The recent issue tests after market bulbs, including the GE NightHawk and
the Sylvania bulbs. Their results were inconsistent depending upon the car
lamp in question.
I found that the NightHawk did give me a boost in my 04 Town and Country and
the GE/Toshiba inferred bulbs improved my 98 RAV4 much more than my PT
Cruiser. Perhaps there is something about improvements being lamp specific.
They also just took the bulb makers' word regarding DOT compliance ("All
the tested bulbs claim DOT compliance") without checking -- shame on them.
Had they checked, they'd likely have found that the APC Plasma Ultra White
bulbs are very definitely *not* compliant in several important ways.
They've made a lot of noise regarding their newly implemented headlamp
"tests" over the last year or so. Typical CR selfgratulatory crapola. I
won't bother rehashing the exact reasons why their headlamp "tests" are
largely bogus; I've posted the analysis before in this forum and others.
It's not just a question of "Dan Stern doesn't agree with Consumer
Reports"; it's much more serious than that: Many of their assumptions and
recommendations regarding headlamps are just plain nonsense fabricated out
of the same whole cloth that allows CR to consider themselves expert in
everything from red wine to oil filters to washing machines to insurance
Consumer Reports is very prone to letting their agendas override their
Suzuki suffered major difficulties with its image after Consumer Reports
magazine's famous, or infamous, claim in 1988 that the Samurai was prone to
rollover. The Suzuki Samurai small SUV enjoyed enormous popularity and
sales in the mid-1980's until the CR article was published.
Consumer Reports had stated that the Samurai "easily rolls over in turns"
and that it was "likely to roll over during a maneuver that could be
demanded of any car at any time". U.S. government studies actually showed
that the Samurai's rate of rollover was similar to that of other SUV's.
Sales plunged and Suzuki eventually stopped production of the Samurai in
Suzuki filed lawsuit in 1996 for product disparagement after Consumer
Reports magazine rehashed the old test results in yet another article.
Suzuki had pursued their $60 billion lawsuit ever since 1996 in the position
that the Consumer Reports "not acceptable" rating had caused sales to
plunge, tarnished the company's image and set back the company's brand in
the US for a decade. Suzuki went so far as to specifically claim that
Consumer's Union had rigged the tests against the popular SUV to create
media attention in the midst of their fund-raising drive.
A trial judge threw out the suit, but the 9th District Court of Appeals
later reinstated it on the grounds that Suzuki had presented enough evidence
that CU published knowing falsehoods in their article, and the Supreme Court
in 2003 refused to prevent the case from going forward. Suzuki's managing
counsel had stated that "The evidence will clearly show that, rather than
driving all the vehicles the same, CU singled out the Suzuki Samurai and,
through stunt-like steering, intentionally made it tip up -- all to support
CU's pre-determined story line, only after the Samurai received the best
possible rating on the test CU had used for the past 15 years." The court
noted that at the time CU initially criticized the Samurai, CU had just
purchased a new building and therefore "needed to boost its revenues to
complete its capital campaign." The court concluded that this "evidence of
financial motive dovetails with the evidence of test-rigging."
In a similar lawsuit by Isuzu against CU regarding their Isuzu Trooper
receiving a similar "not acceptable" rating, Isuzu provided evidence that
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its British
counterpart rejected Consumer Reports' rollover tests as unscientific on the
grounds that they were subject to driver influence. Isuzu was charging that
the consumer group falsified certain test data and concealed other
information. It charged also that a magazine staffer began writing the
article before the tests were concluded.
Just before the 1996 Trooper tests, the NHTSA rejected the consumer
organization's petition to establish rollover standards. Isuzu's lawyers say
the article's timing was more than coincidence; it was an effort to generate
media attention for CU and their latest cause.
Consumer Reports counsel tried to turn the case into a First Amendment
issue, essentially intimating that even if the tests were biased, they
should be protected from a product disparagement claim because the
organization is part of the press, and asserting that they should have
received a summary judgment on that basis. CU finally compromised their
statement in a settlement late last year to clarify that the rollover
tendency was only seen in their somewhat extreme emergency rollover test and
was not applicable to routine driving conditions.
Consumer's Union added that "CU's use of the adverb 'easily' may have been
misconstrued and misunderstood" and that "CU never intended to state or
imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions."
Mine is ok. But ours only has 51000 miles on it so the seat might be in
better shape than yours if you have higher mileage.
My wife just bought a hybrid Accord so we will be getting rid of the 300M.
It was a great ride but she wanted something smaller for parking at work.
And yes, I know the hybrid feature is a complete waste of money. And it
doesn't have auto lights, auto dimming rearview mirror or memory seats. And
the passenger gets a manual seat. And no spare tire (patching kit and
compressor instead). But it sips gas and is fast and a heck of a lot nicer
then the Prius.
The Samurai was first made in 1982 and within the next few years was selling
in Europe, Asia, Australia, and elsewhere. Suzuki introduced it into the US
in 1985 as a 1986 model. Starting with a mere 1200 trucks imported per
month, sales increased exponentially to 8000 vehicles per month and Suzuki
quickly found themselves with 47,000 Samurais sold by the end of their first
year. Not only was it the top-selling convertible in the United States, but
it also captured the best first-year sales record of any Japanese car
company. In 1987, the year before the CR article, sales were 81,349. And
you say the Samurai stopped selling because "it sucked"? I guess all those
people were buying the vehicle totally unaware that it "sucked"?
After the 1988 Consumer Reports article, annual sales dropped to only 5,041
within a year. Did all those people suddenly become aware that it "sucked"?
Consumer reports was financially over-extended in 1988 and they simply
created a big story at Suzuki's expense, exploiting customers' worst fears
and creating a marvelous marketing tool for them, and based on the evidence
the courts were agreeing.
Suzuki pursued the case from 1996 to 2004, but it's hard to win any case
against a nonprofit organization. At least Suzuki got a compromised
statement from CR essentially taking back their claim that the vehicled
easily rolled over in turns.
Well, "retraction" wouldn't be their word of choice. CU calls it a
But here's their carefully worded compromise statement:
ntry -- Small excerpt: "CU's 1996 statement that the 1988 Samurai "easily
rolls over in turns" was limited to the severe turns in CU's short course
avoidance maneuver. CU's use of the adverb "easily" may have been
misconstrued and misunderstood. CU never intended to state or imply that the
Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions. Subsequent to 1988,
several other SUVs have tipped up either in CU's tests or in U.S. government
Thank you for the link. Since it was cut off I am posting it again in case
people have problems with it:
I suggest people interested in this discussion read the entire statement and
not rely on the small portion you posted which may be miscontrued out of
I can't see how it was misconstruced, the operative phrase there was:
"CU never intended to state or imply that the
Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions"
This is a retraction because CU certainly did imply that the Samurai
easily rolled over in routine driving conditions. They may not have said so
explicitly, but the positioning of the article implied it.
In order for interested parties to really understand the discussion, you
have to not only read the entire thing he posted, but also the original
copies of CR, and their front covers, plus the additional buzz that
CR planted in the industry during the time that this was an issue. But
that would be difficult for most people who were not adults in 1988.
I was, and I clearly recall the flurry of copycat articles in news media
that killed the Samurai back in the last 80's, I didn't know then
that CR was the trigger to these. Frankly at the time I thought the
Samurai was a stupid, ugly, fadmobile purchased by poseurs and
I was happy to see it go away, also I though their commercials were
Many people don't seem to understand that the news media feeds
off each other. Everyone is looking for the next story, and when
someone publishes a 'scoop' they all jump on it like flies on rotting
dogcrap. If it comes out later on that the initial scoop was nothing
more than poop, well that doesen't make the front page, and rarely
do retractions get the kind of press that the initial lying story did.
Sounds to me that you are really bitching about our sound bite system of
news. As a subscriber of Consumer Reports at the time, I knew that the
model had turned over while crossing a rut of snow in normal winter driving
and as a result, CU decided that their current rollover tests were
inadequate. Therefore their goal was to come up with a test that would
demonstrate the problem in the Suzuki and then use that test on all future
models. Were it not for CU's work, there would be no government rollover
In today's news it was reported that due to the fact that an SUV is twice as
likely to roll over than a car, it wipes out the safety advantage that
otherwise would be associated with its larger size. Of course the news
headline was was featured was that your kids are not any safer in an SUV.
That is an eye graber but not really the subject of the objective study
I saw the article. It also doesn't take into account that the DRIVER is
in control of whether he/she drives the SUV as if it were a sports car
and risks rollover, or drives it knowing that its a high-CG vehicle and
doesn't put him/herself at risk of a rollover. OTOH, the greater mass
benefits you when the *other* driver does something stupid and hits you.
The following is only my opinion and based on nothing more than
personal observation. OK, disclaimer over. In my daily travels, I
don't see any difference between the way an average SUV is driven and
the average small passenger car. Some of the more aggressive drivers
actually use the bulk of their SUVs to force their way into traffic
where otherwise they wouldn't. Therefore I am not surprised that
statistically SUVs aren't any safer even though their greater mass
theoretically offers a passive safety advantage - the active safety
disadvantages aren't being compensated for by their operators.
True story: I was driving south on I87 (The Northway) while listening to
NPR. They had a story on about how the Suzuki Samari was prone to roll over.
Just ahead of me on the grass was a rolled over Samari. With this kind of
fate you would think I could win the lottery; but noooo.
There's a case of a lady who won -- get this -- $25 million from Suzuki
because her Samurai rolled. The funny thing is that the jury disregarded
evidence that the driver was impaired by alcohol and that the vehicle
because she hit an embankment. How much do you want to bet that the jurors
were influenced by the CR story?
Accuracy In Media did a nice article where they talk about the that
lawsuit... http://www.aim.org/aim_report/A3726_0_4_0_C /
Actually the first trial verdict was a $90 million award which was later
reversed. The second trial was $25 million plus $12 million in punitive
damages. I've found the Supreme Court reversed that verdict in 1999 and the
parties settled in a confidential agreement rather than have a third trial.
By the way the history of the test was kind of interesting as I remember it.
Initially the car tested well but then one CU employee rolled the vehicle
over driving in snow when he tried to transverse a rut of snow between the
wheels. That incident led CU to design more rigorous turn over tests.
Their goal was to design a test that would make the Suzuki turn over. When
they finally got it to lift its wheels they applauded and yelled and that
was caught on tape. Suzuki argued that the applause and yells indicated
malice but CU argued it indicated they had finally been successful designing
a good test. An interesting jury question indeed.
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