By on July 11, 2009

The worst recession in half a century will be prolonged as consumers see their jobs go away and their home prices head south, economists Nouriel Roubini and Robert Shiller warn on Bloomberg. The University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment fell by more than forecast to 64.6 from 70.8 in the prior month. And it may be time for some foreign automakers to evacuate crumbling Cartago, their countrymen caution.

Suzuki reported a precipitous 78 percent drop in US unit sales in June. Their first-half decline was 60 percent, the market’s worst. Mitsubishi is down 51 percent this year. Faltering since 2003, Mitsubishi doesn’t have far to fall. Mitsubishi “doesn’t make cars that are hot-sellers in the U.S.,” said CSM Worldwide analyst Masatoshi Nishimoto with polite Nipponese understatement. Sayonara?

Both carmakers “should withdraw from the U.S.,” said Yuuki Sakurai, chief executive of Tokyo-based Fukoku Capital Management, who was quoted by Bloomberg. “It’s time for them to decide whether they pay a high price to continue business there or stop the bleeding.”

“Both are struggling with getting customers to initially even consider them,” said Alexander Edwards, head of auto research for San Diego-based Strategic Vision Inc.

Compared with Toyota and Honda, Suzuki and Mitsubishi are market midgets. Suzuki is profitable everywhere else, except in America. Mitsubishi booked half of its worldwide loss in the land of the free.

Miraculously, Mitsubishi makes defiant noises.

“We will never give up the U.S. market,” Mitsubishi Motors President Osamu Masuko said in Tokyo. “The U.S. will return to being the world’s biggest market.”

Suzuki is more cautious. They have put their Camry-killer on the back burner. “Because of the current market situation, we’re reviewing the plan as to where and when to sell,” a spokesman said. Suzuki is strong in growth markets like India, where it owns more than 50 percent of the booming market.

Suzuki’s specialty is smaller vehicles, said Yasuaki Iwamoto, an auto analyst at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It makes more sense for Suzuki to put its limited resources into small cars,” said Iwamoto. “Forget about America.”

It would be a lucky escape. In America, Honda sells 20 times more cars than the midgets. Toyota? 30 times. The more you’ve got, the more you can lose. Toyota’s and Honda’s record losses are to a large degree Made in America.

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47 Comments on “Suzuki, Mitsubishi: Japanese Surrender?...”


  • avatar
    twotone

    Might as well throw Isuzu in the mix as well.

    Twotone

    PS: My 1991 Trooper was a great vehicle.

  • avatar

    Why Suzuki never made an attempt to sell the Swift in the US is something I don’t understand. Fun to drive and nice to look at, more practical than the Mini, it may have helped Suzuki to get noticed by potential customers.

  • avatar
    damonK

    Every year that goes by makes me a bit more nervous about Suzuki’s north American operations and my ability to replace parts. I finished paying my note last year on an Aerio, and was looking forward to keeping the vehicle for five more years, at least.

    With Suzuki franchises disappearing such that I now have to go to far-flung corners of my state if I don’t like the one dealership that is closest to my city, the Toyota Matrix that I was considering in 2003 appears to have been a better pick in hindsight.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Mitsubishi makes crap, Isuzu is irrelevant, but it’s a bit of a shame that Suzuki’s marketing wasn’t able to spread the word that their vehicles are highly functional, generally reliable and put together at the seams well (the exception being the very mundane XL7, ala stretched Equinox/Torrent).

    The SX4 AWD is probably one of the more decent compact AWD hatchbacks in the U.S. market when equipped with the 5 speed manual, and the Grand Vitara is class competitive.

    It does appear that the die have been cast, however, as the already tiny base of Mitsu, Isuzu and Suzuki dealerships seem to be falling faster than Ashley Simpson’s career.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    Good riddence, Suzuki’s made crap from day one. I’m not just talking about the GM-Daewoo stuff either, let’s not forget the Grand Vitara, and the Geo Metro, all fine products of Suzuki’s engineering.

    The only thing more suspect the Suzuki engineering has been their slimy dealerships, which have been dropping like flies.

    Subaru really needs to go too. Yes I know they’re experiencing a dead-cat bounce at the moment, but let’s be honest: their cars are every bit as shoddy as Mitsubishi and Suzuki’s, if not more so. Their reliability is worse than average (source: TrueDelta and personal ownership experience), and it’s not like the Legacy or Impreza sell all that well, either. That leaves the Forester, which is an also-ran, and the STi/WRX, which is the same crap Subaru product, only faster! I don’t know if in this economy parents want to fork over that kind of money for something likely to last about 8 months before he blows the engine or transmission assuming it was a real performance car. Plus the issue of forking over the insurance money so their d-bag kid can act like a d-bag behind the wheel. My guess is the rest of Subaru’s customers will jump ship the moment they figure out just about every manufacturer offers a better product.

  • avatar

    Subaru is currently under Toyota’s care, so if anything, the reliability quotient should improve somewhat. The performance quotient may take a hit, though. Don’t expect them to go anywhere, but expect their future offerings to be a bit…..bland. (could be a good or bad thing…)

    Suzuki’s forte is small cars for “emerging” markets and things of the two-wheeled variety. Trying to jump into the Camry contest will only result in them putting something out half-baked like the……….Mitsubishi Galant.

    Speaking of Diamond-Star, they haven’t been fairing well ever since the pool of below-600 FICA customers who were attracted to the 0% financing dried up. Seems to me that their survival in the US has depended on Chrysler, since most Mitsus were not only sold as Pentastar rebadges, but the engines in most American-developed Chryslers were of the Diamond-Star variety as well. Unless they can latch on to another host (as opposed to just being propped up by their banking parent), they’ll bite the dust.

    Isuzu…don’t they make those NPR cabovers?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Why Suzuki never made an attempt to sell the Swift in the US is something I don’t understand.

    Didn’t you guys get the Aveo-with-a-different-grille “Swift+” down there?

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I had to rent a Suzuki SX4 AWD. It was the cheapest, smallest car in the Hertz lot. I used it for 4 hrs to drive about 130 miles from Albany back east into the Berkshires on 2 lane roads in rain and fog. It did well. It had 5400 miles on it and the only fault I found with it was that the power point was dead Luckily, the battery in my Tom Tom was good. My brother put over 200K miles on a Geo Metro 3 banger. It was a fun little car with more front seat leg room than a 73 Fleetwood

  • avatar

    psarhijnian: Nope. No “Swift+” available here (c.f. http://www.suzuki4.co.uk/)
    Probably, they don’t dare…

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I was under the impression that Isuzu has already left the US market (except for commercial vehicles). I haven’t seen an Isuzu dealership in years, and their website is a stub.

    Mitsubishi has one appealing product in the Evo, and possibly in the Lancer, but everything else is bland. The Diamante and full size Montero were both nice products when they offered them, and the turbo AWD eclipses they once offered had a loyal fanbase, unfortunately that is all in the past.

    Suzuki is dying from a lack of style and awareness. The SX4 may be a nice car, but it is also the ugliest thing in the segment, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial for Suzuki cars.

    Both Isuzu and Mitsubishi make very compelling vehicles in the commercial low cab forward truck segment, and I hope we don’t lose those. From what I understand Mitsubishi sells well in Europe with a range of small efficient turbodiesels in passenger cars and trucks, a shame they never brought them to the US as they could have carved out a profitable little niche for themselves.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    Suzuki is developing a lot of new product. Their dealers are paired with better selling makes, so there will be a dealer network.
    Mitsubishi Lancer appears to be good value for the money.
    Since GM is going away sooner rather than later, these two companies will probably hang on for another year before making any decisions, to see what happens in the US market.
    I have to wonder about Ford almost as much as GM. Had my 06 Mustang in for some warranty work, Ford was good, fixed the problems with no hassle. But, But, But, I looked at some Focii on the lot. A new 09 Focus SE, with automatic and stability control, listing for 19.6. There were others. $20K for a Focus? Not stripped, but no leather or sunroof. Base Mustang with auto and a couple dealer options at 23.6 K (Estes Ford in Brownsburg, Indiana). Admittedly there are various discounts, no one pays sticker, but wow, who can afford an American car?

  • avatar
    dwford

    In Suzuki’s case, they spend the extra $$ building unique cars for the US market that they don’t sell elsewhere, when their real specialty worldwide is very small cars, which they sell successfully all over. Makes no sense to keep wasting money to design special cars for a market they lose money in.

    Mitusbishi is well past it’s prime (if it ever had one) in the US. Time to go.

  • avatar
    MBella

    mikeolan, What? Every Subaru that I have owned, or that somebody I know were virtually flawless. Only oil changes and brakes. The only bigger flaw was recently, the clutch fork wore out on my friends 97 Legacy after 230K miles. No car will be 100% perfect for 200K miles.

  • avatar
    paul_y

    @mikeolan: Subaru’s biggest quality problem was their DOHC NA engines ten years ago (head gaskets). Other than that, their interiors still look like they were designed in the 90s, and the exteriors came out from under a landslide in the ugly forest. However, they make well-built cars that are great to drive. Yes, they’re a niche brand, at least nobody will ask you what a Subaru is, at least in colder climates – I live in a snow belt/ski country, and everyone and their dog has a Subaru here, because for what most people actually do, they offer 95% of the capability of an SUV or truck that uses twice the fuel. They have a well-defined market, no matter how you slice it, and good reasons to stay in the US.

    Suzuki, from what I gather, is moving towards making more and better cars (rather than cruddy rebadge-jobs), too. On the other hand, they still move lots and lots of bikes.

    Mitsubishi has always had exactly one desirable product at any given time– the older Eclipse, now essentially replaced by the Lancer/Evo. Other than that, they are horrid also-rans in every segment.

  • avatar
    grog

    What Paul_y said. My first Subie was an 83 and it was an unreliable piece o’ crap.

    Our 09 Forester just turned one year old. Very nice small SUV.

  • avatar
    commando1

    They would be wise to leave the North American market now. The Chinese are going to come in and kick their ass anyway. Good or bad economy.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Isuzu is already gone. GM lead them to the edge of the cliff, then kicked ’em over.

    I agree with Sakurai; Suzuki and Mitsubishi are both lost causes in North America.

    Back in the 1980s consumers thought of all Japanese cars as being on about the same level, but now it is different. Toyota and Honda are top of mind, Nissan is a step behind, Subaru has its own niche and Mazda is teetering. The rest are already dead meat.

    Mazda is perilously close to the point of no return as well.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    It’s a bit of a vicious circle right now.

    Customers are very worried about dealer stability, so even people that would consider a Mitsubishi or Suzuki are questioning it. Uncle Sam isn’t guaranteeing their warranties.

    I’m considering a Grand Vitara (the new one is nothing like the old one, huge improvements), but the closest dealer is on his last leg and the next dealer (stronger, shared with another brand) is an hour away. And that is in the Chicago market. The one upside is that if Suzuki does leave the prices on used current generation Grand Viataras will get even lower.

    Mitsubishi should have asked to be given Chrysler for free if it really wants to stay in the US market. With 30 years experience filling in Chrysler’s product line it would have made a much better partner than Fix It Again Tony.

    Selling Daewoo’s killed Suzuki’s credibility just when its own products finally become competitive.

  • avatar
    John_K

    Suzuki is simply too late to the game.

    Fiat, a company know worldwide for producing absolute crap, joined with Chrysler, a company that defies engineering standards with its junk.

    Now Suzuki has to figure out what other markets are willing to buy tiny vehichles that get lousy gas mileage and fall apart before hitting 50K.

    Chrysler would have been a great match!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    John Horner:

    Mazda is a shame, the from an engineering perspective the cars are better than ever, but the refresh of the Miata and the redesign of the 3 and 6 have been horribly ugly.

    Somehow the Nagare design language from the show cars translated into “slap an ugly matte black plastic shitfaced grin it” in production.

    The CX SUVs, and even the 5 minivan, seem popular. It will be interesting to see what happens with the platform sharing with Ford when the next generations come out.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    PS: My 1991 Trooper was a great vehicle.

    I love my ’01. With 150k on it, my mechanic and I have established the honest relationship that he will be able to do the old “Ma, is it time to put her down?” conversation when necessary, maybe 5-7 years from now.

    Let’s see, the topic is failed (or failing) import brands. THREE of them (Suzuki, SAAB, Isuzu) have been associated with GM. Pitiful. It’s like GM is the poison pill.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    @ John Horner : It will take only one more generation of the 3 to kill Mazda.

    People laugh at the styling of the Sebring, Acura and Subaru, but they have nothing on the tortured sheet metal of the 3. A face only The Joker could love.

    Did anyone look at these things at any stage before ordering up the tooling ?

  • avatar
    wmba

    “Subaru really needs to go too. Yes I know they’re experiencing a dead-cat bounce at the moment, but let’s be honest: their cars are every bit as shoddy as Mitsubishi and Suzuki’s, if not more so.”

    Really? I owned Audis for over 20 years, and they drove great and devoured my savings to keep them running.

    Changed to Subaru. ’99 Impreza ran for 10 winters here in NS with a total of $760 repairs outside of scheduled maintenance in 100,000 miles. Nothing wrong with it when I traded in, wanted more juice. Got an ’08 Legacy GT. On True Delta, mines the one that needed sway bar bushings after only two winters, which kind of irked me. Nothing else, though.

    Check out the Audi A4/S4 or Caddy CTS on True Delta if you want to see what real crap is like.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Dave M.:

    Don’t forget Daewoo, that makes at least four.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Everyone seems to forget the that Suzuki SX4, which seems like a great car for the money, is also sold in Europe as a Fiat.

    Its greatness seems to remain undiscovered by a market that supposed to crave roomy economy cars that are made pretty well and offer great value.

    Or in other words, the Americans who are supposed to buy Chrysler-made Fiats.

  • avatar
    6c1500

    Beg to differ with those who think Suzuki should exit this market. The SX4 is a brilliant car…..drive one and you’ll be amazed. Quite a smart looking design, too, in my opinion. Mr Marchionne must agree; according to Automotive News Europe a few months ago, one of two new cars in his garage is the SX4 twin, the Fiat Seideici

    Note Suzuki’s hugh jump in J.D. Power ratings this year, on the strength of the SX4.
    I think the Daewoo-based product hurt them. They could help themselves by bringing the Swift to the US, emphasizing their strength in artful SMALL cars.

    As to Suzuki durability, look at the indestructibility of all those old Samurais still around.

  • avatar
    bevo

    I love my 2 door Sidekick. Too bad they dropped the 4 door Sidekick because I would have bought it instead of the Honda Element. Talk about uninspiring..

  • avatar
    86er

    Bottom line, in the most competitive car market in the world, faced with the lowest sales in decades, some manufacturers have to go.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Having a Suzuki and a Mitsubishi in my garage right now, I am feeling a bit disconcerted. Both are highly satisfactory vehicles, however.
    SX4 does appear to be an above average small vehicle. It gets good reviews, and has an unsurpassed first year reliability ranking from CR mag.

  • avatar
    revjasper

    I once advised a young lady I was interested in to consider an Aerio due to the warranty and proximity of a dealer to her house. The dealer decided to not honor the warranty, and the next dealer down the road (20 miles) didn’t want to deal with the first dealer’s mistakes. Dealer #1 went under soon after. She still has the car, and still doesn’t like me much.

    On a side note: The dealer’s Suzuki building was absorbed into the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep business next door, but left empty for about three years. In a fit of desperation (getting 23 days notice does that) it was suddenly for rent at a much more reasonable price. Now my Saab mechanic has the space and the showroom is full of much more interesting metal.

    The last generation Mitsu Lancer was my favorite rental car. It handled as well as anything else out there and was usually available on the cheap. I’ve never driven the new Lancer, and apparently nobody else has either. The exterior looks okay, but the interior is pure Sebring level bad plastics.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @ paul_y , et. al.

    Mine actually had a head gasket leak, and a bad wheel bearing (which is actually quite common). More annoying were the ‘electronic’ issues (malfunctioning HVAC controller, junky radio, etc.) , although they were junk components to begin with.

    For those who think Subaru approaches anything resembling quality, see the C/D long term test of their “trouble ridden” Legacy. Maybe 15 years ago Subarus were bulletproof.

    I don’t see why Toyota wants to keep Subaru around- they’re all markets Toyota could easily penetrate, which leaves Subaru around only for their AWD system.

  • avatar
    menno

    Mitsubishi won’t let go because they have a US factory all paid for here, and have been getting tons of free publicity from their iMeIV electric car, which is going on the US market late next year.

    Suzuki is planning to import their Swift (the real thing, not the Daewoo cheapie badge-engineered thing sold in Canada).

    I’ve written before that Mitsubishi and Suzuki should merge and go with Suzuki brand worldwide only; I have rethought that.

    Leave both brand worldwide EXCEPT in the USA and Canada, only sell Mitsubishi here – and merge the dealer networks.

    Sell a combined, simplified line-up (mostly built in the USA, to avoid currency problems) AS Mitsubishi. Oh yeah; add an 8 year 100,000 mile “no quibble” warrantee and truly back it up.

    Swift
    iMiEV
    SX4 hatchback only (AWD)
    Lancer
    Evo
    Galant (replace it – leave the Galant name for continuity in No. Am. – with the Kizashi as and when it’s finished baking)
    Outlander
    Equator pickup (Mfd by Nissan)

    Don’t forget that Suzuki is the #1 selling Kei car manufacturer in Japan (which is Japan’s largest auto sales class); #1 selling manufacturer in India (an up and coming market,
    obviously); a solid seller in China and Russia…

    Using a joint “corporate name” (Mitsubishi-Suzuki) would leave both names in the eye of the public. This would also tie-in the motorcycles and outboard motors.

    As for Suzuki’s Ingersoll, Ontario Canada plant – considering the currency issue recently seen between the US and Canada; considering that GM has been pulling the rug out from under all partners (Suzuki build SUVs for GM there as well as their own big XL7 SUV) – perhaps it’d best be closed down/mothballed.

    Then once (if) the US market bounces back (minus “NewGM” and “Crapster” which are dead companies walking) then they’ll be in a good position, later.

  • avatar
    kowsnofskia

    Beg to differ with those who think Suzuki should exit this market. The SX4 is a brilliant car…..drive one and you’ll be amazed. Quite a smart looking design, too, in my opinion. Mr Marchionne must agree; according to Automotive News Europe a few months ago, one of two new cars in his garage is the SX4 twin, the Fiat Seideici.

    The SX4 seems like a decent car except for the fact that its fuel economy is mediocre. The AWD automatic hatch gets 21/28, which doesn’t seem that impressive when AWD CR-Vs and Foresters can muster 20/26 and an automatic 2.5l Jetta Sportwagen can do 20/29.

    Come to think of it, fuel economy is also Subaru’s major demerit at this point. It seems like many base Subaru models now have trouble breaking 30 mpg on the highway – never mind the turbocharged models whose economy often seems to dip down into V8 territory.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    We as consumers cannot afford a US automobile market devolved into three manufacturers.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Subarus are notorious for blown head gaskets. They’re far too proud of their boxer engines. They also have more than their fair share of transmission issues. I just drive a friends new $199 sign and drive Legacy 2.5i special, and it was barely the size of a Corolla, and a literal snail with a slushbox that was bipolar and temperamental. I’ll never get the appeal.

    Mitsubishi just needs to die, period. The Galant, alone, is irredeemable sin against mankind. The new Lancer? There is no excuse for paint quality of interior plastic quality in 1981, let alone 2009.

    Suzuki may be worth saving, with a trimmed dealer base and model lineup (mainly the SX4 AWD, the Grand Vitara and the Japanese built Swift).

    I’d make this bet with my own money going forward: Look for less expensive new cars in the future, as the first wave of U.S. spec’d and regulatory compliant Chinese imports is sooner, rather than later, becoming a reality.

    The Japanese have had their hands full battling Hyundai/Kia’s price point (although Hyundai has made a fool’s mistake of raising prices at a laughable pace, either through incentive reduction, or sticker inflation – the Sonata is now near Camry/Altima/Mazda6 pricing, and check out a loaded Veracruz, which is very near Lexus RX350 territory), so Suzuki could serve as a Chinese firewall (pun intended).

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Of the two brands, Mitsubishi does look like a more viable brand to remain in the US market. At least they have the expertise in designing passable coupes, compact and mid-sized cars and SUVs for the US market. Suzuki really is best at making only subcompact cars and SUVs, that is, products which were never popular on the American market.

    Lancer seems like a good product (except gas usage could be better). But the current Gallant and Eclipse make most people yawn. At the same time, this segment is Mitsubishi’s opportunity to improve its standing if they come up with better products.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    The comment about Subaru needing to go is nonsense. Subaru has a real niche market, and many owners will not be lured into competing brand dealerships by any means. Go to any ski/snow belt town and see that there are at least 2 Subbies parked on every block. Visit the parking lot of any Safeway grocery store near Lake Tahoe or other ski resort area and it will look like a Subaru dealership. In addition, to the ski/snow crowd, add the wagon fan crowd, off-road wagon fan crowd, and the boy racer crowd, and it seems like Subaru dominates enough niches to be a viable, profitable brand at least when the economy is doing well. Amazingly they cater to so many niches with basically two platforms, Impreza and Legacy. All of their other products are mods of these two.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I’m not sure how Subaru and Mazda managed to get involved in this, but both brands are easily strong enough to stay. Subaru and Mazda at least each have a strong brand identity – Subaru is the uncontested champ of AWD passenger cars and affordable turbo compacts, and Mazda manages to infuse class leading handling into each vehicle they make. I’m a fan of Mazdas new designs, although I like their older ones as well. What’s wrong with a car smiling at you? The new 3 and 6 are selling well, so, it seems most people like the looks.

    I forgot another great Mitsu car – the 3000GT. The 3KGT was the absolute must have car from the first Gran Turismo back in the PS1 days. It could dominate anything else in the game. Now, having never driven one, I can’t say if the car really was that great, or if one of the developers just happened to be a fan and bumped the stats, but if nothing else it was a cool looking car with some great technology. AWD, four wheel steering (why the hell don’t more performance cars use this now? especially high speed modes, it would lead to absolute dominance on any twisty course if the rear wheels could turn opposite the front as the steering wheel was turned), twin turbo high compression engine, it’s the antithesis of no replacement for displacement, but it all worked so well (until the inevitable moment when it all broke at the worst possible time, but tempermentality is just something one must deal with in budget supercars).

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    Subaru will likely be Toyota-ized now, also, with Toyota gaining a large block of GM’s former stock in the company.

    They managed to make the new 2010 Legacy uglier than the prior edition.

  • avatar
    Accords

    ravenchris :

    “We as consumers cannot afford a US automobile market devolved into three manufacturers.”

    The whole point..

    We as PEOPLE have to get better cars than the domestic shit offered in the U.S.

    And you can call yourself a consumer.

    Id like to think Im NOT just the sum of the c.c’s in my wallet.

    And “consumers”.. can afford a lot more. Just not taste, sense, quality, SNOW TIRES FOR SUVS / CUVS IN THE SNOW.

  • avatar
    Accords

    As far as Subbie = Toyota now.. even their best stuff is being diluted.

    Mitsu suffered from being attached to Chrapsler for too long.

    And Suzuki.. was attached to GM.

    In the end..
    I wouldnt miss either and they arent even a dot in the landscape. There is plenty more crap to buy besides a Mitsu or a Suzuki.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    NulloModo, I am starting to question whether your posts are tongue in cheek.

    First came the cheerleading for the 40k Taurus SHO, and now you highlight the Mitsubishi 3000GT as some sort of engineering masterpiece? That car, in every iteration, is an unmitigated turd, any way you slice it. And you base this on time spent on a playstation?

    If you are being serious, in fact, I retract the above statements and replace them with a hearty “I completely disagree with you. Regards.”

  • avatar
    waldojim

    ok, I don’t know how many of you guys are serious and how many here just hate what the don’t know, or understand.

    In the past several years, I have owned 3 cars. One Chrysler lebaron, a Kia Optima, and my Mitsu Galant. Of the 3, only the Galant made it past the 100k mark, nevermind the 150K mark I broke this year. The Lebaron threw a rod of 45k, and I gave up with the kia, when my repair bills for things that should not break (@65K) exceeded the value of the car (about $9K) This was in berings, trailing arms, suspension, and a whole host of other crap.

    I pulled my mitsu from a junk yard (theft recovered), changed the fluids, and belts. I took it to get a salvage title… and for 3 years now, have ridden the crap out of that thing. The only money I have put in it was maintenance. No more, no less. I am talking, fluids, a couple of spark plugs, a timing belt (now two of them) and that is it. Now this is a 2001 galant, back when it had a DMR engine, but it has done me well so far. Right now, as it stands, I am looking to buy another Mits, brand new, and see if I cannot push it further now that Chrysler is no longer part of the equation; which brings me to why I am posting here in the first place…

    This is my first, and probably my last, post here. I was looking for reviews on the new Mits lineup when I came across this article, and the associated responses to it. I have to ask, is there no one here that actually does a little research before posting? How many times did I see references to an ongoing DMR/Mits relationship in those comments? Hey guys, here is a clue, Mits broke that off several years ago. I do not know why they broke it off, but they did, everything post 2005 is MMC.

    As to the build quality… this is one I have a hard time with. 1. People complaining about the engine/drive train. Check out J.D.Power, they get 4.5 out of 5 in the engine/dt for good reason. It is a tried and true solid design they have been using for years. Unfortunately that means it wont have the power or efficiency of some new honda, or toyota, but you cannot kill it. I know, I have tried. hell even drowning it doesn’t work (hydrolocked mine… took a few hours to tear down far enough to clean all the water out. Put it back together and the car acted like nothing ever happened.) Now the interior… yeah, you can see the cheap plastic alright, there is no denying that. However, I can pick up a new galant for $15K (after the 4500 in rebates) so what should one expect for $15K? Do you really think you are going to get $25k worth of refinement? I have been to many reviewers websites, and have come to one conclusion. These people never actually have to pay for a car… or they woulnd’t review the way they do. Seriously, who would try to compare a $15-$20K with a $30k+ acura?

    As to Subaru, all I am going to say, is there is a subaru dealer, and a VERY used car lot right down the road from my house. When a subaru customer trades in their car, it usually has to go to that VERY used lot… with an average of 250K+ miles them. Those cars seem to last for ever.

    On a final note, I am just disappointed in what we Americans want out of our cars. I do not want a car that thinks for me, drives for me, or does anything that takes away from ME driving the car. I want a SOLID car with a bullet proof engine, and tranny. I want a car that can withstand 20 years of driving and 300K miles. I do not want or need GPS, a harddrive, satellite ratio, sunroof, or massive engines. Is 0-60 in 10sec fast enough? yep, so why do reviews give cars “sluggish” or “ho-hum” reviews when they ONLY get there in 8.5 seconds? It was mentioned elsewhere, that its the extras selling the cars these days, not the car itself. I am starting to think this is true.

    Where are the simple cars? The ones without the kitchen sink? The ones that are built to last? The ones that everyday average Joe can buy without paying more for the car than he does his monthly rent?

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    We currently own a Suzuki (06 Grand Vitara) and I have previously owned a Mitsubishi (90 Montero.) The Monty was the best used vehicle I’ve ever owned, bought it in 1992 with 18k on it and sold it 7 years and 135,000 miles later. It did have the valve guide problem that the 3.0l V-6 mill was known for (about a $1200 repair at 135k) but except for the time I foolishly let it run out of gas, it never – ever – left me stranded by the side of the road.

    For that matter, I took it on a solo trip to the Black Rock Desert in 1998, at the time it had ~115k on it. There aren’t many other vehicles I’d trust for a trip like that if they were over a hundred grand. I’ve seen Mitsus all over the world (mostly their commercial trucks and the venerable Pajero/Montero) in some of the most unforgiving terrain the planet has to offer.

    As for the Suzuki, it’s surprisingly well appointed for a down-market SUV and the wife loves it. 100k warranty means no repair worries and our one and only warranty repair was for a worn serpentine belt tensioner, which was fixed at the dealer on the day of our wedding reception.

    Bottom line, I think, is that Suzuki and Mitsubishi can stand on their own, the only question being whether it makes sense for them to stay in the US market. Mitsu has been getting smaller and smaller, but Suzuki seems to be steady or even growing (certainly I keep noticing more and more XL-7’s and 2nd generation Grand Vitaras on the road than I’d seen in the past.)

  • avatar
    Shogun

    Hmm.. can anyone say Deja Vu?

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/hammer-time-die-brands-die/

  • avatar
    fallout11

    We have a ’04 Suzuki Forenza in the garage (bought it for my wife new) now with 70k+ miles on it and it’s never had any repair work of any kind, doesn’t even get washed annually or the oil changed regularly. Wife abuses the hell out of it. I’d buy another in a heartbeat, a shame regarding Suzuki, they make good, reliable, reasonably priced vehicles.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Wrt Subaru, here in Beaverton OR., its dealerships are not clogged with cars needing service. I routinely see 5 – 10 Outbacks and 1 – 4 Foresters every day. 6 – 9 year old Subarus with no oil smoke or rust holes are common.

    Granted there are issues with Subarus; the newer interior trims are fragile, but that’s also true of Lexus, BMW, Audi and many others. While Subaru is currently below average wrt JD Power initial quality rankings, CU and other long term repair lists give them a decent to excellent reputation.

    Anyway, it seems Mitsui has one big hit, the EVO, which car mags applaud wrt track performance, but admit is rather spartan and harsh around town.
    Could Mitsui survive on that one model?

    Suzuki’s SX4 AWD has a lot of Italian design in it. However, its long term reliability’s not proven and they have awful resale value. The other models don’t seem to offer anything special.

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