Screw Consumer Reports

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I just picked up (but did not buy) the famous Consumer Reports auto issue which claims no American car was worthy of its top ten rating. I am particularly interested in their description of my Ford Freestar van.
I have driven most of the minivans for sale right now, and my Freestar is right up there with the best. The foreign ones, such as Toyota minivan, are fine but weird. Some of the controls, such as the shift on the dash, are silly. They have some good features, but are not better vehicles than the Fords. I drove the Freestar and thought the ride and handling were so good it was hypnotic. Mine has the DVD player with headphones, electric doors, three-zone air conditioning, and on and on. I am thrilled with it - and its paint is second to none and superior to the foreign ones.
I glance at the CR reports on all of the cars and minivans every time they come out with some new issue claiming to review the field. And every time they have the same tired description of the Freestar van. They describe it as not up to the standards of the competition, noisy and rough engine, and unsettled ride. I have no idea where they got these ideas, but Ford should sue the bejeezus out of them, because it just isn't true.
I wonder if the American car industry's problems aren't partly due to reports from idiots such as these.
Gary Eickmeier
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Keep your head firmly buried in the sand and the wicked CR will blow away-and the market share slide continues for the Big Two.

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Jim Higgins wrote:

The silly "no spare tire" on the AWD Sienna is a hoot, too. And you can't get anyone to repair the tires... which comes out to ~ $300.00 per flat! Not to mention it needs tires every 16K-20K miles too...

There's really nothing wrong with the Freestyle & Caravan. CU is reporting for the most part from owner experience... Lexus & Toyota, Nissan & Infinity, Honda & Acura owners are just WAY more vocal & passionate about their purchases - they have to be - to justify spending such ridiculous $$ on vehicles that are really only marginally better if at all than my Taurus.
Rob
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trainfan1 wrote:

The Freestyle is an SUV, mine is a Freestar, which is the minivan, as is the Caravan (by Chrysler).
I think CR must be reporting based on some 2003 or 4 road test by one tester. Just very frustrating to read such BS when you own one and know it is not true.
Gary Eickmeier
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Gary Eickmeier wrote:

YUP... meant Freestar. The last generation Windstar is a great vehicle too. Even the last 96/97 Aerostars had all the bugs worked out as ugly as they were... I miss mine(the interior space esp. w/ seats out) now though, except I can get almost double the fuel economy now w/ the Taurus.
Rob
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One thing that gets lost in the discussions of 'what's best' is how happy people are with their choices.
You're happy, and that should be the end of the discussion for you.
My wife and I bought a minivan back in January/december. We had the chance to go to the local autoshow a couple of months before hand and pour over each minivan brand. When we got serious about buying, we removed the Nissan, Honda, and Toyota's from the list. We both agree that the japanese vans are higher quality, better designs, and much more appealing than their american counterparts...... BUT! They were each substantially more expensive when you buy slightly used. We then drove the ford, chrysler and Saturn vans, and ultimately bought the Saturn.
Now, for my money, the Ford re-warmed minivan was a far distant third out of three... but my thoughts don't matter! If you bought it, and you're loving your van, that's all that matters.
JP
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Jon R Patrick wrote:

Bingo! We can argue all day long about which product is better quality and quote this report and that opinion spouting the pros and cons of any number of manufacturers. We can argue about market share and financial reports , etc.....ad infinitum. The bottom line is: I am happy with my "brand A" choice, you prefer "brand B". You had bad luck with "brand C", I might not have. I'm not going to try to force feed you "brand A", don't tell me how bad "brand B" is in spite of my experience. I like my choice, you like yours. We're both happy.
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Jon R Patrick wrote:

I almost got the Saturn Relay. I thought it was the last day of the GM employees discount, so I looked at the Saturn dealer and they had one Relay left, nice silver color with leather, etc, so I drove it and almost bought because of the "deal." Then when we sat down with the "closers," I found a few hidden costs and lies about the price which soured me on the whole thing and I skipped.
The next day my friend pops up with a Freestar van with everything on it. It was so much nicer than the Saturn I thanked my stars I didn't get sucked into the other deal. Then I learned of the Ford employees' discount plus a rebate, both of which totalled $10,000 off. The salesman found the exact model and color I was interested in, and I couldn't resist.
Fantastic vehicle. Powerful, smooth, quiet, dependable, and everything works. Transmission is far superior to all I have ever driven in smoothness and has four speeds. All controls are perfect and the fold down third row is a dream. Mileage isn't magnificent, but on a trip I get 26 or so.
Gary Eickmeier
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<snip>

Glad you're happy with it. MY preference going to the dealer was for a Ford. I have a Focus, I lust after a Fusion, and somewhere in the past 3 years I gave up on GM and became a "ford guy".
That being said (oh, BTW, I DO buy used, and I got both my cars from Carmax. I mention it only because I buy used for the deal; I buy from carmax for the superb treatment (recognizing I could go elsewhere and haggle for more money off.)). Anyway. - We drove the Freestar first and my wife and I both despised it. Engine was coarse, ride wasn't that great, and we truly, truly hated the interior design and cheap-o plastic.
MY thought was the GM minivans wouldn't be competitive, and the Ford did ride a bit better (felt lower to the ground) than the Saturn, but we loved the interior design and ergonomics.
The Dodge was a close second, but after we discussed it seriously, neither of us trust Dodge products AND as cool as sto-and-go is, we don't know if it's enough to base the decision on. We basically NEVER take the 3rd. row out and need the 2nd row for the kids... So the saturn (silver with dvd system) perfectly fit our needs.
Again, I mean no insult here. I'm happy with your Ford, my aunt-in-law has a beautiful blue freestar, and if it just weren't for a couple of preferences we could have had one.
The end result? We both end up with good, reliable vehicles we're happy with. now, if I could just get my porsche!:) jp
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CR just like anybody else is expressing their OPINION, and just like everybody else one is free to agree or disagree. The problem is many choose to accept CRs opinions as fact, it happens in the NGs daily. The more one reads CR opinions particularly as in your experience, where facts as you know them do not concur with their opinion, the more their opinions become suspect and the less likely one will continue to seek their opinion.
My personal experience with CR and others like them led me to buy many Toyotas and Lexus vehicles because of their record of overall lower costs of ownership. However after several years of owning a fleet service business that serviced nearly every brand you can name it became apparent in our meticulous records that was in fact a fallacy. I discovered what fleet owner, who keep their majority of their vehicles in service for five years and up to 300K mikes, already knew. Fleet owners look at the total cost of acquiring, insuring, maintaining, repairing and replacing the vehicles they use as just another tool in their business. With all things considered it is Ford motor company vehicles that provide the lowest overall cost of ownership with GM close behind. I switched from Toyota to Ford vehicles in 1998 and I have been saving money ever since. That of course is only my opinion as well, but it is based on the fact I have observed over many years with many thousands of vehicles. ;)
mike hunt

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Mike Hunter wrote:

Mike Hunt, huh? "Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?" Funny.
Thanks for your response. Very informative, and confirms my suspicions and experience with American cars. There can certainly be some lemons produced in any brand, but by and large American cars are made for morons to drive 100,000 miles without much maintenance. And they will do that, easily. My last van was a Pontiac TransSport, and it was magnificent. The air conditioning finally gave out at the 220,000 mile point, and I never touched the electrical system or the cooling system. Had to redo the transmission. Plastic door handles fell apart twice. Instrument panel soft pad peeled up from heat. But overall, very satisfied and not afraid to get another American car.
Did you guys see the Nissan Quest with all of the instruments in the center of the dash?
Gary Eickmeier
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It will be the imports turn for the next 5 years, Consumer Reports believes in giving every auto making country a 5 year good rating. RELAX.. American cars will be featured in 2011. Remember when the Germans bomber Pearl Harbor?????? Buy American! ;)
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chuckster wrote:

I hope they can hold on that long.
Gary Eickmeier
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Mike (if that's your real name). Great post.
My only addition is that when you're buying for your own personal use, more than just 300k worth of total cost comes into play. For example, I despise the Taurus. Truly a miserable vehicle. Don't flame , it's just my opinion. But I really do hate them. their steering 'feel', ride, interior. yeech.
Anyway, most fleet owners don't care about how the 'user' desires their vehicle handling and interior quality/desirability. I dare say most individuals do.
In short, I'm willing to bet that you could easily prove to me that the Taurus is a better, long-term ride than the camry, accord, or similar. But it simply doesn't matter if I don't like the car.
All that being said, I think this is a good example of what GM and Ford have 'missed' for about 10-20 years - the emotion of driving their sedans. They have great arguements for initial cost, ongoing costs, and easy to clean interiors... but there's a growing number of people who'd feel like I do that it's just not worth saving a few bucks to drive a car you truly don't enjoy.
jp
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as mentioned above, with 10,000 dollar rebates, sounds like if they routinely sold them for less (while still making money), they'd fare much better.
10,000 dollars goes a long way when considering the overall "feel" of a vehicle.

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Pobably, rumors are that back in the day 20 plus years ago many of the American car Execs dissed consumer reports, so to this day CR adds there own little twists to the reports to diss them, then the consumer reads the reports and takes it as the gospel word and goes out and buys what they say they should buy. Strange indeed that Americans have become such sheeple who will follow the Pied Piper off a cliff if he says so.
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> On 3/5/2006 11:08 AM ... Booboo Baker wrote:

The Lemming fits as well.
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own
say
who
Actually, CR is probably held more in disrespect than it is in respect.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
  Click to see the full signature.
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Now there's a remarkable statement that flies in the sense of common sense.
Why would a publication that accepts no advertising, that actually BUYS the items that it evaluates, that uses well educated/qualified technicians to design and perform the testing, that forbids that it's rankings be used in advertising...and is aggressive about enforcing that, that polls its large user base for reliability ratings...why would such a publication be held in anything but high respect, except by those who get a, deservedly, poor evaluation?
I don't care for CR's occasional left-wing politics, myself, but when it comes to objective (and just a little subjective) evaluation of hardware, they are without peer and unimpeachable.
- GRL

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I can't remember how long ago this was, sometimes in the mid 90's. CR rated two fords, both had a 5.0 engine, Mustang was one ,and I think the other was a Lincoln, any ways the Mustang got great reviews especially the long term reliability of the 302 engine. They then complained about the Lincoln engine being unreliable, yet it was the same engine. I've caught quite a few fau pauxs like this in many of their ratings, they praise one vehicle, and then demolish another, yet the two vehicles are identical just different badging.

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