Screw Consumer Reports

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especially in the hands of rental fleets. It is and has always been one of the best ways to get a buyer interested in your product. You rent him one and if you have a good product chances are he will like it and consider one as his next purchase.
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smitty wrote:

True. My folks ended up renting Chrysler 5th Avenue on vacation in Canada many years ago. When it was time to buy a new car that is what they bought. But it only works if the car is good the the rental company maintained the car well. I myself have been turned off many cars because of rental car experience. Some was the manufacturers fault (Dodge Lancer-horrible seats) and Chevy Chevette (no explanation required.
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And, conversely, if he rents something and discovers it's a POS, he'll know to look elsewhere to replace his current car.
Which is exactly what happened to a buddy of mine recently when he rented an Equinox.
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advertising. Several years ago I rented a Grand Am GT for about a week, and enjoyed the car quite a bit, if I had been looking for a new car that would have been one to consider since I had just driven one for a week and liked it.

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Why does everyone think 'rental cars' when the discussion turns to fleets? Rental company take only a relative small percentage of the vehicle sold or leased to fleets. The biggest majority of fleet vehicle in the US are cooperate fleets that use truck, light trucks and SUVS Cars account for only about 1/3 of the fleet vehicles sold annually in the US.
itt.com> wrote in message

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wrote:

they (according to : http://fleet.toyota.com/html/whatsnew.asp). (Quoting from the article)
"MY06 PRIUS FLEET AVAILABILITY Due to Toyotas exceptionally low retail dealer days supply position and an anticipated increase in future retail Prius demand stimulated by the recent passage of the Federal Highway Bill (retail tax credits & HOV lane eligibility), Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. is not in a position to accept MY06 Prius fleet production orders specific to government & rental fleets. This regrettable but necessary action is being taken as a result of the companys need to address the extreme shortage of Prius availability at the dealer retail level. Toyota Dealers are advised to suspend all MY06 Prius fleet sales solicitation and cancel all existing order agreements until further notice. Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. will restore Prius fleet availability to government & rental fleets once production volumes are sufficient to meet both retail and fleet order demand.
With respect to all Commercial fleet sales, availability will remain very limited with longer than normal order-to-delivery timing (possibly in excess of 6 months). Commercial fleet orders will most likely need to be spread out over several order/delivery months as we manage customer demand against our established monthly production guides. It is advisable to consult with your respective TMS Fleet Field Manager and/or PD Fleet Manager specific to our ability to support a Commercial customer on Prius. (end quoted portion).
So, when the fleet owner sends out his RFB (requests for bids) no wonder Toyota doesn't even send a thank-you note back.
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But, consider also that the Prius is full of special parts that are not widely used in all other Toyota models, and consider that the Prius has as much value as a lure to get customers into the dealerships, as an actual sale. People who are curious about hybrids in general will go to the Toyota dealership to look at the car, then Toyota is hoping to interest them in their other vehicles.
Toyota only needs to make enough Priuses to make the model profitable and no more than that. If they make too many of them then too many people have a Prius and the mysique of owning one is gone, and people lose interest. If they make too many of them then they cannibalize their other model sales. Look at what happened to the VW 'new beetle" VW ramped up production of bugs too fast and when too many of them got out there people decided they were just a gimmick and lost interest.
Ted
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Go read the interview with the guy who runs Toyota USA in the April Motor Trend and you will see why it is not at all hard to believe...and true. They really are VERY different from the domestics.
By the way, the Honda Passport is on the CR "shit list". Come to think of it, wasn't that an Isuzu, anyway?

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GRL wrote:

Yes, it was a rebadged Isuzu since Honda at the time had no SUVs
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Let's see. Page 80 of the April, 2006 issue. Recommended used cars include:
Chevy Prism, Ford Escort, Ranger and Mustang, Mercury Tracer, Saturn SL, Buick Regal, Ford Crown Vic and F-150, Mercury Grand Marquis, Buick Century and Regal, Lincoln Continental and Town Car, Chevy Silverado, PT Cruiser, GMC Sierra, Chevy Impala, Chevy Monte Carlo, Pontiac Vibe, Pontiac Grand Prix, Saturn Ion...
OK, I'm getting tired of writing names. Point is, you have no clue what you are talking about.
The avoid list has no Toyotas, but it does have the Honda Passport. Also a whole bunch of Nissans and lots and lots of domestic and European models...including Mercs and Porsches.

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I don't endorse Mike Marlow's "more in disrespect" assessment of CR; but the proof's in the eating, not in the ingredients.
Impartiality is not a guarantee of competence: a judge can be honest but inept. And who says CR is entirely impartial? Financial interests aren't the only potential sources of bias. Political or other attitudes could influence product evaluations just as much as the financial entanglements that CU ostentatiously avoids.
CR's testing is honest, but the criteria they use aren't delivered from heaven on stone tablets. Somebody at CR picks them, and that's where most of the subjectivity comes in. I often find CR's rating criteria somewhat odd, especially in the product categories I know something about. Who's right? Both and neither. We just have different opinions -- and biases.
As for the polls of CR's user base, that's a self-selected subset (respondents) of a CU-selected subset (recipients) of a self-selected set (subscribers) of people -- who probably tend to share CR's point of view, political and otherwise. See? Potential bias everywhere.
CR is a useful source of information and a good first step for anybody who wants an overview of what's out there. It's closer to Wikipedia than to "unimpeachable". Nobody should rely exclusively on their recommendations. I don't think many car buyers do.
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I don't think that anyone can argue that CR ratings are wholly objective. They are not because, as you say, somebody has to decide what is important and how important. Not hard art the gross level, but harder as you get into the fine points. Case in point. We needed to replace a refrig. As always, I check CR and find that Whirlpool's are reliable and that they also supply Sears and the Sears models are also reliable. Very minor difference in the ratings of the two brands from the comparison test CR did. We decide to by the Whirlpool flavor of a given model because we get a better price on a floor sample. We get it home, turn it on and the first night we have it I am shocked at how noisy it's compressor is. I recheck the CR ratings and see it is rated average for noise while the Sears model is rated better than average. More research reveals that the Sears version gets additional sound insulation. I end up PO'd because I have what I consider a noisy refrigerator. CR correctly reported that the Sears model is quieter, but they did not emphasize how much quieter or how noisy the Whirlpool is. I wish they had as I'd have bought the Sears. Somebody at CR made a subjective choice on reporting that I wish they had not made. (We got used to the noise, by the way.)
Your bias logic w.r.t survey responders holds no water, on the other hand. CR asks people about how much trouble they have had with their purchase. There is no politics in that question, there is no CR point-of-view to share - either the thing broke or it did not. I don't know what kind of bias you find in the selection of people who choose to respond to the surveys, either, that would impact the results so as to give an inaccurate result. If you say that people who have things break on them are more likely to respond, well OK, that means the companies that make crap will take it in the chops more than they would have otherwise, but that's OK - the quantitative result is off, but not the qualitative one (junk is still junk, but it may come out as worse junk than it really is good stuff is still good stuff, but it may come off as less good than it really is and still much better than the junk - you can still compare). If you say the opposite, than that just shifts results a little in the other direction, but relative differences still hold.
If anything, there will be a general tendency to forgive deficiencies
wrote:

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When it comes to polling, sample selection is crucial. Ask President Dewey.
I don't know if CU selects or weights the responses they receive, but I suspect they just use them raw. The Annual Questionnaire is sent only to CR subscribers, and last year only one-fifth of the recipients participated. Did those respondents represent a statistically valid sample of all car buyers? I doubt it. It's in who _answers_ and how, more than in who _asks_ and how, that bias can creep in. (And by "bias" I don't mean a deliberate thumb on the scale but something that's invisible to the person who has it.)
A respondent to CR's questionnaire is more likely to have followed CR's advice and to share CR's biases, political and otherwise, than the typical car buyer. Yes, he will tend to defend his car-buying decision, whatever it was; but he may also tend to justify his decision to subscribe to CR by echoing its recommendations. If he bought Japanese and was pleased, he's more likely to answer; it he bought American and had trouble, he's also more likely to answer. Does CR correct for this when they calculate reliability ratings? I doubt it. For one thing, they're hard (impossible?) to quantify.
And reliability ratings are entirely quantitative. Sell enough of something, and somebody is bound to have trouble with it. The question is what percentage of all buyers of the product had problems. To get a good answer to that, it's not so good to rely on self-selected samples, even if they are collected by a _financially_ unbiased entity.
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Not really. CR is not nearly as objective as you'd like to think.
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Nope, they are unquestionably subjective in terms of what they think a good car should be like. They traditionally like reliability, good mileage, good comfort, smooth ride, easy to use controls, good visibility, and so on. The kinds of things the average car buyer wants most, who is not a car enthusiast. And that is most of the car buying population.
They have traditionally not had too much to say to people who love to drive, but that has been changing. They have taken to testing performance cars...and they like what they test and say so. They like the Honda S2000, Porsche Boxter, Chevy Corvette, BMW M3, and Subaru Sti.Cars that the average car buyer would have no use for, but cars that enthusiasts hold in awe and that get high ratings in the buff books. But they deal with cars like that as a different category than mainstream cars. There is subjectivity, in other words, but it is appropriate for the audience.
If I was a person looking for a transportation appliance, as I think most people are when they car/van shop, I would pay very close attention to what CR writes and use them as a screen for what cars I will actually bother to personally look at. If they say a car/van is a dog, it will be. If they say it will be excellent, it will be. I may not like the styling or some particular feature, but I can have complete confidence that all they write about it will be true.

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I can't imagine anyone buying a Porche, Corvette or other sports car taking Consumer Reports opinion in their own decision making :) GRL wrote:

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You are probably mostly right for hard-core enthusiasts, but you are dead wrong about a significant part of the performance car market who have never owned a sports car, but are at a point in their life where they want to reward themselves with something sporting, but don't really know what is good and what is not. These people do not read the car buff books and really are clueless beyond recognizing a brand/model as desirable.
The point is supported by the fact that many, if not most, high performance cars are sold with automatic transmissions...something that a real enthusiast would not have in a sports car or hot sports sedan.

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says...

Some years ago (many) CR did a test of soldering irons and accessories. They tested some of the equipment I was using professionally and they were totally WRONG.
Example, they tested various electronic soldering iron tips, copper, gold plated etc. At the time we were using Gold plated tips because of the superior heat transferring and anti-oxidizing properties, nowadays iron plated tips are quite common. CR's objective without peer and unimpeachable rating--- Gold plated tips were a waste of money because the plating came off when they are filed.
I guess they didn't know how to read or follow directions, the package the tips came in was boldly marked "Do Not File". Plated tips are not filed to shape like the old solid copper tips meant for metal soldering. You see eventually the copper and solder reacted with each other and caused corrosion of the copper tips requiring dressing to remove the uneven corroded surface. Plated tips are purchased in the desired shape and can last many years.
Ever since, I have taken a CR review with a grain of salt, sometimes they don't have a clue what they are doing. Just my opinion.
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