Executive Vice President is a 3/4 full kinda guy. "Over all, this survey reflects well on our products," Jim Lentz pronounced. Oh, the humility!

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • KixStart KixStart on Oct 18, 2007

    MichaelJ, in regards to automatic transmission problems being known by Toyota... "They why'd they sell it?" I've often wondered the same thing about Ford, because almost every Ford owner I know has had transmission problems. Including myself. And not a year 1 problem, my vehicle had been in production for the better part of a decade when I bought it. My brother's was the same way. The short answer is, Toyota made a bad call between rush to market and getting it right. It could be that lower levels of engineering or manufacturing didn't tell the upper echelons the whole story or maybe the top brass made a poor decision. But who will I trust, long-term? A company that broke down on a new product launch and worked fairly diligently to make things right or a company that consistently left friends, relatives and myself holding the bag for repairs to cars that had been in production for years? Am I going to be a little suspicious of Toyota and keep an eye on this? Sure. Swear off their cars forever? No.

  • Ronin Ronin on Oct 18, 2007

    >>What Consumer Reports really says is that it’s not giving Toyota an automatic recommendation: Funny that CR doesn't even blink at the fact that it is normal for it to give products automatic recommendation, without actual tests or actual results. Such a practice smacks of pure laziness at best, and blatant misleading of customers at worse. Presumably, then, CR has been recommending the brand "automatically" for some time, and is only now finding that the brand may not deserve this. In effect, CR misled its readers, while at the same time expecting readers to rely on it. Was it lying to its readers before? Is it lying to its readers now? And in any event, why should we ever rely on it again? CR may have had credibility issues in the past, but it seems this current flap is more an indictment of CR itself than of any one automobile brand.

  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Oct 18, 2007

    Thinking back to the 70's, when the big 3 started their precipitous fall from grace, what's worth remembering is that when their reputations fell, the likes of Toyota and Honda were there to pick up the customers that the big 3 lost. Even if Toyota is losing their rep for quality, that only matters if there's someone else to pick up those lost custmers. Does anyone really think that a disappointed Toyota customer is going to turn to Chevy? Or Ford? Or Chrysler? Only in the opium dreams of the US auto executives. I suppose Honda could pick up a few, maybe, but who else? And recall that there are many market segments currently dominated by Toyota that Honda does not compete in: Real trucks and SUVs come immediately to mind. Articles like this are fun, though. The domestic car boosters will enjoy a heapin' helpin' of schadenfruede, car buyers will continue to buy Toyotas, and the big 2.9 will continue to be clueless.

  • Johnson Johnson on Oct 19, 2007
    MichaelJ, the reason why they sold it was the transmission problem was discovered only after the Camry was already in production. Helps to know the full story. Also let me state for the record: you heard it here first: all of you Toyota critics saying that Toyota is experiencing a quality downfall will eat your words. What RobertSD was correct. Just you wait and see: Toyota will come to be known as the Intel of the automotive world. Over the past 20 years, Intel has gone through many ups and downs, and right now they are stronger than ever in the market. Why? One word: paranoia. Both Intel and Toyota are large yet nimble corporations that both have a similar corporate culture with a key component which is paranoia. Toyota right now is more paranoid than ever specifically because of it's success. Intel has always been paranoid of it's success too. The irony is that in the 80s Intel insitituted this corporate culture of paranoia because they learned about it partly from the Japanese.