Worst Automotive Turkeys of 2004

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Automotive turkeys of 2004
The Ford Explorer Sport Trac was given the highest probability of roll over for a sport utility vehicle by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Commission.
By Dan Lienert
During Thanksgiving, reflections on the things for which you should be thankful traditionally take place over turkey â€" but the turkeys you're about to see here are not savory, and the reflections on this year's auto industry you're about to read are not of the fond variety. In this, our annual carving of automotive turkeys, we look back on the worst of this year's cars â€" but the group of last-place vehicles gets less unsightly every year as automotive design, engineering, manufacturing and quality continue to improve. To keep our assessments objective, we devised four standards with which we could hunt down the car business' biggest turkeys.
(1) the car that has been recalled the most this year,
(2) the new car with the lowest projected reliability,
(3) those cars which had the worst crash-test results and
(4) those which are projected to retain the lowest percentages of their values.
Automotive turkeys 2004
Dodge Neon SE sedan (tie)$13,745•
Ford Taurus LX sedan (tie)$20,320•
Mercury Sable GS sedan (tie)$21,595•
Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickup $23,690•
Ford Focus ZX3 coupe$13,270•
Kia Rio sedan$10,390•
Lincoln Navigator sport utility$49,225•
Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (tie)$13,597•
Nissan Sentra sedan (tie)$12,740•
Porsche Cayenne sport utility$41,100
*Projected to retain the lowest percentage of its original value. Source: Forbes.com• Two of those issues need a bit of clarification. First, we got our crash-test results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or NHTSA, pronounced "NIT-suh"), the section of the U.S. Department of Transportation that administers highway safety laws. NHTSA's tests, which include frontal- and side-impact crash tests as well as tests to determine a vehicle's rollover resistance, use scales of one to five stars, with a five-star rating being highest. Among all of NHTSA's 2004 model crash tests, only one resulted in a one-star rating: the performance of the rear seat of Ford Motor's Focus ZX3 two-door in side-impact collisions. Because NHTSA performs so many tests beside this one, we decided our turkey shoot should include the next lowest rung on the ladder as well and feature all 2004 models with two-star ratings.
The other issue that needs a closer look is projected reliability, which is the most subjective of our standards. It is even more so than estimates about residual values, which also involve predicting the future; both figures come from current data, but a car with poor reliability ratings often has them because it has a picky clientele. The cars that tend to rank lowest in reliability ratings are often built by upscale manufacturers, such as Ford's Land Rover and DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz subsidiaries--brands whose names can be tarnished by high expectations. Calling a car unreliable involves complaining about it in the first place. Whereas 40 years ago you might have expected your new car's dashboard clock to work for the first afternoon and then never again, the owner of a modern, $90,000
Mercedes is much more likely to scrutinize his vehicle for things to have the dealer fix--to say nothing of the fact that as technology gets more complex, automakers are increasingly discouraging of home repairs, placing plastic covers over engine bays in order to hide your car's inner-workings and force more visits to the dealer. That said, reliability is a crucial issue for new car buyers, and we got our information on the subject from the gold standard: Consumer Reports. While that publication and the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide involve the future for new cars, we wanted this piece to be a look back on the year. Therefore, the discussion in the slide show is about 2004 model cars, even though many 2005 models are now on the market. We also wanted to avoid dying or dead model lines, so when we make statements such as "the Focus ZX3 was the only car with a one-star rating," we are excluding lame ducks such as General Motor's Chevrolet Cavalier, which is being replaced by the Cobalt, as well as '04 models that have been or are being replaced with overhauled 2005 models, such as the new Ford Mustang. The slide show also excludes cars that are headed for discontinuation without replacement, such as the unlamented Chevrolet Astro van.
The presence of a car on our turkey list is not a condemnation of the vehicle, because thanks to improved manufacturing and higher standards few cars these days can be called complete stinkers. However, it can be illuminating to see which supposedly well-engineered models still manage to score poorly. For example, the model that has the distinction of being the most recalled car this year (we won't give it away here) is also the one that is projected to retain the highest percentage of its original value. The cars on our list are not bad across the board; they just own certain dubious statistics.
But when it comes to making a buying decision, consumers should remember that Thanksgiving comes only once a year but you'll be stuck with these turkeys every day.
© 2004 Forbes.com
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% There are two classes of pedestrians in these days of reckless motor traffic - the quick and the dead. ~ Lord Dewar 1933 ~
Climbing into a hot car is like buckling on a pistol. It is the great equalizer. ~ Henry G. Felsen 1964 ~
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The fruth is, in the real world very few vehicles ever 'rollover.' If the height of a vehicle was the cause of vehicle rollovers one would see one hell of a lot of six wheel trucks rolledover. The roll over myth is foisted by the shark lawyer to sue and the environuts effort to get people to stop buying the vehicle they want. It takes some extreme forces or and object to elevate the side of a vehicle to a point it will roll over rather than fall back on its wheels. Watch all the SUV's that you see spin in circles in chases shown in movies and on TV that never rollover. To get any vehicle to turn over the stunt people need to run them up ramps four of five feet high.
mike hunt
Rich B wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

Hmmm... Visit Houston sometime. At least one or two suv's rollover every day on the freeway. I see them going and coming from work or see/hear about them on the news. I don't know how many I don't see or don't make the news. It is so common here that few people pay attention any more unless someone dies. Last summer I had the opportunity to help extricate a dead woman with a crushed head out of a rolled over Explorer. Also, on average, one 18 wheeler jack-knifes or rolls over everyday on the freeway. On average, one 18 wheel tanker flips and explodes each week on the freeway - usually taking out a section of roadway in the process. I agree with your observations about trucks though. I can't remember ever seeing a rolled over 6 or 10 wheeler. Stiff suspension makes them slide.
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How much of it is that people don't know how to control the vehicle? I could see it happening much easier if someone made a swerve to miss something then sharply swerving back. I've heard that some of the problem with the Explorers and their rollovers were that the tires blew and people immediately hit the brakes and went over to the side of the road.
Here in Milwaukee I don't think I've ever seen a rollover, even in the winter months. I believe that semi accidents here are more common then rollovers too, but I'm not positive.
I've done donuts in a Blazer (I think it has a 2 star rollover rating) and I felt the body shift a little but nothing that would stop me from doing it again. Just like in a Caprice.
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On Sun, 5 Dec 2004 16:14:24 -0600, "Phillip Schmid"

Having handled quite a number of roll-over claims I think that what isn't being mentioned is the unintentional off road maneuvers some folk engage in, coupled with T-Bone accidents & you've got your statistics. In the T-Bone field, Toyota Echo's tend to roll quite nicely for a car.
On a related point of interest, I've seen very few "drifters" driving 4x4's trucks. Mostly low center of gravity cars.
But like you said. 99.999999999% of the time it's operator malfunction.
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Full_Name wrote:

The other proof of operator error is to look at history. Suburbans and full size Blazers, Bronco's, IH Scout, have been around for many years, back through the 70's, 60's, 50's. They didn't seem to have a problem with roll overs then, it wasn't until the 90's when everyone got tired of driving tiny cars and started moving up that you have people that shouldn't be driving now driving vehicles which the media likes to target for a story so when two accidents happen in town, one being a car, one being an SUV the news reports on the SUV accident so they can point out how "evil" the SUV's are.
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Phillip Schmid wrote:

It's just a guess on my part, but I bet the vast majority of the roll over drivers barely know how to drive and have no comprehension of their vehicles' control attributes. In the last year I have rented 10 suv's and put at least 1000 miles on each one. Never had a problem with any of them. I always raise the tire pressure from suggested 26 psi to 40++ psi and do slow speed slaloms before starting my trip.
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over drivers barely know how to drive and have no comprehension of their vehicles' control attributes. In the last year I have rented 10 suv's and put at least 1000 miles on each one. Never had a problem with any of them. I always raise the tire pressure from suggested 26 psi to 40++ psi and do slow speed slaloms before starting my trip.
Why 40 PSI? Doesn't that increase the chance of a blowout at high speed due to the higher pressure inside the tire working against you when you corner, go over a bump, or brake?
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wrote:

40 PSI isn't likely increase the risk of blowouts at the speed limit. OTOH.... It will greatly reduce one's traction thereby limiting the liklihood of a traction induced rollover.
If you've ever seen an advanced driving school high speed "reverse into drive" direction change induced roll over you'll know what I mean.
But as the other poster's have stated. Roll-over accident's are rare enough for a competent driver not to be concerned. Just don't let your learner driver try high speed maneuver in an old Explorer with under inflated tires.
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Matt Keefer wrote:

Oh. I should have mentioned that the vehicles are loaded with about 1000 pounds of tools, parts, luggage, and me.
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« Paul » wrote:

40++??! Well I guess fate really does protect small children and fools. Though I sure as hell don't want to be in your vicinity when your overinflated tires blow.
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Isaiah Beard wrote:

Under inflated tires are the ones that blow out due to flexing the sidewalls. I have never had a blowout (except due to track debris or suspension failure) in the millions of miles that I have driven... some of them way over 100 mph... both on track and off.
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Every day? You must therefore see a LOT of cars rolled over as well, since the same thing happens with cars as SUV's, they slide...... unless some other force acts upon the vehicle during the slide that would cause any vehicle to roll over. 'Rollover' is a catch word for the shark lawyers and the environuts. The facts are that years of statistical evidence shows that slightly less than 8% of ALL vehicles sold in the US will ever be involved, in its lifetime, in a accident sufficient to deploy the SRS. Less than 2% of those are involved in a rollover.. Statistically you are twice as likely to be hit by lightning as involved in a roll over accident. ;)
mike hunt
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

I rarely see cars rolled over. Try doing a quick half (or better) steering wheel rotation and then back again in the other direction at 60 mph in a suv. My Vette always spun out. I don't want to try it in my Grand Am.
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If you say so, I guess ;)
mike hunt
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« Paul » wrote:

I HAD to do it once in an '02 Grand Am. Recovered quite well, and the deer in my way AND my insurance company were probably quite thankful for it.
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One should be careful not to run into something else in a effort to avoid an animal. Collisions with an animal are covered by ones comprehensive coverage, which is not considered an 'at fault' accident and if purchased properly has a low or zero deductible. On the other hand if in avoiding an animal one strikes another vehicle, the loss is covered under ones collision coverage which generally has a much higher deductible and it is considered an 'at fault' accident that effects ones premium rate. Hitting an animal is generally less dangerous than hitting another car head on ;)
mike hunt
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

There's a difference between running into something and swerving into a clear lane of traffic to miss something.
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Gee, why didn't I think of that ;)
mike hunt
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On Thu, 09 Dec 2004 17:25:48 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

Agree 100% (with a few exceptions)
If it's a Moose, Horse, Cow or Large bear I'll "try" to avoid it. Those animals tend to have a habit of making the driver wish they'd spun out into a fence) But like mentioned above. Any animal is softer than an oak tree or Tractor Trailer with 40 Tonnes coming the opposite way.
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