In the world around us, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January in an assassination attempt but miraculously survived. In March, Japan suffered one of the year’s worst natural disasters, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed over 15,000 people and caused explosions and radiation leaks at a nuclear power plant. Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May. Weinergate, with Congressman Anthony Weiner revealing a little too much of himself, occurred in June. In August, after a prolonged battle in Congress to raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. suffered the first downgrade of their debt rating. In September, the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was commemorated throughout the nation, and then Occupy Wall Street sprang up in Zuccotti Park in New York to protest greed, economic inequality, and undue influence of the “one percenters.” The protest movement spread to small and large cities throughout the nation and overseas. Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs died in October. Kim Jong-Il, supreme leader of North Korea, died in December, leaving control of the country to his 28-year old son. The war in Iraq ended in December with some heavy costs, including about 4,500 deaths and over 30,000 wounded in the U.S. military and a financial cost of around a trillion dollars. The Afghanistan War continues on as the longest-running American war, with no end in sight. Some of the other notable deaths during the year included Amy Winehouse, Andy Rooney, Jack Kevorkian, Jack LaLanne, and Elizabeth Taylor.
The U.S. automotive industry continued its healthy recovery. Lexus lost its luxury sales crown to either Mercedes-Benz or BMW, yet to be revealed. Honda and Toyota were hobbled by the earthquake in Japan. Hyundai and Kia continued to see their trajectories rise. Volkswagen had a sales resurgence with the budget-priced Jetta and Passat. Saab declared bankruptcy after GM blocked the sale of the company with its intellectual property to a Chinese company. The end of Maybach was announced. The last body-on-frame passenger vehicle available in the U.S., the Ford Crown Victoria, was finally put down.
And now, time for the Tenth Annual Edition of Cheers and Jeers:
Cheers to Chrysler for Best Turnaround by taking the much maligned Sebring, sprucing it up, having Eminem shill it during the Super Bowl, and seeing sales double this year. The majority of the rest of the Chrysler Group fleet also was refined with new interiors and better engines, and the LX sedans, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, are shining stars. Unfortunately for them, the Fiat 500 has been a sales dud, and Jennifer Lopez has been no help.
Jeers to Chrysler for Worst Branding Decision by slowly dismantling the Dodge brand, first by having the Ram trucks become its own brand, and recently announcing that the forthcoming Viper would be sold under the SRT brand and not Dodge, and the Grand Caravan would soon be leaving the U.S. market, though not Canada’s. How soon will it be before Dodge goes away completely?
Cheers to Ford for the Best Marketing by convincing truck buyers to spend more money to buy the ecoBoost F-150. An amazing 40% of F-150 buyers are driving off with the turbo V6 engine, which costs almost $1,000 more than the V8.
Jeers to Ford for the Worst Marketing, one of their “Drive One” commercials that quotes a Ford owner stating that he would not buy a car from a company that was bailed out by the government. Ford quickly pulled the ad, leading to California Congressman and douchebag extraordinaire Darrell Issa to question Ford if the Obama administration pressured them to pull the ad. 66Stang (aka A Horse With No Name) changed his screen name over his disgust with Ford. http://www.cheersand...ull-bailout-ad/
Cheers to GM for providing high-quality small cars. The Cruze showed that American consumers are willing to pay a premium for a well-built small car with an upmarket interior and good driving dynamics. Chevy followed that up with the snazzy little Sonic, missing brake pads notwithstanding, and the Buick Verano is a compelling premium compact.
Jeers to Honda for not having a clue why the Accord Crosstour has not caught on. The Ridgeline never caught on either, and the new Civic lost its “Recommended” rating by Consumer Reports. The Acura division is plagued by ugly vehicles. At one time, Honda kept it simple and made jewel-like, fun-to-drive vehicles. Honda announced a crash Civic refresh, new engines, and full hybrid drivetrains, so perhaps there is hope yet for them. http://www.cheersand...our-successful/
Cheers to mudmonster, the C&G Staff Member of Merit, for his dedicated writing and posting of news articles.
Cheers to wildmanjoe for his Best New Forum Feature with his “Cheers or Jeers” posts showing interesting or obscure eBay automotive finds.
Cheers to Camino LS6 for Best Thread on the search for the culprit of the poorly running Tahoe. After dozens of suggestions and diagnoses, it was determined to be a bad distributor. http://www.cheersand...ust-a-bad-wire/
Cheers to ocnblu being the Best Automotive Consumer. He did more than his fair share supporting the domestic automotive industry by starting the year out with a Chevy Colorado—his second—and trading it in for a Ford Fiesta, wrecking it, getting a Chevy Cruze, and then trading it in for a Jeep Patriot. "Automotive ADD," as pow calls it.
Cheers to Dodgefan for Best Concept for a bold new compact from Dodge, the Venom, which was also the winner of a C&G design competition. Dodge has the new Dart on the way, but it will be tough to one up the Venom.
Honorable Mention to blackviper for his aggressive take on a new full-size K5 Blazer.
Cheers to Chris Doane and knightfan26917 for their heartfelt and inspiring personal stories, with Chris following his dreams and venturing on his own in the car photography business and pursuing his helicoptering passions, and knightfan26917 for getting his heart fixed. Cheers also to black-knight for shocking the board and getting a decent car, the Dodge Challenger, after a series of heaps but, alas, is on the verge of letting it slip away.
More Cheers to C&G members for their constructive contributions to the board, including to dwightlooi for continuing to share his technical expertise and to curmudgeonly balthazar for keeping that window to the past open. And Charger4U’s Word Association passed 25,000 posts and hasn’t crashed the board yet.
Hope everybody has a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!
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