By on August 22, 2012

 

Some say reviewing cars is an unglamorous dead-end job, and the only benefits are free gas and canapés. That impression is up for review on hearing that Nissan hired the senior auto reviewer for Consumer Reports magazine.

David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, quits his job to work at Nissan’s vehicle testing center in Arizona as the executive adviser on vehicle quality, Bloomberg reports. The fact that Champion has prior experience as a Nissan engineer from 1994 to 1997 should dash premature hopes of car reviewing bloggers for an executive career on the dark side.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

33 Comments on “Nissan Hires Champion Car Reviewer...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    No doubt Mr. Champion has the chops! I wonder just how objective Mr. Champion can be now that Nissan is once again paying his salary and compensation.

    It’s one thing to be working for Consumer Reports, a publication widely believed to be an organization whose ratings cannot be bought.

    It is quite a different ballgame when having to review or influence the products of your employer that are hampered by financial considerations and constraints and out of necessity are a compromise of “quality for the money”.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Is he still working for Consumer Reports on the side? If so, I agree that it would be a conflict of interest when reviewing Nissan cars.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      He doesn’t have to be objective. He works for Nissan now. He doesn’t work for Consumer Reports anymore. He doesn’t write for Consumer Reports anymore. Yes, having someone writing for Consumer Reports while being paid by Nissan would bring his objectivity into question…but, since that is not happening, you can stop worrying about it.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I apologize for going a little off topic (but not much) in advance, but does anyone here have (or have you had) an Altima?

        I drove in an Altima that was given to a co-worker as a loaner while their car was in for a warranty repair and I was astonished at what a POS it was.

        I haven’t driven in a Nissan product in a really long time, but honestly, that car had a terribly cheap interior, was loud, rode like shit and was gutless. I realize it was the 4 banger and a stripper loaner, but given that Consumer Reports gushes over it, it just surprised me- a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        +1

        I agree (!!!!) with DeadWeight.

        The last-gen Altima had one of the crappiest interior I had ever seen. Hopefully the new one fixes that bit. :)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @DeadWieght

        I’ve had every variant and trim level of Altima as rentals in past couple years, pretty crappy car overall. The sad part is the Maxima is pretty much exactly the same, just more expensive. And even sadder it I STILL prefer the Altima to the Camry!

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Thanks for the confirmation. It helps me whenever I think it’s possible that I’m not being objective in my perceptions.

        For the most part, I find Consumer Reports helpful and that it provides useful information in terms of reliability and road tests, but it’s not infallible, and I catch it going off the rails on a crazy train every so often.

        Praising the Altima and lauding it as a top pick among family cars, stroking the Subaru Impreza as a top pick among compact sedans, and a long, long time ago, not recommending nor giving the red circle of reliability to a GM product that was exactly the same as a Toyota product, with both vehicles rolling off the same assembly line in California, are three such crazy train moments.

        The Altima isn’t just not the head of the class in its segment, based on my 25 minute ride in it, it’s very much towards the tail.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I have a 2009 Altima hybrid and my impressions do not mirror those just posted. Mine is part of my work compensation so I have no bias as a buyer might. The interior is cheap in places; the lower you look the cheaper it is. But the dash and wheel are more than class competitive. It is fast enough and out handles it competitors. It is far more engaging than Malibu, Camry, Accord, and last gen Fusion (never drove the new Fusion). One repair in 50K for a TPMS sensor. The Altima is far from a crappy car. Anybody in the market for a car in this class is doing themselves a disservice if they don’t test drive one. I am not thrilled with the styling of Nissans these days, and the new Altima is not changing my mind either. Loud, gutless and rides like crap? Really? I’d like to know what you consider so much better…Jetta? Maybe handles better but the interior is trash. Subaru? Better interior but certainly not better dynamics. Mazda 6? That’s the loud choice…

      • 0 avatar
        Georgewilliamherbert

        I got Altimas … two plus times in the rental car lottery when I was working in 2010 in Southern California. Neither impressed me.

      • 0 avatar
        carr1on

        I don’t get the Altima hate. I’ve had two S models and thought they were very reliable work cars. I never had either in for repairs in 6 years. In 2007, when my kid turned 17, I bought her a 1997 Altima GLE manual with 180K miles for $2500. Car was still running the last time I saw it in 2010 (she sold it for a newer car)*.
        The reviews of the Altima have been consistently positive for years. Isn’t it the car that saved Nissan in the 90’s?

        * The 1997 model did need a new fuel pump, and alternator during our tenure.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        See, perhaps this is where we disagree – if I buy a BRAND NEW CAR, I don’t praise it for “only having one repair in 50,000 miles” – I expect it won’t need ANY repairs.

        Not having to replace your engine in the first four years of ownership doesn’t at all make your car reliable, or ahead of the pack.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Deadweight, I had, and still have, an Altima, but it’s a ’95 model. I’ve rented two 2008 (4th generation) Altimas, and they don’t seem as well put together, the mouse hair looks cheaper and the fake wood in the ’95 is much higher quality than the fake wood in the ’08.

        The 4-banger is, in fact, loud, and sluggish if you’ve been driving a V6 lately, but despite increased HP, the 4th generation 2.5 with the CVT is maddeningly slow compared to the original 1993-97 2.4 with a 4-speed auto, let alone the 5-speed manual then available.

        The Altima was originally a sort of upscale replacement for the compact Sentra, and was so light the I4 and Auto-4speed were acceptable, and the ride decent. With the manual, it was actually fun to drive!

        The latest 4th generation you probably experienced has been stretched to midsize class and weight that makes the I4/CVT totally inadequate. Even with the V6, it’s too heavy and the CVT sucks any fun that could be wrung from it.

        The Altima is now a midsized appliance meant to compete with Camcords, nothing more.

  • avatar
    Gannet

    The cited article isn’t clear, but one would assume that if he was hired by Nissan he resigned from Consumer Reports.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “The staff at CR has concluded that in all our unbiased, independent testing criteria, we strongly recommend the entire Nissan line of cars. Red dots across the board for all models – and for older Nissan models back to 2008…”

    -Mr. Champion

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Yup. I think you’re on to something there.

      And I’ll bring up another piece of evidence.

      CR can’t recommend the 2012 Honda Civic, which means that they put the Nissan Sentra above the Civic.

      I smell something rotten here, and suddenly CR’s luster of being unbiased has some tarnish on it.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Once again some of the “B&B” lack reading comprehension. From the article:

        “David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, quits his job to work at Nissan’s vehicle testing center in Arizona…”

        Notice the “QUITS HIS JOB” part?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Once again some of the ‘B&B’ lack reading comprehension.”

        No, Toad is assuming that Mr. Champion was motivated to trash the Civic, so that he could land his new job at Nissan.

        As a GM loyalist, Toad believes that it’s his duty to regard Consumer Reports as his enemy. He will bellyache about CR every chance that he gets.

        What Toad misses is that it’s smart for a company such as Nissan to hire a guy who understands what can be done to improve product quality. If Nissan wants to compete with Honda, Toyota and Hyundai, then it’s in Nissan’s best interest to be more consistent with its product reliability. I would take this hire as a signal that Nissan may be planning to raise its game.

      • 0 avatar
        ppxhbqt

        Sounds more like a bias on YOUR part than CR’s. The Sentra didn’t exactly get gushing praise from CR and managed only a 74 test score. The SE-R Spec did even worse, with a 66. It’s not like it was their highest rated car. But still it was faster than the Civic, rode better, and was quieter. The rear seat was more comfortable, the controls were easier to use, and while not great, had better fit and finish. The trunk held more luggage and while both had sucky brakes, the Nissan’s were slightly better. The Honda’s only clear advantages were mileage and avoidance speed. Where’s the bias in rating the Nissan higher, if not exactly high?

      • 0 avatar
        Gannet

        Ubermensch, you got here late. To the best of my knowledge it didn’t originally say that.

  • avatar
    mattfarah

    Good for Dave C. I love that guy. At a NY Auto show party back in April I asked him about CR’s Fisker (it had just very publicly broken down the week before), and he called it “The worst piece of shit we’ve ever tested.” Straight to the point, that man. I’m sure he will be able to speak his mind to his new bosses at Nissan.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @mattfarah….Sure, and after he speaks his mind to his new bosses, he can go back to working for CR.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Mikey:

        Your cars are multiplying! What, exactly, ARE you driving now? Ha ha!

        We’re down to two: 2002 CR-V and 2012 Impala LTZ. Sold the Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mikey, that was what I was thinking when I wrote my initial comment. Can Mr Champion tell his bosses at Nissan that they make crap products and still hold on to his job?

        The Toad also advances an interesting viewpoint. I can’t see Honda products, no matter how bad they are today, to be any worse than Nissan products, no matter how much they’ve improved today.

        Nissan has the advantage at the price point but when you can sell for less it also means that you were able to cut costs. Nissans are great for rentals, but I’m not sure you’d want to keep them beyond the warranty expiration point.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @highdesertcat, thank you, and spot on. In order to support pch101 condescending and inaccurate position on my beliefs, then one has to conclude that the 2012 Nissan Sentra IS actually better than a 2012 Honda Civic.

        Now how GM got into a discussion between Honda and Nissan is beyond me, just as it is beyond me on how the current Sentra can be held above the current Civic – as flawed (more dated and decontented) as it may be.

        On the other hand, to play Devil’s advocate, and humor pch101 and his petty attack (gee I thought attacking posters and not the message was grounds for immediate banning here on TTAC), CR also puts the current Toyota Corolla over the Civic, which is also, a tad unbelievable.

        But golly gee, perish the thought that someone, anyone in business, especially in the auto industry, would tilt data, just a little bit, to curry a little favor in deciding on their next career path.

        If anything pch101’s thinking I find rather flawed, why would you hire a cheerleader to “step up your game.”

        Wouldn’t you not hire your biggest critics to learn why and drive change? This guy says red dot across the whole line up. That doesn’t sound like, “step up the game,” that sounds like rest on laurels to me.

        [INSERT PERSONAL ATTACK VERSUS MEANINGFUL DEBATE HERE]

        I’m going to pop some popcorn and enjoy the show.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Zackman…..Its too long a story. However when all the dust settled. A new 2SS Camaro,a Mustang and a Cobalt.

        I got the proverbial “offer you couldn’t refuse” I love the Camaro,but I miss my Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        APaGttH, I replied to your comment earlier but it is still awaiting moderation. I didn’t forget about you.

        I didn’t see anything I wrote that was objectionable so we’ll have to await the outcome.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    How will he continue to smear Suzuki in this new role? Will he try 45 times to get a car to roll then, when finally successful, proclaim it as unsafe? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “How will he continue to smear Suzuki in this new role?”

      If you’re referring to the Suzuki Samurai, Consumer Reports performed its rollover test of the Samurai nine years before Champion started working there. I presume that he would have been at Land Rover at the time.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Was it Dave Coleman who ended up working at Mazda? That was another journalist who landed a job with a carmaker.

  • avatar
    catt102

    Nissan doesn’t need to hire an “expert” to diagnose its problems—you’ve read it in the comments above.

    1. Bottom-tier interior quality (see any used 2004-2009 generation 350Z roadster or Altima or 2007-2009 Infiniti G Sedan).

    2. Given the corners cut on things that you can see you have a naggling feeling that Nissan cut corners everywhere you can’t see too.

    My experiences being a passenger in/test driving the 2004-2008 Nissan/Infiniti products have soured me to Nissan—even if they’ve improved their products, I don’t want to bother giving them a second chance.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      No, no, no, no, the Nissan Sentra is vastly better than the Honda Civic – Champion and Consumer Reports says so!!!

      It has to be true.

      HAS TO BE!!!

      crunch, crunch, crunch

      Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…good popcorn

      crunch, crunch, crunch

  • avatar
    hifi

    This seemed almost like a backhanded compliment for domestic small cars. Kind of like “well, they’re finally somewhat appealing, but we’ll see if they really last.” Oddly, he brings up the competition as being the Civic, which is considered to be underdeveloped and universally hated. And he brings up the Mazda 3. I like the 3 a lot, but it’s not regarded as being a reliable car like Corolla or Civic vanilla mobiles.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • el scotto: @ SCE to AUX Sir, you are exactly right. Most vehicles are manufactured with 100’s if not...
  • el scotto: Just nasty, like something unidentifiable and sticking to the bottom of your shoe. Badge-engineered with...
  • ToolGuy: Static shock? Problem solved: https://neptunic.com/products/ sharksuits
  • Corey Lewis: Jaguar is bad about that. They’ll tell you it’s a Performance S with 310 horsepower, but not...
  • zerofoo: “and the lack of bullet trains and other public transportation alternatives is causing our freeways to...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber