By on November 27, 2009

Picture 52

What do you say about a purported “Total Value Index” that includes such notable turkeys as Honda’s Insight, Mercedes’ R-Class, and Chrysler Aspen? No seriously, what do you say? Did nobody at Strategic Vision notice that the Aspen has been discontinued or that the Insight is actually less compelling than a Civic Hybrid? Besides, can we be done with surveys that find different ask people how much they love the car they just dropped a load of money on? If you’re dumb enough to spend money on an Aspen, you’re dumb enough to say it has more “total value” than any other mid-size ute. But why does SV have to give your dumb, self-justifying opinion even the thinnest veneer of credibility? Here’s what Strategic Vision’s President has to say about the list:

Durability alone and simply satisfying customers is not enough for buyers who demand both immediate and long term Value. Customers no longer feel constrained to consider only the ‘usual suspects.’ Because of increased quality, competitive prices and manufacturers fighting for their lives to provide Loveworthy℠ vehicles, this is truly an exciting time for car buyers, today and in the near future. Manufacturers are listening and reacting quickly to stay competitive.

By discontinuing models that appear on the list? Sigh. Match these vehicles against their sales numbers, and you’ll see that the only consumer opinions that count (i.e. the ones backed by purchases) are very different than this list.

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20 Comments on “Strategic Vision’s “Total Value” Turkey List...”

  • avatar

    Standard Pickup:  Honda Ridgeline
    Full-Size Pickup:  Chevrolet Avalanche


    From MSN Autos Comparison:

    Cargo Area Dimensions

    Avalanche LTZ 4WD

    Ridgeline RT

    Length (in.)

    Width at Wheelwell (in.)

    Width at Wall (in.)

    Depth (in.)

  • avatar

    What do you say about a purported “Total Value Index” that includes such notable turkeys as Honda’s Insight, Mercedes’ R-Class, and Chrysler Aspen?
    “Value” would imply that those customers felt received good value for money.  Is a Chrysler Aspen a good value at an MSRP of $37,115?  No, is it a good deal at $24,995 with 0% for 72 months?  It sure is.  Same with the Mercedes, is it a good value at $47,650?  No.  Is it a good value at $35,550 with 0% for 60 months?  It sure is.

  • avatar

    The key to interpreting the results is in this quite from the Strategic Vision press release: “However, with so many manufacturers, inspired by Toyota, improving in perceived quality, customers have a wider range of options to choose from in our current economic climate. This allows them to find both value and love in their new vehicle.”
    What the survey really measures is how strongly the owners feel about their new purchases.  It doesn’t mean that the top-ranked cars in each category are the best, but they elicit the greatest emotional response (as opposed to a purely rational purchase experience).
    Take, for example, the five Volkswagens and the MINI on the list: these are generally viewed as less reliable (and usually more expensive) than their Japanese competitors, and sell in smaller numbers.  However, the owner community is strong, and people often feel a strong attachment to their cars.
    Now, if you can combine that kind of emotional response with good reliability and value (maybe the Accord Coupe could be an example?) you should have a winning formula.
    As with most surveys, it has its flaws but once you take the time to understand what it is measuring, it’s again a worthwhile data point.

  • avatar

    Well, say what you will, but I have to agree with the Corvette numbers…

  • avatar

    Everything there looks pretty good to me.
    Maybe Aspen owners actually like their trucks and don’t listen to the hate-on the car media elite has for Chrysler products.
    Sales are also controlled by previous ownership experience, brand loyalty and family/friend/coworker influence. It’s not always about how superb or awful the currently shopped car is.
    I don’t believe that the Insight’s poor sales numbers in the US has much to do with it’s perceived “quality”. On brand name alone it should be selling at least 5000 units per month. I think it’s a combo of looks (too close to the Prius), availability (don’t know) and people paying to much attention to car reviews

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    Wow.  Not a Toyota product in the bunch!

    Maybe the floor mat/gas pedal/electronic flaw (whatever they’re calling it now), rust issues (with spare tires falling off Tundras onto the interstate) and engine sludge drama have something to do with it.
    You’d hardly know about any of that by reading TTAC, though. 

    P.S., A buddy of mine just picked up an Aspen, and he loves it.  I haven’t driven it, but I’ve ridden in it, and it’s quite nice.

  • avatar

    Give Strategic Vision credit for realizing that:
    (a) Dave Power’s real genius was in creating a brand strong enough that companies with highly rated products would pay confiscatory prices for advertising rights;
    (b) you could structure surveys such that anybody could rank highly in something; and
    (c) perpetual quality losers (e.g., Volkswagen) would pay equally handsome prices for the right to advertise something that sounded roughly as credible.

    • 0 avatar

      (c) perpetual quality losers (e.g., Volkswagen)…
      I know the perception.  Perhaps things are changing.  At the same time my 06 Jetta was a nice ride (looked somewhat chunky from the side, and the 2.5 is an answer to a question no one is really asking, though).  I traded it for a Passat which is perhaps the nicest “family” sedan out there: think of it as a German Impala and you’ll see where GM missed the boat.
      People complain about VW dealers, but mine has been very accommodating:  just back from a Thanksgiving trip and the low tire pressure light came on.  I drove by the dealer (no appt) and they inflated the tires with nitrogen (beats me why), gave me a free car wash and some snacks for nothing.  Then smiled and wished me and my wife well.  Took all of 20 minutes.

    • 0 avatar

      mpresley –

      Jay Leno’s video sums it up.

      I learned something too.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    VW (and Ford) cleans up here.  Considering VW’s next-to-last JD Power Dependability ranking ( ), it’s difficult understand what “value” they are measuring.  Wait a minute…this is indeed the “perception gap” that TTAC (or at least RF)  denies exists.

    • 0 avatar

      <i>it’s difficult understand what “value” they are measuring.</i>
      So dependability is the one and only true measure of a car?

    • 0 avatar

      Sure, but are the differences in JD Power dependability realy meaningful?  From the top-rated Buick to bottom-ranked Suzuki, the difference is about 140 — that’s 140 faults per 100 cars over three years. That works out to a difference of less than half a problem per year between the best and the worst.  Personally I would choose an enjoyable car over a dull one any day even if I had to take it to the shop an extra time each year.
      As an aside, I much prefer TrueDelta’s definition of “problem” to JD Power’s …

    • 0 avatar

      You know VW is near the bottom of those lists but I’ve owned about 8 VWs going all the way back to the 60s models and they have been cheap-cheap-cheap to own.
      Things have worn out and things have broken but it’s been cheap plastic crap that has broken. Not engines or transmissions or expensive things like that. I’ve seen that with other brands belonging to family and friends.
      Yeah if I relied wholly on a mechanic’s services making a few trips a year to have light bulbs and plastic engine thermostat housings life could get expensive at $75 per hour shop rates but I can replace a power steering pump every 175K miles for $125 in parts and fluids and a couple hours of my time. How expensive would that be in a shop? I can’t imagine.
      Even better service from my Hondas. This is what competing brands will have to win over to get me to consider their products. The familiarity of these two brands to me means I can work on them without much “pain”.

  • avatar

    (c) perpetual quality losers (e.g., Volkswagen) would pay equally handsome prices for the right to advertise something that sounded roughly as credible.
    VW also has the highest resale value of any car brand sold in the US.  The Strategic Vision just goes to show that not everyone goes for boring and reliable.  A rational person could choose a CC over an Avalon or a GTI over a Corolla Type-S.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      “VW also has the highest resale value of any car brand sold in the US.”
      I think you have VW confused with Honda. ( )

  • avatar

    I think you have VW confused with Honda.

    Sorry, I didn’t know the 2009 numbers were out yet.  VW won for 2007 and 2008, which again goes to show that reliability isn’t the only measure of a car – contrary to the popular wisdom here at TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      Actually, I have to agree with you, jmo.  I’ve owned or leased perhaps twenty cars (including ones f0r my family).  The two that spent the most time in the shop are the two that I loved the most.

  • avatar

    Hyundai = “near luxury”
    Saab 93 =  “premium convertible”
    An infestation of VW and not a BMW on the list? What are they smoking?

  • avatar

    As exemplified by anyone buying an Alfa Romeo or VW, sometimes the heart overrides the brain. I’ll bet that most buyers of these cars are aware of the reliability vs. character tradeoff.  The “perception gap” happens when a car does neither exceptionally well. IMHO, this is Detroit’s biggest problem (trucks & Corvette excluded).

  • avatar


    A few things on this list.. really make no damn kind of sense.

    Honda Accord = Mid Speciality?!
    This is a midsized (bordering on large) sedan’s coupe.

    Small Multi Function = Focus Coupe
    And MID sized Multi Function Jetta WAGON?
    The  two are virtually in competition with for compact sedan business, but only one has the wagon. SO how is a Focus coupe multifuncton, when the same coupe designation is used for Accord and THATS a speciality?!

    Mini Cooper is a speciality car…
    But Strategic Vision says an Accord is also.

    The Aspen/ Durango.. is / was in DIRECT competition against Tahoe / GMT900 frame.. and they arent midsized.. yet its other compeition is the Expedition.. and thats a “Large Utility”!

    The X3 is being called Near Luxury Utility while the VW  Tiguan is being called  Small Entry Utility. When in fact ya could compare then both as being compact, then slap the Q3 err Q1 badge with the Audi prices on it.. and it would sell in competitive prices. On top of.. since when is BMW “near” anything?

    Ridgeline = Standard pickup?! They can dessimnate the difference between speciality, and crossover, and near, or entry level vehicles.. but they cant figure out that Ridgeline isnt a standard pickup.

    They they virtually put the Genesis coupe and or sedan in the same catgory as the S Class.. because they dont deliniate the difference in size or price class.

    And I havent even gotten into the difference in prices and which ones are total snoozers (R class, Avalanche, (9-3)!

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