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balthazar

A 'new' Consumer Reports?

16 posts in this topic

U.S. News is doing something both old & new. Old: they're jumping on the ever-expanding bandwagon of car reviews. New: they're attempting to 'review the reviewers'. Here's the Press release.

>>"Even though an automobile is one of the most expensive products most people will ever buy, car reviews are notoriously subjective. Now U.S.News is taking the bias out of the advice, with a unique ranking system that distills information from numerous reviews into a single numerical score between 1 and 10. The scores allow us to rank virtually every mainstream car on the market, from best to worst in 23 categories..."<<

Admirable, perhaps, but automatically problematic. If the initial reviews they're basing their 'review of reviews' on is "notoriously subjective", how is their result any less biased ??? Oh, wait; here's how!

>>"...our researchers use proprietary software to locate the most credible car reviews available--often several dozen or more. Our analysts then carefully read the reviews and, using consistent guidelines, translate each author's written opinions into numerical scores for different aspects of the car..."<<

Uh-oh.

>>"...scores are then combined and weighted based on several factors, including the results of a national consumer survey asking which qualities buyers most value in a car."<<

It's supposed to be simple, so they say. 1-10 scores. Fine. But where is the explaination of the formula, because if you go to any segment ranking page, such as Best Upscale Midsize, you cannot simply average their individual scores- some have an overall score lower than their category numbers, some higher, depending on the mysterious formula for weighing certain individual scores over others. Smells like CR all over again- esp the "translates" bit..

I suppose this is all moot- who would go to U.S. News for car reviews, anyway.

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It's supposed to be simple, so they say. 1-10 scores. Fine. But where is the explaination of the formula, because if you go to any segment ranking page, such as Best Upscale Midsize, you cannot simply average their individual scores- some have an overall score lower than their category numbers, some higher, depending on the mysterious formula for weighing certain individual scores over others. Smells like CR all over again- esp the "translates" bit..

I suppose this is all moot- who would go to U.S. News for car reviews, anyway.

I'm not defending "yet another car review source," but you're bashing it based on them not giving you the granular details of how they weigh the measurements? I understood the description...it's weighing the factors based on how much the public cares. If fuel economy is important, than it will be weighted more than something like rear seat comfort, if that's less important. What's the problem?

There is plenty out there in the automotive trade to bash. This just doesn't seem to merit an entire bashing thread.

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Well, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

And guess who it'll blow up on... You guessed it; Detroit.

I'm with Balthazar, there simply is no way one can derive unbiased reviews from a flock of biased reviews. Not to mention, this seems very shady and manipulative.

You know; a bit of bias is going to always be everywhere, it's human nature. All we, as consumers, want is a fair take on what's going on. Good 'ole fashioned honesty that should be EASY to incorporate into news but for some reason (sales, target markets, demographics) our media can't seem to grasp that concept.

So why derive a complicated and bogus formula for something so simple? It's pretty obvious when a 'journalist' is just being him/herself as opposed to flat out running a smear campaign against the company.

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Weird.

Seems pretty complicated and full of variables. Esp. for a newspaper like U.S. News.

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why can't people just go test drive the car and look at it and see if they like it?

Stop it with the logical insight. Its hurting my brain.

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not only are a lot of folks stupid about cars, but their process of shopping for them has become even stupider.

IT'S JUST A CAR you'll spend about the same on a camry vs. an impala vs. xcar, etc.

there is not anything quantified in all these countless car reviews that substantively should affect your decision making vs. say, the manufacturer spec sheet, the road test data, and dirving a car yourself. all the little block and red dots don't tell the whole story either.

some people (cough women cough) treat buying a car like it was selecting a doctor to get their baby delivered or their hymen reconstructed. the women, the overanalytical males, and the enthusiasts who try to know everything about the car without driving it are the ones who all this review drivel is written for.

ITS JUST A CAR

Edited by regfootball
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ITS JUST A CAR

...and if you're buying new, it's likely to be the second biggest single purchase after a house. Personally, I think it's worth some research. Unfortunately, most of the media doing the reviews are so full of bias that they're worthless. This one doesn't sound any better... maybe even worse.

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>>"...but you're bashing it based on them not giving you the granular details of how they weigh the measurements? I understood the description...it's weighing the factors based on how much the public cares. If fuel economy is important, than it will be weighted more than something like rear seat comfort, if that's less important. What's the problem?"<<

In this, the 'Information Age', I see no reason why a self-proclaimed unbiased entity would not openly publish their 'formula' for tabulation. In CR's case, they have a vested interest in appeasing their subscribers, just like every other automotive publication- so outright refusing to reveal their methods in understandable, if not reprehensible.

Here, of course (and not unlike CR again), the reason is obvious: there's no possible, scientific method of 'translating' verbal commentery into hard numeric data. Therefore, there are as many opportunities for personal bias to creep in as there is for water to run out of a sieve. It's deeply flawed before it even publishes it's first list, and I haven't even re-mentioned the deeply flawed source of all their information.

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not only are a lot of folks stupid about cars, but their process of shopping for them has become even stupider.

IT'S JUST A CAR you'll spend about the same on a camry vs. an impala vs. xcar, etc.

there is not anything quantified in all these countless car reviews that substantively should affect your decision making vs. say, the manufacturer spec sheet, the road test data, and dirving a car yourself. all the little block and red dots don't tell the whole story either.

some people (cough women cough) treat buying a car like it was selecting a doctor to get their baby delivered or their hymen reconstructed. the women, the overanalytical males, and the enthusiasts who try to know everything about the car without driving it are the ones who all this review drivel is written for.

ITS JUST A CAR

Cause a lot of strengths and weaknesses don't reveal themselves until after the purchase...

.... like cars that:

-won't downshift

-won't find a gear

-won't stay in gear

-picks wrong gear

-have to floor the throttle and hold it for like 5 seconds before the rpms go up and it kicks down

-no soundproofing from road noise

-engine drone buzz and vibration at low rpm drives me insane. my lawn mower sounds better

-slow steering

-dead steering

-no roll stiffness

-piss poor brake feel. brake fade

-needs more power in low and mid range

-looks fat and flabby

-cheap ass stereo, a ten dollar emergency radio sounds better

-interior is cheap

-typical cheap ass sounding door locks

-climate controls are cheesy and sheap looking

-interior plastic gets extremely dirty and can't be cleaned

-fking doors won't unlock when you get out of the car. you have to unlock them manually if you want to get your kid out of the back

-no factory remote starter

-cheap ass key and fob

-power passenger seat, can't adjust height!

-small gauges

-radio and climate control should be up higher.

-stupid dash top storage compartment is too far away and this is where the NAV should be anyways.

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well Jesus Christ, you could say the same thing about your wife or something.

I guess we've reached a point in society where we have to nitpick the &#036;h&#33; out of something, and it our possessions don't comply with our wants 100%, its all automatically &#036;h&#33;. (or at least that's the way they write the auto reviews). no forgiveness. no middle ground. cars 2-19 in the misdsize comparo are all f@#kED because the Accord won in a landslide, martha!!!!!!!!!! shut down the factories!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

your job

your spouse

your friends

your family

your restaurants

your pro sports teams

your church

your self

your genitals

your president (ok, that's legitimate beef)

your house

your cars

your pets

your college

your local starbucks

NONE OF IT IS PERFECT

test drive it, see if you like it. the price tag will say if you can afford it. Let yourself feel if you get along with the car. It is helpful to read articles to make sure you don't buy obvious lemons like sludgy camrys or cam blasting bed bouncing turds or destructo tranny 5 speed hondas.

everycar is going to have idiosyncracies. i think too much of it gets blown out of proportion, because usually you end up liking most things about your car. It takes 2-3 years before you get sick of it, but that's natural. when you buy a new car, new stuff will piss you off in some way. This is not a car made that won't piss you off.

imagine if everyone dumped their wife 1 year into marraige because she doesn't put out. imagine if you divorced because you found out she can't make hotdish. or if you didn't like how she cut her toenails. her breasts not big enough? cut the cord!!!! put her out in the street! send the beosh packing!!!!! that aura don't have NAV? OMG end of the world!!!!!!!!!! the new accord doesn't have sync or remote start or a 100k warranty! shut down honda!

Edited by regfootball
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Years ago, cars were reviewed individually, a frank report on that car itself. You got the positives & the negatives on that car alone, and you could better judge (IMHO) the car as a singular, as how you might respond to it.

Now every single piece is outright or covertly written as a comparison to another car: seats not as comfortable as Car X, engine smoother than Car Y, no NAV like Car Z, giving you comparitively less information and creating a desire for Car WXYZ, which of course doesn't exist, while Car W, Car X, Car Y and Car Z now automatically have dissatisfaction built right in. You now have to compare Car W not to what your impressions might be, but to 4 or 6 other cars, needlessly cmplicating the process.

Of course, as stated above, just go test drive the damned thing.

It would be very interesting to me to go back and learn the catalyst for the present day's incessant comparisons in product review.

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Years ago, cars were reviewed individually, a frank report on that car itself. You got the positives & the negatives on that car alone, and you could better judge (IMHO) the car as a singular, as how you might respond to it.

Now every single piece is outright or covertly written as a comparison to another car: seats not as comfortable as Car X, engine smoother than Car Y, no NAV like Car Z, giving you comparitively less information and creating a desire for Car WXYZ, which of course doesn't exist, while Car W, Car X, Car Y and Car Z now automatically have dissatisfaction built right in. You now have to compare Car W not to what your impressions might be, but to 4 or 6 other cars, needlessly cmplicating the process.

Of course, as stated above, just go test drive the damned thing.

It would be very interesting to me to go back and learn the catalyst for the present day's incessant comparisons in product review.

Today's cars are too good. There are very few inherent flaws in modern cars...from any manufacturer. In order to tell one from another, you need to be nit-picky. It's virtually the only way to tell one car from another.

As a test, Balthazar, could YOU write a review article...say 1,000 words, on a new product without any bias or any of the flaws you find in modern review articles?

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>>"Today's cars are too good. There are very few inherent flaws in modern cars...from any manufacturer. In order to tell one from another, you need to be nit-picky. It's virtually the only way to tell one car from another."<<

In many regards; yes- they are quite good. In other areas, not at all. But I will agree in this manner: the range of quality has narrowed greatly overall in modern cars... so I do understand the nit-pickiness. However, I would like to make a formal request for journalists to dial WA-AAAY back on the sensationalism & over-dramaticism for sheer effect rather than to convey objectivity, because it's ridiculously over-the-top. As cars have gotten better, car reviewers have gotten decidely worse.

>>"could YOU write a review article...say 1,000 words, on a new product without any bias or any of the flaws you find in modern review articles?"<<

I could write one without the current journalistic flaws, yes, but of course it would be subjective (as all reviews naturally are); I have biases of my own (notably different from the mainstream)... however I do recognize them.

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