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High End Luxury Cars

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  • Automobile Mag is not as reputed as you think. Have you seen their Layout and Articles. They lack character. The wise among us know what we mean here.

    I think reputation wise the rankings are

    CR
    Edmunds, Consumer Guide (a distant second)

    Rest all is mostly garbage and 0-60 madness.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    That's why I call them autorags quite often. But in printing pictures of future cars they've been reputable in the past.
  • fennfenn Posts: 197
    Consumer Reports is a good source for reporting on high-end Autos???

    ---Consumer Reports looks at autos if they were appliances. Their reports on vacuums and toaster ovens mean more to me than their short capsule style reports on automobiles.

    Their subjective ratings are quite suspect, and they certainly do not address many auto enthusiast issues.

    also: Consumer Guide?..As an automobile review resource for car enthusiasts? Huh? Consumer Guide seems to write up cars based on the manufacturer's own press releases.....!!
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    "Consumer Guide seems to write up cars based on the manufacturer's own press releases"...I've heard people make the same criticism about Motor Trend...though I've never read Consumer Guide.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    MODEL DAYS ON LOT
    Toyota Prius 8
    Mercedes-Benz SL-Class 12
    Mini Cooper 12
    Toyota Sienna 12
    Honda Pilot 13
    Lexus GX 470 13
    Lexus LS 430 13
    Lexus ES 330 14
    Acura MDX 15
    Honda CR-V 16
    Lexus RX 330 16

    Data from: 2,818 Dealers; 5,161 Franchises

    Source: Wall Street Journal and Power Information Network LLC, an affiliate of J.D. Power & Associates
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    I think when you view individual car stories or even individual car write-ups within a comparative test they provide plenty of data and much of it is good. It is the subjective opinions that they make that are so objectionable. Some of them are so bad that they make those opinions overwrite the actual test results and its clear to me that they preselected the winner before they even tested the cars. My other problem is that they only view the car from an enthusiast point of view (and they also tend to test cars against each other that have different biases thereby making it a worthless test in some cases) and don't weight enough into the whole ownership experience. This is where reliability - which they dismiss so easily - is critical.

    Conumers reports - the value is in the data they collect and then how they report on it regarding reliability, body integrity, electrical systems etc. They do not view the car through an enthusiast eyes at all (though they have moved a bit in that direction) and are probably the opposite of the auto mags by viewing it (particularly in the past) almost entirely through an ownership experience with the weight being on both past and predicted car reliability based on their ownership survey (which is very large). However they have started to point out fun to drive factors and have rated the old 5-series extremely high and point out BMW handling as superior to most. They've also constantly pointed out that the A8 has an inferior ride to the S-class and LS430 and state that the latter two are among the finest cars in the world. Their only issues with the S-class are its poor reliability and high price. Otherwise they score that car sky high. I think they know what they are doing (note they were the first, or one of the first, to point out the big drop in MB reliability) but its not the place to go to get an enthusiast viewpoint of a car. But without question they are way more trusted then any auto magazine by consumers and they are not the least bit concerned about advertising as the former are. They are also quite ready to be bold and can move the whole market - witness Isuzu in the 90's.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    How can they test reliability when they only have the car for a week or so? They can't be the judge on that so why even try to rate that quality? Would you rather they guess about it? I haven't ever seen where they "dismiss" reliability, they simply don't cover it. Despite what the most loyal survey clutchers will say, Mercedes, Audis and other "unreliables" are able to keep it together during testing, rendering reliability scoring by car mags pointless. This is why car mags do long term tests. Road and Track just took a 2004 Jaguar XJ8 and they're going to keep it for 50K miles, and they'll rack up those miles a lot faster than most owners will. So is this test not worth anything?

    Its just the opposite with Consumer Reports, they couldn't give the enthusiast anything to read about if they tried. It's pretty much like Don says, they look at cars like appliances, and if the car mags test wildly different cars, then CR does the same thing. Isn't there an issue out now with just about every entry level sedan on the market test against each other? The ES330 doesn't belong in a test with a BMW 330i, it's ridiculous to compare these two in any way other than reliability, as their on-road purpose and mission is completely different.

    How can you say that Consumer Reports is trusted by more consumers than the mags are? This is based on what? Millions of people read the mags just as much as they do Consumer Reports.

    It still comes down to what you're looking for reguarding information on a car. Consumer reports hardly rules though, all CR did with Isuzu is put the final nail in the coffin. If they did rule the market hardly any European cars would be sold. They've harped about how poor their reliability is for years now with virtually no affect on sales. VW is shinning example of this, during the late 90's while CR was serving up the bad press about them, their sales went from 50K in 1993 to over 300K within 10 years, bad reliability and all.

    It all boils down to this, if you want stats and numbers about reliability read CR, but if want the "car" aspect of the car then read the automags. There is no way for you to know which one is more trusted by they entire market, that judgement can only be made by the individual buyer.

    M
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    << The car companies send vehicles to CR BEFORE they start selling them for suggestions and feedback. Ford sent the new Freestar over, GM send in the Cadillac CTS and so on...>>

    From USA Today in September, a good synopsis of the power of CR and the value that consumers place in its reporting:

    "Since its first auto test 50 years ago, Consumer Reports has become the No. 1 source that car buyers turn to when buying a new or used vehicle."

    << I think that enthusiasts are a small part of the overall market >>

    More than 40% of car shoppers use Consumer Reports for information, and in some segments &#151; minivans, for example &#151; nearly 60% of buyers use the magazine, according CNW Marketing/Research. That makes Consumer Reports the biggest single source of information car buyers use.

    << This has been the case for some time >>

    The magazine, published by Consumers Union, a non-profit testing and information-gathering organization, ...has added seven automotive publications throughout the year to its traditional April auto issue; has a vehicle comparison test in every issue; and will spend $1.9 million to test 56 vehicles this year, up from $1.1 million for 41 vehicles in 1998.

    << They don't take anything from the auto companies and return free gifts from any manufacturer >>

    ConsumerReports.org has 1.2 million paid online subscribers. A subscription costs $26; online access is $24 a year. Four million readers subscribe.

    << a couple of bucks a month has saved many consumers the heartache, time and $ from buying a lousy car from companies with reliability and quality problems>>

    Wall Street analyst Scott Hill of Alliance Bernstein estimates that about 18 million consumers see the magazine's automotive recommendations annually through subscriptions, pass-along copies, online or in stories about its recommendations in other media.

    << 18 million consumers is (not conincidently) just a bit bigger than the new vehicle unit sales in the U.S.>>

    << Your comments about VW failed to note that VW's sales peaked a couple of years ago and fell sharply in 2003. Perhaps that was due to the quality and reliability problems that were highlighted by the recent ignition coil problem>>

    << I think consumer markets can respond slowly but when they turn they can often be hard to reverse. >>
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    I have extensive experience in the media and marketing information industry and couldn't agree with you more. CR is very deeply respected by consumers and manufacturers and the latter know it is the bible for most consumers - be it cars, appliances, packaged goods or services.

    Merc1 - The reason the auto mags don't want to deal with reliabilty in their analysis is partly because the last thing they want to do is bring CR into their stories. Everyone knows it's the ultimate resource consumers turn to for nearly anything they buy and the more expensive the item the more crucial CR becomes. There is hardly an issue where cars are not dealt with and the April issue is all cars. Information database companies would kill to get at CR's database - the information is invaluable. Match the data to CR's subscriber base on a demographic profile basis (no one is interested in the individual personal data - per se) and you have incredible market information to sell to manufacturers. CR will not let it happen though as their integrity will be compromised. The statement that no one would buy a european car if they read CR is a bad one. It might be accurate if reliability is the only reason to buy a car but we all know it is not. But to some, myself included, poor reliability is a deal breaker.
  • Merc says:

     "How can they test reliability when they only have the car for a week or so? They can't be the judge on that so why even try to rate that quality?"

    Merc. shame on you, you know very well that consumer reports rates quality based on user questionairs sent out each year. New cars are always reported as new and no data available. Established model lines are rated based on information gathered over time and reported by users.

    Some models do not get reliability ratings because they are relatively low production cars or CR receives too few evaluations from users.

    If you look carefully at the Used Car reliablity ratings you will see that each new model year (going back 5 years) can have variences in their ratings (except toyota which is always all red)
  • Like most information sources, you need to know what the data theyuse is based on. CR uses very limited data, to put it mildly, in evaluating car reliability. Please read the information on this link.

    http://www.allpar.com/cr.html

    I like the non-enthusiast point of view that they take. But to say they are the bible seems to me to be giving them way to much credit. If more people understood statistics (and I do) then they would take what CR says as just one of many sources, rather than the only one.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Wow, you know what Mike, thats typical. Read the post again, very slowly....everyone else got that I was talking about the car mags except you. It clearly states in sentence #6 that I'm talking about the car mags. Read the entire paragraph before posting.

    ljflx,

    "The reason the auto mags don't want to deal with reliabilty in their analysis is partly
     because the last thing they want to do is bring CR into their stories. Everyone knows it's the
     ultimate resource consumers turn to for nearly anything they buy and the more expensive the item the more crucial CR becomes."

    Says who? If that were the case all these expensive, unreliable cars from Mercedes, Volvo, Audi, Saab, Jaguar and others wouldn't sell at all considering the marks they get. Most (not all) people who typically know what kind of car they want (especially expensive ones) aren't going to be swayed by people who test VCRS and cam corders. You're saying that everyone worships Consumer Reports and that couldn't be any further from the truth. You wouldn't buy an Audi based on what they say, yet over 80K people last year did buy an Audi.

    "The statement that no one would buy a european car if they read CR is a bad one. It
    might be accurate if reliability is the only reason to buy a car but we all know it is not. But to some, myself included, poor reliability is a deal breaker."

    Thats just what I'm saying, thats your case. You place reliability "sky high" but everybody doesn't. Clearly they don't. I'm not saying that a lot of people don't "consult" CR, but to assume that all that do make their purchased based on CR is too big of an assumption for anyone here to make. Again if they did why do so many cars that they say to "avoid" end up selling very well. The placed the CLK on the avoid list, especially used ones...yet the car has the resale of any luxury coupe on the market. Look it up. This only proves that there is a whole group of buyers that either didn't consult CR or if they did, they obviously didn't care. If everyone held CR as a bible the CLK's (just one example) resale would be in the toilet.

    footie,

    As far as CR having 4 million subscribers...between Car and Driver, Road and Track, MT and Automobile and others like Autoweek, there are far more people at least reading "autorags" than Consumer Reports.

    Unless USA Today talked to everyone that bought a car last year, a newspaper article doesn't mean anything to me.

    VW's sales problems are mainly due to old product, Passat, Jetta, Golf and Bettle have all been around since 1997 or 1998. Ignition coils would be the least of worries for the average VW owner, they have other problems that are far more frequent, I know you of all people know this. The ignition coil problem hasn't caused the headache that the window relay switch problem did in the past. My point is that VW has far more persistant problems than the ig coil and they've had them before 2003, the year of the sales down turn. You have to look at the whole picture. VW also refused to play the incentives game like GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda. They only reluctantly gave some incentives on certain cars, not nearly the amount that the domestics give.

    An "estimate" by the WSJ means what? Ok so they estimate 18 million read CR while in a waiting room getting their tire changed and on someone's coffee table. Do you really think the car mags don't reach even more people when they have more subscribers than CR does with at least 4 different major publications that can be passed around.

    You come along anytime anyone else posts anything that isn't factual, yet you're passing a bunch of estimates by USA Today and the WSJ off as fact, two publications that don't know anything about cars in general. All they can do is tell you what people read, not if they make the buying decisions because of it.

    Again, guys I'm not saying CR isn't important...even I have read them extensively when looking at Audis, or that the majority of people buying a car don't consult them, but to say they rule the market and that everyone makes their actual buying decision based on CR is absurd. Otherwise some makes would never get their product out the showrooms. If reliability reports is your thing fine, I personally will never that decide what car I buy, but that doesn't explain why hundreds of thousands of people still bought cars that are listed as being "unreliable" by CR. Everyone doesn't place as much weight on what they say or on reliability. Their road tests are joke. I'll ask again is there an issue out now in which a BMW 330i is in a comparo with a Lexus ES330? If that is the case, and I saw this on another board, CR is clueless on which cars are for which market. Yet they're to be trusted in everything? Thats ridiculous.

    Just like you guys could care less about what MT, Car and Driver, Automobile and Road and Track was to say during a road or comparision test. There is no way I could say that everyone that reads C&D (3 million) bases their decision off of what they say. You'd have to conduct and exit poll at every dealer to come to such sweeping conclusions. If such data exists I'd love to read it....Footie?

    M
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    People are not stupid, at least most aren't. Nobody is going to pay 80 grand for a car that will leave them stranded after six months. I think, one reason Toyota is doing so well in North America is because of their high reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. In fact in the last ten years, Toyota has surpassed Daimler Chrysler to become the third largest auto company in the world. It will be second largest in less than a year if it hasn't already. Toyota I think sold more vehicles than Ford worldwide in 2003. CR is partly responsible for Toyota's success in North America.
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    ... It's clear you have no clue as to how Consumer Reports tests cars. Here are some FACTS directly from their website:

    CR anonymously purchases the vehicles they test (40-50 per year).

    CR's 18 automotive specialists, engineers, and technicians not only drive the vehicles on their 327 acre testing facility but thousands of miles on public roads over several months.

    CR uses the yearly subscriber survey to compile data for reliablity and ownership experience.

    Yes, not everyone buys only cars they recommend but the vast majority of informed car buyers look to them for reliable, unbiased data.

    For the consumer who is looking to purchase an automobile that is reliable and is concerned with the ownership experience related to normal car driving - commuting, vacationing, etc. - it is certainly the most substantiated source.

    Of course, CR to the people who purchase vehicles for vanity and "look-at-me" status, is nothing but dribble.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    From the Car and Driver website

    Paid subscriptions for the top four auto mags:

    C&D 1,377,395
    Motor Trend 1,276,811
    Road and Track 751,584
    Automobile 637,437

    Total 4,043,227

    The combined newstand sales for all four is around 500,000.

    The C&D reader demographic may not be a likely shopper for this forum's subject matter. Less than 1 in 5 completed college and about 1 in 5 have professional / managerial jobs.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Interesting demographic data on C&D. I once made the comment that the autorags emphasize performance and high-priced cars over long-term ownership in part because a large fraction of their readers are "dreamers" who will probably never be in a position to buy an SL600 for example. That data is consistent.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Car and Driver, Road and Track, MT and Automobile and others like Autoweek, there are far more people at least reading "autorags" than Consumer Reports.

    << Bad data Mr. Merc ... see post 3936 >>
     
     
    VW's sales problems are mainly due to old product, Passat, Jetta, Golf and Bettle have all been around since 1997 or 1998. Ignition coils would be the least of worries for the average VW owner,

    << VW has been working hard for a long time to get a really rotten record of troublesome maintenance issues. But the ignition coil issue really helped them solidify their position. Here's the lead paragraph on an official VW press release last February:

    "AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Feb. 4 -- Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Audi of America, Inc. today announced a customer service action in which the companies will ultimately replace the ignition coils in all 2001 and 2002 model year cars equipped with certain engines that have been experiencing a higher-than-normal failure rate. Also affected are very early production 2003
    models." >>

    Do you really think the car mags don't reach even more people when they have more subscribers than CR does with at least 4 different major publications that can be passed around.

    << From the C&D site: estimated total readership 9.9 million. P.S. And that's based on an average readership of 7.5 people per subscriber! Very impressive for an autorag with 42% of its subscribers single men...?>>
     
    You come along anytime anyone else posts anything that isn't factual....WSJ off as fact, two publications that don't know anything about cars in general.

    << Mr. Hill is not with the WSJ. He's with Alliance Bernstein and is their auto industry analyst. Perhaps he knows a little about cars and car companies... Bernstein is considered "The Best little shop on Wall Street. They do Research Right" by Fortune Magazine. In that article they really praised the tough, independent work that Bernstein does and how valuable their 5,000 institutional clients consider their analysis.

    << But you don't have to believe them either. >>
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Um, last I checked the topic here wasn't exactly car magazines, it's the cars themselves. Maybe we could get back to talking about them for a bit? ;)
  • I know that Mercedes has a much lauded history, but my own recent experience is very disappointing.

    I have recently been through three months of mediocre experience with a new E class. After years of wanting a MB, I finally went for it, but I now regret this deal!!! I have been to the dealer too many times in the past three months for service issues. I also find the interior rather bland for a car that cost so much.

    I went to Mercedes after driving a five year old Lexus GS. However, these days I often think that I would rather be driving my old Lexus. It was more reliable with 68,000 miles than this MB has been in the first three months.

    In the first four months of ownership I have had four trips to the dealer. This is more interesting-- since a close relative also has a 2003 E class, and he also has numerous complaints.

    Meanwhile, my 74 year old mother has recent MB C class, and I think very little of it. What an overpriced piece of junk! It has the Mercedes cache from the outside, but it is really very uninspired basic vehicle. At least her C class has been relatively reliable.

    Of course, the "issues" with the past few years of S class Mercedes has seem well known by most. Admittedly, the latest editions are showing better reliablity, and improved fit and finish, but the past few years of S class production has been far from inspiring. In fact, I have two friends who left the MB fold in the past six months after S class dissatisfaction with 2001 and 2002 MB S Class cars.

    So, I see some of the people here really have an "over the top" love of Mercedes, but I have to wonder whether this is just a lust, like I used to have for this marque, or something based on a real ownership experience. The day-in, day-out ownership experience offers a real life perspective! Try it, before touting MB.

    I am stuck, so I will try to like my Mercedes, but I am having a hard time with it.

    Needless to say, I think that the view from a distance, while dreaming and lusting for a Mercedes, is nothing like the actual MB ownership experience.
  • bluestar1bluestar1 Posts: 112
    Well said ! Maybe some *dreamers* out here need a shot (make that a DOSE) of reality. Living in an island of MB's does impair hand-eye coordination.... Hehehehe just j/k of course.

    A colleague's wife has an '03 E320. Being in the shop far too frequent. Currently in the shop as we speak. She has been driving the loaner M350, and she ain't too happy either. Her E cost her $50K. That isn't anything to snicker about. Yes, the car looks beautiful from the outside, it's the electrical gremlin that is just crippling its image.

    If MB execs are reading these boards, they'd better do something QUICK. Reputation for bad quality and unreliability can be slow to catch on, but once it does, it's all downhill. Can't stop a rolling stone on a downhill slope !

    'Nuff said.
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