By on June 19, 2018

It’s June, which means it’s the time of year for my son to visit his grandfather in South Carolina and spend a week at golf camp. Sometimes I have to spend the week working, sometimes I spent it traveling, and sometimes I get to spend it hanging out with my dad and his friends.

Most of them are cast from the same group of molds: either self-made or with only minor family advantages, a long history of executive positions or highly remunerative small business ownership, more millions left in the bank than they have years left in the tank. They’re not interested in art or literature, they have a casual and hilarious disrespect for modern social ideas, they maintain a sort of gruff good humor about everything from heart attacks to coastal hurricanes. We will not see their like again, which is kind of a shame.

Yesterday one of them came over to say hello, meet the grandchildren, and to ask me a couple of questions about his next vehicle purchase. I long ago figured out that these fellows don’t necessarily want my authentic opinion regarding the merits of the SL65 or the Continental GT. Rather, they want me to nod approvingly at whatever they’ve already decided to buy, at which point we can have a nice lunch and engage in some mutual appreciation of our good fortune in life, regardless of how unevenly said fortune is distributed.

This fellow was different. He came prepared: with notes, impressions, questions. He had hard financial limits in mind, which is vanishingly rare among a class of Baby Boomers who no longer bother to count pennies or Krugerrands. Most importantly, he gave me something to think about long after he’d left.


Our friend — let’s call him Alan — wanted something to replace his E350 Benz, which was just about to finish its lease. He knew what he wanted to pay, and he knew approximately which cars would fit the bill. He was looking at sedans but, despite his genial contempt for the “high-rider cars,” he figured it would be less painful for him to get into something like an X5 or an Acura MDX. His list of candidates had all the usual foreign-brand suspects in that price range…

…plus the Ford Explorer.

“I see a few of them in the neighborhood,” he said, “and they seem pretty decent.”

I explained to him that the most competitive Explorer leases tended to be on the mid-tier models, as opposed to the fully-loaded SUV he’d want in order to duplicate the feature set of his Benz. That seemed to satisfy him and we continued down the list. Afterwards, he told a few stories about some business arrangements he’d had with various auto dealers over the years, including “a really great Chevy dealer” down the street.

“Do you still have a contact at that dealer?” I asked.

“Oh, sure,” he replied.

“In that case,” I suggested, “you might want to wander over there and take a look at the Chevrolet Traverse Premier. It would offer a pretty similar feature set to an MDX or RX350, and your dealer might be able to work out something really competitive.” He was silent for a moment, then his face crinkled in a smile.

“I’m sure what you say is right, but… People on this plantation don’t like to ask what you did for a living before you retired, but they do like to judge on appearances. I don’t think that I could get away with driving a Chevrolet.” I had to laugh with him, both for the frank truth behind the statement and the forthright way in which he expressed himself. It wasn’t until after Alan had left that my brother said,

“Isn’t it interesting that he was willing to consider a Ford — that he even suggested it himself — but he couldn’t bear the idea of a Chevrolet?”

“Interesting, yeah, but not surprising,” was my verdict. After all, wasn’t Alan just saying something out loud that almost everybody in this business knows but won’t say? Fifty years ago, the domestic automakers would frequently refer to the “low-priced three” in advertising and marketing materials. James Cobb at the Times resurrected the concept twenty years ago in one of his reviews, and at that point it was still fairly apt.

Things changed after that. Plymouth got the axe, while Chevrolet and Ford managed to effectively swallow the brands immediately above them in their corporate hierarchies. They made large public investments in traditional sedans while quietly moving production volume to half-ton trucks and beefing up their unibody crossover lineups. With a few exceptions — Corvette, Raptor, Suburban for a while — they fielded lineups which were effectively mirror images.

It would be difficult to make a case for Chevrolet having a notably stronger lineup than Ford or vice versa. Yet Chevy has struggled to maintain brand equity while Ford has effortlessly waltzed into the position of America’s most prestigious mainstream automotive brand. I’m not sure how they did it. The only major difference I see is that Ford hasn’t bothered to protect Lincoln very much in previous years, particularly on the truck side. There are no fewer than three hyper-premium F-150 variants — Platinum, King Ranch, and Limited — while until recently Chevrolet wouldn’t let you go any higher than LTZ, saving the good stuff for Cadillac and GMC. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was the fact, rarely confronted directly in the auto press outside your humble author’s work, that Ford was selling German small cars while Chevy was selling Korean small cars.

You might have your own theories on the subject, just as valid as mine, if not more so. The key takeaway, however, has to be this: Automotive brand prestige was once a matter of power, performance, and durability. After the Second World War, the marketing and advertising became scientific enough to ensure that brand prestige was determined via the media.

None of that works any more. Today, brand image is slippery and hard to fix in place, like mercury or the value of a Bitcoin. It ebbs and flows on social media and celebrity involvement. It can be manipulated through a tie-in with the Kardashians or destroyed through vague slanderous blog-whispering the way that would-be Instagram competitor Vero was destroyed by oh-so-convenient allusions of sexism and racism that just happened to receive major play in media sources that had already invested heavily in the current order of things.

Most of all, brand image is fragile now, more than ever before. The old generations, the people who are living in 7,000-square-foot plantation McMansions now, grew up as “Ford men” or “Chevy men” or even “Toyota men.” Those preferences persisted through decades. We are on Internet time now. Today’s Ford fanatic is tomorrow’s Subaru loyalist. It’s not good news. It means that more and more effort has to be diverted from engineering and testing to marketing and social media. It damages the product even as it tries to save it. It is nothing more or less than the way we live now.

Worst of all, most of us can’t even be honest with ourselves, or others, about it. In that respect, at least, we still have something to learn from our parents and grandparents. That, and a strong handshake, which might not be in style in Brooklyn but is definitely still de rigeur on the plantation. If it’s okay with you, I’m going to stop typing for a while. Ow.

[Image: General Motors]

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143 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Plate Tectonics of the Prestige Drift...”


  • avatar
    St.George

    I live in a master planned ‘bubble’ North of Houston replete with soccer moms easing their woes away at local nail salons. The funny thing is that the area is festooned with late model Yukons/Yukon XL’s/Tahoes/Suburbans etc. Yes, there are a lot of Mercedes G Wagens/GL’s etc etc but there is no ‘shame’ in driving the big GM battle-cruisers!!

    Fords are rarer here though, you see the odd Lincoln but I would say Fords are vastly outnumbered by GM vehicles (trucks excepted). Purely anecdotal for sure but that’s what I observe daily.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      It helps that the GM production facility for Tahoes, Suburbans, Yukons, and Escalades is in Arlington, Texas.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I see a ton of whatever the giant Chevy/GMC (and some Caddys) things are at the kids’ school. If the idiots in the Rovers look down on them I wouldn’t know. I am rocking the Odyssey and I don’t give a fvck what anyone thinks about my sweet van.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      I think it’s hilarious that the Woodlands folk see ANY kind of prestige in a Denali. Oh, chrome grille and black leather, watch out Mercedes.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        I find it desirable to have more hugs in my life.

        -Mod

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Prestige, yeah, that baffles me.

        But a Yukon Denali is … considerably cheaper than a comparable (ie the 550, not the 450) GLS, even before you start adding options to the Mercedes.

        And as much as I’m generally down on GM, and loved my old Merc, I’d trust the Yukon to have lower maintenance costs and possibly overall reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          An old dude in some South Carolina neighborhood implied to Jack that Ford is as prestigious as Mercedes or even Bentley, while Chevy is the rough equivalent of Lifan Industry Group Co., Ltd, and then Jack called Bark Maruth, who confirmed this as fact, so it’s officially true.

      • 0 avatar

        Even here in euro friendly New England Tahoe’s and Suburbans (etc) are as common in upscale neighborhoods as altimas in TN.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert

      Notably for this age group, Houston lacked a network that broadcast the Eddie Fisher show.

      This is how you end up with people buying Tahoes fifty years later.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I remember the Eddie Fisher show. It was 15 minutes long, and alternated weeks with George Gobel. If they didn’t see Eddie, they didn’t see George either.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    It appears to me that the public is more interested in lease terms and Consumer Reports reviews than brand (at least, off the plantation).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “I’m not sure how they did it.”

    I think your thesis is likely in the ballpark if not exact, but I would add Ford has made their F-series seem premium (similar to GMC) when in fact it is designed to be a workhorse. GMC however, is not a full line marque whereas Ford is, so lowly things such as non ST Fiesta and Ecosport don’t drag it down as much as Spark/Sonic and Trax do Chevrolet. GM may be able to duplicate this by focusing on sub brands for Silverado, Tahoe, Corvette, and Equinox while cutting little sh!tboxes from the lineup. Although I don’t see it happening, I would advise them to play a little more loose with the distribution channels (and I would consolidate the three channels into two).

    “It means that more and more effort has to be diverted from engineering and testing to marketing and social media.”

    Disagree. Again, Ford was able to create this by highlighting F-150 and allowing it to be the de-facto choice for a number of buyer types. They didn’t accomplish this by diverting Al research monies into Twatter and Fartbook.

    Ask yourself, what can’t the F-150 do these days? Fit into reasonable parking/street parking is the only major thing which comes to mind. Can be had V6 or V8, sedan or coupe, can tow and go truly offroad, can get decent economy for a large vehicle, can be had with a ton of luxo options, and is not seen as plebeian these days. Replicate that GM.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’re spot on with the brands division ideas here. GMC means that Chevrolet can only climb so high, and that the premium Fords aren’t directly comparable with the gold bow tie.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks. I think doing something like the Avalanche again but branding it Tahoe Avalanche edition etc and NOT offering it GMC might be a step in the right direction. In normal parlance, people well say I drive a Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado etc, but do they also say I drive a Malibu, Spark, Trax etc or do they say “Chevrolet” or “Chevrolet” + X? I know no one who prefixes Tahoe/Corvette/Silverado with “Chevy” just as no one prefixes “Ford” to F-150.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      While I wouldn’t call Jack wrong, I’d add one more thing to the mix: Ford didn’t take a bailout or file for bankruptcy in 2009. That one facts carries a lot of water in my extended family, which has been all too happy to go with Ford over GM/Chrysler products since then. And I admit I have some of that bias, too. My household owns two Fords at the moment, and the only GM or Chrysler product I would give serious consideration to at this point is a Corvette.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        I heard the bankruptcy-related sentiment expressed, too, and I’m surprised that Jack didn’t latch on it, especially considering the demographic profile of his interlocutor.

        • 0 avatar
          Robert

          +1

          Men of a certain self-made mindset and traditional values Jack alludes to would still likely recall the bailout with disdain. Self-limiting product mixes Chevrolet created by retaining Cadillac and Buick, and by importing less “driver” appealing cars are no doubt factors.

          But the articles premise is brand is fickle and media driven. So by the rules of the article, the product doesn’t matter. Perception does.

          The perception of this (and many other) demographic is Chevy is a shit company making shit cars and thus couldn’t handle its business and went crying to Big Government for help, and worse later bailed on the payback.

          Why would any self made, rough and tumble, Enterprise Capitalist want to be seen driving an Government Motors car?

          That impression will linger in manys mindset for decades still to come,and is an impression more real to many than any actual product truth.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Ford’s Bailout

        Although Ford did not receive TARP funds, it did receive government loans. These were critical because banks were not lending during the financial crisis. It requested a $9 billion line-of-credit from the government. In return, it pledged to spend $14 billion on new technologies.

        On June 23, 2009, Ford received a $5.9 billion loan from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. In return, it pledged to accelerate development of both hybrid and battery-powered vehicles, close dealerships, and sell Volvo. It upgraded factories in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce hybrid vehicles.

        Ford used the funds to switch its focus to commercial electric vehicles. In 2016, CEO Mark Fields said, “We want to become a top player in electrified solutions. The company wants to lead…we can win such as with our commercial vehicles.”

        Eighty-one percent of the funds went to create new efficiency technologies for gas-powered vehicles. For example, they helped fund Ford’s aluminum bodies in the F-series pickups. The Congressional Research Service estimated the loans saved 33,000 jobs. Ford will repay this loan by 2022.

        Many argue that Ford needed the funds to sustain its cash flow during the recession. Ford says it was in better shape than the other two because it had mortgaged its assets in 2006 to raise $23.6 billion. It used the loans to retool its product lineup to focus on smaller, energy efficient vehicles. It got the United Automobile Workers to agree it could finance half of a new retiree health care trust with company stock. By April 2009, it retired $9.9 billion of the debt it had taken out in 2006. Forbes

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          Kinda easy to cut and paste whole paragraphs, isn’t it? But going back to your own source, your first 7 words make the case for us that Ford didn’t take the TARP bailout. You can spend paragraphs trying to make them look as bad as the others, but here are the facts:

          Ford – Took $5.9 billion loan from the feds, still paying it back, company is doing well.

          GM – Took $51 billion in TARP funds, filed for bankruptcy, and the feds lost $11.3 billion of our money on them.

          Chrysler – Took $12.5 billion in TARP funds, filed for bankruptcy, and the feds lost $1.3 billion of our money on them.

          So I shall re-assert my original point: “Ford didn’t take a bailout or file for bankruptcy in 2009. That one facts carries a lot of water…”

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @28-Cars-Later – you nailed it. Ford does not artificially restrain any Ford badge to make Lincoln look good. Over at GM they “limit” Chevrolet so GM can be next up in the pecking order and GM gets restricted so Cadillac can sit on top.

      You can’t remotely compare a Chevy LTZ pickup to any top tier F series or Ram truck. LTZ is on par with a leather equipped “sport” package on an XLT.

    • 0 avatar

      I would add on to the effect that auto journalist s seemed to have decided the only acceptable American brand is Ford.
      Also GM full size body on frame vehicles are viewed in a different light then the rest of the bowties. You can feel comfortable saying I own a suburban or Silverado without ever having to utter the word Chevy.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    Ford as acceptable to the Patricians might be due to Ford being run by a family. The Country Club set can identify with Bill Ford and the family that owns a football team and invested in their downtown (RenCen) and now a train station. The story of Henry Ford and his descendants appeals.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Ford probably built some brand equity on the claim: “we didn’t get bailed out”. Seems like this claim would matter to the bootstrappers Jack is talking about.

      While the claims were demonstrably false, Ford was in a much better position than the other automakers, and that probably matters to people who are self-made and in control of their finances.

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        None of that brand equity or perception helped their retail sedan sales though.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Their retail sedan sales aren’t bad, especially compared to their domestic rivals. But, they’re still not profitable and I don’t blame them for pulling the plug on a money losing program.

          I wonder what Corolla, Altima and Camry sales would be without their dependence on fleets. Honda is really the only “retail car king”, because FWD cars are what they do best, and always have been. Its a no-brainer to head straight to your Honda dealer if your needs/wants are such that a car (sedan/coupe/hatchback) will suffice.

          Meanwhile, trucks and truck-based SUVs are what the domestic brands do best, and nobody has really able to challenge them seriously thus far. The Tundra, Titan, Sequoia and Armada are but tiny drops of water in the vast ocean of BOF truck/SUV sales in this country. Even perpetually 3rd place RAM is envy-worthy by the Japanese brands. Let them have their razor-thin-margin cars, its really all they have, and its a segment in decline.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            *…really /been able to challenge…

            Guess I lost a word during editing, sorry about that.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            I see enough non-fleet Corollas and Camrys to not wonder about them; they’d do fine.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I’m not basing my statements on anecdotal observations, just the percentage of cars that actually end up in fleets. Corolla, Altima and Camry dominate the list. But, its fine, fleet sales are only terrible if its a Chevy, Dodge/Chrysler, or a Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Ford was in a far worse position than they were in the years leading up to the recession. So, they borrowed against everything down to the shrubs surrounding the glass house, invested it all in product (2010 F-150, etc), and came out ahead. In effect, they bailed themselves out. It wouldn’t have taken much more to put them into the government bailout position, but they had already gotten a head start on turning things around before everything went to hell in 08/09.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      We’re discussing people outside my social class, so you may be right. But if you want an American car that isn’t flashy, Ford lets you option its stuff up to luxury levels while offering a higher (perceived) build quality than Chevy does. Also, outside of the F-150, I can’t recall seeing much in the way of advertising for Fords, and that keeps them away from the negative perceptions ads can generate. I’m thinking here of the clearly middle-class people marveling over the “Bad mamma-jamma” Equinox, which definitely doesn’t make your average high-net-worth retiree want one.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Overall brand prestige and standing aside in the Chevy/Ford comparison, just looking at the Explorer it’s a nicer/more expensive looking shape than GM’s crossovers. A high trim Explorer is more in the tier of the BOF GMs IMO (And I strongly prefer the GMs, which are pricier across the board). In Russia anyways, a recent car mag comparison was between a 200 series Land Cruiser, Tahoe, and Explorer. I’m not sure that the ’12 Focus being European-sourced made it any classier or better than the gen 1 Cruze, which in my mind was actually the most refined and mature compact of that era. Current Cruze does infact look generic and Korean.

    Fusion definitely fits your theory, 5 years on it is still one of the more premium-driving cars in the segment.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    I would guess that a Chevy SUV might be acceptable (if a full truck-like SUV was wanted), given how long the Suburban, Tahoe, etc have been around. Or possibly Escalade.

    Chevy (Buick?) crossover, OTOH, not so much.. No real model recognition there.. They’re all still newcomers.

    Explorer has been around forever – it was OJ’s car back in the day :-) He also probably wouldn’t have considered an “Edge”. Too new..

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Chevrolet, despite building such things as the Corvette and the Suburban, has unfortunately, gotten a REPUTATION, much like the girl in school who made bad choices and never learned how to say NO, for building TOO MANY such things as the Cavalier, the Citation, the Vega, Sonic and Aveo, and numerous generally cheap disgusting piles of embarrassment. In the parlance, HOOPTIES.
    Once you get that REP, and are used to the part, it is hard to go back and be the kind of girl that most men would ever bring home to Mother.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Cimarron.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Well, to be fair, Ford has also had turkeys in its history, although they’ve gotten fewer and further between in the past decades, which is more than one can say for GM.

    • 0 avatar

      Your comment had merit until you mentioned Sonic. And Chevy actually apologized for its pre-2010 small cars, stating “our hearts weren’t in it.”

      The Sonic is a ball to drive, very engaging, holds the road better than most any GM FWD from the pre-2008 period.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        I had a Chevy Aveo. It was a good car for the most part, but had atrocious gas mileage for such a small car. And maybe the Sonic didn’t belong on the list. But there were other cars that I could have listed too. So if I wrongly accused the Hedgehog, I apologize.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          There seemed to be a pattern of the that generation of Daewoo-sourced GMs (Aveo, Suzuki Reno, Forenza, etc) massively underperforming in MPG. I’d be fascinated to learn what exactly made it that way.

          My dad had an Aveo5 rental back in the day, and it was the closest thing to the third world tier economy cars (Renault Logan, various fwd Ladas) that I had experienced in the US. It was actually quite endearing to me, odd as that may sound.

          • 0 avatar
            AK

            Best part about the Aveo was the timing belt. I believe they were initially a 80,000 mile service item but after numerous premature failures,they sent out a correction to the owner’s manual that specified they be changed at 60,000.

            I had a girlfriend who had her Aveo timing belt snap while going 85mph. She had just over 81,000 miles on it. That timing belt did her a favor. What a horrendous car.

          • 0 avatar

            Lada Sputnik was a good car. I could even go offroad with that car – it was solid and endured lot of stress including fake engine oil and low quality gas. It was super easy to work on. I replaced lot of parts myself including timing belt on the road. I always carried spare timing belt in trunk just in case so to not get stranded in the middle of nowhere hundreds kms away from home and civilisation.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    One anecdote of an old man’s opinion tnat Jack casually knows in South Carolina does not prove true the Baruth Brothers habitual, reflexive hyperbolic assessment of Ford’s status as a brand (let alone their pumping up the merits of Ford’s vehicles, which are nearly across the board lackluster).

    This is just another example of the ongoing Baruth Brothers bizarre, incurable obsession in pumping up the respectability of Ford’s namesake and goodwill, when in reality, Ford & Chevy offer equally sh!tty vehicles, with the Koreans surpassing both in terms of reliability and quality some time ago.

    Ford is pumping out garbage, with few exceptions, and is dependent on the F-Series for its survival still.

    Jim HACKett is in the process of now running Ford further into the ground.

    Join the Baruth Brothers Ford Fan Club today, and Jack will mail you a free Ford Raptor emblem in 5-9 years, or whenever.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I was wondering why you didn’t bother to mention my Chinesium-via-Mexico Silverado, then I realized it was because this would be a time it doesn’t suit your narrative.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        While you LOUDLY proclaim your love of and allegiance to all things American Made, and commitment to purchasing said things, from denim/clothing/shkes, to guitars, to watches and everything else, here is the American Made Index Score for your mainly foreign parts assembled Chevrolet Silverado, according to American University Kogod School of Business “Made In American Index” (since you mentioned it:

        Rank: 38

        Make: Chevrolet

        Model: Silverado

        *AALA: 0.38

        *TDC: 55

        So, yes, you are rolling dirty with 45% pure, un-American, sweatshop and back-alley (probably commie, too) supplied parts/components every time you see the USA in your Chevrolet Silverado.

        A Ford F-150 purchase would have backed you as practicing what you preach, with 85% AMERICAN MADE PARTS/COMPONENTS CONTENT (and bonus, it’s also assembled in the U.S.).

        A RAM is also way more ‘Murican, with 72% AMERICAN MADE PARTS/COMPONENTS CONTENT, and the newest gen (both classic and New Gen) have even a higher % of USA parts content (and the new gen is assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan).

        • 0 avatar
          gmichaelj

          I think Jack makes more of a Contribution to the US economy by purchasing a US-branded vehicle made in Mexico than if he purchased a Foreign-branded one made in Ohio.

          The Variable Profit (CM-Contribution Margin) goes all to US coffers with a US-branded vehicle, and all to Euro/Jap/Kor coffers if you buy a foreign car.

          From various sources, Autoline, Wards, Autonews, etc. my understanding is that CM is approx 30% of the sales price of the vehicle. Yes, overhead has to be paid and the net profit margin is in the low teens to single digit percentage, but for the extra car you buy, the CM stays here in the US to cover US overhead – accounting/engineering/exec pay/shareholder dividends, etc.

          Sure it would be ideal if he bought a US branded veh made in the US with 100% US components, but its better than buying a Tundra made in Texas –

          Consider the secretaries spending their salaries in SE Michigan.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            ^excellent^

            Be careful, facts that disrupt his narrative are a great way to get him to single you out with his notorious hate-filled rants.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I’d expect you to defend Guangzhou Motors (GM) at all costs, even as they force the outsourcing of more and more of their component-supplier jobs (as well as move assembly of entire vehicles such as the Buick Invasion and Cadillac CT6 to China, that are comprised of mainly Chinese and other foreign-sources parts/components, then exported to the U.S.) ; it’s not exactly a secret that you are affiliated with GM Inside News Forums and other General Motors-affiliated sites.

            You may want to do some research on how many American jobs the automakers are responsible for, and how many Tier I through III auto component suppliers are responsible for.

            You are incredibly pro-Guangzhou Motors biased.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Deadweight:

            Guangzhou Motors (GM) – that’s cute.
            I will agree with you that GM, or Ford for that matter, shipping jobs to China or Mexico is bad. I’m sure we can also agree that NAFTA was a bad idea as evidenced by the average wage for the bottom 50% of America going nowhere in the past 30 years.

            But buying a Foreign-branded car that is likely using Foreign-owned suppliers, who pay their lowest wages to US assembly employees, then take their profits back overseas, sounds like one who wants to go back to our colonial roots.

            As for the research on “..how many American jobs the automakers (I guess you are speaking for JAP3/KOR2/GERM3) are responsible for, and how many Tier I through III auto component suppliers are responsible for.” Then please point the way Deadweight. I would love to see your research if you could please provide it.

            As for ” it’s not exactly a secret that you are affiliated with GM Inside News Forums and other General Motors-affiliated sites.” – Dude you need to check your Meds.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            As for the GM-affiliated websites, I had you confused with Michael Acardi, who has a similar Harper name. At any rate, hour user name suggests you’re a GM homer.

            As for # of jobs, Tier I through III parts/component suppliers have 3x to 3.5x as many employees as actual automakers – I’ll put together some data and links for you tomorrow.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            Thanks in advance for the data and the links!

            My name is a play on my real name. But I do currently own an Impala after having wrecked my Mustang :(

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      It is curious, to say the least. Marky B got a good, hard dose of Ford when he bought the overhyped/underengineered Focus RS, which is just one of many examples of Ford’s continuing commitment to function as a domestic version of BMW.

      And we have supposedly informed commenters insisting that Hyundai and Kia *still* build mid-90s era crapwagons, all evidence aside. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m surprised at what I’m reading here.

      Jack, your experience has been similar to mine in different situations over a period of years.

      There are people who will buy a Ford, GMC, or Buick, but will NOT touch a Chevrolet.

      EVEN THOUGH the brand accounts for 70% or so of GM’s business and EVEN THOUGH they are arguably building the best vehicles in their history. Current Impala, anyone?

      But here’s how I have long seen it.

      All the way back in 1958, Ford took the Thunderbird squarely into prestige territory. “Unique in all the world”…remember?

      And there’s the 1965 LTD. “Quieter than a Rolls-Royce”…remember?

      Drip…drip…drip.

      Let’s add Mercury into this mix. The brand that can’t decide if it’s a fancy Ford or budget Lincoln. Over time, Mercury became invisible AND irrelevant.

      The drip becomes a stream.

      Let’s get into the 80s and GM’s A, J and X-body clones. THIS is the point at which the General would have done well to begin killing off Pontiac/Olds/Buick, because NOW they’re all running into one another as the rungs on Sloan’s ladder crumble into the dustbin of history.

      Ford was still building crap at this time too…but they had Taurus waiting in the wings.

      GM had…well, what did they have? Oh, Saturn.

      Roger Smith’s tacit admission that Chevrolet’s brand was damaged.

      Meanwhile, in one of the few segments where Detroit continued to do right – full-size pickup trucks, Ford kept moving upscale, bit by bit.

      Eddie Bauer. King Ranch, etc. etc.

      But Chevy was kept in place to protect GMC and eventually, Cadillac.

      PLUS the car segments where Buick, Olds, Pontiac, and sometimes, even Cadillac all had to be protected…

      …and what was a drip 50 years ago is now a flood.

      And maybe this all seems ridiculous since Chevrolet has 70% of GM’s volume. But the evaporation of GM’s market share since 1980 is one of the all-time self-inflicted tragedies of the American auto industry.

      I admit, I’ve rooted for the General, and in particular the Bowtie, since childhood. I also figured that since I, a Chevy fan, can see how the brand’s cache in the marketplace has sank since the 1980s, that ANYONE can see it.

      But apparently not.

      This account rings all-too-true to me. And IMO, it remains the greatest challenge for Chevrolet. Now it just may be, that these fickle times play to Chevy’s ADVANTAGE. But the strategy’s going to have to be the same as if it were fighting to regain respectability in an era of stability in brand loyalty: products that excel in every segment.

      But the other thing GM can do is embark on a strategy to eliminate the Buick and GMC brands. Do what FoMoCo did with Mercury: cover their bases with other products. OR…take Buick/GMC further upscale and allow Chevy to match and exceed Ford in the all-important full-size truck segment.

      They’ve already cut sales to fleets, which helps resale values at the retail level…which 50 years ago, was a Chevy strength. More value at trade-in.

      DW, as savage as you have been on the General (sometimes justifiably so), I’m surprised you haven’t seen this Ford over Chevy dynamic, or have seen how it got this way. But I agree with you that Jim Hackett is a giant bowl of NOT GOOD for the Blue Oval.

      Let’s check back in, in five years or so…and just to be clear, wifey and I are happy with our 2011 Equinox LTZ and will be shopping Chevy first – and probably exclusively – for its successor come next year.

      • 0 avatar

        “There are people who will buy a Ford, GMC, or Buick, but will NOT touch a Chevrolet.”

        Actually I am one of them. Last time I cross shopped Fusion Titanium with Buick Regal (and Mazda6). Malibu was not even in the list. Hard to explain why. Interior was distasteful and cheap or overall design (I never liked Opels interiors either preferring Ford or VW and especially Audi). Why even to consider Chevy if you can buy Buick or GMC, essentially better looking and higher quality version of the same car?

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    “Automotive brand prestige was once a matter of power, performance, and durability.”

    The C-130 and B-52 are both sixty+ years old. More directly related, TVs, computers, and even “leather” from what I presume are Chinese ROUSes cost nothing anymore. The formula for aircraft was perfected sometime around 1960, cars sometime around 2000. I think if the boomers gtfo of the auto business it is entirely possible for luxury brands to differentiate themselves by a) not using rat leather b) try making their garbage cars reliable. Performance is a non-starter. Everything now is so much faster than anything from 15 years ago. Unless the US interstates turn into the autobahn there is no point in making more power.

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      German cars in general are the ultimate disposable appliances. Almost literally Apple “iCars” in the way they market, operate, and deteriorate.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      If you think the formula for aircraft was perfected in the 1960s then you must not follow the aviation industry all that much.

      Modern designed aircraft have about as much in common with 1960s designed aircraft as well 2000 automobiles (when that formula was apparently perfected) have with 1960s automobiles, maybe even less.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        OK I’ll bite. Honestly I do not know much about airplanes other than that C-130s and B-52s are stlll in use. Are you saying that there have been advancements in airframes and airfoils that I am unaware of or are you saying that despite the FAA’s best wishes aviation has more or less kept pace with the rest of the world?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The B-52s are still in use because they are simply a bomb truck. Big, cheap thing that dumps a bunch of bombs. They don’t get flown much, cost a fortune to actually fly when they do, and it would cost too much to replace them for the use they get, so we just keep them. Not much reason to improve on that. Similarly, the C130 is the dump truck of the sky. Both are fine designs when cost of operation is covered by tax payers and of no particular concern. Note that Lockheed did manage to sell a VERY small number of C130s to civilian operators. But they cost too much to fly if the goal is making money with them.

          Now commercial aviation where in theory the goal is to actually make money flying people around is a very different story altogether. A 787 might as well be a spaceship compared to the B52’s civilian cousin the 707. We figured out the basic form factor by the early 70s, but the details have changed MIGHTILY. Even the 737, which has nominally been in production since the late 60’s, is a completely different airplane today than it was then – it just looks broadly similar. And the majority of the old ones are long gone.

          • 0 avatar

            Still Boeing consider replacing 737 with 797 widebody two-aisle MOM plane. If it does it will put pressure on Airbus to invest into new MOM instead of 321 mods. Because carriers demand new plane, reworking old planes is not good enough (see history behind A350). Airbus also made a huge mistake with A380 – B777 is taking over A380. A380 is DOA – Airbus is planning to retire A380 after only 10 years of production, wasted billions of taxpayers money.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    I could go on and on about this, but I’ve always thought that Fords were finished out better than Chevrolets.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    I’ve had 16 cars now, and I am 32. I’m not loyal to any one brand, admittedly I was rather BMW/Porsche focused previously, but currently have two Ford’s, the Shelby GT350 and Fiesta ST. They are two of the most exciting cars to drive under $100k, I still can’t get over the sound of the GT350…well other than that it’s sitting at the dealer with a blown engine at 7k miles but that’s another story.

    Being actively involved in the car world here in LA I’ve noticed brand loyalty is absent more than ever and it’s all about who makes a fun to drive car, I think it’s great for enthusiasts as we appreciate cars for what they are not their symbol on the hood. It’s great to see America making some of its best cars it ever has that are offering world class performance and garnering respect, my GT350 gets all type of waves and nods from people driving Euro & Imports.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “I still can’t get over the sound of the GT350…well other than that it’s sitting at the dealer with a blown engine at 7k miles but that’s another story.”

      Your predicament is fairly common, from what I gather (blown engine with 7,000 miles on a GT350 bought new).

      What’s more unusual is how it apparently hasn’t affected your praise of Ford.

      From blown engines, to some of the worst transmission ever designed and built, to all other manner of quality control issues (and a CR Reliability Index that place ps them almost at the bottom rung of all automakers – they literally hover above JLR), Ford has some of the most forgiving customers ever conceived.

      If KIA produced vehicles as unreliable and problem-plagued as Ford, they would have been driven from the U.S. market many, many years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        I’m not loyal to them, these are my first Ford’s ever. But I recognize manufacturers have issues, coming from the German car world it certainly existed, e.g. rod bearings in M engines, subframe tearing on some BMW’s, IMS issues in 911’s, cylinder scoring in 911’s, etc.

        More important to me is how it’s rectified, if Ford takes care of me then all is well…if they don’t then I certainly won’t be remotely loyal.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          C’mon now, don’t screw with his stereotyping of you, it works so well for him to put everyone in neat little boxes conveniently stacked below him, so that he can look down upon all of us and judge us as he sees fit. Its all bullsh¡t, but that’s the world he lives in.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            His present real world is a FORD GT350 bought new (almost certainly with a slimeball Ford dealership markup) sitting at the dealership with a BLOWN ENGINE WITH ALL OF 7,000 MILES ON IT.

      • 0 avatar
        asphaltcowboy

        “From blown engines, to some of the worst transmission ever designed and built, to all other manner of quality control issues (and a CR Reliability Index that place ps them almost at the bottom rung of all automakers – they literally hover above JLR), Ford has some of the most forgiving customers ever conceived.”

        According to this link from CR (Dec 2017) – the line of Ford models ranks as “Average Reliability ” for the industry.

        https://www.consumerreports.org/car-reliability-owner-satisfaction/car-brands-reliability-how-they-stack-up/

        One thing that should be pointed out about reliability now – is that all manufacturers (save Toyota?) have models that are above average and some that are below average reliability and build quality. Some makers like GMC/FCA/Volvo have most of their models ranked at below average reliability/quality. Then some like Land Rover/Jaguar (junk) and the like don’t even move enough models to be ranked accurately – but no doubt they would be bottom of the heap – even lower than GM products!

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “If KIA produced vehicles as unreliable and problem-plagued as Ford, they would have been driven from the U.S. market many, many years ago.”

        If Kia produced a car like a Shelby GT350 with the flat plane crank and M3-beating performance we’d be all ears. But somehow “Kia: we don’t suck as bad as we used to” isn’t a crazy desirable selling point.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Let someone introduce you to the Stinger.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            The Stinger matches the GT350 in performance? Wow. Where have they been hiding that revelation?

            The Stinger is a worthy effort, but a Mustang GT350 it is not. It can’t even be had with a manual trans, much less a V-8.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Test drove a Stinger. It was OK. But just OK. Nice effort, but the same problem Cadillac seems to have – they don’t sweat the details enough, so the whole thing comes off as cheap. It’s $10-15K+ cheaper than the equivalent BMW or Audi and you will never forget it for a second.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “brand loyalty is absent more than ever and it’s all about who makes a fun to drive car”

      Brand loyalty is alive and well in the burbs of LA. Brand perception even moreso. Not many Kia’s running around Calabasas or the Conejo Valley, but there sure are a lot of Mercs, Lexii and BMWs.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        @Deadweight: I bought the car for $3k below MSRP, it’s a 2018 model. You underestimate my abilities ;)

        @Jkross22: Agreed but those are not car enthusiasts but rather conspicuous consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @JohnTaurus: the Stinger comment was made in regards to Chris’s comments regarding Kia. It was a refutation of his disparaging of the Kia brand.

        No mention of the Stinger as a Mustang alternative. It is a different segment and marketed to a different demographic.

        The problems that I am experiencing with signing into and commenting on this site, meant that I had to make multiple attempts, deleted some and therefore the direct reference to Chris was omitted.

        Regardless, am not sure how or where you read in that the Stinger was being directly presented as a Mustang GT350 alternative?

    • 0 avatar
      Carzzi

      The GT500 will come with a factory standard blown engine

  • avatar
    Prado

    I don’t think ‘Chevy’ is really the brand issue…. the low perception is being cast upon ‘Traverse Premier’, which I would agree with. The only Chevrolet’s with consistent positive brand equity are Corvette, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe. While other products in the line up may not be bad, there has been little consistency in their cars over the years… the kind of consistency that is necessary to build a positive image that even modestly superficial people care about.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I blame those gawdawful Chevrolet `real people` ads. It makes it look like only morons buy Chevys.

  • avatar
    JMII

    GM has been making better interiors recently, but for many years it was no contest – Fords were nicer on the inside. While GM vehicles maybe competitive on paper these days my reference point is still my wife’s Cavalier which was a total POS and my father’s TrailBlazer which is also garbage. So I would agree with Alan and not put Chevy on my list. Its just a personal thing, like how I will never fly on Spirit again due to how crappy they are.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I recently had an Uber driver with a Pontiac Torrent. The level of awfulness amazed me. Same vintage Escapes were a lot smaller, but orders of magnitude nicer.

      I think GM has finally caught up with Ford in quality, but GM really only brought its stuff up to snuff in the last ~5-6 years. That’s not enough time to undo decades of Rubbermaid crap.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        And then they take two steps backwards, as in the second generation Cruze vs the first.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          Except for I kind of like the hatch version better. Granted, I just gifted my son our 2013 Cruze 2LT and wound up buying a 2017 Cruze hatch, so my opinion means zilch. The 2013 (bought used) had many more “luxury” in the way of the leather interior and sunroof, but the 2017 hatch has a few more techie touches to it and a few (that’s a relative term) more ponies under the hood. Not that either one can ever be claimed as aspirational vehicles, mind you. For what it’s worth, I like the styling of the first gen Cruze sedan much better than the 2nd gen, but it to my eye, the hatch looks better all around. Now if I could have just held out and bought a new one with a manual (the wife even offered up that option…gotta love her for that!).

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I feel like the 2nd gen is nicer where it matters to the market. Significantly nicer interior, the magical 40MPG highway rating, etc. It’s not for us but that’s OK.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Significantly nicer interior”

            Does it? I haven’t been in a G1 Cruze in a while, but the old LTZ sure seemed like a quieter car with a better designed & higher quality interior compared to the G2 Premier trim.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Well, let’s take trim level into account.

      I expect a base Ford to pale compared to a top-trim Chevy, and vice versa.

      It’s differences in equivalent level trim content that really matter.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Those preferences persisted through decades.”

    I didn’t quit GM. GM quit me.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      True dat.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The last 2v heart of iron in their entire lineup is only available in HD trucks and work vans.

        The only GM products currently produced I’d be interested in buying new are a low-trim Silverado double cab (which I have no use for and is 10 inches longer than than my garage) and the Corvette (which GM is going to turn into the NSX Part III soon).

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I have no idea if it’s true, but it seems like most of the “cockroaches of the highway” seem to be GM cars. While admirable on one hand for durability, the usual less than pristine condition of both the cars – and many of their occupants – is not helping the desirability of GM cars.

    PS – My wife won’t look at a GM car but it’s because of the bailouts and not the above.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    For whatever reason, Ford has a far better image to me as well.

    Probably not 1 thing but lots of minor ones. The Ford logo is what, number 2 in worldwide recognition behind coke? It hasn’t changed since when, the late 20s? There is history in the name, brand, logo.

    Henry Ford, despite his significant flaws, is still considered a folk hero in America. He, more than any 1 other person, completely changed the world and how we move through it. And that name is still on the cars today.

    The family is still involved. Good or bad, I think many of us like the idea of a “family” business. And you can tie that family name directly to the badge on the car. It isn’t just a Chevy brand on a car made by a faceless corporate named General Motors.

    I definitely have preferred how Fords of the last 10-15 years drove vs GM cars. They actually seem to have some soul, superb suspension tuning and ride/handling balance, great brakes, decent steering. Chevys are more like a Toyota.

    There might be something to the bailouts thing.

    And I really do think those “real people” Chevy ads hurt the brand. They are so awful, almost cringe worthy. It stinks of garbage, low budget ads and therefore product for low budget idiot buyers. Not necessarily the truth, but that’s the image they project. Ford isn’t amazing but I’d rather be associated with family values or strong work trucks and “America’s favorite brand” than “wow 4G wifi” and a valet that doesn’t return my car to me or morons having a conference on a freeway ramp.

    Maybe fewer brands helps. I don’t know. GMC seems to have a great brand image. If they can, Ford can, why not Chevy?

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      And don’t forget (unless you can) the guy describing the sound of barbed wire scraping into the fender of his Silverado. C-R-I-N-G-E ! Terrible commercial !

  • avatar
    deanst

    Cute story, but I don’t think the opinion of one old man is indicative of much. The fact that he likes the old, out of date Explorer suggests that he doesn’t really know much about cars, and probably has a bias against Chevy due to some issue with his ‘64 Chevelle.

    I can agree that Chevy has no brand equity – even in cheap Canada, Pontiac cars and GMC trucks were/are more popular vehicles. Ford is largely irrelevant here – outside of the F150 and Escape.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “The fact that he likes the old, out of date Explorer suggests that he doesn’t really know much about cars, ”

      Either that or he knows what he likes and knows the Explorer is a good value for what you’re getting. I had one recently as a rental and was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. Wasn’t as a great as a GL550, but it’s a solid value.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        There’s quite a few Explorer Limiteds in Avis’ rental fleet and I can confirm that they are indeed quite nice to ride in as well as to drive. Not as “special” feeling as a burbling boxy Yukon IMO, but certainly very nice vehicles, especially considering the price point. My biggest qualm though is the weird ergonomics with a cramped footwell and the weird bulge at the base of the A-pillars, and the strangely huge amount of space between the driver and the door that makes it awkward to position your left arm on long drives. I guess that’s the P2 platform contorted for SUV duty for you, at least it’s very safe I suppose.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “It means that more and more effort has to be diverted from engineering and testing to marketing and social media.”

    My question is whether the marketing costs associated with social media are lesser than those associated with traditional media. If so, then maybe it’s a wash.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Vehicle status is meaningless up to a certain price point. I can show you a $500K house here in Syracuse with a new Range Rover in the driveway and then a $10K house six blocks away with the same car in the driveway. I’m sure in places like Palm Springs and Beverly Hills there are plenty of cars that the average drug dealer can’t afford. But here, a cardiologist and a crack dealer can have similar whips.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My old man – 75 and going strong – was a die-hard GM man. He drove Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs until the ill-fated Olds diesel engine made him run to a 1987 Nissan Stanza. The quality of that car – over 200k of relatively trouble-free highway driving – made him buy Japanese until the waning days of his job.

    Since he no longer piles on 40k+ miles a year, he’s back to GM. He has a 2yo Buick Enclave that he bought after his Saturn Outlook got totaled. And then recently he sold his ’99 Olds Aurora (still running!) and a Chevy Trailblazer (with 60k miles) to get a … wait for it… Equinox.

    He has waaay more money than I do, lives in a huge house, but somehow couldn’t justify buying something really nice to drive. So instead he paid $15k cash for a new Equinox.

    Against my advice, of course – I was trying to suggest something fun since YOLO.

    Anyways : “the position of America’s most prestigious mainstream automotive brand”

    I certainly don’t think of Ford, or Chevy, or Dodge in that light at all. Nor do I know anyone else who does. Only Ford I would consider buying is a Mustang, and that’s only because it’s RWD and comes with a a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      Bazza

      My old man was a Seabee stationed on Guam during WW2. He guarded Japanese POWs, had no love our former enemy, and up until his mid-70s drove nothing but GM products. His last Buick was also his last domestically-branded automobile. He’s bought exactly one Nissan Maxima and one Toyota pickup since then, he’s 91 years old now, and both vehicles run flawlessly. GM had a metric assload of good will with my father (and many of his friends) and they squandered every last shiny bit of it.

      • 0 avatar
        dividebytube

        odd coincidence: my grandfather, who passed away in 1976, was also a POW guard but was stationed in the Philippines. My mom still has some sketches of her done by a Japanese prisoner, who used a photograph that my grandfather had.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          divide, it’s kind of odd that we will be the last generation to straddle this many versions of America (I hope…the ride is rough). My father is the same age as yours, and has driven Japanese iron since the late eighties, when GM hit maximum-malaise-per-pound and he had to abandon a dead Buick in front of the dealer’s house in our small town. True story.

          My grandfather drove Chevrolet Bel Airs and Monte Carlos and such as a lawyer. He had served in the FBI, then the Navy as an adjunct (including Japanese prisoners and war crimes, which he never discussed), so American cars were mandated. Chevrolet, because you wanted to keep a lower profile in a farm town. As soon as he retired it was a new Cadillac every two years. The final one was an SLS, and it rattled terribly, but he never seemed to be disappointed. Each one would have a little “Arizona-edition” flair or badging.

          Now we find ourselves in the era of Axis-power luxo-trucks being the only thing to have at the valet. Maybe my grandchildren will strive for the latest ride from Cherry, who can tell?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    In this case, it’s the Explorer brand, not the Ford brand with the appeal. Note that it wasn’t a Fusion or Taurus up against the E class. The Explorer is the safe sensible mass market choice with a very recognizable name. Buying it gives you the credibility that you bought a leader, even if it wasn’t the most expensive.

    What’s a Chevy Traverse in comparison? It’s got about the same name recognition as the Uplander. An image doesn’t pop into the average person’s mind, aside from perhaps store brand underwear.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Excellent point. Everyone knows what an Explorer is. And they have already forgotten about them flipping over. When you have to explain what a Traverse is you have already lost. The fact that GM keeps changing the names of their vehicles tells you how they feel about them. They are basically admitting the old one left a sour taste with consumers so they had to move on.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Gm has always had naming problems. Produce a vehicle for so long it becomes an embarrassment, and then be forced to come up with a new name for the next model. Typical american management style short term thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I think this is the correct answer. Produce a single model long enough, and it becomes a brand unto itself. The same reason it’s acceptable for well-to-do people to be seen in a Grand Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      danio
      I think you are correct. An explorer has more equity than a traverse. that’s the bigger factor than ford vs gm

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Jack certainly brings up an interesting point with this, even if it is only through one well-off boomers perspective. Maybe it was the fact you could get a Euro-looking Focus when Chevy had terrible Cavilers. Idk why exactly, just always had that perception.

    Like you said how Tahoe, Suburban, Vette all have more prestigious name recognition, I think this is a similar scenario. Explorer has been around since the 90s and has served up the upper middle to higher class people. Even though the Explorer now morphed into a Minivan with doors like the rest of them, it still has the name that people remember. It’s the same reason people trade their RX350’s in on Grand Cherokee’s. The Traverse is a fine car, especially the redesign, but it has little history.

    In the end, I sum up that both GM and Ford (and Chrysler) made terrible cars. However, Fords were always slightly better. Add that Chevy is lowest in GM’s branding (when trying to make Buick and GMC premium at the same time) and you get where we’re at today.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    There I was just minding my own business when y’all had to start up that Chevy vs Ford thing again.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    I think Ford did a better job of leveraging new vehicles from existing platforms from their then owned foreign brands (Mazda and Volvo.) Fully formed vehicles were developed in less time and were well received (Escape and Fusion) though not all sold well (Five Hundred).

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I still suspect it’s the bankruptcy thing. You know how some people with longer memories continued to remind us that the HUD agreement was never repudiated by S&W, even while Shield was making sales records.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I was in Mexico at a resort with my family over spring break. I had the unfortunate, or fortunate opportunity to overhear a conversation next to me while I was sipping drinks.

    3 young urban professionals (one woman, two men) were having a VERY serious conversation about how horrible it is that proles in Ohio would wear Sperry boat shoes when they so obviously have no means to own a watercraft, don’t live near water, probably have never been on a boat. The conversation went on to how the people in the town where they live were good people, wore appropriate gear like North Face because many of them ski and even if she was not a skier, her family skis so its ok.

    It was this particular moment, a moment of clarity, a profound life changing event really, I decided I didn’t want to be a douchebag. This story/thread reminds me of that promise to myself.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Hmmm, prestige? I drive an old Lexus GS and I was looking at Infiniti G37X for its AWD (I live in snow world). I’m such a snob I couldn’t get past the idea of driving a mere Infiniti. In fact, If its a Lexus and not a V8 or 2JZ, I don’t consider it a real Lexus. But, back to this topic. Around here a few years ago, you couldn’t arrive at a stop light and not find yourself looking at one or more Mercedes GLKs. These things were everywhere. 3-4 years later, all gone to lease return heaven. Nobody wants them in the used market here, I have no idea where they’ve gone. Russia? Middle East?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’m not a huge fan of the GS (or many of Lexus’s current gen lineup – I liked their 1994 to 2005 lineup better), but neither Ford (especially under HACKett) nor Guangzhou Motors – GM – has any vehicle that’s as well assembled, of as high quality components, as it, that will be as reliable or durable as it (not even close).

      It’s hilarious to hear Back Jaruth and Bark Maruth speak of Ford as a brand or product as anything remotely touching up against the quality of assembly and components that Lexus represents.

      An old man in South Carolina suggesting he might consider a Ford Exploder was the catalyst for Jack to write this hilarious essay.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        And it was an excellent ‘s catalyst for you to go on another pointless ramble about this fake fact and that fake fact proving that even the worst Korean cars are better than the best Fords, and all Ford products are awful and none last 10k miles without a rebuild or whatever other crap you’re making up as you go along.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You drive some 1990s era Ford, once (or more) states that the 1994 Ford Tempo was a great car, and literally have the biggest raging boner for anything Ford as anyone ever commenting on TTAC.

          The truly hilarious part, given what you just stated, is that you were on a serious hunt for a early 2000-era Kia Amanti to use for an Uber gig!

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        DW I agree with you about the brothers Baruth. What do you think of the X5 diesel? I swore that Id never buy a SUV then I decided to build a new house on 10 acres in Colorado. So far so good with the X5. It handles better than any SUV Ive been around, and with the diesel gets better mileage and has more power. Best part is that I only paid 13K for something that had a sticker price of 67K in 2011.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I like the X5. You got the diesel which is smart IMO, because there’s a contingent of diesel diehards in the US and especially around the world that will pay premium $$$ for diesel longevity and torque.

          11K IS A GREAT DEAL. You let the original buyer lose their A$$.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            or 13K – same difference. Stay up on the ignition system (plugs, wires, coil packs) and also the catalytic converter in terms of maintenance (make sure the cat doesn’t exhibit signs of getting clogged b/c if left unaddressed, it’s an expensive fail point in many German vehicles like the X5).

            I like Jack and even Mark although someone needs to check them when they are hypocritical or get too arrogant – Jack’s writing has been half-hearted for a while now (I think he’s phoning it in).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t have the hatred that many have toward Chevrolets. I have owned a 73 Chevelle, a 77 Monte Carlo, and presently a 99 S-10 all have been solid vehicles. The 73 Chevelle and the 99 S-10 have been among the best running and more reliable vehicles I have owned. I have also owned a 94 Escort LX wagon, 2000 Taurus, and 85 Mercury Lynx with the Escort and Taurus being one of the best. I agree about the Chevy ads they do more harm than good but I believe the current Chevrolets are the best and the interiors are vastly improved. If you want to see a crappy interior look no further than the regular Focus and the automatic transmission in the Focus.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Let someone introduce you to the Stinger.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Believe that Jack was experiencing a premature assumption here.

    Alan is just following Sloan’s concept. Did Jack recommend a Buick Enclave. If not why not? And what might have been Alan’s response?

    If positive, it would be a confirmation of the traditional GM hierarchy. And therefore demonstrative of why GM still maintains multiple brands.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Only three rungs on the ladder, though.

      Of course, Bruick might as well be Chinese! That leaves the prole brand, and the top-tier! (The latter doesn’t know if it wants to go after ze Germans, or what!)

      So GM is a big identity crisis!

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    I think the problem with Chevy is horrible dealerships. Ford is not that much better, unless you are a good old boy, since they cater mainly to F150 crowd.

    If you are a man or woman of means, you really don’t want the hassle of dealing with Chevy and Ford dealers. In Atlanta area, Toyota and Honda far exceed Ford and Chevy levels. But frankly, any of the premium brands is where a person of means needs to go from a service dealer perspective.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    When my sons were attending a private Christian school the SUV pecking order from top to bottom were Range Rovers, Infiniti QX80’s,then Escalades, and at the bottom were Tahoes, Suburbans and Expedition. There was one Lincoln Navigator but it was old so doesn’t really count. I don’t recall seeing any G-Wagons. There were the odd BMW X5 but it appeared to be more of a case of “size matters”.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Agree that it is the Explorer nameplate that has the credibility more so that Ford, but that Ford has more brand equity than Chevrolet without the burden of the Sloan scale.

    I’d also agree with others here that the prestige buy from a non-premium make is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Interestingly, the GC is the best-selling mid-size crossover/SUV if you separate the Explorer and Police Interceptor sales. The shared M-B architecture may even have appeal to Alan as a current E-Class owner.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    Chevrolet is a mostly prole brand, Ford less so. I know lots of very successful folks that have F150’s and Superduties. That being said I had the misfortune of being assigned a current generation Explorer at work. I can’t fathom anyone spending their own money on one if they have actually considered the competition. I recently purchased a darn near $40K class competitor with my own money. I won’t reveal what it is because it’s my prerogative what I buy but I can assure you after shopping around for 3 months the Explorer is not competitive at that price point. It’s a $30K fleet vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      I had an Explorer once as a rental. Couldn’t believe how fundamentally awful the seating position was. Even with a bias towards Fords, I would look at a Grand Cherokee or Durango if I was in the market for this type of vehicle.

      The next Explorer on the CD6 platform looks promising based on the Aviator concept and preview photos of the Police Interceptor.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      1) Many wealthy, self-made and/or successful small business owners that are under-the-radar types drive F-150s and other domestic pickups.

      2) The Explorer is among the worst vehicles in its segment and is hilariously overpriced (as are many of Ford’s vehicles) to add insult to injury.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I’d throw another vote at Jeep’s Grand Cherokee as the most class-neutral vehicle out there. Nice, aspirational to some people but not in your face like a late model MB with the light-up-at-night star in the grille.

    GM’s BOF SUVs get a pass in that sense too…wealthiest guy I know personally drives a Suburban, and has been driving them since the 70s. It’s a Cincinnati West Sider thing, he never wants to look like he’s showing off. Everybody knows he has money dripping out his behind, why advertise?

    I was car-shopping recently,and the local Chevy store had by far the worst-looking clientele, and the cheesiest sales staff of all the dealerships I visited. Keep in mind this was in a lower middle class/blue collar area and none of the dealerships were anything special, but Joseph Chevrolet was remarkably bad. Bad enough that their GMC/Buick store across the street was like an oasis of normal people. No way on earth would I want to buy a car from the Chevy place, nor go back for service. They were the WalMart of car dealers, and I absolutely HATE going to WalMart, due to the clientele and staff.

  • avatar
    Snooder

    Jack, the simple answer is that Ford, particularly for the Explorer, borrowed prestige from Land Rover.

    A new model Ford Explorer, if you squint slightly and aren’t paying close attention, looks a good deal like the Land Rover Discovery. You can go very far on looking like you drive the next best thing to a Land Rover. And since Ford also has the Fusion, it doesn’t appear to be a one-off, but instead gives the appearance of a general trend of upscaling the brand. Hence why Ford looks upscale in comparison to GM.

    I don’t know why GM designers are shit. It’s not just the Korean angle since Kia and Hyundai make much more expensive looking vehicles. They have been getting better, but it takes a few years for the reputation to change.

  • avatar
    NoID

    As someone who works in Engineering for one of the Big 2.5, I can verify that the Brand/Marketing people play an ever larger role in our lives.

  • avatar
    Old Scold

    “like to judge on appearances” Keep me out of that neighborhood.

    Doesn’t matter how much money they have. They haven’t made it. Good riddance when that generation is gone.


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