Saturn vs Camry vs Accord vs Reality

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p934
So Ford runs an ad campaign pitting an all wheel-drive Fusion against a front wheel-drive Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. An invited group of
customers scores the Fusion tops in styling, handling, performance and “fun to drive.” Emboldened by Ford’s “dare to compare” strategy, Saturn decides to launch a “Side-by-Side-by-Side Test Drive.” Dealers are instructed to offer customers some seat time in the Aura, Camry and Accord. It’s gutsy! It’s feisty! It’s ridiculous.
First of all, these comparo campaigns are a major mitzvah for Toyota and Honda. As far as public perception is concerned, if Ford and Saturn are working their butts off to prove that their mid-sized sedans are as good as (i.e. better than) the Camry and Accord, then the Camry and Accord must be pretty damn good. These “hey what about us?” ads seal the transplants’ rep as market leaders.
That’s not good. The vast majority of customers are driven by a desire for safety; to buy the product or service that carries the least risk. In their mind, that’s always going to be the market leader. Ask Apple or any other company that’s tried to dethrone the top product in its field: product excellence loses out to massive market share every time.
In fact, the only way to knock a dominant product off its perch is… to knock the dominant product off its perch. In other words, saying your Fusion or Aura is better than a Camry or Accord ain’t gonna cut it— even if they are better. Your only chance of stealing market share from the top dog is to remove the consumers’ feelings of safety. Not to put too fine a point on it, Ford and Saturn have to convince car buyers the Camcord sucks.
Only it doesn’t. Which means this comparo stuff is the marketing equivalent of pissin' in the wind.
Lest we forget, The Big Three used to own the U.S. auto industry. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, VW, Mercedes and BMW came in with better products. So what? The domestic market was Detroit’s to lose. And lose it they did. A few decades of crap products and even worse service literally handed the American car market to the transplants. If GM, Ford and Chrysler didn’t suck in their own right, the transplants would still be nibbling at the margins.
And speaking of automakers that ripped out their consumers’ hearts (and wallets) and stomped on them until their formerly loyal customers RAN to the competition, what are the chances your average consumer is going to trust a Saturn salesman to provide a valid test of an Aura versus a Camry and Accord?
I know, I know: Saturn are the shiny, happy plastic people (well, they used to be plastic). No haggle. Honest as the day is long. But people HATE car dealers; they trust them about as far as they can teleport them (if only).
So, Saturn dude, you’re going to let me drive an identically equipped Aura, Camry and Accord? Uh, no.
According to Saturn’s website, customers can compare an Aura XE with preferred package, a Camry LE and an Accord Special Edition. The list prices are close enough for rock and roll, but just like Ford’s all wheel-drive versus front wheel-drive comparo, we’re looking at an apples vs. pears test: V6 power and optional 17" wheels (Aura) vs. two four-cylinder powerplants with standard 16" wheels (Camry and Accord).
Hmm. Would a customer looking at a frugal four cylinder Camry (21/30 mpg) or Accord (21/31mpg) really cross-shop a four-speed slushbox-equipped V6 Aura (18/28 mpg)? Conversely, would a customer looking for a smooth running V6 really consider a V6 Aura over a six cylinder Camry or Accord just to save a few thousand at the time of purchase (which depreciation would sort out later)?
Anyway, who can be bothered? It seems self-evident that only the most anal car shopper has the time or inclination to take three test drives in a row– and these are the sort of people who will probably prefer the Camry and Accord for their superior refinement, fit and finish and resale value.
Even before the Saturn’s side-by-side-by-side goes seriously sideways, Chevy’s making noises about bringing a Camry into their dealerships this fall for a Malibu vs. Camry shootout. Why not the Accord? It may have something to do with the fact that they’d rather have the new Malibu face the mid-cycle Camry rather than the brand spanking new Accord.
Detroit would have you believe that these promotions reflect a new, combative spirit. You can almost hear “We’re not gonna take it” echoing off the empty showroom walls. But if you look closely, it’s all just a bit of down market deviousness. TTAC will deploy its test driving team and report back. Watch this space.
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You are mission the point, the domestics are willing to prove their cars are as good or better than the imports with which they compete in the market, but the domestics are much less expensive.
Toyota does not offer an AWD Camry and a V6 AWD Fusion is thousands of dollars less than a V6 FWD only Camry. A V6 FWD Fusion is $1,500 less than an AWD Fusion, as well.
Motor Trend did a comparison of six midsized V6 sedans sold in the US. They rated the Camry in sixth place. They said it was not test as good as some of the others and was vastly overpriced, compared to the competing V6 cars.
mike

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Keep in mind that people can be swayed to do pretty much anything with the right gimmick or other circumstances. How do you think the japanese car industry became so popular? Because people are easily swayed. The only reason why japanese cars became so popular was because of a high price jump in gas in the early 70s. Do you really believe that people truly enjoyed driving a 73 Honda Civic down the highway as opposed to driving a 73 Grand Prix? No they didnt, but they made do..especially when there gas mileage went up 30%. Sure they made do in there cramped uncomfortable hi- gas mileage Civics, they adopted to them an convinced themselves that this is the way to go and got pissed off at detroit because there cars had become inefficient. So the japanese sold cars, the next thing you know everyone had to have one because it was like a fad. The US was now feeding the japanese economy via the auto industry. The japanese had little overhead, no unions, they just focused on building cars in nice new efficient factories that the US taxpayers help build after the Japanese destruction in WW2. Meanwhile detroit continues to bog down with old outdated factories, unions and other expensive benefits. If gas had stayed cheap the American people would not even looked in the direction of a Datsun or Toyota, they would still be floating down the road in a big V-8 buying 30cent a gallon gas. So now in order for the US makers to win back customers they actually have to re-prove themselves. Keep in mind that there is a whole new generation out there who have never even owned an American car yet they trash them on heresay. They automatically assume that there japanese car is better based on rumor, speculation or from others who also have never owned an American car. So they too are being swayed by word of mouth from others who just speculate not by fact. So as I said anyone can be swayed as so many people have.
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On Fri, 15 Jun 2007 22:36:59 -0400, Huck Flynn wrote:
Keep in mind that there is a whole new generation

Too true.
One of my staff members is about to have his third child and needs a bigger car/truck. His wife keeps mentioning getting an SUV like the Toyota Sequoia. I have repeatedly told him the Sequoia is not as reliable as the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon truck.
However, she insists it must be an import because imports are "better".
--
k
www.perfectreign.com

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