nyscene911

CR Biased-No Not At All

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Japanese automakers sweep U.S. rivals

Honda, Toyota, others snag all 10 top picks in Consumer Reports ratings

Japanese automakers achieved another milestone in the ongoing humiliation of their U.S. counterparts Wednesday as they captured the top positions in all 10 vehicle categories rated by influential Consumer Reports magazine.

It was the first time in the nine-year history of the respected annual survey that Asian nameplates swept the list of “best” automobiles, which the magazine selects from among a slate of more than 230 vehicle models based on a series of 150 tests, ranging from braking distance to crash ratings and fuel efficiency.

Historically, the Consumer Reports “Top Picks” list has been a blend of Japanese, European and domestic auto models. But this year the Honda Civic, the Infiniti M35 and the Honda Ridgeline all join the list as new entrants, while the fuel-efficient Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which was named the top midsized sport utility vehicle, became the second hybrid-engine vehicle to be featured as a top pick, joining the popular Toyota Prius, which was named the top vehicle in the green car category.

The Honda Civic was named the magazine’s top small sedan, while the Infiniti M35 was named the top luxury sedan. Vehicles from Nissan and Subaru round out the top picks in the magazine’s 10 auto categories.

Asian brands also fared best in the magazine’s survey of vehicle reliability. Toyota’s Lexus nameplate came in first, while the Honda brand was second and Toyota third. Ford’s Mercury brand was the only domestic nameplate to crack the top 10. An 8-year-old Toyota had about the same number of problems as a 2- or 3-year old vehicle from General Motors or Ford, according to the survey of the magazine's readers.

The dominance of Japanese carmakers highlights the difficulties facing big North American automakers, whose U.S. market shares is eroding as they struggle through massive and wrenching reorganizations.

James Guest, president of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, dismissed claims that the magazine is biased against American-made cars, pointing to a 2005 American Demographics study, conducted by Advertising Age, that found Consumer Reports to be the most trustworthy media outlet for consumer information.

“Let me set the record straight,” Guest said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “We have one standard, and it’s based on our rigorous testing and what’s best for the consumer. The bottom line is these cars won their place by beating the competition in all the test categories.”

While Asian carmakers continue to make the most reliable cars, overall car quality is declining, according to David Champion, director of automobile testing at Consumer Reports. The magazine polled some one million subscribers about 17 different trouble spots in their cars, and asked them whether they had serious problems with their vehicles in the past year, or had to take them to a dealer.

Consumer Reports also crunched numbers on readers’ experiences with 810,000 vehicles from the 1998 through 2005 model years.

The results showed Japanese and Korean brands had 12 problems per 100 vehicles, while U.S. automakers had 18 problems and European makers had 21 problems. Asian and U.S. automakers have been improving their scores, but appeared to stall in 2005, the magazine said, while European automakers’ ratings haven’t changed substantially in the last four years.

After Lexus, Honda and Toyota, brands rounding out the top 10 for reliability were Mitsubishi, Subaru, Acura, Scion, Mercury, Mazda and Suzuki. The 10 lowest-rated brands were Audi, Infiniti, Saturn, Lincoln, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Hummer and Porsche.

“Domestic vehicles have made substantial advances, Ford is doing better than GM and Chrysler, but new model launches are not as good,” Champion said, adding that one reason for the decline in reliability may be the rise in electronic features in cars. “We are seeing many more electronic features, and that’s the biggest trouble area readers tell us about.”

Reliability is what sells cars, Champion added, noting that if a car has to go back to the dealer in the final year of ownership, a buyer is less likely to purchase another car from that manufacturer. “But you’re more likely to go back if the car is reliable,” he added. “I still think that, going forward, domestic carmakers need to fix the problems with their current cars is to stem their decline in market share and catch up with the Asians.”

Last year, Japanese -brand vehicles were the top picks in nine of the magazine's 10 categories. Japanese manufacturers continue to fare well in Consumer Reports tests because they concentrate on redesigning their vehicles and improving reliability, said Consumer Reports automotive editor Rik Paul. “We’re not talking about [all] Japanese cars, but in particular Toyota and Honda — they build cars that are the whole package, so they rise to the top in our tests.”

Champion offered another theory for Japan’s dominance: “When the Japanese first came into the U.S. market their cars were not that good, but they had bulletproof reliability and that is what sold them,” he said. “Keeping reliability as good as possible is a huge priority to them, and they place a great deal of emphasis on it,” he said, adding that Japan’s background in the electronics industry may also help the durability of their automobiles. “The U.S. and Europe have lost a lot of that capacity.”

Japan’s Honda had the most winners in this year’s list of “best” automobiles, snagging top picks in five of the 10 categories. Besides the redesigned Civic, the Honda Accord was the top family sedan between $20,000 and $30,000 and the Acura TL was the top upscale sedan between $30,000 and $40,000. The Honda Odyssey was the top minivan and the Ridgeline, Honda’s first entry in the pickup market, was the top pickup.

Toyota and Subaru each had two winners, including the Subaru Forester for small SUV and the Toyota Prius for “green car.” Nissan had one, the Infiniti M35 luxury sedan, which the magazine called “an excellent balance of performance, comfort and handling.”

Consumer Reports names its top picks based on a series of tests, including evaluations of comfort, convenience and fuel economy, road and track tests, crash protection ratings from the government and insurance industry and readers’ reliability rankings.

The magazine’s list of top picks will appear in the annual April auto issue, which hits newsstands on March 7. The list can have a powerful influence on a vehicle’s reputation. Consumer Reports’ rankings are important to automakers, even though companies are not permitted to use the ratings in their advertising.

Consumer Reports spokeswoman Lauren Hackett said the April auto issue is consistently the magazine’s most popular, selling more than 300,000 copies at newsstands. That’s twice as many copies as its second-most popular issue, the November electronics issue.

Terrible writing, terrible study. Who would've thunk it? That first paragraph makes me want to throw up

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Guest YellowJacket894

Consumer Retards biased? Why hell yes they are! The may not accept offers to put ads in the rag that they put out every month that I wouldn't even wipe my ass with, but Toyota and Honda definitly own them three ways from Sunday. Its disgusting.

Dammit, I really want to put someone's head over at Consumer Retorts in a nice gullotine.

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wth? where did this press release come from? I don't even want to be bothered reading the rest of it because of the use of the word humiliation sets such a negative tone.

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wth? where did this press release come from? I don't even want to be bothered reading the rest of it because of the use of the word humiliation sets such a negative tone.

MSNBC

and everyone can throw the author an email to point out his unprofessionalism.

rolandjones@feedback.msnbc.com

Have fun :P

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An 8-year-old Toyota had about the same number of problems as a 2- or 3-year old vehicle from General Motors or Ford, according to the survey of the magazine's readers.

Proof please.

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It's really disgusting.

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It's only going to get worse. Do you think an owner of one of the unreliable POS cars according to CR, is going to keep their subscription? What if you own a perfectly reliable car, and every time you open CR they slam it for being an unreliable crude pos, will you continue to hand your money to CR? NO. Now if you own a Toyota, and CR is always telling you how great it is, you will never cancel your subscription.

This is an extremely one sided review. In fact, I thought it was actually written by CR thats how biased it sounded. Nevermind the counter opinions that CR's results may be flawed, let's portray them as being the almighty, and act like their results are 100% accurate. Complete BS.

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I posted this in a thread on another site where people were defending CR

Company(JD Rank from top)

CR's Top Ten:

1. Lexus(1)-Thats right on, Lexus's are awesomely reliable.

2. Honda(9)

3-Toyota(7)

4-Mitsubishi(26)-wow, big gap

5-Subaru(21)-Another big gap

6-Acura(10)

7-Scion-Not rated(too new for JDP)

8-Mercury(8 )

9-Mazda(19)

10-Suzuki(30)-another wow

And CR's Lowest Rated

1. Audi(31)

2.Infinity(6)-huge gap

3. Saturn(15)-Another pretty big gap

4. Lincoln(3)-HUGE gap in results

5. Jaguar(23)

6. Mercedes-Benz(31)

7. Volkswagen(34)

8. Land Rover(36)

9. Hummer (not rated)

10. Porsche(2)

*All JDP rankings out of 37*

The differences between CR and JDP is Astounding!

Edited by nyscene911

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I posted this in a thread on another site where people were defending CR

Company(JD Rank from top)

CR's Top Ten:

1. Lexus(1)-Thats right on, Lexus's are awesomely reliable.

2. Honda(9)

3-Toyota(7)

4-Mitsubishi(26)-wow, big gap

5-Subaru(21)-Another big gap

6-Acura(10)

7-Scion-Not rated(too new for JDP)

8-Mercury(8)

9-Mazda(19)

10-Suzuki(30)-another wow

And CR's Lowest Rated

1. Audi(31)

2.Infinity(6)-huge gap

3. Saturn(15)-Another pretty big gap

4. Lincoln(3)-HUGE gap in results

5. Jaguar(23)

6. Mercedes-Benz(31)

7. Volkswagen(34)

8. Land Rover(36)

9. Hummer (not rated)

10. Porsche(2)

*All JDP rankings out of 37*

The differences between CR and JDP is Astounding!

It really shows the limitations of surveys when Porsche can be both dead last and second place in reliability.

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It really shows the limitations of surveys when Porsche can be both dead last and second place in reliability.

And that Suzuki Mitsubishi and Subaru can crack the top ten when all are pretty well below the average in JDP.

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I wouldn't even wipe my @$$ with this filth. Disturbing, tragically flawed and quite out ofd touch wiht reality. I'm sure a couple of Japanese cars deserve to be on there but most of them are not even runners up in my book.

Edited by Sixty8panther

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I saw a TV news interview on the subject tonight. The CR rep blew-off the somewhat contrary JD Power results showing domestics ahead of many asian brands, and getting better all the time.

Funny that on the other hand, CR relies on goverment and insurance industry testing and ratings when needed to back their "results".

My conclusion is that CR just plays to their own audience and does what it needs to do to sell the most magazines.

BTW, Just drove in the new RAV4 yesterday. The whole freaky interior is hard plastic (like the #1 Oddessy) yet GM gets blasted for just having hard lower door panels.

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CR filters surveys of 810,000 vehicles over 8 years. That's 101,000 vehicles per year... in a circa 16,500,000 unit year.

That's a statistical sampling of 0.6%.

Undobtedly, some vehicles are not reported on as plentifully as others. CR published reliabilty scores on --for example-- the infiniti q45. That car sells in the neightborhood of 450 units per year. 0.6% of 450 is less than 3 cars.

Why doesn't CR publish the number of vehicles their 'results' are based on? Popular Mechanics used to publish the number of owner-driven miles in their long-term reviews of vehciles in the 1960s. Can there be any other reason than because it would devalue their 'findings' due to insignificantly low samplings???

Add to that the fact that CR has never and will never reveal the formulas for how these surveys are tabulated into half-black or half-red circles, among a number of other cryptic proceedures, and you are left with NOT an "influential and respected" publication but a great case study for self-promotion and public manipulation.

At least the talks & open allegations of bias are spreading to the point that unrelated press conferances by CR are now prompted to address this very issue. Hopefully either full disclosure or outright reputation damnation will follow.

The consumer is growing too smart/well informed for CR's charade to continue much longer.

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To hell with Consumer Reports. "Humiliation"? When American quality rivals the Japanese and surpasses the Europeans?

May a hard-working American put out of work by this cheap, unnecessary negativity piddle on the shoes of these lickspittles.

Edited by Jazzhead

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i know a guy that has a scion tc and says it is the biggest piece of crap that he has ever bought, but he is locked into his lease and scion cracks the top 10.

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Guest Josh

Scion did terrible last year if I remember right, now, all of a sudden they crack the top 10? It's good to see Toyota's $$$$ being sent to one company, Consumer Reports.

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I really don't think Consumer Reports is biased. I think that they are totally incompetant. Reading their $h! is bad for you. They are sophomoric in their analysis. They are stupid in their insights. Their people rode to school on the short bus. The editor just learned to tie his shoe laces last year. Their feature writer has training whells on there bicycles.

Now I feel a little better - thanks for helping.

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I think using humiliation in the first paragraph is definately uncalled for.

Edit: Here's Yahoo's article on the results, shorter and to the point. I'm surprised MSNBC let this get through. There'll probably be a lot flak taken on Mr. Jones behalf.

Edited by siegen

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Even by CR's own admission did US makes score better - way better - than their European counterparts. Where's the humilation factor there?

CR claims to be unbiased and wholly scientific in their writing, yet the facts prove otherwise. As Balthazar stated, their sample pool is extrodinarily limited, based mainly on the responses of their own subscribers. How many times have you read "Although unknown at this time, we predict reliability to be above average given this model's history" even though the car may be 100% new? CR reviews talk about seat comfort, ease of entry, and and other subjective 'feelings' without revealing the physical characteristics of the tester himself, which is wholly unscientific.

I remember distinctly how a past comparo involving a LeSabre Custom, Avalon XLS, Bonneville SE, and Grand Marquis placed the Avalon heads and shoulder above the rest, owing to its "higher level of standard equipment" and "more controlled ride" while failing to recognize they chose base models of the other cars against a thousands-more uplevel trim of the Avalon.

CR is living off the clout it had earned in the past, and not off any achievement or contribution its making today.

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