Editorial: Five Things I Hate About August's Car and Driver

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Hitting 50 was tough. I’ve reached the point in my life where I no longer ask “Is That All There Is?” I now ask, “Why did I eat that bowl of mocha chip?” I’ve entered the phase Passage’s author/plagiarist Gail Sheehy calls “Refreshed (or Resigned).” Paint me parenthetical. Recently, I’ve been wondering if I should resign myself to the fact that the car industry is full of liars, weasels, cheats and sons of bitches. And lighten-up. See the good in the people and products which make pistonheads purr. And then my daughter refused to go to bed; she trashed her room like a coke-fueled 70’s rock band. “I have anger issues,” Lola said, when she finally ran out of steam. “That’s OK,” I assured her. “It runs in the family.” So here are five things I hate about the August issue of Car and Driver.

5. August – It’s July. Car and Driver’s “August” issue was put to bed two month’s ago. Despite the obvious immediacy gap (chasm?) between CandD and the autoblogosphere, the storied car mag and its buff book brethren continue their feeble attempt to maintain the illusion of newsworthiness. Their failure to embrace change perpetuates manufacturer-enabled news embargoes, a Kremlin-style practice that prevents the free-flow of information to the consumer and perpetuates junkets that restrict and pervert automotive journalism. Car and Driver should stop chasing faux actuality and get back to the brand’s [former] core value: keeping it real. Meanwhile, I hear rumors that ex-bankrupt Source Interlink Media (Automobile, Motor Trend) has seen the light; they’re looking at improving their paper stock, upping photos and shifting focus towards features. Car and Driver should have done this ten years ago.

4. Cheerleading – Who knew new Editor-in-Chief Eddy Alterman was a Detroit altar boy? For the August issue, Eddy keeps David E. Davis Jr. on life-support, for the sole purpose of recycling reactionary claptrap that passed its sell-by date when jeans had bells at the bottom: “If you’re going to sell ’em here, build ’em here;” “ban cell phones;” “don’t bitch about SUVs;” etc. For this Davis gets paid? Again? But it’s more than that. Despite the “new” voices, Car and Driver is still shaking the pom-poms for Motown’s spinmeisters. While the August issue finally gives GM some shit about the Volt, the taxpayer-owned automaker ultimately gets a get-out-of-bullshit-free card: “work in progress.” There’s an entirely too credulous report on the 2011 (really?) Dodge Circuit EV. And the BMW MINI-E is cool ’cause . . . something to do with tattoos.

3. Gotta have it – TTAC’s Best and Brightest have ripped CandD a new you-know-what over this one before: the mag’s tendency to overturn the results of its comparison tests using the “Gotta Have It” category. In the August issue, the Ferrari California bests the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG by two points (207 to 205). Remove the Fezza’s three point Gotta Have It score and the Mercedes would have won by one. Never mind the mag’s blatant Bimmer bias; this kind of crap stinks of middle-aged white guy elitism. Which is OK—if Car and Driver would stop pretending to be “fair.” Factor-in the quality of the shrimp at the junket, and the length of the PR babe’s skirt. I dare you.

[Note: TTAC’s reviews include a desirability rating. But we don’t rate/compare cars according to an ostensibly objective formula. We openly admit that ALL of a reviewer’s ratings are ENTIRELY subjective. We actively seek out second and third opinions on a vehicle. And we solicit reader comments which run directly underneath the review. Thank you Al Gore.]

2. Pimping – What’s the difference between cheerleading and pimping? I reckon it has something to do with article origination; whether or not a feature began life as a “let’s kick some ideas around” lunch at an expensive restaurant with “the client.” Or maybe it’s just a question of money. Either way, “VETTE DREAMS” errs on the side of solicitation. “V-8 POWER FOR THE PRICE OF A HOT HATCH, WITH THE SECURITY OF GM’S CERTIFIED USED-VEHICLE PROGRAM” is a strap-line, not an advertising headline, apparently. To his credit, former Editor-in-Chief Csaba Csere warns readers that www.gmcertified.com sucks. Sorry, “the site’s search functions aren’t strong.” Neither is Car and Driver’s credibility.

1. Boring – I could forgive Car and Driver’s carmudgeon anything if their writing didn’t bore me to tears. The mag’s literary quality is a crying shame. I’m not saying CandD’s prose is stiff, but the porn industry should be so lucky. By the same token, you’ll find more more passion in GM’s accounting department on Temazepam Tuesdays. While all the August issue’s articles are inert, the piece called “Unprotected Text” is the quintessential snoozer. I leave you with the opening sentence, which is so dire on so many levels that it’s put my ire to rest. Well, hibernation. “If you use a cell phone, chances are you’re aware of ‘text messaging’–brief messages limited to 160 characters that can be sent or received on all modern mobile phones.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Jul 22, 2009

    Pippa whats-her/his-name's excruciatingly unamusing sketches, Franz Kafka's garage, and now David E. Davis is back. Who needs any of this? I'd rather watch re-runs of Top Gear.

  • Aamj50 Aamj50 on Jul 23, 2009

    The Jaguar review was particularly terrible. An extended cricket metaphor? In a car magazine? In America? Really?

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.