By on May 21, 2015

2015 Buick Encore

If someone mentions the name Buick, a certain image is conjured: comfortable, plush, American motoring just on the blue-collar side of luxury. Buicks used to be the working man’s Cadillac, an association doctors leveraged when making house calls. After all, showing up in a Cadillac would really show the patient how much you were about to screw them upon leaving the bill on the nightstand.

But, in more recent times, Buick has become more of a Chevrolet+. Taut suspensions, journo brown interiors and lukewarm engine choices. Oh, and there’s the Encore, a cute ute powered by one of the roughest, smallest engines you can buy in North America. What gives?

Before people start thinking I’m on a General Motors focused tirade, there are a number of other marques out there as well that have seemingly “lost their way.”

Honda, for instance, used to be a technical powerhouse of gung-ho engineers turning efficiency into fun. Instead, we are given the CR-Z to chew on for years instead of a properly fun hatchback to act as the spiritual successor to the CRX.

Suzuki was another company that lost its appeal with customers as they chased larger and larger models. Sure, the Grand Vitara wasn’t a bad truck and the driving dynamics embodied by the Kizashi were fairly spot on. But, when the Samurai and Sidekick died, Suzuki abandoned the segment they were best known for: rough, tumble, pure off-roaders that were dead simple to own and operate.

Which manufacturer do you think has most lost its way?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

190 Comments on “QOTD: Which Manufacturer Has Most Lost Its Way?...”


  • avatar
    John R

    Mitsu.

    At least the Mitsubishi I remember from the 90s. The one with the GSX. The one that made the 3000GT (GTO) and that made the Pajero Evo (http://goo.gl/03odgn).

    The one that made the Lan Evo IV drifting around Hong Kong with Jackie Chan (or some stunt driver pretending to be Jackie Chan) behind the wheel.

    To me THAT Mitsubishi was Subaru with testicles.

    But then they had to go chasing Accords and Camrys because that’s where the money is at. How’s that working out, Mitsu?

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      Agreed. Don’t forget the Conquest TSI (Starion) which paved the way for the first-gen Eclipse GSX…both cutting edge cars for their day.

      Coincidentally, my brother and I were just reliving the triumphs of these cars yesterday.

      • 0 avatar
        Dawnrazor

        I’d love to find a Starion/Conquest in good condition. One of the most underrated cars of the 80s, and is very rarely seen on the road today.

        I had a ’94 Talon TSI for a few years, and I’d place it high on the list of favorite cars I’ve owned. It wasn’t screwed together quite as well as my friend’s ’92 Prelude, but was more fun and did not end up having any signifcant reliability problems.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Don’t forget Mitsubishi’s very strong offroad prowess, with the Dakar winning Pajero (Montero) and globally respected L200 4wd pickup. I saw some of the gen IV Monteros in Mexico, some really sharp trucks. Kind of a range rover-ish vibe but less ostentatious. I’m forever scheming to pick up a gen III that they sold here in the US (01-06), the one with the unibody construction with independent suspension front and rear (of Dakar fame). Sadly all too many have been banished to BHPH lots owing to their low resale.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Mitsubishi is a good example. They’ve become so conservative and sedate it’s pathetic, and they announced that they were castrating the EVO, their only respected nameplate. It took them less than 24hrs to realize how dumb their decision was, and they retracted. They’ve also abandoned the offroad segment.

      Confused leadership.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Yeah, Mitsubishi is kind of sad. They made some great vehicles in the 80s/90s, they were competitive with Nissan/Toyota/Honda. They sold fairly well enough.

        It seems like around the turn of the century they just stopped caring/trying and flushed away all of their hard work/legacy by not updating their vehicles to keep them competitive.

        Today, Mitsu should be where Subaru and Mazda are. Producing reliable vehicles that are class competitive.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    BMW! From purveyor of “the Ultimate Driving Machine”, to peddler of the “American Status Symbol” (ASS!).

    BMW rightfully made it’s reputation in the 1960s and 70s with sedans that outperformed not just their peer competitors, but “sports” cars, while being fuel-efficient, reliable, and comfortable. In short, a BMW was the best way to go from point A to B in the least time using the least fuel.

    This continued thru the 2000s, (except for the 325e and 528e with a low-revving six worthy of a Maverick or Pacer). BMWs were worth the extra cost. No more.

    Now, the performance gap has narrowed, disappeared, or even become a deficit (Cadillac ATS/CTS “out-BMW” BMW), and they sell cross-overs that can’t keep up with Camry V6s.

    Coasting on perception based on past reputation only lasts so long. Ask GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      Agree.

      BMW now represents a rather unappealing blend of douchebaggery and badge whoredom.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        This has always been the case. Are we really going to pretend like folks who bought dirt slow 318i’s in the 80s/90s cared about anything related to driving pleasure? They wanted a cheap ticket into the badge.

        BMW has always had a keen understanding of its customer base and adapts quickly. BMWs, MBs, Audis, etc have ALWAYS been “American Status Symbols”…. even back in the 70s.

        And BMWs still deliver plenty of value. Look at a 328i. Show me another car with a RWD chassis, room for 5, mid 5 sec 0-60/14 sec flat quarter mile time that returns an honest 25-28 MPG in the real world, and wont completely take a bath on resale?

        This whole “romanticize the past and gripe about the present” deal is so tired. BMW is doing what it has always done… make cars its customers want, and build status symbols. Anyone who disagrees is just in denial

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          +100 sportyaccordy

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Yep – sportaccordy nailed it. folks need to quit worrying about what people think of their purchase. Buy what you like. Drive it with your brain turned on.

            I get the original commenter’s point though.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          A Dodge Charger R/T represents nearly the exact same value as a 328 from a TCO standpoint.

          The 328 will depreciate more, but the Charger uses more fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            Reino

            Come on. The Charge R/T is a midsize with a V8. The equivalent BMW is the 550i. I recently shopped this segment (used). The Pontiac G8 was also on my list. All have similar specs, but one drive in the BMW made up my mind. There is no comparison. Cadillac is getting there, and Mercedes will always be an option, but everything else is far, far behind.

            Also–yes the people who lease the low-end 3 series are probably ‘badge whores’–but they’re the reason BMW can profit and continue to make great performance cars.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Thank you, Sportyaccordy, that is a dead-on assessment.

          For every buyer of an M3/M4 who is interested in the vehicle and not the badge there will be three others picking up 320 and 328 lease specials for $329/month for 36 months with $1,599 down.

          And, for every 320 lease special buyer there will be one or two enthusiasts who pick up a 320 M-Sport MT6 because it ticks all the right boxes.

          Good companies know how to maximize their profit. The key is in ensuring that they don’t dilute the brand.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            If I had a dollar for every time I was yelling at an M3 to “get your Ultimate Driving Machine out of my way!” or “learn to drive that thing!”… I’d … have enough money to buy lunch?

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “And BMWs still deliver plenty of value. Look at a 328i.”

          yes, look at it. A 4cyl $50k sedan when optioned the same way as a $20k Hyundai. Tons of value.

          Not saying I want the Hyundai, but “value” and “BMW” in the same sentence is laughable.

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            “A 4cyl $50k sedan when optioned the same way as a $20k Hyundai. Tons of value.

            Not saying I want the Hyundai, but “value” and “BMW” in the same sentence is laughable.”

            You and I both know this is a matter of perspective. For me, the 3 series is a great value when you consider capabilities and dynamics. I am not intending to bad-mouth Hyundai here, but I will gladly pay more to get away from a mainstream Hyundai and to get more performance.

            Also, a 328i STARTS at $37k. $50k is certainly possible, but you are checking a lot of options. it can easily be done for $40k.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            You and I both know this is a matter of perspective. For me, the 3 series is a great value when you consider capabilities and dynamics. I am not intending to bad-mouth Hyundai here, but I will gladly pay more to get away from a mainstream Hyundai and to get more performance.”

            BMW has gotten more expensive and dynamically worse with the F30. The whole “pay a ton for dynamic perfection” thing is long gone. Now it’s “pay a ton for vinyl seats and mushy suspension, or a ton + 20% to fix those things.”

            “Also, a 328i STARTS at $37k. $50k is certainly possible, but you are checking a lot of options. it can easily be done for $40k.”

            You’re checking a lot of options for things standard on other cars, like leather, heated seats, HIDs, sunroof, BT audio, etc etc etc. Let’s not pretend like the jump from $37 to $50 is built on whale scroat interiors and Paint-to-Sample. It’s built on getting things that should be standard on the $37k version.

          • 0 avatar
            Shinoda is my middle name

            Agreed. BMW jumped the shark long before this, but when you need to pump engine noise through the speakers to ‘enhance the driving experience’, well….that’s descending into absurdity.

          • 0 avatar
            Marone

            BMW has gotten more expensive and dynamically worse with the F30. The whole “pay a ton for dynamic perfection” thing is long gone. Now it’s “pay a ton for vinyl seats and mushy suspension, or a ton + 20% to fix those things.”

            I don’t think anyone is saying the new F30 is the same dynamically as the predecessors. It’s still a great all around value for the money and that’s really the key. It is a well rounded, great package. I’d gladly pay more not to have to drive a Hyundai. You can’t tell me that thing has any positive dynamics.

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            “I don’t think anyone is saying the new F30 is the same dynamically as the predecessors.”

            Bingo. It’s still a great car, but not what it was. I was shopping a new car last year and was set on a new M4 and was even considering waiting out for an M2. Trust me, after initial reports, I went with a 911 instead. I get that BMW dynamics have been in decline. It’s too bad because my BMWs have always been very rewarding, very reliable, and a blast to drive. They were a great value and I always did well with resale.

            I have hopes though. I continue to hear good things about the M235. I think the M2 has potential. I am very interested in the new 435i with the ZHP package which may very well be an enthusiast collectors car. Unfortunately, the dynamic, enthusiast BMW cars are now reserved for the top end instead of being spread through the product line.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            What $20K Hyundai has RWD, 4 real seats and 5 possible ones and a 14 second flat quarter mile?

            If what you value are heated seats and BT and other content like that, cool. But don’t claim that since BMW doesn’t offer that stuff standard they don’t offer ANYTHING for the money. A base or even $50K 3 series is a higher value proposition than its ever been, and BMW’s resale values and subsidized leases keep the TCO comparable to cheaper, “better equipped” alternatives.

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            “Dynamics are easily fixed with $1500 or so worth of Bilstein products. The inadequacies of the 335i’s competition are not fixable.”

            Sportyaccord – check out the ZHP package for the 335; includes: track handling package, limited slip, M performance package, HP and torque gain, lightweight performance exhaust, and still comes in a manual. Last time BMW offered a ZHP package, it because a very desireable set up. Not that I’m shopping at the moment, but the fact that BMW offers a package like this for enthusiasts gives me hope!

            Undersatnd some won’t pay that because it isn’t important to them, but I would in a heartbeat over a Hyundai.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @sportyaccordy;
            All Hyundai Genesis models meet your criteria.
            The R Spec Sedan has a 13.1 second 1/4 mile.

            For the price of a fully loaded 3 series you could probably buy a fully loaded R spec Genesis and a another decent vehicle as your daily driver or off roader.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            “check out the ZHP package for the 335; includes: track handling package, limited slip, M performance package, HP and torque gain, lightweight performance exhaust, and still comes in a manual.”

            Don’t get your hopes up, BMW is only going to build 100 435i ZHPs, so it is practically a non-entity.

        • 0 avatar
          Frylock350

          You had me until you started insinuating that a 3-series somehow has room for 5. It doesn’t. Yes there’s technically 5 seatbelts, but 3 adults do not fit with anything resembling comfort. Anyhow, considering the massive cost of a 3-series here’s a few cars that will meet those requirements.

          Perfect Matches

          Dodge Charger R/T. Fantastic performance, 7-series interior room, and the V8 models are better than BMW for resale. Hell considering the price of various 3-series I might as well throw the SRT8 in here as well.

          Dodge Challenger Scat Pack. 470hp. If the 3-series is a 5-seater than so is this.

          Ford F150 3.5TT or Chevy Silverado 6.2L. Both of these will deliver the required performance and will retain resale value no BMW has ever dreamed of and will still be trucking along long after the BMW is junked. Both can be acquired for less than a typical 328.

          Subaru WRX. Its AWD, but it’ll keep a 328 in its rear view pretty confidently.

          Here’s a few that are almost there but are FWD
          Honda Accord V6
          Chevrolet Impala V6
          Acura TSXLR whatever
          Ford Focus ST

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            You had me until you started insinuating that a 3-series somehow has room for 5.

            Of course it will fit 5. The new generation 3 series is even more spacious than the previous. I’ve done it whne I owned a 3 series. Unless those adults are…well proportioned, it can easily be done. The three series is also known for having more rear legroom than almost all the cars in it’s class.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            And the F-150 is RWD – and we know that’s Magical Special Sauce, right?

            You know, I loved RWD in my 300D.

            I like being zippy.

            But it’s 2015.

            RWD doesn’t actually matter to something like 98% of even the people who *buy RWD sport sedans*.

            BMW means more money for a roundel and nickle-and-dime option insults, even if they have the best ACC knob in the world, which I believe they might.

            Pass.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          “Show me another car with a RWD chassis, room for 5, mid 5 sec 0-60/14 sec flat quarter mile time that returns an honest 25-28 MPG in the real world, and wont completely take a bath on resale?”

          How about the IS/GS 350? It may well be that there are few, if any, people left in the Venn Diagram overlap area of driving enthusiasts and people with the means to buy a new BMW. But the driving experience used to be BMW’s value proposition, and now that they’re building a less reliable Lexus, I really don’t see any reason not to just buy a Lexus. And before you tell me that the Lexus is not designed for the enthusiast, go drive one. The F-Sport cars are better than the BMWs on that front, if you can tolerate an automatic.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Lexus 350s get about 20-23MPG combined in the real world. They also are automatic only. For the practical luxury buyer the BMW wins on fuel economy. For the enthusiast the BMW wins on transmission choices. I don’t care how good the dynamics are of an ATS/IS. If I am plunking down $50K for a sport sedan, I want 6 cylinders and a stickshift. A 335i with navi squeezes in just under 50K with navi and some other bits. Dynamics are easily fixed with $1500 or so worth of Bilstein products. The inadequacies of the 335i’s competition are not fixable.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “If I am plunking down $50K for a sport sedan, I want 6 cylinders and a stickshift.”

            If I’m spending $50k on one, I’m getting a V8 Genesis, and not hating myself in traffic or caring that my fuel economy is Not As Good.

            Because anyone that can afford a $50k car *has no business obsessing over fuel economy* at that level.

            Do you drive 100,000 miles a year or something that the difference between 22 and 28 on the highway *matters*?

            (I drive an F250 sometimes. Talk to me about how important it is that your $50k sedan get over 22mpg.

            I will laugh at you.)

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            A V8 Genesis is hardly a sports sedan. And the 335i gets about 22-23 MPG. Not great but tolerable. The idea that someone who buys a $50K car all of a sudden stops caring about money or consumables is a red herring. If there are 2 $50K cars that are comparable, but one has 50% worse gas mileage than the other, why shouldn’t one be “allowed” to factor that into their decision? Because you don’t have $50K to spend on a car?

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “A V8 Genesis is hardly a sports sedan. And the 335i gets about 22-23 MPG. Not great but tolerable. The idea that someone who buys a $50K car all of a sudden stops caring about money or consumables is a red herring. If there are 2 $50K cars that are comparable, but one has 50% worse gas mileage than the other, why shouldn’t one be “allowed” to factor that into their decision? Because you don’t have $50K to spend on a car?”

            Because you basically just cherry picked stats to try and ensure a 328i/335i was the only possible answer, for whatever reason. It’s transparent. You want to like and buy and prefer BMWs, fine, whatever, but don’t pretend that they’re the ultimate because they fit a scenario you outlined to build a BMW.

        • 0 avatar
          cpthaddock

          There’s a distinct uptick of increasingly shrill, indignant defense of BMW when these questions come up.

          A lot of the BMW bashing has similar roots to Honda bashing. Both companies have seen peaks that set them on top of the world.

          Both companies are still very successful and sell large quantities of vehicles.

          Both companies are in need of tough love and are capable of doing very much better.

        • 0 avatar
          Synchromesh

          Oh please. A WRX is a much better car than a 328 for much less money. 0-60 in mid 4s, awd which is far more useful than rwd everywhere but the South, and the knowledge that you can keep your car past warranty because sustaining it won’t require a second mortgage.

          It’s too bad Subaru lost the hatchback version which had greater utility but the sedan is still an easy buy over the overpriced 328.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Audi not so much (during the 1970s-80s) and even during the 1980s, BMWs were known more as the “yuppie” brand than being a bona fide competitor to Mercedes.

          And yes, BMW has kinda lost its way but they were giving most of the market what it wanted – larger/more room and more amenities which translates to more weight.

          The new BMW sedans (starting with the 7 Series) should keep the size/room (if not slightly increase it) but lose a good bit of weight which should bring back a lot of the driving dynamics.

          Another area where BMW has lost it is in design – BMWs used to have clean, masculine designs, but now most have weird/derpy front clips (the worst being the pre-refresh 1 Series hatch).

          Aside from the i8 (which has a traditional-looking BMW front end), only really like the X5 design-wise.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        BMW has always been about snobbery that happens to drive well. Nothings changed – you can still get your little street racer with the 1 series.

        The douche club from 20 years ago has gravitated to Audis.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Yes they went from “Ultimate Driving Machine” to “Efficient Dynamic – for your driving pleasure”

    • 0 avatar
      montyz81

      Well if BMW has lost their way then Infiniti is deep in the woods without a GPS or Compass. Infinti uses BMW as a benchmark (as do most manufacturers, but Infiniti in particular). Q50 is not a G37 they way it should be. Funny how they have to take the steering system out of the G37 to improve the Q50 for next year. Q60 will hopefully clear a path in the forrest. Q70 is now so old people think it is retro. All QXs are in desperate need of refresh. This company has a revolving door of leadership so the plan to turn them around keeps getting moved out to the point nobody cares. I am quite frankly amazed that the sales numbers have increased this year. They need to get new product out the door on every single model to become relevant again! BTW, I am a NMC fanboy, I have a 280zx, a G37 and a Pathfinder so before anyone goes off the rails on my comments, I am very well versed (as much as the public can be) on Nissan’s product plans for the future.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        I think Infiniti and Nissan collectively have lost their way. Their savior is the leftover G37/Q40 and the QX80. I have had a Nissan vehicle in my stable since 1997. I still do, but the desire to replace them with new Nissan vehicles isn’t there.

        I believe almost all foreign mfg’s have dropped in quality over the last ten years with the exception of Hyundai/Kia.

        American car quality – I can’t tell. Every year they are back, better than before, then stuff starts falling off.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Same here. I look at Nissan and I see Japanese quality that’s turned to Renault junk, driver’s cars that have turned to uninvolving mush like the Altima and Sentra, and a product line that lacks continuity and consistency with weird failed science experiments like the Juke and Cross-Cabriolet or whatever they call that mess.

          The world didn’t need another carmaker with GM’s disinterest in quality, driving pleasure, and cars in general as opposed to the sport of Le Cost Cutting. I adored my old 4DSC. They have nothing for me now.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Nissan used to be the “sporty” Japanese brand (remember the Sentra SE-R being the “poor man’s” 3 Series?).

          Now, we get the Versa sedan, boring Sentra, Altima, etc.

          But think Nissan is starting to turn things around – the new Rogue is nice and new Maxima seems promising.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I don’t think BMW has lost it’s way. It is adapting and expanding. Maybe off the path a bit on some of it’s models. Look at recent models, the M235, the 1M, the M3/4, and the upcoming M2. These are all great performance cars and highly capable. Even the i8 gets great reviews and from what I’ve heard the i3 is generally positive.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      BMW is delivering models to a wider swath of the car buying public and it’s doing great things for their bottom line. People have already mentioned the available enthusiast products which are very good.

      Yes, the competition is catching up and in some areas surpassing them. The Camaro SS 1LE was I believe, .6 seconds slower during C&D’s last Lightning Lap and previous to that was faster than the E9X M3. And remember, that’s the 1LE which costs about 25k less than the M. The ZL1, which is in an entirely different performance category, while still being ten grand less than the BMW would show the German tail lights.

      But here’s the rub. A BMW is a BMW. The badge has a lot of cachet and for some people that’s enough. It’s not a black or white thing. It’s variable shades of grey.

      If you want to sample some of the best road going (and offroad) BMWs, look thee to two wheels. The S1000RR and S1000R are outstanding. As a bonus their prices are inline with the competition and in some ways represent an better value.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree. BMW hasn’t lost its way. Sure, the glory days of the lightweight, purist cars that everyone remembers (with rose-tinted glasses) are gone, and the brand’s lineup is rampant with all number of four-door coupes, but the brand has a strong marketing strategy that is working out. And there is some bark behind the bite, since the cars are still quite sporting.

      BMW has headed a *new* way.

    • 0 avatar
      Veee8

      I agree but I think that BMW will further lose their way – we are staring to see it now with the brands ever expanding model line, they seem to be getting by only on brand perception of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” I cannot see that staying with the volumes they now produce and the ever increasing competition out there…It is similar to Volvo in which safety is now part of every other brand and not synonymous with Volvo anymore.

      Old faves
      E39 M5, V70R – now just a memory…

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I’m not the world’s biggest fan of what BMW is doing, saturating their line-up but clearly the market wants it. What the market wants, the market gets. All of the Gran GT Coupe type-vehicles seem to be selling fairly well so clearly there is demand.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        But Volvo, despite their wishes, was never an aspirational brand.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “But Volvo, despite their wishes, was never an aspirational brand.”

          They sure as hell were to the low-born like me. I supsect you were rather young or not yet around in the late ’70s/early ’80s.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @RideHeight, let me add an “amen”. If you grew up in a family where no one had a college education and everyone was driving used Chevy/Ford/Pontiac/Oldsmobile then Volvo represented the highly educated and the earning power that an education could bring, at a minimum being solidly middle class.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Couldn’t say it better, PD. Volvos represented the entire constellation of good things embodied in the phrase “to better oneself”.

    • 0 avatar
      ChiCarGuy

      BMW is the first manufacturer I thought of too. Case in point: last week I drove a one year old 228i and a one year old Nissan Altima. The steering on the 228i was completely devoid of any roadfeel and the steering assist was unnatural. The Altima, on the other hand, had beautifully communicative steering. I did not expect that at all, and it only made me appreciate Nissan more and become more frustrated with BMW (this coming from a former BMW CCA member and owner of several in the past). Indeed, my wife’s Mazda 5 minivan is more of an ultimate driving machine than the 228i. And my mother-in-laws’ Lexus RX 370 has better steering feel. Shocking what BMW has devolved into.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Obviously Porsche. Cayenne, Macan, Panamera.

    5 years ago I would have said Alfa Romeo, but they seem to be back on track.

    I would say that the Buick LaCrosse and Enclave are evidence it hasn’t lost its way; it’s just changed direction (which brands do over time).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      If Porsche had “stayed the course” they would have gone out of business. Thousands, if not millions of people would have lost their jobs, and there would be a gaping hole in the marketplace. On top of that, it’s not like Porsche started making the Cayenne/Macan/Panamera etc instead of sports cars… their sports cars are better than ever. So I dont see what Porsche would have gained by not building the cars that ensured their survival, other than the non-monetary approval of some random dude on the internet….

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Porsche? Not at all. If anything they are making great moves. They are giving the buying public what they want, just like every other company out there. Those that are still around that is. The Cayenne, Macan, Panamera are great cars and perform well. Have you ever driven a Panamera on a track? I have and I’m impressed. I would take one in a heartbeat. The 911/Cayman/Boxster are better than ever. This company you claim lost it’s way is producing the amazing Cayman GT4, GT3, and GT3 RS.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Speed3 –

      Disagree, strongly. Porsche has evolved and are not just taking advantage of a market segment, but building performance vehicles based on the kinds of cars that a large segment of the population want to buy. Frankly, while a GT4 sounds like a great second car to me, I would happily take a Cayenne or Macan as a daily, performance driver. Far more practical and useful.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      I find it interesting that Porsche and BMW have essentially done the same thing – yet one constantly gets blasted for it and the other one is seen as having made the smart play.
      Just shows how biased some peoples opinions can be.

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      As much as I despise some of Porsche’s practices, this OEM has hardly lost its way. I’m no fan of SUVs, but if you look at sales, the Cayenne/Macan are keeping the compnay profitable. Now if the company abandons the Boxster/Cayman or the 911, I would agree with you. But that has yet to happen.

      Following the market is not losing your way, that is staying profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Nah. Porsche is making some of their best stuff right now. You might not like or even agree with the triumvirate of all that is unholy, but they’re arguably the best in their segments and they’re making money.

      The 911, Boxster, and Cayman are exceptional sports cars. And let’s not forget the 918. I think Porsche is firing on all cylinders but I was disappointed in their decision not to introduce a car below the Boxster.

      IMO, Porsche’s challenge is maintaining their performance/sporting heritage while increasingly selling more SUVs, CUVs, and sedans. Jack alluded to this but Porsche could become more well known for it’s SUVs than for its sports cars. Keyword there being could.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        The point of a car company is to SELL CARS. Porsche realized this and expanded their lineup. Guess what pays for the cool GT3s R+D? Cayannes. Panameras.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Agreed – Porsche had to move into CUVs and 4-doors if they wanted to remain viable.

        And not only on the driving dynamics front, but the current 911, Boxster and Cayman have really hit it out of the park with regard to design.

        The older Boxster was OK and some of the older 911s kinda blah, but the current designs are great (now if they can only apply the same magic to the rears of the Cayenne and Panamera).

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoom91

      The Cayenne is pretty standard German luxo-SUV (nothing remarkable, very competent but I prefer the X5). Comparing 6-cylinder apples-to-apples). The Macan (base engine), however, wipes the floor with every other compact luxury/sports CUV I can think of. It sounds awesome and feels special. I wasn’t a fan until I got in one.

  • avatar
    redav

    “Honda, for instance, used to be a technical powerhouse of gung-ho engineers turning efficiency into fun. Instead, we are given the CR-Z to chew on for years instead of a properly fun hatchback to act as the spiritual successor to the CRX.”
    – I don’t deny that Honda’s engineering isn’t the same, but don’t blame them for selling products that people want. If the money isn’t in a spiritual successor to the CRX, that’s just the way it is. Mazda has kept the Miata flame alive all these years, but even they admit that there’s practically no money in it.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I can’t fault them for that either, but there was always some fun in the lineup. With the exception of the Accord V6 6MT coupe and the Civic Si, there isn’t anything fun left. Not to mention the Civic Si lost its way in its most recent generation going from the fun, aggressive, revvy K20 to the lazy K24 – if they were going to change anything to compete in the segment as it stands now, they needed a turbo, not .4L extra displacement and zero extra power.

      I understand you don’t need 3 performance compacts (Civic Si, Integra/RSX, Prelude) and it’s better to build the nameplate equity of just a single one, but if you’re going to do it, do it right. On that note, the CR-Z needed a K20-based performance option from the start.

      I’m not going to wax poetic about the return of the S2000 or a worthy successor, but it surprises me that they didn’t think to do more with the X-bone frame like Nissan decided to with their FM architecture.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Except that very few people want the CR-Z.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      There’s not much evidence that ANYONE wanted a CR-Z.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Buick has become more of a Chevrolet+”

    GM didn’t really have a choice, here. In their heyday, Buick could compete with Olds and Cadillac for the Land Yacht market because GM as a whole had as much share as GM, Ford, Chrysler and possibly Honda or Toyota do today. Combined.

    Today, there is no room for anything more than Chevy+. GM can’t really take Chevy downmarket without sullying the brand, and they can’t climb the ladder upmarket with Cadillac stomping on Buick’s fingers.

    The only way Buick could be anything more than Chevy Plus—though frankly I prefer “This decade’s Pontiac”—is if GM manages to take Cadillac up, past Mercedes and into Bentley territory. Considering that they’re having trouble getting play versus Lexus, let alone Mercedes, that seems kind of doubtful.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Buick is Opel with only a couple exceptions. Go to the Opel webpage and compare the models by appearance alone.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        +1.

        Saturn was supposed to fill this role before GM imploded. I’m good with this though. GM has some good products in the rest of the world and why not bring them here as Buicks?

    • 0 avatar

      So let Chevy go Plus and leave Buick in China. Or move Buick up and Cadillac up further.

      Cadillac once played in Rolls-Royce territory, period road tests posted on Curbside Classic bear this out. That should be Cadillac’s goal again…mindful that it will take ten, maybe twenty or more of doing pretty much everything right. Under that scenario, it’s easy to have doubt.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @budda-boom: agree wholeheartedly. Cadillac should move to the top of the market, competing with RR and Bentley. Buick becomes an entry luxury player. Chev is mass market. Then bring back another marque (Pontiac?) in the performance oriented popular market category.

        Of course they will never do this. Chev wants to keep the Corvette and Camaro market.

        Cadillac makes to much money off schlock like the Escalade and is unable to beat the 3 Series let alone Bentley.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Buick is the new Oldsmobile. When I see the ads where the best thing they have to say about new Buicks is that they can’t be identified as Buicks, I think that, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile” was a lesson wasted on the brainless trust at GM.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      I’ve always that GM would have been better served by dropping Buick instead of Pontiac during their bailout. Pontiac could have made the young & fun cars (compete with BMW), and Cadillac could have made the luxury cars (compete with MB). Today Cadillac is confused whether it wants to be a BMW or an MB, and Buick is obviously neither.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Red dash lighting and faux cladding does not a BMW make. At the time of its demise, Pontiac was the blue-collar step up from Chevrolet… there was no moving out of that niche no matter what Pontiac brought out (G8, Solstice). Not a bright future….

  • avatar
    JMII

    Honda – nothing even remotely sporty in their line up now. Plus ugly looking vehicles. Dash boards full of buttons when they once used to have the most user friendly, simple interiors. No more hatchbacks. Nothing light and tossable, what happened to double wishbone suspension setups? Once known for excellent mileage and being nearly indestructible, now they blow up transmissions and get average mpgs. Of course you can also lump Acura in there too since they are just Honda’s with different badges. I was once a huge Honda fan… I owned 3 of them during the late 80s thru the mid 90s. My brother own 2 of them during the same period. They could do no wrong back then, now I could careless about their offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I have an 09 Civic and I had 3 92-93 Accords and friends with various “golden era” Hondas. The 2 tier dash works and the UI is just as friendly. My Civic handles every bit as well as my old DWB Accords, if not better, and is a lot more space efficient without those needlessly complicated suspensions. Put it like this- my Civic has the same interior room as my old Accords, but is about a foot shorter and 200lbs lighter. That’s progress.

      Not to mention, struts are good enough for BMW and Porsche. Similarly, the current Accord is still probably the best balance-striker on practicality, fun and value in its segment. Civic has lost its way a bit admittedly but w/e. The bulk of Honda’s buyers have NEVER been “enthusiasts”…..

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yeah I don’t get the ‘middling’ mpg comment or the lack of reliability comment either. The spate of V6+5spd auto failures was taken care of a LONG time ago, as far back as 2005 for the odyssey. As sportyaccordy said, the Civic now is approximately (sizewise, ride/handling/power wise) a 94-97 generation Accord. And it gets at least 5 mpg more than those Accords. The interior ergonomics are as good as they’ve ever been (excellent).

        Now, I won’t deny that the Civic is no longer the shining gem of the compact class, the others have caught up and in some areas surpassed the Civic. But there is still plenty of the Honda magic to be found, it’s just not as obvious. I have a compact car with a zippy and smooth naturally aspirated engine and a sublime 5spd manual transmission, with what feels like midsize space and comfort, that gets 37.5 mpg in a mixed commute with a far amount of crawling in traffic. That’s pretty amazing IMO. Now if NVH could be dialed back a tad…

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          As I nearly commented above:

          If you can’t take *any Honda on the lot* and go have “fun” in it, you’re *doing it wrong*.

          Even an Odyssey, though admittedly the entire minivan segment is not aimed at “fun”.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I haven’t driven the Focus/3 which folks deify, but my Civic has better brake feel and a much better clutch/shifter than my Z did. In the daily grind that is much appreciated and makes it very fun to drive. The chassis setup is great as well… the car is very responsive with very little slack.

          I’m not crazy about the 9th gen, but it’s an 8th gen under its skin, so I’m sure the chassis is still glorious. I’m put off by its looks though.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yeah the 9th gen is definitely a shift towards more of a commuter crowd IMO, with a marshmallow suspension that soaks up bumps like no other civic before it, and gained useful amounts of elbow and leg room. They definitely cheaped out on the exterior as far as how simple and pared down it is. Likewise the interior, albeit I don’t quite get the plastics quality criticism, the 8th gen is no better on that front I think. My 2012 can be thought of as the supposed worst of the worst in the world of auto journos, but it has been an impeccable commuter and highway car for me for the past 37k miles, and even a good Lyft car!

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          Yep everything you gtemnykh and sportyaccordy said – but I mourn the inability to buy a Honda with a manual transmission. I know I’m in the minority but it will probably keep me from buying an AWD CR-V or HR-V as our replacement for our ’99 CR-V 5MT AWD.

          Its not that i want them to build something special for people like me – just import them already – because these manual transmissions are available in the rest of the world.

          I don’t want a CVT nor an automatic.

          • 0 avatar
            Giltibo

            Funny. I drive a 2008 Accord Coupe (K24 5MT) and work with a few people who own 3-series BMWs.

            At similar mileages (about 140K – 80M), their cars are outrageously expensive to maintain and/or repair (from what they say) while mine has cost only basic and inexpensive maintenance since new (Lube-Oil-Filters etc.). All it needs to be almost as good as new is a brake job (still on the originals), a set of tires, and a detailing.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Suzuki only lost its way in the US and Canada.

    They kept selling small offroaders and sporty city cars everywhere else.
    They are a textbook example of how short-term decision-making can decimate brand equity. Re-badging Daewos may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s one of dozens of bad decisions that ultimately led to them closing-up shop.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Easy choice: Cadillac.

    I have a 2014 Cadillac 3.6 liter as I type this. It suffers from 75% of the problems that the ATS does, having a cramped rear, terrible gauges, cheap interior materials (let my detractors sit inside this thing and tell me the shiny silver trim and faux carbon fiber bits look anything better than Hyundai grade, very so-so ride quality (as mentioned before, it’s really depressing how far Cadillac ride quality has deteriorated in their quest to fake some sort of German Driving Machine that no longer exists), and a grainy motor that stumbles at idle.

    No other manufacturer has deviated from their core values and heritage, in nearly the same awful direction, as Cadillac.

    The thought that anyone would pay anything remotely approaching the $56,000 MSRP for this pile of $hit is absolutely perplexing to me, and it feels about as Cadillac as a Chevrolet.

    I absolutely ,100% am serious when I say I’d rather drive a new VW Golf than this CTS, and that I suspect a new Camry would ride better and match it for NVH as would a new Sonata.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      And yes, it’s a rental, with 19,000 miles on the odometer.

      • 0 avatar
        1998redwagon

        phew. deadweight you had me worried. still i find it hard to believe you found yourself behind the wheel of a cadillac. i’m sure there’s a story there we would all like to hear.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      ELR.
      The problem isn’t price; it’s performance, plus the fact that Cadillac buyers don’t want to plug in their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      In other news, the sun today rose in the east.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I agree with Cadillac. I don’t think the problem is the cars though. It’s the value proposition aka PRICING. Pricing a Caddy CTS head-to-head with a BMW 5-series is dumb. The only real Luxury vehicle Cadillac makes is the Escalade. The rest are essentially premium vehicles. Like Deadweight said, they lack much of the refinement their competitors are prized for.

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          I think Cadillac should keep the pricing around where it is, but they should bundle in a bunch of the top level options. And the magnetic ride control should be in all models, so that they can both brag about excellent handling and dynamics but also provide a soft, comfortable ride like people expect from a Cadillac. GM has been a pioneer in magnetorheological shocks, and they should take advantage of that by putting them in every single Cadillac sold. THAT would make the cars readily identifiable as American Luxury: great handling without compromising ride quality. Hell Lincoln has gone in this direction with the MKC already; they’re bundling magnetic ride control on almost all trim levels (and i believe ALL AWD models).

          Get sales by showing that unlike the Germans you won’t nickel and dime the customer for every single option. Keep high prices but actually provide some value in terms of equipment level and you might actually sell some product for something near the asking price.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The value proposition has more to do with the lack of interior room compared to the competition for the ATS and CTS (XTS sales have been trending upward).

          Infiniti adds more rear passenger with the Q70L and sales (while still not good) have increased a good bit.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This CTS is tied with the Mercedes CLA as the worst vehicle on a goodness-relative-to-price scale that I’ve driven in the last 3 years.

      It’s mind boggling that this car lists for a dollar over $35,000, and even then, it’s no luxury car, with less refinement, space and grace than a base Chrysler 300.

  • avatar
    drw1926

    Oh I’m sorry, I was looking for TTAC. I can tell by the “lost its way” article that I somehow ended up on Jalopnik. I’ll just show myself out…

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I agree that Honda is not the brand it used to be. However, I don’t think they lost their way on their own accord (no pun intended). The best Hondas had high-revving NA engines, which would be tough to develop while meeting today’s emissions and CAFE requirements.

    The CR-Z may be a dump, but it is just the 1st generation. I like the concept of a hybrid with sporty intentions and I hope Honda tries again. There are plenty of great cars where the 1st generation sucks in comparison to successive generations.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      When you look at what Honda doesn’t offer (Prelude, Integra, S2000, etc) it’s easy to say they’ve lost their way, but when you look at what they DO offer, it’s rare that they aren’t near or at the top in every segment they compete in. Accord? CRV? Civic? Odyssey? Fit? Upcoming HRV? Revamped Pilot? All stellar cars, and even among the best/most fun to drive in their individual segments.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Exactly. I think including Honda here is just silly. They make excellent cars across a variety of the most popular segments (midsize sedan, compact SUV, midsize near-luxury SUV, minivan) that are well built, lively to drive, and sell at high transaction prices without needing a lot of fleet support. Those who bemoan that they have fewer specialty vehicles for enthusiasts than before have to remember they’re a relatively small company by automaker standards, if bigger than Mazda. They have only so many resources to go around, and they put them where they’re most needed for survival.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Prelude used to feature in comparison tests with 200SXs, Celicas, Corrados, Coupe GTs, Daytonas, Eclipses, Impulses, Lasers, MX6s, Probes, Pulsars, and Sciroccos. There are probably others I’m forgetting. It’s hard to blame Honda for abandoning a segment that doesn’t exist anymore. The same goes for the CRX. I went to a Honda dealer in Staunton, VA in 2007. They still had a new S2000 of each model year going back to 2004. I suspect that was their full allotment of S2000s over those years, and there were no buyers. One might think small town dealer, but this place’s bread and butter was poaching surrounding areas with aggressive internet deals. Charlottesville was crawling with Hondas that wore their dealer id plate rings. BMW may still make Z4s, Mercedes may offer SLKs, and Porsche does sell a few Boxsters; but I don’t see them in anything like the numbers I did a decade ago. What sells? CUVs. What does Honda make better than anyone else? CUVs.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    If this isn’t clickbait it doesn’t exist. I dont think I will be able to handle all the self righteous boneheaded answers… be it Porsche having the gall to ensure its survival while continuing to make benchmark defining sports cars…. or BMW being blamed for delivering the cars its “douchebag status concerned” owners want, as if they havent been doing so in the US for the last 40 years. Yeech. You guys can have this one.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      @sportyaccordy

      Above, you made the astute observation that without the Cayenne/Macan, we wouldn’t have the great Porsche sports cars that we do. Porsche may not exist. Well, your logic applies here. Without “click bait” articles, we don’t get Junkyard Finds, and Jack’s great stuff, and Alex, and the rest. Necessary evil, my friend.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      I agree, absolute silliness which completely ignores reality. The only automakers who have truly “lost their way” are the ones who couldn’t make any money and have exited the market (Suzuki) or appear at high risk to do so in the not too distant future (Mitsubishi).

      The Porsches, BMWs, and Hondas of the world (among other makes) are seeing robust sales and making money, which is exactly what a corporation is supposed to do and is the very antithesis of “losing their way”.

      I agree with the poster above, please don’t turn TTAC into Jalopnik-lite.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Exactly. The focus on the auto BUSINESS is the main draw of this site for me. Jalop style troll bait has its time and place, but I don’t think that place is here. I hope DK’s departure wasn’t indicative of a shift in direction of the site. As you said, Honda, Porsche and BMW are making money hand over fist, and in Porsche’s case at least the soul of the company hasn’t suffered for it. People will just take any opportunity to whine about something (yes myself included)

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          Sportaccordy – good post. I’m here for the auto industry articles too. I guess “clickbait” is necessary to keep the website going like bread and butter cars are what enables alot of brands to sell one or two interesting vehicles to enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Humber. They haven’t built a decent Super Snipe in years. And don’t get me started on Packard, Auburn or Cord either!

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” I’m on a General Motors focused tirade “. Words taken out of context, granted, but totally accurate. Buick knows exactly what its way is, unlike most manufacturers. They want to appeal more to their main market (which as we all know by now, isn’t America), and for America, expand the age bracket range, and demographic as well (hence the Encore) that would consider buying a Buick. Note I said expand, not eliminate the old folks.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    “Gung Ho”… Man, I’d forgotten about that movie.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Volkswagen!

    En route to become the world’s biggest car manufacturer, one has got to ask: What happened to basic, reliable transport?

    For Europe alone: Citroën. Still making cars that are a bit different, but just not in an exciting way…or elegant, for that matter.

    • 0 avatar
      1998redwagon

      well since citroen is primarily renault i think we can forgive them their more recent lack of quirkyness.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I know exactly what happened to VW. They kept updating the Beetle until there was no one left willing to pay for a cramped, slow, cold pre-war car. Then they panicked, tried everything else, bought Audi, and had Audi whip up some small cars for them. And ever since that VW has ,to a certain degree, built decontended Audis.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “What happened to basic, reliable transport?”

      When was a VW ever reliable?

      (I kid, mostly.

      But the Type 1/2/etc. were … shall we say, maintenance-intensive, even when not failing?

      When “rebuild the engine” is *scheduled maintenance*, we’re not talking about modern levels of reliability.

      Nor when the owner’s manual tells you how to watch for a failed fanbelt, because it’s going to happen: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/archives/manuals/1_52bug/7.jpg)

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        VWs were relatively reliable compared to a FIAT or a Ford up until about 1975.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Agreed that is one reason why the Beetle sold so well.

          As other vehicles (British imports in particular) were foundering on the road, overheated etc the Beetle would just toddle on by.

          Knew many in high school that were on their 3rd or 4th owner, who did nothing during their ownership but add fuel.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            The Beetle could go a long, long time with all sorts of missing parts b/c the owner assumed that it was okay to leave them out during a repair. If it runs for a day without that part then they never really needed to put it in there in the first place. Right?

            Then 15,000 miles later the engine grenades and they blame the car for being a low rent shabby design. Couldn’t possibly be that pile of cooling parts they tossed in the garbage can…

            I’ve seen this many times in my 25 years of aircooled buying and selling.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In defense of Buick, they don’t need to care about the US market when they sell 4 times as many vehicles in China as they do in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Buick does alright with 5 models (one being a too small Euro model, the GS) and with pretty much all due for a replacement.

      Adding the Envision CUV would really propel Buick sales.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    VW. They used to make vehicles like dangerous game guns: simple, tough, and reliable. I think their high water mark was the Corrado VR6. After that… we got the Phaeton.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I can’t pick just one…Mitsubishi, Honda, and BMW. However, the two Japanese brands seem to be suffering the most in the sales department. Mitsubishi is quickly moving towards asterisk status. Aside from a few cash cows in the line, Honda is showing major cracks in the foundation. Recent new product launches of the CR-Z, Crosstour, Insight, and 2012 Civic showed the flaws. The cash cows (CR-V, Accord, Civic) are in dangerous territory in that there is some very strong competition which could erode sales numbers if the market’s preferences are misjudged.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Which automaker has most lost its way? General Motors. 100%. Starting in the early 90s they began screwing their brands over, trying to cheapen out. By the mid 00s they’d completely lost it. So far, they’re not doing a very good job of finding their way back.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      I always thought the cheapen-out-f*-the-customer-strategy started in the early 70s?

      Management books don’t call it COFTCS, as I just did, they just say “low road option”, compared to the German, Scandinavian, Japanese pursuit of actually building better cars, “high road”.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Mid-70s is when they had to take weight off the cars (all of them) and shrink the engines to up fuel economy. Having to adapt to new pollution standards didn’t help them either. But at least they kept trying and to be quite honest, some of the cars so badly panned here (like the Vega?) really weren’t all that bad. Moving into later models, the ’85 Olds Toronado was pretty good, until the nylon timing gear shredded, so that might be considered a cheapskate way out, but the ’86 Buick LeSabre ‘T-type’ I absolutely loved (until a lady tried to jump a traffic light.) Even my ’96 Camaro was decent–though it ate three high-stall torque converters in 160K miles. But with exceptions, GM really was already on its way downhill by the mid-80s at the latest and early 80s at the soonest. ’86 was the last true sport Buick after all and Pontiac had already lost all its best-known marques to new names and grossly changed models. The LeMans was no longer a LeMans, it was a Daewoo given the LeMans badge–as was the Nova about the same time. The Monte Carlo became the Lumina, then a lumina with the Monte Carlo badge–is there any wonder the later, restyled Monte went retro?

        But worse, even when they had the right ideas and hyped them to the right crowd, they then priced it right out of the target market; I would have loved an SSR, at Camaro prices. But they instead chose to over-engineer it and price it beside the Corvette–killing the truck before it even got started. Saturn? Really good cars up until about ’03 when they replaced home-designed models with re-badged Opels. Saturn wasn’t Saturn any more. All these mistakes just piled up until they ended up going bankrupt.

        But worst of all, they made an announcement today that has forever turned me away from buying a GM product–they want the federal courts to declare their on-board software as copyrighted products and essentially claim that buying one of their cars is ‘buying a license to drive it while GM itself continues to ‘own’ the car.’ Look, whether I pay $20K or $50K, it’s MY money, so that car better be MINE until I decide to get rid of it and it better be MINE up to and including the point where I either sell it to an individual or trade it in on another car–from very probably some other brand if it’s a GM.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          If GM takes the tactic of “owning” the vehicle’s operating code, I am going to teach my wife and son to never buy one, ever, under any circumstances.

          I didn’t start out to try to be a Ford partisan (Mopar, actually, old Plymouths used to cost a lot less than GMC or Ford used cars when I was young, and they had that new torsion bar suspension)…but the more I see, the more I feel like I prefer Ford, even with its faults, to either GMC or FCA. And that even in spite of the fact that they killed the Mercury, a car I have liked for decades.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Oh Cadillac, what did you do to yourself? It wasn’t going to be this way.

    You’ve made me aspire to one day own a Lincoln(!) or Hyundai(!!!).

    I hope the import fans start lining up for your stuff because I won’t.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Acura. Period.

    In the beginning we had the Vigor, Legend, Integra. All great cars in their own right. Offered everything BMW did, with more reliability and economy. When you saw them in the wild you knew instantly which one you were looking at. Now? For whatever reason all I think of when I see an Acura is Star Trek. That chrome pointed nose just irritates the sheesh out of me along with the fact that I loath the nomenclature. ILX, TLX, TL, WGAF, etal.

    I am sure they are reliable and perhaps even fun to drive, the only way I am owning one is though, is if it has low miles and half left side book.

    As for Buick, where they supposed to go? The world changed and GM didn’t have the stones to kill off the brand in the U.S. How has GM lost their way as a group? I would argue they are screwing the pooch in certain areas, Cadillac namely, but the entire organization? They are building arguably the most reliable and versatile product line they have ever produced. They make some very compelling cars: vette, volt, BOF trucks/SUVS the public actually wants. The new Impala is fantastic, the Colorado/Canyon twins seem to have their intended target. Is it that their low end offerings suck? Spark I think they call it, low end cars have always been one level above or below ‘blows’.

  • avatar

    wow, so far no one has said Volvo?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Volvo is just lost… somewhere in India.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      I know what you’re saying…I just tried to talk a friend out of a used wagon the other day. I get nervous about their long-term viability…Volvo sold less than 57K in the States last year! Even pathetic VW sold 10X that with their combined brands. In many ways, I’ve written Volvo off and put them on the shelf beside Saab.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        I think the new XC90 might just be good enough to bring Volvo back from the brink.

        The question will be if they can follow it up with a whole lineup of vehicles that are just as compelling.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        They sold 465,000 cars worldwide last year.

        Only 12% of Volvo’s sales are in the US.

        (465,000 is within a thousand or so of Jaguar-Land Rover’s total 2014 sales.

        And yet nobody’s worried that JLR is going to go out of business, are they?)

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoom91

        I have wondered similar things about Volvo, but one of my best friends from college bought a used V50 T5 about two years ago, maybe 100K or so on it, he drives a lot for work, and he’s had zero issues. I drove it last summer and wish I could find one for myself, as I’m in the market, but they are so rare (his is the 6 speed). That Ford/Mazda/Volvo platform is a gem.

        Similarly, one of my uncles has bought Volvos for years and typically keeps them to pretty high mileage (current mid-2000s XC70, previously an 850 and/or a 940). I have heard that they have some AWD issues but I believe his has been okay.

        Another friend has had several Volvos and had a V70 (1999 I think)and that thing lasted to over 220K without big things breaking. He considers them the “European Ford” (even prior to the Ford ownership) and more reliable than the Germans, and he also owns a couple German cars and does his own work on them.

  • avatar

    Not to lose sight of the overall theme here, but the Encore having one of the smallest and roughest engines? It’s small indeed, at 1.4 liters, but mine’s very smooth and capable, surprisingly so.

    Anyhow.

    “Lost it’s way” is interesting to think about, given the contrast of what a manufacturer is making now, or marketing to now, versus past times. I grew up with the GM divisions pretty much staked out as you described, with a Cadillac on top cascading down in luxury and “status” to Chevy on the bottom. Then all the late sixties into seventies changes: fancy Chevys like the Caprice, “GM” engines throughout the line, Cadillac Cavaliers, ad nauseum that diluted these historic divisions.

    GM emerging from bankruptcy is so different. Two truck divisions? So Buick dealers could sell trucks that weren’t Chevys? Odd. Just make GM trucks and call it a day. Buick as Euro GM, aka Opel? Seems that way, and that’s ok with me. Very interesting cars, albeit not selling very well. That recent report where the Regal was the most-returned car after one year of ownership may be telling: “this didn’t feel like our old Regal, it rode rough” etc. But sure, “their way” probably couldn’t be to continue to sell plushy “almost Cadillacs” to a continually-aging traditional clientele.

    What of Cadillac? They’re way out of their historic V8 luxobarge category, also a good thing as far as I’m concerned. They needed to find a new customer base somehow.

    Who else? Porsche is now a SUV company that also makes sports cars. Jeep sells a full lineup, not just CJ Wranglers.

    These brands do evolve…for me, if they address the need to find customers going forward, that’s ok. I’m not such a brand loyalist that I won’t accept a new competitor introducing a vehicle type I like. Go get ’em, as far as I’m concerned, competition is a fine thing. I don’t see any car makers “succeeding” by making the same models, unchanged, for decades. Morgans, Caterhams, a few others notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ ljmattox – I’ve had the Cruze four times as a rental, and I agree with you on the smoothness of the 1.4T.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Re. GM divisions…

      I was born in the early 70s, but was never “a car guy” until much later.

      And apart from Cadillac I could not have told you what any of the non-Chevy divisions “stood for”.

      Pontiac? Oldsmobile? Buick? GMC? Meaningless noise; Chevy with a different badge.

      (GMC as “premium work truck”, is it? Or “Better Chevy, but only in trucks and SUVs”? I still don’t know what the point of GMC is!)

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I like GMC sticking around just for the times where the GMC front end looked better than the Chevy. In the early to mid 2000’s, the Chevy looked very bad, IMHO, this front end was horrible:

        https://www.a1electric.com/images6/chevypu2003.jpg

        The GMC was a lot better:

        http://image.trucktrend.com/f/10026816+re0+ar0+st0/0505dp_z%2B2003_gmc_sierra_2500_hd%2Bfront_side_view.jpg

        Not great, but a lot better looking.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        GMC is a place to provide a pre-retirement home to what would otherwise be redundant mid to upper level management employees at GM. And a way to stuff a lot of expenses that other divisions manage to avoid. So it is supposedly the heavily engineered “professional” vehicles division.

        But professional only because professional means “getting paid”.

        Years ago, I bought a semi-beater 3/4 ton GMC panel truck. Truly a monster truck before there were monster trucks per se. Threw a crank pulley. The shop I was towed to quoted me over a hundred dollars (in those pre ’70’s dollars that were worth about ten times what today’s dollars are worth).

        When I explained that I was a poor college student and part time Marine Reservist who could ill afford such an expense, instead of him calling for a junkyard replacement, he called the Chevy parts department. Told them the engine and the part. The price? Under $20.

        Same part. GM Division’s parts markup was about four times what Chevy’s total selling price was.

        The mechanic’s parting words of advice to me were (1) always buy parts for my truck from Chevy; and (2) don’t get another GMC vehicle unless someone gives you one or you become independently wealthy.

        He also said he made a lot of money fixing GM vehicles, but personally drove a Ford. I didn’t have to finish college to figure out what he was trying to teach me.

        The old monster was practically indestructible, but so would a tank have been, and I think the ride in a tank was a bit smoother. Still, I had fun with it for a few years, during a time when gas would drop below twenty cents a gallon a few times a year, when there were still things called “gas wars”.

        And it had BOF construction, or more precisely, body 70% on frame, as it rattled like a bucket of bolts in a cement mixer. But a half dozen people could camp inside of it (in case it rained), and you could haul motorcycles (plural) inside it easily, provided you had a ramp or a couple of really strong guys to lift/pull/push it into the truck.

        GMC underneath it all, is still that same division that produced and sold that hundred dollar crank pulley.

  • avatar

    LINCOLN
    CADILLAC
    HONDA
    ACURA
    LEXUS

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    lost its way or evolved? truth be told any manufacturer that stands still in what it offers, or how it markets it, will disappear in short order. in my estimation (and i am a watcher not a worker in the automobile industry) manufacturers need to tinker with what they offer and how they market those offerings to keep abreast of changes in the marketplace. they also have to match large changes in public desires. those that match the changes stay in business. those that do not find themselves squeezed for marketshare. over time, if you look back, we see change or evolution that may be interpreted as ‘lost its way’.

    who sold minivans? who did not? where are they today? same for suvs and cuvs. where is the next big change? who is out in front? that’s hard to do well.

    consider that most people still consider it chevrolet < buick < cadillac. most know ford < lincoln, toyota < lexus etc. that really has not changed. all marketing? perhaps. but i'm not old enough to know if the 40s – 50s – 60s differences btwn say chevy, olds, buick, and pontiac were as real as some would have you believe or if that was mostly marketing hype too.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    Alfa Romeo and Lancia unfortunately…
    Just a decorated Fiat small hatchback now

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m not sure if any brand has truly “lost its way”.

    The market has changed drastically over the last 25 years, and what used to be regarded as “normal” is no longer.

    Are some OEMs struggling to find their identity? Of course. I can think of Cadillac for one, trying to become an American BMW instead of being an aspirational luxury brand.

    Honda? No, they just keep on the steady path that got them where they are, and it works well for them.

    Toyota just keeps on being GM-east. Right on track.

    Buick? Umm… probably. Now there’s an enigma. Opel-west. If you want a “traditional” Buick like today’s version of an Electra, buy an Enclave. Or an extrememly nice Malibu with the La Crosse, which is a very nice car in itself.

    Chevrolet? I don’t think so. After all, in the early 1970s, their highest-end Caprice was almost at a Cadillac level, and one of the car mags compared the Caprice against a Caddy, and for the money, recommended the Chevy as the better buy, so nothing new there.

    Nissan. Nissan is Nissan. Steady as she goes.

    Chrysler? Clearly trying to find out just where they are in the greater Fiat scheme of things.

    Subaru – growing up, I guess, but still quirky, which is a good thing.

    VW/Audi? Fine with me.

    I guess everyone else I left out is doing what they can in today’s market.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      I won’t say they’ve lost their way, because they’re doing better than ever, but I don’t think Subaru is quirky anymore. They’ve basically ironed out all of the quirks on their way to staking a claim on Volvo’s old market and basically now sell AWD Toyotas. There’s nothing quirky about their current models really, and the WRX and BRZ are the only models left that are even interesting at all as an enthusiast. They don’t even sell wagons anymore in the US: the Outback has become a crossover full-stop. Hell, even the WRX is only available as a sedan now.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Toyota just keeps on being GM-east”

      Purely as a non-automotive aside, that threw me for a second.

      Because I live on the West Coast, and I always think of Japan as “west”, not “east”.

      East? That’s … New York, and then Europe.

      (I mean, it’s a lot of other stuff first, but the Midwest isn’t “East” in thought-terms.)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        A Midwesterner might say you live “out there” in CA, while GM Detroit would be “up there” or “over here” assuming the Midwesterner lived anywhere south of it, and someone from the Midwest was speaking to you (knowing you lived in CA).

  • avatar
    TW5

    The two primary culprits are listed in the article.

    Buick is supposed to be a plush gliding chassis with a low-stressed engine. Today, Buick is a “luxury” Chevrolet/Opel. I’m personally invested in the Buick brand because my grandfather drove them his entire life, and when he was sick I drove him around in his Park Avenue. Sure, it could scarcely make a 90-degree turn without washing the front end into oncoming traffic, but the ride was therapeutic and the 3800 Series II was almost silent. Someone needs to keep it real for all of the old men and the lovers of plush open road cruising. That’s supposed to be Buick territory. That’s what the brand should be about, and they should offer products for the solidly middle class up to the elite wealthy.

    Honda is supposed to be bullet-proof lightweight vehicles with affordable sport variants. Hondas are no longer lightweight. The 4-bangers are getting bigger and clumsier to hide vehicle weight. The sport variants are profit centers, not a hat-tip to enthusiasts. Despite the heft, Honda still have the rattles, shakes, and the drone of the tin cans they were in the 80s and 90s. Sad.

    I’d add Jaguar to the list. Providers of conservatively styled but handsome luxury vehicles offered with I6 and double I6 (V12) engines. Now it’s an obscure Indian owned company, and the reliability woes are still not fixed.

  • avatar
    jmiller417

    Saab. It hasn’t done anything good in years.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Volvo.

    They have no idea what they’re doing without the sales proposition of more safety. Everyone has caught them up, and they’ve got nothing left. They’re owned by China, have lost a lot of brand prestige due to the early 00s under Ford, and don’t offer much of anything interesting.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Mitsubishi and Buick USA. Now that the former consists of a small cheaply constructed econobucket, a super snail pace selling hideous electric vehicle and another slow selling CUV you know they lost there way. Buick doesn’t fare nearly as bad. But pitching two re-badged Opels, that tiny CUV thing that never should have crossed over to Buick and only should be a Chevy, a so called flagship that is on the same architecture as an Impala but with sub par trunk size, bloated styling, cramped front seat and terrible visibility and there only decent vehicle the expensive Enclave you know Buick’s are mainly for there Chinese customers.

    Oh and lets not forget Lincoln. Installing 4 cylinders in the majority of there lineup in pitiful enough, but using a FWD Taurus as there flagship is worse, there smaller CUV could be mistaken for a Hyundai, the Navigator is very outdated even with the Ecoboost V6 that thinks it’s a V8 even at the pump and the MKX up to current is an obvious badge engineered Edge and can hardly be told from one on the side view and ohhh those stupid meaningless letter names must go.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I love asking this question on car forums because the answer is usually something like – “brand X – because they don’t make cars the way I remember them”. Which is kind of a pointless answer on so many levels.

    The only important metric to judge if a manufacturer is closely aligned with the wants of the customer base is sales. That is, how many people are handing over their hard earned cash to get one.

    So to answer that question – just look at the sales number at Tim Cain’s site. They tell you all you need to know about this topic. Anything else is just either personal preference or rose colored sentimentalism.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Suzuki is doing just fine in India. The Samurai rollover problem badly damaged its brand in the US, plus it lost a pipeline when GM stopped repackaging its cars as Chevys and Geos.

    “Lost its way” isn’t quite the term for it, but Hyundai-Kia’s failure to create a meaningful distinction between its two branches does not help either badge, particularly Kia. Maintaining this false construct that they are independent from each other could lead to a Peugeot-Citroen situation in which neither of them benefits from the faux-competition.

    GM has made some meaningful improvements, but the global Cadillac plan shows that the company has forgotten its origins, a time when it knew quite well that local and regional tastes will ultimately prevail and that some brands aren’t suitable for the entirety of the world.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I want to say Oldsmobile…or Packard, Studebaker etc.
    But, of the brands that are still with us today, I’d say it’s Ford and I’d be right.
    OK, it’s cheating a bit, since they are obviously a lot older than many other brands mentioned, but anythign they make today is pretty far away from the model-T.
    And then offcourse I don’t mean the technical aspect, they couldn’t make or sell the T the way it was in ’26 today, but I mean its place in the market and in peoples consciousness.
    Henry tried to keep improving his original design over time, while also continuously making it cheaper to make (and buy)
    By the start of the Model-A it was pretty much over. People demanded faster and more ‘stylish’, and Edsel helped his old man understand this, and we got the first Ford that prioritized styling and power over quality and ruggedness.
    At one point is history most cars in the world were Fords. Now they’re just one of many.

  • avatar
    probert

    Cadillac’s issue is twofold:

    Historically they were an aspirational brand that people rising up the economic ladder would buy to show “they’ve made it”. With real middle class income shrinking and a society where you pretty much end up where you started – born poor-die poor etc.- there are very few aspirational buyers.

    The second issue is that the wealthy, who can afford these cars, are the most conformist of classes. The greatest dread is to be seen as arrivist, or having “bad taste”. They buy what others have – that would generally be German.

    So they make great cars but there’s no-one there for them. They’re trying though – the move to NYC wasn’t for the view. Nothing says economic disparity like Detroit, and removing this discomfort from the gated class conversation can only help.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Moving the HQ is the first move in Johan’s playbook. He did the same thing with Infiniti, taking it to Hong Kong. It doesn’t mean the product will improve, or that there’s a part 2 to the plan.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Times are changing and you have to adapt to stay alive. So you can probably say everyone has lost their way, with the possible exception of Morgan.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    For Starters , the new GM , really isn’t anything different then the old GM. Cadillac & Buick still are nothing like what they claim to be. Chevy ran out of gas a long time ago. Honda has to squeeze every penny in can to support the HondaJet program , their interest in cars is only as a cash cow. Fiat/Chrysler is on a lucky streak , but it’s not about great products. In truth , the bar for innovation & quality seems to be limited these days to electric gizmo’s like wiFi and electronic monitors.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Lada.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    I have a few choices:

    Lincoln – really, who aspires to buy one these days? Almost every single product is a deluxe-ish Ford that sells for a whole lot more. The only semi-decent offering that has any street cred is the Fusion-based MXZ – at least they bothered to put in some content to justify the price difference. And it’s a great platform, so hard to mess up

    Nissan/Infiniti – There is very little here that isn’t done better by someone else. Not as bulletproof or reliable as Toyota or Honda. Overreliance on buzzy CVTs. Styling that oscillates from completely unforgettable (Sentra) to bizarro (the Murano cabriolet was sure something). Not quirky like Subaru or sporty like Mazda or value-packed like Hyundai/Kia. No reason to step in their showroom.

    Mitsubishi = A long, sad story – if the most exciting thing left in your showroom is an Outlander that is barely competitive with any of the dozen other CUVs of a similar size on the market, it’s time to pack your bags and go home. A long way from their 80’s/90’s heyday.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      For the majority of their run, Lincoln has always been tarted-up Fords, which is why Mercury finally got squeezed out. That doesn’t mean they can’t provide some compelling products…

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I thought that the photo leading this article pretty much answered the question. The Buick clown shoe.

  • avatar
    eriksean

    it’s bullshit to say mfgs lost their way when it’s the consumers tastes and wants that drive which direction the cars are going..

    all car makers wanna do is make money by selling cars. the real question should be “which manufacturer is failing to adapt to the market?”

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      ” the real question should be “which manufacturer is failing to adapt to the market?”

      Well, if that’s the question, then I almost have to say All Of Them. They’re not adapting to the market, they’re forcing the market to adapt to them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        @Vulpine You have accurately described the phenomenon, but seem to have failed to discern the underlying dynamics.

        Governmental regulations plus the economic effect of trying to fit into multiple markets around the world, have ended up forcing manufacturers into certain limited options.

        And since the effect is nearly universal, and the barriers to entry in the industry are extremely high, the limitations forced onto the manufacturers end up being the limitations forced onto the consumers.

        Hence, consumers are ending up for the most part being unable to buy what they really want, with the limited exception of CAFE-monster cars like the Hellcat, for which buyers have to pay a tremendous economic penalty, or Teslas, which work only with forced economic transfers from other consumers into that segment.

        Ford, with its large trucks, also gives a segment what it wants, at the cost of huge penalties over the cost of an average sized car.

        But small affordable AWD dual purpose SUV’s, medium large family sedans with adequate power for highways, and adequate seating for families with three children, have all but disappeared except in the high end of the market place.

        In the fifties, a middle class buyer, for example, could buy an Oldsmobile large enough to meet a family’s transportation needs, without the necessity to lease or float a five to seven year loan.

        Today one must choose to either downsize (and downpower) the vehicle, or take on a much larger economic burden in order to go upmarket to acquire roominess and power. That, and/or go the soccer mom van route.

        But an inexpensive car that seats at least five adults comfortably, for a long road trip, along with their luggage, and that can pull out onto a freeway without having to wait for a quarter mile gap to avoid being honked at and crowded while entering, is largely a thing of the past.

        Either be prepared to spend upwards of $40K or be prepared to accept compromises and rapid depreciation.

        The equivalent of what could be bought three or four decades ago, or more, would be a five seat sedan with city/hiway mileage around 20/27, and a sticker, with a few reasonable options, under $25K. That, and a zero to sixty time under nine or ten seconds. Nothing phenomenal, but no econobox that barely seats four, struggles to get to sixty in fourteen seconds, still gets only about 20 around town, and is either a chintz-mobile or costs 35-40K.

        Oh, and you want to be able to see what is all around you? Sorry, “safety” and fuel standards dictate high beltlines, low rooflines, and a lot of blind spots. Want to see what is by your right rear quarter panel? Perhaps you’d like our high end model rear view camera. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a maintenance nightmare, like the early digital dashes when they died and cost their owners upward of a thousand dollars to fix a speedometer.

        No, it is the combination of the world market focus and the imposition of increasingly stringent government mandates that has “designed” the reasonable car out of existence.

        Manufacturers for the most part, couldn’t give the majority of the market what it wanted, even if it understood what that was, and was motivated to do so.

        Easier to go with the flow, don’t fight the regulations, just accept your market share and let the buyers eat (and drive) cake.

        How many lives, for example, can be proven to have been saved by ABS? Airbags, yes, I’ll concede that. But high beltlines? What about the fudged numbers to impact the few hundred people who are run over every year, although only about a dozen of them will by saved by this multibillion dollar program. What about all the gaming of CAFE regs by turboing everything except your lawnmower, so it will reduce emissions if driven like a tank?

        Have we really saved lives with ESC, or have we saved more poor drivers by taking away the ability of better drivers to steer around, instead of directly into, a pileup ahead on an interstate?

        Fifty years of creeping regulation has led to the inability to make another Austin Healey 3000-6, and the glut of WRX’s, etc, that can go fast, but try raising a family using one. Not singling out the WRX, so fanboys relax. Just using it as an example of what has been lost in gaining the “future”.

        I hear people saying all the time that their old, old Hondas used to get above forty mpg. Why are we just now starting to climb back towards that level? What was it, if not design, as opposed to performance, standards being imposed on vehicles.

        Yeah, I’m sure I sound like some guy defending the Model A against the poor alternative of a shoebox Ford, but what I said is what I still believe is tying the hands of manufacturers and leading to the tendency for all but the supercars (Koenigsegg, for example) to look like every other car. Not all of them, so don’t start telling me about the latest M-B, or whatever…I’m talking about the fact that if you go to a mall parking lot or deck, ninety per cent of the cars will be virtually indistinguishable from fifty feet away.

        Candy bars have more distinguishing features than the majority of today’s automotive offerings. Not the five or ten percent for enthusiasts, the wealthy or merely newly rich, or those with true taste and automotive ideas, but the masses, driving the same blobmobiles executed fifty different ways, with none of them much different from any other.

        I drove one of those for a couple of years, to help cut costs. A used gray Corolla. Year and model irrelevant…a Corolla is a Corolla is a Corolla. Finally couldn’t stand it anymore, decided I was not going to go to my grave with a Corolla as the last vehicle I owned, and went for Panther love instead.

        There may be a lot of them around, too, but at least they have a few distinguishing and outstanding characteristics.

        And it’s only going to get worse. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, there will be pressure to standardize external dimensions to make it easier to manage multiple instances in close proximity. Think I’m kidding? Watch what the model offerings of 2040 will look like. I hope I’m wrong, but I will bet I’m not.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          If you want to see copy copy-cutter cars, check out nearly everything from the ’30’s on up. Only small styling variations and unique grilles are what distinguish cars from each other with the exception of unique models.

          Today? Grilles and LED driving lights.

          In a brief previous career as a state trooper some years ago, I saw enough damage from accidents that I embrace any and all new safety protections.

          As beautiful as a TR-3 is, you may as well be riding a motorbike out on the road…

  • avatar
    chaparral

    BMW. This week I drove a 535i M-Sport back to back with a Cadillac CTS V6DI.

    When I got out of the BMW, I thought I’d been driving a Chinese knockoff. No subtlety to the power (big, on-off turbocharging system), no feel in the steering, significantly (5+%) slower through the corners at the start of tire squeal, and sloppy, floaty body control. Why would you buy this instead of a V8 Charger?

    In contrast, I’d argue that the connected, hard-cornering Cadillac is just getting back to its roots. Take a look at the Car and Driver luxury car test from 1965 on Curbside Classic. They called the Caddy agile, responsive, and precise, and said it was a set of export shocks away from first-rate road manners by any standard.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    I just wrote a lengthy discussion of why FoMoCo lost its way only because it killed Mercury and kept Lincoln, and then when I went to post it, I ended up on the subscriptions managment page, and when I returned to this article, everything I had written was gone.

    I hate the commenting/comments management tools on this site.

    If it weren’t for the fact that upward of fifty per cent of the posters, and a similar percentage of authors, show lots of signs of intelligence and insight, I would just pack it in and go look elsewhere for my online automotive fix.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Pontiac. You hardly see any new ones any more.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    One sign (to me) that the automakers want to steer the customers to what the automakers wants the customer to buy is by selling small cars but not small wagons that they already sell in other parts of the world.

    Its as if some brands don’t want you to experience the utility of a car b/c they’d rather have you spend more and buy an SUV that costs the factory about the same to build as the wagon/car.

    They KNOW that a portion of the population would be happy with a quality mid-sized or compact car in wagon format but instead of making that choice available – the car maker forces the customer to choose between a sedan or an SUV.

    How expensive is it to build a wagon along side a sedan on the assembly line with the design work is already done to supply European markets with a wagon?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “They KNOW that a portion of the population would be happier with a quality mid-sized or compact car in wagon format but instead of making that choice available – the car maker forces the customer to choose between a sedan or an SUV. ”

      Sure, but that portion is made up of about 8 people across the country.

      • 0 avatar
        SpeedRacerrrrr

        Because the cost of doing business is so much higher now than decades ago, most manufacturers can no longer afford to make niche products. A car either has to be a mass-market product to appeal to the widest audience (think most cars built these days), or it is designed for a small market but must be very very expensive (think Pagani, Ascari, Donkervoort). In effect government regulations have destroyed anything in between.

        So, are we all happy now? Or do you all want to destroy even the mass-market high performance cars in the name of global warming?

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Da Coyote: Given my experience with my Mercedes and its constant electrical problems, I’ll take a bye, thank...
  • redgolf: “What’s the alternative? Biden standing in front of the Ren Cen throwing chips at GM executives like...
  • Crashdaddy430: I’m really much more interested in the brand of chewing gum that you chew when you’re testing the cars.
  • mcs: @JeffS: Some manufacturers have already been reducing their chip count to cut costs using custom logic. You...
  • MoDo: Was Stella not going to build their own batteries (and plants?) This ACC tie up may be short term. And Daimler...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber