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Avalon shows dent in Toyota quality

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From Automotive News

Alan Seider has owned 11 Toyotas since 1982, but his 2006 Avalon likely will be his last. He says quality glitches have bedeviled his Toyota sedan, which he has driven less than 6,000 miles since he bought it last July. His dealer could not solve the car's problems.

Sorry, I don't have the subscription to view the rest of this, but i thought the headline was interesting!

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I've said and predicted this for a while.

Its easy to build 100 perfect rocking chairs.

But then you build 1,000...then 10,000...then 100,000.

Its a small, shrunken down version, but its the same principal. Quality is harder to control when you build 10 times the amount.

Though the fact that the customer jumped brands to Honda still shows little to no faith in GM products. Friend of mine, after having serious engine problems in this late 90s Honda Passport, jumped ship to a Toyota Highlander, without even considering a GM or Ford product.

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The Avalon's launch problems point to a larger issue. To meet demand, Toyota has added factories in North America and thousands of new employees. Executives are worried that Toyota's rapid growth may dilute its quality standards.

Toyota and Lexus divisions still exceed industry averages in various studies that measure quality. Toyota predicts that the Avalon will score well in J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study, to be released in June.

But the quality gap is closing. And Toyota recalls have spiked in the last two years.

Every production line produces its share of lemons. But Toyota already has issued a string of technical service bulletins to dealers to fix Avalons on the road. Changes are being made on the assembly line. Toyota representatives acknowledge there are some teething problems, but decline to call the Avalon a problem car.

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Clingenpeel says his dealer gave the car "a wink and a nod" when he brought it in three times for repairs. Clingenpeel then appealed to Toyota headquarters to send out a district service manager. Toyota refused. Now Clingenpeel is looking to sell the car.

"It's sad because there's a nice car hiding behind all this," Clingenpeel said. "But this is not up to snuff from what I would consider from Toyota."

The Avalon's problems have drawn notice from Consumer Reports magazine, which has for years given the Avalon high marks.

While still giving the 2005 Avalon its highest scores in most categories, the magazine's overall quality rating for the car was average because the Avalon scored below the Buick LaCrosse, Kia Amanti, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego.

Anita Lam, data program manager for Consumer Reports' auto test center, said problems with the Avalon cropped up in steering, suspension and body integrity.

"These are first-year teething problems. We anticipate the second model year will be much better," Lam said.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson called the Consumer Reports ratings "the sum of small irritations more than anything else."

But Hanson acknowledged that Toyota has been concerned with the initial wave of quality problems for the car. Toyota's priority has been to find and remedy problems, get the fixes to the production line, and issue technical service bulletins so dealers can fix the faults on vehicles already on the road.

"The Avalon is the most complex vehicle Toyota Division sells, so just by definition it's a problematic vehicle," Hanson said.

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Said Seider: "I am so disappointed in Toyota. I've had previous first-year vehicles, but nothing like this ever happened. Toyota's build quality has declined in recent years, and there seems to be nothing the dealer can do. Toyota has reached a size that they've lost sight of the individual customer."

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Anita Lam, data program manager for Consumer Reports' auto test center, said problems with the Avalon cropped up in steering, suspension and body integrity.

"These are first-year teething problems. We anticipate the second model year will be much better," Lam said.

I'd love to see CR make up an excuse for "teething" problems on an American car.

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Interesting how CR automatically puts their usual spin on it:"These are first-year teething problems. We anticipate the second model year will be much better."

YEAH, RIGHT.

Even though the LaCross beat it in quality ratings, even though Buick has beaten Toyota every year for a very long time in JD Powers ratings, CR just couldn't resist getting their dig in.

I guess they just couldn't hide these figures because they were too bad to gloss over, so they had to spin it instead.

Anyway, cracks were bound to show up. Now all we need to wait for is the media paying proper attention to it.

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...And, thus, the C&Gers rejoiced. :D

This quote stuck me as a weak excuse, though:

"The Avalon is the most complex vehicle Toyota Division sells, so just by definition it's a problematic vehicle," Hanson said.

For one thing, it doesn't seem terribly wise to admit that the Avalon is, by definition, a problematic vehicle. For another thing, the Avalon is not the most complex vehicle in the Toyota lineup. You want the Prius, Johnny.

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The Avalon's problems have drawn notice from Consumer Reports magazine, which has for years given the Avalon high marks.

While still giving the 2005 Avalon its highest scores in most categories, the magazine's overall quality rating for the car was average because the Avalon scored below the Buick LaCrosse, Kia Amanti, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego.

The KIA AMANTI scored higher!!! Oh that's priceless :rotflmao:

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...And, thus, the C&Gers rejoiced. :D

This quote stuck me as a weak excuse, though:

For one thing, it doesn't seem terribly wise to admit that the Avalon is, by definition, a problematic vehicle. For another thing, the Avalon is not the most complex vehicle in the Toyota lineup. You want the Prius, Johnny.

I would think that the new Camry.. with the same engine but 6-speeds <most of the time> is more complex then the Avalon as well....

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Hahaha...

My neighbor bought one of these things after telling me how bad the Lucerne was.

If the Avalon turns out to be Toyota's true problem car, I wonder how CR will put it

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I would think that the new Camry.. with the same engine but 6-speeds <most of the time> is more complex then the Avalon as well....

Yeah, and there have already been some "teething" issues with that one. Lots of good ones and thrilled owners, but not all perfect like you'd be tempted to believe.

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Anita Lam, data program manager for Consumer Reports' auto test center, said problems with the Avalon cropped up in steering, suspension and body integrity.

"These are first-year teething problems. We anticipate the second model year will be much better," Lam said.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson called the Consumer Reports ratings "the sum of small irritations more than anything else."

Too bad you cast aspersions on domestic models that bear only the same nameplate as its predecessors. Also, 'small irritations'? A misaligned trim panel is a 'small irritation.' Problems with the frame of the car is full-blown herpes.

"The Avalon is the most complex vehicle Toyota Division sells, so just by definition it's a problematic vehicle," Hanson said.

So, by definition, the new LS is a total piece of &#036;h&#33;. Nice one, MmmmBop Hanson.

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i knew this would happen sooner or later... because once a company gets big enough... its impossible to hold the quality standards they had when they were small... similar to the rocking chair reference made earlier...

however... you know what CR is really going to do... is say this "domestic cars are starting to equal the quality of imports simply because the quality of the imports have gone down... not because the domestics quality has improved"

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If Toyota starts looking down on consumers or downplaying issues, then they'll be in trouble. But I think they won't repeat any of GM/Ford/Chrysler mistakes.

Edited by ZL-1

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If Toyota starts looking down on consumers or downplaying issues, then they'll be in trouble.  But I think they won't repeat any of GM/Ford/Chrysler mistakes.

don't count on it. judging from what i have read about owner's experiences with the dealers and with toyota i hink the damage is well on its way to being done. i detect more than a bit of arrogance at toyota.

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