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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?



  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    I have a perspective derived from a Southern upbringing by Northern parents, and I can tell you that my New York relatives can hold their redneck best with anyone in Alabama.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Yup I see nearly as many confederate flags on jacked up trucks in this part of New England and New York as I did in VA.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    But also remember that during the two gas crunches of the 1970s, availability, not just price, was a big concern.

    In many areas there was literally NO GAS at any price! Under those conditions, a vehicle that sips gas becomes attractive to even the rich.

    Today there is still plenty of gas, it just costs more. No doubt some people think it's impressive to be able to pay the higher gas prices (or, at least, LOOK like they can pay those higher gas prices, thanks to a credit card ;) ).
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    "But also remember that during the two gas crunches of the 1970s, availability, not just price, was a big concern..."

    True too, Mr. Beck, but the availability issue was short-lived and the repercussions quite the opposite.

    All y'all have short memories on the image factor I think! I still remember the Doonesbury strip where the roommate's boyfriend bought a new Electra 225 in baby blue, and the girlfriend damn near died of embarrassment and told him he should've bought a Gremlin!

    Guzzling was not cool, I tell ya!
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    wale_bate1: All y'all have short memories on the image factor I think! I still remember the Doonesbury strip where the roommate's boyfriend bought a new Electra 225 in baby blue, and the girlfriend damn near died of embarrassment and told him he should've bought a Gremlin!

    A Gremlin?! Sorry, but I can't let Mr. Trudeau live that one down.

    I learned to drive on a 1973 Gremlin. It did save lots of gas - primarily because it didn't use much on the back of a tow truck or in the service bay. It spent LOTS of time in those places.

    A Civic, a Corolla, or even a B210 - I could understand. Heck, even the Pinto had a better image - at least until the whole gas tank issue (if you'll pardon the expression) blew up.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    You humorectomy scar is showing G! Or at least your sarcasmotomy! That was the point, that even a Gremlin was more image than a Buick.

    Gremlin: "Hey buddy, where's the rest of that car?"
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    wale, The point is not that we were forced out of large cars. it is what happens when the pressure to look politically correct changes? People didn't go in mass towards Nissans and Hondas or Toyotas until Nissan, Honda and Toyota made Camrys, Accords and Altimas in the size people wanted. Drop the large detroit mastodons they did. But what did they move to? Mini vans, SUVs and now quad cab trucks. Will a sub compact ever sell like a F-series truck? In the US anyway? Does the American consumer care one whit about the european consumer? Do they care about the Asian consumer? I don't think they do. The F-series Fords are the best selling vehicles in the world and hardly any of them are sold in other countries. How did that happen? SUV and Light trucks got to over 50 percent of the market in this country. Do any of us see Americans willingly moving into a Sub Compact at anything even close to those numbers? While we may show open disdain in public for our consumption I haven't noticed contractors building smaller more affordable houses in Southern California over the last few years. The question remains the same, what happened to compact trucks? Gone, and no one cares one bit. Will SUVs and full sized trucks disappear? SUV don't have the cool factor? What reason is there for three Hummers then? Why did Porsche decide to make a SUV? How About BMW or MB making several SUVS? And how big are the current Sub Compacts? Are any of them much smaller than a Civic? If they hold such promise why do the manufacturers, who have access to all the studies on the buying habits of the American consumers, insist on only providing the compact or bigger cars? Why take years to release a sub compact to our markets and only months to release a new mid sized car? Because of long term preferences displayed by marketing trends that can be easily measured. How many years have they talked about bringing the smart car to our shores? How many crossover SUVs and AWD wagon-like cars have been imported in the same number of years?

    Sub compacts will always have one flaw, they will be cars people can move up from. They may be perfect at what they do but they will not be something to aspire to. The middle class in America has to have something to aspire to. Individually Americans can be the most generous people on the earth. But corporately we are consumers first, and we have the ability to consume more than anyone on earth. The French are rude, the British have bad teeth and we consume more than our share. That is simply how it is. ( warning, some of the previous was intended as hyperbole.) ;)
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Trust me, those of us who lived through the experience of driving a Gremlin on an everyday basis found that our sense of humor was severely taxed, and hasn't quite recovered...

    The scary part is that the lousy reliability was the least of the car's problems.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Sorry, but the move away from full-size anything didn't end up in a larger-format for quite a while, and not until confidence recovered enough to overpower the stigma!

    Minivans were actually mini, and SUVs didn't catch on in earnest until the late 80's. Midsize was the new full-size. Reminders of how badly the full-size segment, even in the cushy categories, suffered would be the Cimarron and Skyhawk, I think.

    Not that all that didn't wear off, of course...

    G: LOL!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    that once prices stabilized and the fuel was free-flowing again, people returned to their big cars with a vengeance. On the subject of the Electra for example, 1976 one of its best years in history! They ran off about 125,000 copies. I think the mammoth Olds 98 also had a record year in '76. Big cars may have been an embarrassment to many people, but there were still plenty who demanded them. Now these cars would see even higher sales with the downsized 1977-79 models (I think the 1980 recession ensured that the '80-84 models would never top 1976 sales, but I'm not positive), but at the time, sales were brisk enough for the '76 models that GM was probably starting to second-guess their impending decision to downsize.

    Also, those two fuel crises we had, while they were fairly short-lived in retrospect, at the time they were pure hell, and most people actually going through them probably didn't have the slightest inkling that things would ever return to "normal".
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    here I have to agree with andre. When the consumer turned from small cars it was well over what we had before small cars. Nothing made in the 60s or 70s can compare to a Escalade or Navigator. We never even dreamed of a Luxury pickup like a caddy or Lincoln. No one had to lead or encourage or pass legislation to get them to buy bigger they just did, out of pure preference.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    How many was that?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    it was 450,000 annual sales, apparently.

    Check out this guy's '78 Impala. He has done A LOT of work on it.

    I had a friend whose mom had one of these - I rode in it a few times. It kinda defines my mental image of 70s American cars, along with another friend's mom's 1980ish Cutlass.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    that is a lot of cars. Not like the 700,000 to 900,000 units of F-series trucks but the F-series comes in a lot of configurations so maybe that is why?
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    BMW is apparently going to make a smaller roadster, dubbed the Z2. Looks as though it will share the Mini's new 4 cyl. engines.

    Miata and Sky/Solstice will have some European competition after all.
  • tjw1308tjw1308 Posts: 296
    Hmmm a Z2 eh?

    *Waits to see if it has center mounted guages so he can hear about how "cool" they are... because it's a BMW and not a Toyota...*


  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Actually, I thought people mocked the ION for center guages but said Toyota was brilliant.

    I doubt the Z2 will have center guages. Not a BMW thing. The MINI does because MINIS always did.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    was the early minis had a completely transverse motor. Even the radiator was mounted next to the left front tire and wheel well.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    center-mounted guages? Did I read that correctly? If that's true why then do people belly-ache over Scion's xA and Toyota's Yaris having center-mounted guages?

    If the Mini-Cooper has them it's OK or even cool?

    Toyota uses center-mounted guages to save money. And, even though I don't think they're cool, they are kind of unique. Different. They are kind of artsy-fartsy, that's what they are! :D

    Just picture Barbra Wa-Wa with those caring eyes staring at the camera saying "Ahhhh-tt-sszzy Faaa-hhhh--ttt-sss-zzz-yyy!"

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    MINI---hmmmm....engine by Renault, owned by BMW, built in Britain....that sounds pretty scary.

    I like the center mounted gauges now that I've lived with them. Gauges in front of me now seem very annoying...too much information right in my face. I like to glance at the gauges furtively out of the corner of my eye like John Wayne did in "Flying Tigers".

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    haaw-haaw! shifty, you crack me up!

    Funny thing is, during my 2006 Scion xA test drive I adjusted to the center-mounted guages so quickly that it was kind of scaring me.

    If your bike had inverted handlebars would you not grab on to them? Or would you grab on to them even if they were turned inside out?

    I don't know about you but I will grab on to them no matter what shape they are. My point is that I turn my eyes to look at the speedometer and the tach often. I found that my eyes went right to the center guages in the xA and then they went to the steering wheel mounted stereo controls. That's why I kept turning up the volume on the stereo when I really wanted to change to another FM station!

    Do I feel like the 2006 Scion xA is dangerous to drive with guages mounted up front and center? No way! I adjusted to them like Gary Payton to a fresh Michael Jordan during the NBA Finals. Like Gary on Mike. iluv on xA. Donald Trump on...ummm...hairpieces...yeah, like that Pittsburgh referee on his penalty flag dropped during last year's Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks for no reason...I...I mean for really good reason. That guy should get in to rap music, or something on the up and up like that. Huh? :blush:

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • tjw1308tjw1308 Posts: 296
    I know :P

    I'm just poking fun at the outrage over center guages... It's ridiculous to me that people seem to think they ruin a car. To hear some talk about them it's as if their eyes were being gouged out having to glance a little to the right lol.

    I suppose if that's the main thing people want to point out as a "problem" with my Yaris, I have a pretty flawless car all things considered ;)

  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,454
    Yeah but don't forget that at one time (somewhere in the 20's) half the cars sold were Ford Model T's.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Some people are just resistant to change, I suppose.

    If done well (curved toward driver, placed in easy line of sight) I like some of the others here actually prefer center mount guages.

    In fact, the ION, Yaris and a few others have center mount guages that are somewhat easier to view than on the Mini.

    The Mini goes for that 1960s look. It is cool when you are admiring it, but takes a little getting used to when driving. On the other hand, the Toyota and Saturn guages are perfectly natural in my opinion.

    (I only had my Mini rental for a day in LA. Possibly after a couple of days you adjust completely and this is not an issue)
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,454
    The issue I have with the center mounted gages is that they are to high up. Yes I admit it I am getting old :sick: and with that I end up wearing bifocals :( . Now the trouble I have is that the gauges are to close for the upper area of my glasses so if I look at them through that part they appear somewhat fuzzy, but they look sharp and clear through the bottom part.

    Now with traditionally mounted gages they sit a little lower and therefor all I have to do is look down without moving my head to see them through the lower part of my specs. But with the higher center mounted gages to look at them without moving my head I see them through the top part. So to read the gages clearly I need to tilt my head up. I rather not have to move my head to see the gages.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Well, that is fair. As it is not an issue for me, I had not thought about it.

    Maybe the designers need to have bifocal and other glasses wearing participants when they work out placement of guages.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Actually, 1978 wasn't a record year for the Impala. There were a few years in the 60's where the Impala nameplate alone accounted for over a million sales! That's just the Impala. Caprice, Biscayne, and Bel Air sales were counted separately.

    By the 70's, GM combined Biscayne/Bel Air/Impala/Caprice sales and just called the total "Chevrolet". I think the reason they did this was because the competition was getting into the habit of just having one big car name in varying trim levels, instead of 3 or 4 different names. For instance, Plymouth had gone to a Fury I, Fury II, Fury III, Fury VIP, and Sport Fury designation back around 1965, matching the Chevy's Biscayne/Bel Air/Impala/Caprice/Impala SS. At one time Ford had a lineup that went something like Custom/Galaxie/LTD, but by the 70's they were overwhelmingly LTD's.

    For some reason though, Pontiac always kept the Bonneville and Catalina separate.

    Anyway, in 1977, when the downsized GM cars came out, Chevy moved something like 650-700K units. For the first time in history though, they sold more Caprices than Impalas, evidence of American's growing tastes for more luxurious cars. In '78 I believe they sold about the same amount of units, but I forget what the Impala/Caprice breakout was. Then for '79 I think they dipped to about 500K, and in 1980 down to something like 250-300K.

    At Pontiac the same thing happened. In the past, the Catalina usually outsold the Bonneville by a wide margin, but for 1977 I think they only sold about 60,000 Catalinas, compared to about 150,000 Bonnevilles.

    I think the Caprice/Impala was the top selling model in 1978, though. I remember reading that the downsized 1978 Malibu wasn't considered the smash hit that the B-body was, although I think GM managed to move about 400,000 of them. The Monte Carlo was popular though, with about 400,000 sold. I think the Nova was still pretty popular in '78, although GM blurred the lines between compact and midsize this year with the Malibu, and there was increasing competition from Ford and Chrysler in this area. The Chevette was increasing in popularity every year, peaking I believe in 1980 or 1981, with about 450,000 sales.

    The Olds Delta 88 and Cutlass Supreme were wildly popular cars, as well. The Pontiac Grand Prix was also a strong seller. So was the Buick Regal.

    Ford's heavy hitters in '78 were mainly the Thunderbird and Fairmont, although the Granada was selling decently and the big LTD's, while swamped by the Caprice/Impala, were still strong sellers. And the Pinto, reviled and poked at today, was still a strong seller.

    Chrysler was in its tailspin into oblivion in '78, and probably saw most of its sales strength in the Aspen/Volare, which were losing favor with the buyers. The Omni/Horizon found favor with economy-minded buyers, and the LeBaron/Diplomat sold fairly well in these early years. And oddly, the Cordoba was still selling decently. None of these cars came anywhere near their GM competition in sales though, unless you compared a Dodge Diplomat to a Pontiac LeMans, maybe.
  • reddroverrreddroverr Posts: 509
    The biggest reason in my book is to limit the amount of oil we have to import.

    Contributes to the trade deficit (a full 1/3 of it). This weakens our economy.

    Gives money and therefore power to our enemies.

    Other than initial price, I can't see much reason to go with a tiny car over a small car, if the mileage is similar.
  • tjw1308tjw1308 Posts: 296
    Finally someone with a VALID negative about center guages!

    THAT I can agree with. Never thought of that one :) .

    Somehow I doubt the majority of the whiney folk out there have the "BiFocal Issue" though :D ...

    Good point never the less.

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