By on December 5, 2010

“Toyota is in trouble. The Japanese automaker is playing defense as sales slump, dealer inventories swell — even for the Camry and Prius — and consumers demand larger discounts to remain loyal to the brand once viewed as unstoppable,” so beginneth a lengthy article in Detroit’s Freep that reads like a swansong for a formerly mighty ToMoCo. First, the requisite recitation of the ode to the obvious:

  • “More than 11 million recalls worldwide over the past year are taking their toll on Toyota. And they aren’t over.”
  • “Now, Toyota’s U.S. sales are suffering — even though it remains the most popular retail brand at the moment.”
  • “Toyota’s decline comes despite a large increase in cash-back rebates and other deals.”

Toyota itself identified another reason, would you believe it: Boring cars. Or make that a lack of exciting new cars. Or pretty much a lack of anything new.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels noted that “a couple of our core products are at the middle or end” of their life and will (or need to be) updated soon.

Michels promised an all-new Camry to be introduced next summer. Prius will emerge with a new plug-in hybrid and an all-new gas-electric car. (We have that on the schedule for 2012.)

“Fresh product always gives you a chance to spur the momentum,” Michels told the Freep. However, Toyota had severely cut back on new car development during carmageddon, and it takes a while to accelerate an aircraft carrier from 0 to 60. A major avalanche of new Toyota product is not expected before 2012. Expect boredom to continue for a while.

There is one matter the Freep has to concede: „Throughout its recall crisis, Toyota has continued to be profitable. Earnings for the quarter ended Sept. 30 quadrupled to more than $1.2 billion, and about $447 million of that came from North America.” And that’s what really counts in the business. You are only dead if you are bankrupt. Unless you have a rich sugar daddy. Boring investments are often the best.

So after writing reams of verbiage, the Freep comes to the surprising conclusion that the news of Toyota’s demise could be exaggerated. However, “it could take Toyota years to regain it former dominance.”

So there.

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71 Comments on “Freep Initiates Toyota Deathwatch: Brand To Die From Boredom...”


  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Perhaps what has changed is not so much boredom, but a consumer shift in thinking. 
      
    Today the consumer may realize that it is not necessary to pay a premuim for a Toyota to get a reliable appliance.   They have other options.    So price erosion may be in Toyota’s cards for a while.       

    BTW… I thought it was posted earlier on TTAC that most of Toyota’s profit was in their finance group.  If true, that does not bode well for Toyota as this is reflective of reduced margins even at decent volumes. What will be the result if volume drops further from loss of market share.

    • 0 avatar

       
      Today the consumer may realize that it is not necessary to pay a premuim for a Toyota to get a reliable appliance.   They have other options.   

      Hear! Hear!

      Exactly. That’s what I’ve been saying for a while. Some might still not get it, but a Ford 2010, Hyundai 2010 or even, yes a Fiat 2010 or Renault 2010 will get you pretty similar reliability.

      Much like Volvo back in the late 90s early 00s. They had to reinvent themselves as some (like Renault) were catching up. and even, surpassing them in the safety business. RF no less wrote something about it IIRC.

      Volvo, and for that matter, Toyota, seem to be at a loss as to what to do.

      Consumers, thank God are in better shape than ever. Now you can get that quirky looking Italian or French and not worry (too much) if it’ll start tomorrow.

    • 0 avatar
      dewfish

      I think there is a lot of truth to this. The good thing about Toyota was that its reliability raised the bar made everyone else be reliable or die. Now that everyone else is catching up, they no longer corner the market and have to compete on all of the other things people want out of a car. I will always respect Toyota for forcing the other companies to be better, but now the playing field is leveling out again, and they have to stand out all over again.

      With that said, rumors of Toyota’s demise have been exaggerated.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Well, the line is a bit long in the tooth, with a few exceptions.  But the DFP is correct it will take years, thought I figure about three to turn the ship around, not the time frame that the paper is trying to make you believe.  Too bad they didn’t mention that despite all the bad press, the recalls, and the obvious slide in quality, Toyota’s product line is still mostly on the top of every reliability survey.  The bigger problem is that Toyota has now is that its customers are accustomed to an incentive driven deal.  For the real quality to come back to the cars, the price will have to rise.  Whether people be willing to pay for it remains the $100,000 question.  Many folks still don’t see the serious cut in overall quality; they simply see the red dots in that magazine and assume all is ok.  Toyota can still count on its reputation to buy them some time.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    We argue endlessly here about which brand has the highest quality but with the exception of the outliers (certain models, one or two makers) quality levels are very high.  People have realized that they can easily buy a car from another manufacturer and get a car 90% as good as a Toyota for 75% of the price (depending on incentives.)  That’s why Toyota is suffering in sales.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Yep, except for a few, most of the other automakers have brought their quality levels up to a point that during the first 100K, most are pretty reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      And not just that. A Mazda 6s or Accord Coupe V6 6 speed can offer Toyota reliability at the same price point with significantly higher levels of driving enjoyment. Prob a moot point for many, but the overall point is the only thing Toyota brings to the table is its reliability. W/ the reliability playing field leveled, Toyota brings NOTHING to the table over its competitors. It’s living on brand name and loyalty

  • avatar

    As for the finance profits: Where I worked before, the rule of thumb was always that in a good year, a third of the profits came form cars, a third from financial services, and a third from parts sales. GMAC used to be a very healthy business that brought in healthy profits. There is nothing wrong with making money with a captive financing arm – unless that arm engages in risky business, such as home mortgages.
    At the dealer level, the relationships are usually more extreme. Again a rule of thumb was that more than 90% of the dealer profits com for “non-new car related activities.”

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I didn’t know that Toyota’s finance arm was subsidizing manufacturing.
     
    Toyota’s growth in the US is stunted for moment, but they still sell more vehicles in the US than any other overseas brand.  After the recall hysteria, consumers realize that Toyota isn’t perfect by any measure.
     
    With a few exceptions, they still seem to build a pretty reliable engine and drive train. Toyota’s core market in the US still doesn’t seem to care that about the less than inspiring sheet metal and a chassis that all too often reeks of cost cutting.  While their interiors are borderline cheesy, so are a lot of other cars they compete with.
     
    Bottom line: Toyota has become just another car company, but it is a very big one and one with very deep pockets, which will fund a lot of R&D.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Toyota has just been shaken down by our hostile government and private litigants, but at the end of the day will survive on top.  People buying Toyotas have always thought of them as the transportation equivalent of a Black and Decker toaster, or two-speed drill.  How exciting do you want you toaster to be, as long as it’s got a bagel function?
     
    Car and Driver thinks the latest Toyota supercar is better than a Ferrari, but really!  Who would trade the opportunity to drive a hot looking Italian for whatever passes as Japanese “design,” these days.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Who would trade? I imagine someone who wants their supercar to be everyday wheels. While the LF-A is no beauty in my eyes, it’s probably reliable and non-temperamental. And it won’t carch on fire.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Spoken like a true Toyota believer.  Does it come with a toaster?

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Spoken like a true Ferrari fanboi. I’ve never owned a Toyota and there’s nothing in the current range that excites me. However, I do like to be realistic, and reality is that the LF-A is probably more usable everyday than the Ferrari. That often counts even for rich people.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Actually I’m not a Ferrari fan (but admit to admiring the designs).  And if I was it would just be theoretical since I can’t afford the oil change.  On the other hand, I’m not anti Toyota, either.  In fact, if I were looking for a large comfortable sedan I’d buy an Avalon (the new model which, to me, is strangely appealing in its understated sophistication).
       
      But back to one of your points, anyone who can afford to spend 3 or 4 hundred large on a supercar is likely not worried about using it as an “every day driver.”  Nor are they much concerned whether it is temperamental (at least I wouldn’t guess so).  At the same time, they probably don’t want the thing self-immolating, that much is certain.

  • avatar
    imag

    The reason Toyota is not GM is because it doesn’t have GM’s culture.
     
    Toyota invented an engine of internal change and improvement.  Ken Watanabe abused that ability to drive up profits and sales in the short term, but Akio is going to have this back in line.  He recognized the problem at least 18 months ago.
     
    This isn’t like GM, where people just let the obvious messes go for years and rested on their laurels.  Toyoda took personal offense at the state of the company.  I would bet a lot of money that every single vehicle they build is being overhauled to reduce the decontenting that took place and to add enthusiast features.
     
    I think both companies faltered, but GM needed to fail for people to get it.  I don’t think Toyota is that slow or that short-sighted.
     
    Now if we could just get the ghost of Soichiro back at Honda.  You want to start a death watch, start one there.  It’s a company which has lost its innovation lead and it’s spirit.  Without leadership, it is obvious that workers at Honda are just trying to not have the blame for the company’s downfall fall on them.  That is not a good place to be.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Toyota has been suffering from quality declines for well over a decade now.
    I highlighted these issues back in March. But if you want another good source, feel free to look at the Carsurvey results for Toyota’s older models versus the new ones. The older ones will always have a dissatisfied customer levels of o% to 6%. The new models? 20% to 40%.
    Rapacious decontenting combined with unrealistic growth/quality targets over the last several years is what brought Toyota to it’s current compromising position.
    That and their Lexus models need more wood.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      One should remember that with older cars were many times simpler mechanically. Very few electronic components. Things like power seats and AC were a luxury option. So sure they would be more reliable without all those bells-n-whistles in standard spec.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Except that new cars are more reliable than older cars on a problems-per-year and problems-per-mile basis, even (especially) from Toyota, despite additional electronics.
       
      Older cars just sucked.
       
      Toyota’s dip in quality happened around 1997-2001 when their first significant cost cuts went into effect.  They did recover in a few years.

  • avatar
    also Tom

    I spent Sunday morning trolling the local Kia and Hyundai car lots. Toyota and other Asian manufacturers are in deep do-do if they don’t raise their game immediately.

  • avatar
    Advo

    At least sales didn’t drop like the Tata Nano did on all the bad news and recalls. I’m kind of surprised by that, but it goes to show you how valuable a good reputation can be at helping a company overcome serious difficulties.
     
    I agree that the Koreans have raised the game. I caught a brief glance of a new, silver Kia Sportage the other day and it struck me how crisp and sharp the styling was. Really appealing to me, more so than the new and “unchanged” RAV4 or any other small SUV out there.
     
    I’m looking forward to seeing whether the new Camry can set the standard again for the mid-sized, mainstream car look. I don’t think it was a given at the time when the previous generation came out that Toyota would go to a more angular headlight look when everyone else was still doing square. It could even be a comparison of Hyundai’s successful method of hiring the right designer to revamp their look versus a design-by-committee method that the Japanese seem to use for their volume sellers.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Have you noticed that the current US spec. base RAV4 with a four cylinder comes mated to a 4 speed auto?
       
      The US market doesn’t even rate a manual five speed in this segment anymore. How blandtastic is that?
       
       

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Freep initiates Toyota Deathwatch?  Hah!  You wish TTAC. How is that Ford Deathwatch coming along, TTAC? Farago: eat history.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Heh!  Ed and Bertel–no matter what their views–are better editors than he who shall not be named.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’ve always thought the mid 70’s Corolla Liftback ( allthough a total rip-off of a Mustang ll ) was cool, and the first gen Celica and first gen Supra were cool too. Other than that Toyota has always been the pinnacle of boredom. About time somebody else noticed…

  • avatar
    carve

    It’s a shame they don’t do something interesting with that smooth, powerful, efficient 3.5L V6.  The only interesting car it’s in is the IS350.  Perhaps they should do a rebodied, stripped-down IS350 and make a new RWD Celica.  That’d be a hit!
    I was all set to get a new RAV4 right now, but they decided to keep the old body style around for 2011.  Disappointing.  What’s even worse is the V6 RAV4 is pretty much Toyota’s best performing car right now.  Arguably the best looking too, except for the FJ.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    It looks like the Koreans are eating Toyota carrion:
     
    ….“Sonata has done phenomenally in the midsize car segment,” said Jeff Schuster, director of forecasting at researcher J.D. Power & Associates in Troy, Michigan. “Camry and Corolla really underperformed last month, which I think has to do with very competitive vehicles.”…
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-01/honda-nissan-hyundai-u-s-sales-climb-toyota-drops-on-recall-fallout.html

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Toyota announced another recall of 4.5 million cars about a month or so ago, due to o rings failing in the master cylinders. I have been seeing a lot of late model camrys and solaras with rust on them lately, the white ones seem to be the worst.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Oops, sorry, I meant to say 1.5 million vehicles.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I definitely agree with the consensus that Toyota is hurting because all the auto makers have improved their quality.  Toyota (and Honda) knew they made the best, and charged accordingly.  For a longer time than anybody will admit, the Big 3 made disposable junk, and even with all the price incentives in the world, it was still “cheaper” for the consumer to own quality.   Now, however, paying such a premium for a boring Toyota that other car makers can get close to the same quality for less seems foolish.
     
    I definitely wouldn’t count Toyota out though, I find it nearly impossible to imagine a world where Toyota is in the dustbin of history but other makers like GM succeed.  They’re in a funk, but they’ll figure out their place.

  • avatar

    I resemble that remark.

  • avatar

    Toyota’s (the company) insistence of no overlaps with their trinity of brands leaves Toyota (the brand) with nowhere to go. Sporty entry level cars such as the MR2 and Celica would now be the domain of Scion, and upmarket sports (eg. Supra) or luxury vehicles are reserved exclusively for Lexus. Being the piggy-in-the-middle they’ve got nothing but a few porkers who can’t compete on “cool” or “exuberance” for fear of treading on the toes of one of their younger siblings.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Just occurred to me that most of the loyal Toyota owners I know buy their ‘yotas for the same reason our blue haired neighbors buy their Buicks. 

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    So this answers a question a lot of us were asking on the GM channel stuffing story.  How bad is 90 days inventory, seems that Toyota is hovering somewhere around that window +/- 10 days.  So I guess the issue at GM is more an industry issue than a GM issue; although none of it good.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Toyota has been engaging GM culture, with first Lexus and now Scion. How’s that for a stab at badge engineering..?

    I agree Toyota and the others have to watch out for the Koreans. Baseline like the Yaris & new Mazda 2 come here with 4sp autos. Look at the Fiesta, look at the new Accent & Elantra due next Spring not to mention the new Focus. It’s time these entry cars came standard with dual clutch, 5/6 sp or CVT and all-wheel discs. Toyota are treading water.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      You left out the Cruze, which stomps the Corolla into the ground (so sayeth TTAC) and comes with a 6-speed also.  The 2011 Corolla refresh is a joke, not sure why Toyota even did it.  I have concerns about Honda’s refresh of the Civic; word is the 2012 upgrade is like the Corolla, only incremental.  The Elantra, Forte, coming Focus and Cruze all stomp both into the ground.  The Elantra and Forte are the value leaders – the Focus and Cruze are priced at a higher level but profitable (look at the Fiesta as a guide to how the Focus will be priced, because it won’t be priced cheaper).
       
      Toyota could do nothing and will still sell lots of units due to a brainwashed generation that will return to the showrooms like spawning salmon.  Look at how long GM, Ford and Chrysler coasted and look at how long Mercedes Benz has been coasting.  The difference is in the 70’s and 80’s and into the 90’s the market could carry the volumes, that isn’t the case in 2010 and with even more competition, and more brands than the market can support, the erosion will go faster.  But there are plenty out there that will trade in their 2009 Corolla for a 2011 Corolla because the new one is here and its a Toyota, you’re a dumb ass, you’re a dumb ass and YOU’RE a dumb ass – because Toyota builds good cars.  Great cars.  Awesome cars.  That’s why I’m buying another one.  Pffffft, idiot trying to tell me your 2011 Elantra is better.  Hyundai, they build steaming piles of crap.  My college roommate had one in ’88, what junk.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      From what I’ve read, the upcoming Civic is NOT a refresh on the order of the 2011 Corolla. I’ve seen spy photos of the actual car, and the appearance has changed, while maintaining a link with the current model, which is a good thing.

      I have yet to see where the Cruze is stomping any Civic into the ground, based on actual road tests (and please note that Mr. Baruth tends to be soft on Detroit products). When the Cruze has been tested by European magazines, the reviews tend to be tepid at best.

      If you’re used to a Cobalt, the Cruze is a big deal…not so much to people used to a Civic.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Just look at Scion, and what a few years’ time did to interest in that brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Are you sure it wasn’t due to product and competitive placement within the market (rather than time?)

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      I agree with Robert.Walker.  It wasn’t the idea of a “brand” but the products within the brand.  The fundamental Scion tC wasn’t updated for 10 years and I wouldn’t call the 2011 a ground breaking change from the past.  The xB never appealed to its target demographic and instead appealed to middle-agers and blue hairs.  The xA and xD never, ever tore up the sales chart, even during $4 a gallon gasoline in the case of the xD.
       
      The terrifying thing is Toyota positioning a transformation of Prius from nameplate to brand; just what they need, a fourth brand.

  • avatar
    Roundel

    What exactly is Toyota now? Its a ghost of its former self. A shell that has been living a decade or more on its former glory. Its been lucky that it had that long. The products are unspectacular at best. Their interoirs are Chrysler bad… except they are described as “quality” becase they have large font and big knobs. So they are “ergenomic” and a good asset. Its playskool’s finest, yet they get a pass because its a Toyota. The value of both new and used vehicles from the company is so grossly overinflated its disgusting. Its beyond absurd that 2-3 year old Camrys can sell within a rebates distance from a new one. All because the general buying public doesn’t know any better and won’t actually do their own research to find out that the 80’s are over and globalization happened, so that means that cars are more reliable, across the board. Past ratings are’t at all indicative of the new decontented Yotas.
    If it weren’t for American’s continued support for a dead brand walking. Toyota might be in serious trouble, as our market surely props up the brand. They aren’t a force at all in developing markets, and that points handily to their relative position in the global pecking order.
    I don’t see how their future is bright. Their time in the sun may be over. Just like Volvo who’s safety mantra is now irrelvant, Toyota is no longer the the only reliable one in town. Adapt or die…. what is up their sleave… if anything?

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Honda isn’t exactly in a good spot as far as their design goes right now, but a current-generation manual Accord or Civic is actually fun to drive. Unlike Toyota, the Japanese Buick.
     
     

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    YoYo just got too big, Plus Korea is the new Japan far as cars are concerned .  I’d call it less of a death watch and more of a rude awakening.

  • avatar
    jj99

    Here we go again.  Another smear campaign from the Detroit Free Press reprinted by TTAC.  This type of campaign is what ails America.  Detroit is unable to compete with Toyota and Honda because Detroit is burdened with UAW costs.  So, the UAW loving socialists try to tear the competition down.

    Fact is Consumer Reports shows every Toyota and Honda brand scored better in reliability than every Detroit brand.  That is where we are at and everyone knows it.  Detroit is surviving on fleet programs and government purchases.  Take those away, and the Detroit Depression will be back on.  Toyota is #1 in worldwide sales, and #1 in US retail sales, in spite of the massive Toyota Smear campaign by our government and the left leaning media.  Socialism and the UAW lost this round.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @JJ99 ….We might have lost a couple of rounds, but we won the fight..

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      mikey, Detroit will never win unless it builds world class pruducts.  It is only building average products, but have stuck big price tags on them.  This is doomed to fail.  Detroit cars only have substantial retail sales in limited parts of the country. 

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      jj99……Is Toyota & Honda giving cars away? Done any car shopping recently? “The we love Asian crowd” is flocking to Hyundai Kia. Lots of buyers are coming  back to domestics. Honda will adapt,they always have,they always will. Where does that leave Toyota?

      BTW How did that Tundra thing work out?

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      mikey, you are living in the past.  The gig is up.  Detroit lost.  All 3 went bankrupt.  Ford borrowed around 17 billion from the Fed.  They are also bankrupt.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Ford never went bankrupt. That is completely inaccurate. If it had, the Ford family would have lost control.

      Please show me where – meaning, a link to the actual court filing – Ford ever filed for bankruptcy.

      Plus, it has been making solid profits throughout this year, even in a depressed market. It is not going to file for bankruptcy anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      geeber, I suppose they took the 16 billion last year because they are in great financial shape.  I remember they told everyone they did not take any bailout.  Is any honesty left in that industry?  Detroit’s only hope is another Toyota smear, but the last one did not have the desired effect.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I hate to break it to you, but BMW and Toyota also took that money, which was part of a concerted federal government effort to keep credit markets liquid during this latest financial panic.

      Read this from Jalopnik:

      In the depths of the financial collapse, the U.S. Federal Reserve pumped $3.3 trillion into keeping credit moving through the economy. It eventually lent $57.9 billion to the auto industry — including $26.8 billion to Ford, Toyota and BMW. (emphasis added)

      That’s not a bailout, and it doesn’t prove that Ford would have gone bankrupt without the money. Unless the government bailed out Toyota and BMW.  

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      geeber, Ford took 4 times more than anyone else.  And, they were the only firm that lied to the public.  I did not see anyone else that took money tell the public that they were a super hero because they did not take any money.  Who would ever deal with a dishonest firm.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      JJ99…..geeber asked you for some links or a solid source to back your claims. Sooooo….we are waiting.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Irrelevant. The money was simply given to the finance units of MANY companies – including, as seen from the quote above, Toyota and BMW – to tide them over until the worst of the financial crisis had passed. Ford and the others have paid back the money with interest, so this is not a bailout.

      And, like mikey, I’m still waiting for that link that proves Ford filed for bankruptcy.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      geeber, Ford would have filed for bankruptcy, except the government showed up with 16 billion + 5 billion in enery loans + more.

      And, Ford had the nerve to get on the media claiming they took no bailout money.  They did it the old fashioned way.  Dishonest.

      Now, Ford tells us their cars are as good or better than Toyota or Honda.  Consumer Reports shows the Ford brand ranks below every Toyota and Honda brand in quality.  Who do you think is telling the truth? 

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      This is incorrect. Ford would not have filed for bankruptcy if the government had not provided this financing – unless you are prepared to say that BMW and Toyota would have filed for bankruptcy, too.

      Your original claim was that Ford filed for bankruptcy. I have not yet seen a link from you proving this. Now you are saing that Ford “might” have filed for bankruptcy, which is nothing more than your opinion. It is not based on facts.

      This was not “bailout” money. Ford and the other companies have paid back this money, and the government actually made a profit on it (because it charged interest).

      Calling it a “bailout” doesn’t make it so.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      sure geeber.  knock 22 billion off their balance sheet and watch what happens.  bankrupt.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    On weekends I generally spend very little time online, and after reading all these comments, I can only add and reinforce the general drift of what many are saying: The other carmakers have more-or-less caught up with Toyota to the point that buying a Toyota strictly based on their perceived/actual quality isn’t the big draw it used to be. They still make excellent cars, but so do the majority of the others. The biggest quality question mark in my mind would be Chrysler, but are they really that bad? Who cares about bland, are they reliable, decent cars, or not?

    In the end, it all comes down to what attracts you, what turns you on, “bland” styling or not. Even though I’m not a big fan of Ford, I can’t argue that the Fusion is one of the finest autos in the world, and I would buy one. Even though I prefer GM products in recent years, I no longer believe in “brand loyalty”, as too much has changed and Ford has really earned my respect. I want to respect Chrysler, but I’m still waiting to see what happens to them and if their transmissions and engines hold up.

    It all comes down to personal preference and what range of choices that fit your wallet the best.

    I know I’m probably parroting what everyone else has already said, but there’s my best shot!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    My buddy and I test drove several compact and mid size sedans this past weekend before the snow hit. On our list: 2010 leftover new Camry LE 2.5 automatic with light gray mouse fur cloth interior, 2011 Carolla with 1.8 and 4 speed automatic and light tan mouse fur cloth interior, 2011 Chevy Cruze LT with 6 speed automatic, 1.4 turbo and charcoal sport cloth interior, 2011 Hyundai Sonata base wiht option pkg with 6 speed automatic and charcoal sport cloth interior and last but not least a 2011 Ford Fusion SE with charcoal cloth seat interior and 6 speed automatic/2.5 engine. If consumers first test drive the Cruze, Sonata or Fusion Toyota may be in serious trouble. Any of these 3 competitors are much preferable over the two bland volume selling Toyota models in most every way. It was amazing how much more refined and sporty driving the Cruze was compared to the Carolla and the 1.4 turbo felt like it would blow away the 1.8. Notice the higher mileage ratings as well. The Sonata drove much nicer than the Camry, was roomier, quicker, just as quiet and had an interior that was better put together. The 35 highway mileage rating and 10/100 warranty were feathers in it’s cap. The Fusion felt like a Corvette in comparison to the old fart Camry with much more athletic responses, sportier steering and a far more planted feel around corners. The Fusions dash was also superior and you just got to love Sync. The Camrys 2.5/6 speed powertrain did impress us however wiht it’s better than expected performance and the much improved shift quality of the new 6 speed automatic which was newly paired with the larger displacement 2.5 in 2010. The surprise was that the Carmy we test drove was a leftover 2010 volume selling LE model with gray exterior. The same dealer also had a 2010 leftover Camry hybrid in green and several 2010 Tundra pickups. This was the first time I ever saw leftover Toyota models so far into the year and slams home the still lingering doubt some consumers have with 2010 Toyota recalled products.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Fact is Consumer Reports shows every Toyota and Honda brand scored better in reliability than every Detroit brand. ”

    And we all know how accurate that data is!………..LOL

  • avatar
    carve

    I have an ’11 Malibu as a rental right now.  Awful to drive- everything is novicane numb and unresponsive.  However, it’s much better than the last Camry I rented.  MUCH better.  The engine is smooth and the interior is WAY more stylish with a much more quality feel (despite the huge a-pillers and ultra-high beltline.

    I’d still take my ’98 Accord manual over either though.  I’ve always thought of that as a boring but good car.  Next to the new Malibu and Camry though, it feels like it has the handling and responsiveness of a BMW.

  • avatar
    governmentmotors

    The “truth about Toyota’s current  sales challenges are plain and simple, and nothing more. The government bully tactics that forced Toyota to conduct the recalls and the storm of subsequent  negative media coverage by the Liberal Toyota hating media are the only reason for sales challenges. A massive recall for 13 sticky accelerators in over 4 million vehicles? Are you kidding me? A recall for floormats? If someone puts floormats on top of floormats or the wrong kind of floor mat in a vehicle, or does not properlyinstall the floor mat, who is to blame? Kind of like installing a fuel filter wrong, then the fuel leaks and causes a fire. Ford had the same issue in the Spring with the Fusion mats. Their response? “In the owners manual its states…..” The floor mat issue could happen in any vehicle.Toyota has the safest vehicles in the industry. First full line mfr with VSC standard on all vehicles. More airbags per vehicle then any other mfr. Safest mini-van. More NHSTA 5 star reatings then any other full line mfr. Ya see, the government and specificaaly this current administration wants their money back (prop GM and Chrysler and create demand for there products by bashing Toyota). And this administration is rewarding the UAW for the millions contributed to the campaigns. Don’t believe me? Who was on those investigative panels that grilled the Toyota executives? Stupak D- Michigan, Dingle D-Michigan, Rockefeller D- West Virginia, Sutton-D Ohio, Waxman-D California. All have domestic auto plants in there districts. Waxman was really mad because Toyota pulled out of his district. He even made the connection between the hearings and the notion of Toyota possibly staying. GM was the company that started that closure. NOT TOYOTA. Toyota quality declining? Lets see….. Consumer Reports “how vehicles age through time” problems per 100 vehicles, After 3 years most manufacturers have 50% more problems per 100 vehicles then Toyota ( that would be a 2007 model). After 5 years most manufacturers have twice the number of problems per 100 vehicles as Toyota. After 10 years, Toyota vehicles on average have the same number of problems per 100 vehicles as most manufacturers have with there 5, thats right FIVE year old vehicles! See Consumer Reports, April 2010. Need more prof of Toyota’s great continued build quality? The latest Consumer Reports Auto issue (December). “TOYOTA DOMINATES THE RELIABILITY RATINGS”.  How about the Consumer Reports annual Report Card. Toyota came in 2nd place behind Subaru, beating Nissan Hyundai, GM, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Chrysler and all the rest. The point here? Toyota sold 1.8 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota sold more Corollas then the entire Subaru brand. Toyota sold nearly twice as many as Honda. Over Twice as many as Hyundai and Nissan. Toyota stomped BMW and Mercedes. And remember 1.8 million vehicles. 2.6 million in 2008. Are real competitors, Ford, GM and Chrysler? Those manufacturers were at the bottom. And oh, they build just as many vehicles as Toyota.  Oh, don’t want to believe CU? How about JD Power and associates 3 year dependability studies? Toyota rankedin the top 3, that’s right top 3 in 12 out of 19 segments. MORE THEN ANY OTHER mfr. So….You tell me where Toyota’s quality has taken a hit? Is Toyota perfect? No. However when the company recognizes a problem, the customer gets taken care of. 3 liter head gaskets in the 90s. Tacoma frames. Tundra frames. I could go on and on (and trust me I know, I have worked with eight other manufacturers who would laugh or choke on how Toyota takes care of their customers. No other  automoblie manufacturer stands behind there product like Toyota. Toyota is a world class company, like John Deere, Catapilar, and Boeing.  Look at BMW with their latest fuel pump issues. Look at the Cobalt steering issues (went on for years before GM acknowledged).  Toyota styling bland? in some models, ok. But not the entire line-up. The Camry, while not the flashiest, looks like a nice suit. Refined but not to edgy. Tacoma, FJ, 4Runner-rugged. Corolla, Yaris, yea needs much improvement. Tundra, Sequoia, just as aggressive as any F-150, Silverado or Suburban. Yea, Toyota sales are suffering. Thanks to our socialist administration. Hopefully the new Congress with the leadership of John Boehner will turn that ship. Toyota sales will come back stronger then ever. Oh, and one more thing, with the 7 manufacturing plants in this country employing 200,000 people directly and indirectly, U.S built Toyotas have more then 75% parts content. What is the parts content of the Fusion, F-150, Silverado, Ram, or how about the newest from government motors, the new Cruze? P.S The new Cruze is a Daewoo/Opel designed engineered vehicle, assembled in Ohio. Just think, the American taxpayers funded the engineering and design of this vehicle, paying foreign workers. Daewoo=Korea, Opel=Germany.

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