(this is long, but I got a lot to get off my chest, and it's pro-GM at
My family, back a couple of generations, has always owned GM cars.
Grandparents on one side owned Caddys... the others bought Pontiac. My
parents bought Buicks and Oldsmobiles. I can only remember 3 cars my
parents ever had that *weren't*
GM's: a fiat 124 spider, a 1975(?)
Datsun pickup, and a 1986 Mustang.
Two of my first cars were Buick Regals....
But, through the past 20-30 years, I've watched a steady decrease in
GM's quality and commitment to building great cars... This has been
hashed through by members of the press ad naseum, but just to add my
I owned a 1976 Regal. A great car. The A/C went out 1 time, but other
than that it was perfectly reliable. Big, heavy, and a gas guzzler, but
more than competitive in it's time.
I later (early 90's) owned a 1983 Regal. The interior had great quality
- I still miss the seats to this day! - but the 3800 engine was weak,
burned oil, and it went through 3 transmissions before I got rid of it
at about 125,000.
Much later, after a couple of jeeps, a dodge, etc... I tried a 1997 (?)
Cavalier. Thinking of getting back to GM cars, I jumped in.
In the Caviler's defense - it was reliable. It always started and
always ran fine.
But being satisifed with a car is MORE than just running - most cars are
The cavalier was an abyssmal vehicle. The suspension was tuned to
provide no handling while letting little bumps right in....it sat low,
uncomforable, el-cheapo ABS that would pump so hard as to make the car
shudder going down a wet driveway and let you drift into traffic.
And the interior quality... this car was 100% away from my Buick. The
'83 was good interior, poor drivetrain... The cavalier was reliable
drivetrain, horrible interior.
So, I began to look around and drive a bunch more GM cars. And i found
the same things in each and every one. Poor suspensions, good (but old)
engines. Horrible interiors. GM had obviously fallen back on a few key
2. More room
3. more power.
One quick side note: I'm frustrated that GM still is stuck with 4-speed
autos (bad management)... HOWEVER, I will stand up and defend GM that
they build the best Automatic Transmissions in the auto business.
So, I abandoned GM. My wife now has an Accord (we had a Malibu as a
loaner, and there was simply no comparison. The Chevy was truly
embarrassing), and I own a Focus.
After decades, I've discovered Ford. Better quailty, better driving
dynamics, and each and every person I've met who's owned a Ford has
gotten GREAT service from their car (remember the '86 mustand I
mentioned earlier my parents owned???)
I also owned a Protege along the way, and a VW. I loved them both -
THEY are what led me to realize a car can have exceptional quality,
terriffic interiors, and handle great toooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, what's the point? I've been disappointed with GM for over 10 years,
and 'sworn off' for over 6.
However, I am a fan of Bob Lutz.
I like some of what's been going on at GM...
And the Cobalt has gotten some good press.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to test-drive a Cobalt.
And I was very, very, VERY impressed.
It was roomy enough (the Mazda3 is a bit bigger where it matters to me),
it rode well (but not sporty like my Focus, but my Focus is nowhere near
it was refined, and the interior was boring, but the materials were very
Comfy, roomy, and high quality. hmmmmm
If it had a little bit of 'sport' to it, I'd love it.... and let's face
it I would have MUCH preferred a more drastic exterior styling break
from the Cavalier , but the Chevy has lept from the "won't consider"
list straight onto the "top 5" list of small cars!!!
So, Mr. Lutz is doing his job... sure there are some mis-steps - the new
Canyon/Colorado is a bad attempt at a new truck... the new Malibu is not
very stylish (but apparently a good car!)... the G6 has gotten bad press
for it's sales, but it's good looking, good driving, and a nice car.
One final thought - it's good to see GM innovating with the 'employee'
pricing. When was the last time the industry chased GM at anything??!!!
I think this 'value' pricing all the time is what GM is missing now.
For example, the G6 was quite impressive... however, my 4-cylinder Honda
was a more satisfying drive with more nice touches (rear seat
armrest/cupholder GM??!!) And the Pontiac needed a 6-cylinder to feel
as strong as the Honda...
That being said, i *liked*
the G6... but with the price there was NO
compelling reason to get it over the Honda.
I think GM's about to make it happen!