Bark's Bites: Meet The Worst Car Reviewer Of All Time

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

Here at TTAC, it’s been a tradition of sorts to call out poor examples of car reviews. In fact, we’ve done it so often over the years that I wondered if doing it again would be overkill. There’s such a multitude of miserably bad car reviewers on the minor car blogs of the Internet that it hardly seemed worth pointing out yet another case.

Well, I did wonder that. Then I read some reviews by Tim Esterdahl of Car Revs Daily. I wondered no longer.

Let’s examine some of his recent work, shall we? First up, Timmy’s review of the 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel.

We’ll ignore the randomly placed gallery with images of completely different sizes, as difficult as it may be for us to to do. Instead, we’ll focus on the prose.

“One of the great things about the Dodge brand is how they can take one product and completely change it with features and styling upgrades. A great example of this is the 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel with its luxurious interior materials, plethora of features and great exterior styling touches. It almost feels like a completely different vehicle and not a Durango at all.”

Might wanna chill on the thesaurus.com there, sir. Also, Tim and the Oxford comma have yet to be introduced. That final sentence sounds like something you’d say if your mom caught you driving a Durango against her explicit instructions.

“No, Mom! It was a completely different vehicle and not a Durango at all!”

Tim has more to say about the Durango:

“This SUV could easily be a BMW or Lexus competitor, yet with the Durango badge and a starting price of $30,495, it has to be hard to move consumers all the way up to the $50,670 price point of my test model Citadel (base price is $41,295). On the flip side, it has to be difficult to get luxury customers to take a serious look at the Citadel when they are getting pampered at luxury dealerships.”

On the flip side? Doesn’t that normally mean that you’re saying something that’s the opposite of what you were previously saying? Not following you there, Tim.

“On the road, the Citadel really shines. Its 3.6L V6 mated to a 8-speed transmission feels powerful and spritely. Steering wheel input is really responsive for this size vehicle, braking is smooth and road noise is really diminished thanks to additional noise-dampening materials engineers have integrated into the SUV. The powertrain is simple well balanced and the 295 HP with 260 lb-ft of torque does not disappoint.

However, if you are one of those who wishes for more speed, Dodge has added a new Sport mode this year which changes the throttle response and transmission shift points to give you more speed off the line. I tried this feature many times and found it really unnecessary.”

Tim is really impressed by the Durango. In fact, he used the word “really” eleven times in just this one review. That’s really not good.

Tim sums up the Durango with some nebulous praise.

The 2016 Dodge Durango Citadel is pretty good as is and consumers should definitely be shopping for it.

It’s pretty, pretty, pretty good. Well, hell—I’m going to the Dodge store right now. I should definitely be shopping for one!

Let’s see what Tim has to say about another car — the 2016 Nissan Altima SL.

“Now in its 5th generation the refreshed 2016 Nissan Altima features a host of styling improvements seen in the V-motion grille with boomerang-shaped headlights carried through the back officially called an “Energetic Flow” by Nissan. Equipped with new sheet metal as well as new front/rear bumpers, headlights and taillights, the Altima is much more stylish than past iterations of the sedan.

Inside the styling upgrades again focused on creating a more stylish look and the Altima is much less bland than prior iterations of the sedan.”

Hold the fucking phone there, Senator. You mean to tell me that it’s much more stylish and much less bland than prior iterations? Let’s be honest, Tim — you had a minimum word count to get paid for this review, didn’t you?

In the opening paragraph, Tim says the following:

“While critics bemoan its lack of pep, after a week behind the wheel, it’s hard to understand what they are talking about.”

Way down the page, after a bizarre gallery of images of varying sizes, Tim has this to say:

“While the peppiness could be improved, it is hard to ignore on the EPA estimated 39 MPG highway fuel economy found in the 4-cylinder 2016 Nissan Altima (27 city/31 combined).”

I’m confused. Is it peppy or is it not peppy? Who still says “peppy?”

Again, Tim has some rather vague comments celebrating the Altima (also known as the most bland and boring of all mid-sized sedans).

“It won’t blow you away with any one feature versus the competition, yet it simply does everything fairly well. Isn’t that what we are really looking for anyway?”

Maybe if I got a free car delivered to my house for a week, I’d be looking for that. If I had to spend a whopping $32,510 of my own money on this piece of shit, I might be looking for just a bit more.

How about this gem from Tim’s BMW 750I review?

“Let’s talk about the voluminous list of features I keep eluding too.”

Two (or maybe too) usage errors in one sentence! I yield to your superior writing skills, sir.

But all of this is just a lead up to Tim’s true Tour de Force, his review of the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 75th Anniversary Edition.

Kick back and enjoy this fucking poetry.

“There are iconic vehicles out there and then there are Jeep vehicles. You literally can’t say the word iconic without referencing a Jeep. In fact, describing what an iconic vehicle is to someone who doesn’t know immediately brings up the example of a Jeep. And what happens when an iconic vehicle reaches a milestone like 75 years in production. Well then, you fill it with Jeep iconic badging, offer it in green, accent the exterior with bronze and orange and challenge people to find some open-air, dirt and a smile. The 75th Anniversary Jeep Cherokee hits all those marks.”

I literally can’t say the word iconic without referencing a Jeep? Hmm. Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

“Bear Bryant’s houndstooth hat was an iconic piece of fashion.” No Jeep reference required!

“Kim Kardashian’s ass is easily her most iconic feature.” Did I make a Wrangler reference and just not realize it?

Also, can you tone down your SEO, brah? We all get it. It’s a Jeep. Jeep Jeep Jeepity Jeep!

“On the road, it is quite literally doesn’t share any of the ride characteristics of its 1941 brethren trading the bumpy ride for a very smooth one.”

I don’t even know what that was.

“Basically, the 2016 Jeep Cherokee Latitude is a Jeep SUV with the heart of a legendary product. It rides smooth, returns good fuel economy and has a roomy interior, yet it can and will gladly get dirty. Plus, wrap it in Recon Green and it even looks like a Jeep. It is quite simply one of the best SUVs on the market that just so happens to also be a Jeep.”

Did you hear that, guys? IT’S A JEEP THAT LOOKS LIKE A JEEP! JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Despite all the Jeepiness of this Jeep, I’m fairly certain that its Jeepy little heart is based on the same platform as the Dodge Dart. Oh, Jeep.

If it were just the unavoidable fact that Tim’s a rather substandard writer, I think I’d be more likely to give him a pass. No, it’s not just his deficiencies with the written word that bother me. It’s his willingness to sell his opinions to the highest bidder.

Zero integrity — ACHIEVED! Let’s take a look at the Twitter feed.

Oh yeah! Free promo for the OEM! It’s a garbage pic, but still — OMG THEY RETWEETED ME!

So why should you care that Tim is a terrible, unethical writer?

First of all, if you read any of Tim’s reviews — well, don’t — but if you do, you’ll see that he has never said a negative thing about a car in his life. Not one. The entire purpose of any car review is to help the consumer determine which cars are worth his or her valuable time to research further.

The consumer shopping process typically goes something like this:

Reviews —> Third-party classified site —> OEM site —> Dealer site —> showroom visit

What in God’s name could anybody determine from reading such a review?

Secondly, there are only so many press cars and junket invites to go around. OEMs have to be selective in handing out invites. For every Tim Esterdahl invite that goes out, there’s a Matt Farah who doesn’t get one. Every car that gets delivered to his driveway can’t be reviewed by an actual journalist that week. That ends up hurting you, the consumer.

You can help in the battle against reviewers like Tim — and believe me, he’s not the only one. The next time you research a car, don’t give these jokers any clicks. Stick with outlets that are willing to tell, well, you know…the Truth.

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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  • Chicanery Chicanery on Jul 05, 2016

    Wish I had time to read all these #iconic posts. Really. But time eludes me. *sigh*

  • TheMooch TheMooch on Aug 03, 2017

    OMG, that crappy Maxima picture he took has me in tears! And the fact that Nissan retweeted it speaks volumes..

  • FreedMike They're highly important to me, particularly for navigation.
  • Bill Wade No Android Auto, no car. How else would I listen to Radio Paradise. ;)
  • KOKing "One of the most interesting parts of this situation is that Stellantis, and by extension, the Chrysler Group, is increasingly considered a foreign company instead of a traditional American automaker."Does that mean Simca and Hillman are coming back?
  • Redapple2 34 yr in Michigan salt?
  • Mike-NB2 Zero. Not interested at all. I often don't have my phone with me, and if I do, I completely ignore it. Unless it were to catch fire, of course. But I'm old, so that has to be taken into account too.
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