Episode 754 – Ford Slips in Q3, Voo-Doo Quality Surveys, Honda Poised for a Comeback

October 26th, 2011 at 12:05pm

Runtime: 8:25

Ford has a good quarter but slips a bit in Europe and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the company takes it on the chin in quality ratings, but are these surveys worth taking seriously? John Mendel from American Honda says the company is about to rebound from losses suffered earlier in the year. All that and more, plus John McElroy answers your comments and questions in You Said It!

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This is Autoline Daily for October 26, 2011. And here’s what’s happening.

Ford reported that its profits dropped slightly in the third quarter. The company brought in $4 billion more in revenue, thanks to selling 93,000 more cars than a year ago, but its pre-tax profits fell by $111 million. While Ford was solidly profitable in North and South America, its losses widened by over $100 million in Europe and by $13 million in Asia. Even so, overall profitability of the company’s automotive operations improved slightly. Ford Credit, the finance arm of the company, while solidly profitable, saw its profits fall by $185 million. The company also spent nearly $100 million to retire older line workers, in shutting down Mercury, and buying out dealers. Overall, not a bad quarter, but analysts will bore in on what is going wrong in Europe and why Ford Credit’s profit dropped so much.

This one’s all over the news. Consumer Reports’ influential new-car reliability survey just came out. And the big story is that Ford plummeted 10 spaces in the study, putting it in 20th place out of 28 makes. Survey takers didn’t take kindly to the company’s new technologies including its PowerShift transmission and MyFord Touch infotainment system. But across town, Chrysler and Dodge both climbed the quality ladder, and Jeep was ranked the most reliable American brand. Of course the Japanese dominated the competition, taking the top nine spots. Audi, Jaguar and Porsche are all at the bottom. But you know what? I don’t put any credibility in Consumer Reports’ quality rankings. Its methodology is not statistically sound. When it comes to how it tests new cars, I’d say that Consumer Reports is the best, but when it comes to surveying subscribers on quality, I’d say the process is bogus.

Who needs term limits? Bloomberg reports Ferdinand Piech will get a third term as chairman of Volkswagen. A majority of the company’s 20-member supervisory board is backing him for another five-year stint at the top. His current term is set to expire in April, just two days before his 75th birthday.

A new study indicates that female drivers are 47 percent more likely to get injured or killed in an automobile accident than men. The report, published by the American Journal of Public Health, cites a number of reasons for this disparity. On average, women are shorter and lighter, plus they sit in different positions than men. Add it all up, and safety systems can’t protect them as well. Another reason is because seatbelts and airbags are tailored to fit men, who are three times more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal crash than women.

Honda, like the other Japanese automakers, has been in recovery mode since March. And though time might not heal all wounds, it did allow Honda’s plants to normalize production so that they’re finally all up and running. In fact, even some of the sales numbers during the lull might not be as bad as first thought. Autoline Daily caught up with American Honda’s John Mendel yesterday who says excess inventory played a big role in helping the company soften the sales impact. John Mendel also says that it looks like American Honda will see its first year-over-year sales gain since last March.

John also says that it looks like American Honda will see its first year over year sales gain since last March.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Ron Paris saw our report on the fuel economy of the new BMW Z4 and says, “I wonder if Seamus verified that 29 MPG claim on the Z4 or just accepted the car’s computer display reading. I’m always amazed how much faith people put in these electronic calculations. My admittedly limited experience with them leads me to doubt their accuracy.”

Ron, you’re right. Those readouts are not the most accurate. Sometimes they’re spot on, or they can be off by as much as 10 percent. The best way is to average out several fill-ups and do all the math yourself based on the miles you drive. But if you only have several hours to evaluate a car, you’ve got to go with the readout on the dash.

Undeadkillers wants to know, “How come Buick is ‘popular’ in China?”

Great story, undeadkillers: GM was very careful in picking the brand to lead its charge into the Chinese market. Its market research showed that the last emperor of China, who is remembered fondly, was frequently pictured in his Buick. As a result, the brand was well-regarded by the Chinese people. Plus, GM has done a good job of meeting the needs of Chinese consumers and in marketing its cars throughout the country.

2Kriss2Kross saw our report yesterday on the new Z-Spec subcompact cars from Chevrolet and rolls his eyes. “Chevy, please leave the “Z” name to Nissan.”

Peter Smith writes in to us looking for help. “I have a good friend who’s son (age 15) is a passionate mechanical engineer. Although a good high school student, this young man is very unenthusiastic about the normal course offerings and the lack of anything approaching hands on mechanical work. Have you ever heard of boarding high schools or summer internship programs that give high school age kids a program geared to engineering?”

Peter, I don’t know of any such place. But how about you folks out there? Does anyone know of a high school or internship program that you can recommend?

And finally, I love this one.  Sean Sweeney decided he couldn’t wait for Ford to unveil the next Mustang, so he decided to design one of his own, basing it on two Ford concept cars, the Evos and Mad Max. I love this drawing, and it makes me believe he’s really close to what the next Mustang could look like.

Thanks for all your letters and comments; we love to get them. And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

100 Comments to “Episode 754 – Ford Slips in Q3, Voo-Doo Quality Surveys, Honda Poised for a Comeback”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    Leave Z to Nissan? Come on, Chevy has a LONG history with the Z nomenclature from Z/28 to Z24 Cavaliers and Z34 Luminas/Monte Carlos and Z51 Pickups. Oh, and ZR1 Corvettes as well.

  2. LS ford Says:

    Remoeo Tech high school, and Dearborn Tech. There are many tech based vocational high schools for kids that want to be more mechanically based or engineering. But these are not boarding programs.

  3. tj Martin Says:

    Proof Positive Consumer Reports has Lost the Plot

    Calling JEEP the most reliable ?


    In what Reality ?

    Oh wait . I know what’s going on ! ConsumerReport has hired GM’s Sales Consultant as well !

    I thought that report had a Jiminy Cricket sound to it

    JEEP as most reliable . Yeah , with the arms length of recalls , suspension bits falling off and trannies failing ? You betcha . Thats Reliable all right

    ” Everybody Lies ”

    Especially when there’s a profit to be made 8)

  4. dcars Says:

    Hi John,
    I tend to agree with your statement about Voo Doo quality surveys from consumer reports. Here’s why: I bought a Saturn Vue with the VTI transmission, consumer reports noted that their was transmission problems. They were right; their was transmission problems if you bought the VTI transmission, if you bought the traditional transmission you didn’t have a problem. CR didn’t point that out so how would you know? Here is my question for you, why do you believe that CR’s survey’s are bad? Something similar to my reason or something else?

  5. tj Martin Says:

    No offense to Mr Sweeney , but if thats the new Mustang … or even close to it FORD is in deep doo

    Crossing a Hyundai with a Fisker : placing a Horsey on the Grill does NOT a Mustang make .

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    When I was a CR subscriber, they would send in survey forms to fill out and they were pretty clear and straightforward, so I don’t understand why doubt the CR reports, even though having Jeepa ahead of Ford and GM is kind of hard to swallow, men don’t put on eyeliner and lipstick when driving thus less accidents, this Mustang drawing has too big a fender for my tastes.

  7. XA351GT Says:

    tj I agree with wholeheartly Jeep!!?? gimme a break. Ford lost scores because people don’t understand how to use the technology they bought. Probably the same people with blinking clocks on their VCRs.

    I f that is what the new stang will look like it’s going to be a while for my next new one. It’s a nice design ,but not a Mustang.

    Tony Gray I agree with you too. The Z designation on chevys predates the first Z car by years and by the way in Japan was called the Fairlady.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    @ dcars

    I’ve been ranting and raving here , especially with Kit etc on the blatant inaccuracies in ConsumerReports of late , dated information , incomplete reports and bold faced opinions instead of facts for months

    I’ve no idea ( well actually I do ) what the problem is at CR lately , but their credibility has fallen off the cliff and hit rock bottom

    You should see what they ( CR ) did with their 2011 GLK … rating it below average for a minor problem M-B had fixed in 2010 .

  9. tj Martin Says:

    Here’s the facts behind FORD’s poor rating in CR


    Sheesh …. why is this always left up to me ?

  10. XA351GT Says:

    So tj do you believe they have become pay to play like the BBB has been shown to be?

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re Jeep, don’t you have any faith in Sergio’s ability to turn quality around and improve the brand, after all the best selling Jeep is the redesigned Grand Cherokee, a car based on the previous Merc M class, so how bad could it be?

  12. Buzzerd Says:

    @dcars- I’ve thought for many years now that people with imports believe rightly or sometimes wrongly that there car is superior so they tend to cut it slack where as they wouldn’t if they had bought a domestic. I have a few friends who owned a 80′s Jetta that were lousy unreliable cars that broke often and were expensive to fix buuuuuuut will still tell you they were good cars. Bob Lutz says roughly the same thing in his new book. Compare the Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix that some off the very same line and you will see what I mean.

  13. tj Martin Says:

    @ XA351GT

    re; The ‘ Z ‘ issue


    Mr 2Kriss2Kross needs to bone up on his automotive history before coming out with statements like that .

    Leave the ‘Z’ to Nissan indeed .

    Should of read ” … leave the Z’s to Chevy where they rightly belong “

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I am always dubious of all these advance technologies being put into everyday, affordable cars,like the double-clutch trannies and direct injection engines. The latter will be an issue for Hyundai/Kia who have embrace the technology and is using it in every single engine they produce. this is why Honda and Toyota take their sweet time bring these things to market and they get ridiculed for it.

  15. tj Martin Says:


    Actually I don’t believe , I know . A little bird in publishing clued me into a couple of facts


    Please tell me you’re being sarcastic mi amigo . Please …..

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    JEEP Grand Cherokee vs new M Class

    Well they are based on the same platform , but don’t share a lot of specific technologies as well as Chrysler / JEEP having this long standing ” Lost In Translation ” problem ( witness the difference between the Chrysler 300C and the E Class it was based on as well as the Crossfire vs SLK )

    Somehow Chrysler/JEEP can manage to take a Silk Purse and turn it into a Sows Ear

    How I’ve got no clue . But they do , Cause they’re poo !

    8) Sorry :( Couldn’t resist

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    While CR’s reliability survey results aren’t perfect, they are the best we have access to. What else is there, other than “word of mouth” from the one person you know who has car so-and-so.

    As dcars pointed out, there is a problem in that different transmissions, and other options aren’t separated out. Also, the questions are kind of vague, something like “did you have a problem (in a certain area) that you consider serious because of expense, loss of use, etc.” Some people would consider a problem serious, while others may not. I’d think this should average out, though.

    tj, as far as the GLK, it has improved to “average” in CR’s survey. As far as the car itself, they like the acceleration. They don’t like the lack or rear seat space compared to, say, a Honda CRV.

  18. LS ford Says:

    I agree. If jeep is number one, then where is Land Rover? Is that #3? Come on, these surveys are so tainted now….

    So, in the future, lets have a real forum for review. based on the number of recalls, the number of repairs per UIO. And lets base this on lifespan of 5 yrs. How can a brand new product be rated flawless?? It has never seen 100k miles on enough units to know what the quality is. And the consumer cares not about “initial quality” but more about longevity.

    Mustang—I love them, own one, and enjoy them. I too am concerned about where the pony car is going….

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think you’d expect to get something in return for the extra ~15-20K you pay for a six cylinder M-Class over a six cylinder Grand Cherokee.

  20. Don MacConnel Says:

    The 15 year old that wants to be a mechanical engineer is a victim of today’s K-12 education. He has never had the opportunity to understand the vocational aspects of education.

    Some time ago many of our educators moved away from the dual path, Vocational or College Prep educational sequences and eliminated the Vocational paths. Thousands of shop classes closed and many, many students never knew the joy of working with their hands. What is left is strong on theory but short on practice. That discourages many students just like the 15 year old.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Land Rover is not on the list. There probably weren’t enough survey forms on the brand.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    A Consumer Reports Inaccuracy Example

    The Toyota FJ

    As you’ll all remember it was at the top of my list right up and until the point we decided on the Benz

    The final nail in the coffin of the FJ which CR gives a Well Above Average rating to ?

    A call to our former Toyota mechanics in CO ( all former dealer mechanics and the best Toyota/Subaru guys on the CO front range )

    Here was their list , having worked on or maintained over 100 customer FJ’s

    1) Premature wear of all four tires ( 3 – 6,000 miles )
    2) Extremely hazardous to drive over 65 MPH
    3) Plethora of body parts that fall off
    4) Same as #3 for interior parts as well
    5) Transmission & Transaxle failure in many in spite of not being off roaded
    6) Several other common issues too many to mention

    His recommendation ?

    Do Not Buy !

    So much for CR’s unbiased and accurate reporting

    ( FYI the buyer report I had purchased from CR on the FJ for the 2011 model year was in fact only accurate for the 2007 model year and …… CR was unwilling to either update it , or refund my money in spite of my specifically requesting the 2011 model year report and it reading as the 2011 model year report )

  23. Chuck Says:

    I have always found it amazing that every time I buy a new car I get a J D Power customer satisfaction survey in the mail ahead of the payment book and the car has less than 50 miles on it. How many people fill out those things?? Mine goes in the trash. Consumer Reports seems to be having “issues” with their original mission just like AARP has done. RIP

  24. tj Martin Says:

    # 17

    Rear seat space in the GLK

    Which Kit , if you go look at one yourself is a joke on CR’s part to make that claim

    The GLK has as good if not better rear seat room than especially the Honda , my having say comfortably in the seat behind the drivers seat at MY settings ( 6’4″ remember ) and I was more than comfortable .

    The fact is everyone who reads that comment from CR and then gets into the back seat of the GLK asks the same question

    ” WTH is CR talking about ? ”

    CR has become a Travesty in comparison to its former self

    XA351GT’s BBB comparison is in fact , spot on .

  25. tj Martin Says:


    +1 Got mine two weeks after taking delivery of the car

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I FJ’s are, in fact, unreliable, it is owners, not CR’s editors that lie about it. I don’t know why FJ owners would lie “in favor” of their vehicles more than anyone else, but maybe they do.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    BTW, the FJ is now shown as “average” reliability, rather than much better than average as it once was.

  28. Lex Says:

    What Honda is ready to what make a comeback with the same old product! Give me a break!
    Unless Honda starts coming up with new designs, my next vehicle will not be either a Honda or an Acura!

  29. MJB Says:

    #3 & #7


    Consumer Reports survey results are about as unbiased as the typical web forum.

    Whether you’re talking about one of various dedicated car forums, an Apple iPhone forum, a Tech or industry forum – the story is the same accross the board. 90% of forum posts are from people complaining about problems they have with the product. Hardly anybody posts about their good experiences.

    Same with Consumer Reports user surveys. Ford’s rating fell because of all the people out there who just wanted a venue to vent their frustrations at My Ford Touch. Forget the fact that everything else on the car functions at or above their expectation. They’re pissed because Ford dared to use a technology that can’t be learned by osmosis or mastered as quickly as their precious iPod Touch, and they want the world to know it!

    And what happened to Buick? They’ve always been a leader among the domestics in quality.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You probably sat in a 1990 CRV. Remember, these things keep getting bigger, and generally roomier.

  31. motorman Says:

    As a graduate of a a vocational high school 50 years ago and also a 4 year apprentice tool and die maker one of the problems now days is everyone wants their kid to go to college and a lot graduate with a degree in something there are very few jobs so they end up working in a job they are not trained for.The newspaper says there are 600,000 jobs out there to be filled but finding someone who can do the work is the problem. The gas pipe line industry needs certified welders and they are not to be found so they are bringing back retired welders and paying them $700 a day.

  32. LS ford Says:

    As I would tell anyone, go talk to service advisors or service techs, or your local import or domestic auto repair. They know all the details about each car and what breaks.

    One of my BMW’s was a great car, but it was noted to be “expensive” and a lot of service repairs. The service techs told me all that might go wrong, and damn if they weren’t 80% right. They no more about the quality than anyone else….

  33. tj Martin Says:

    @ Peter Smith & #20

    Read ;

    ” Shop Class as Soul Craft ” by Matthew B. Crawford

    I really feel for kids these days . When I was in H.S in NJ in the early 70′s it was mandatory , whether you were on the University bound track or not to take 1 year each of Metal , Wood and Auto Shop

    Now 99% of all public schools no longer offer shop classes and the Tech Schools are rapidly diminishing , leaving us with an entire generation that is incapable of ‘ doing ‘ anything

    Part of the problem is the inability of both Government ( especially Obama’s ) and School Systems to recognize that NOt Every Kid Should go to College and in fact would be better served ( as well as be a better service to their communities )
    if the Public Schools would reinstate IA curriculum ‘s at the Jr & Sr High levels .

  34. HtG Says:

    Honda. Last week, Dan Neil of WSJ did a report on the new Civics, which he mostly derided. But Neil also wrote that Honda is in panic mode about improving their cars.

  35. tj Martin Says:


    Try a 2011 CRV Kit . I mean really , I AM smarter than that my good man !

    Its CR that isn’t !

    1990 CRV indeed :)

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    #22 a Honda dealer tech tells me that the new Civic has had issues with the 5 speed auto yet you never hear of this, my son’s 08 xB is losing oil nothing online about it. Sister’s Journey, brakes that wear out too quickly and vibrate at speed, nothing about it either. the Cruze with its rattles and noises, this is a problem that GM can’t seem to solve.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You may be right that some people would use the CR survey to “vent” their not liking MyFord Touch. Actually I don’t blame them. There is no way in hell that a car company should put something in the dash that is more difficult to learn than an iPod Touch. Anything the driver uses should, in fact, be much easier to learn than an iPod Touch.

    BTW, in addition to the very low rating of the audio system, probably related to MyFord Touch, the new Explorer got low marks for “squeaks and rattles,” for a 2011 car. Maybe the people lied about that too, but I doubt it.

  38. tj Martin Says:

    @ motorman

    Spot on ! Oh but there is a glut of available ;

    IT personnel
    Medical Techs

    etc. all vying for the same 1 or 2 jobs available


  39. LS ford Says:

    @Kit #37

    Good points about the systems. Anytime you put a desktop computer behind the dash, get ready for issues. I think the systems should be more independant of the vehicle controls. The ipad/Ipod concept is easy, but why not install one in the car? The screen is the same sizing. Then when it goes bad, take it in and get a new one.

    Another point is simplicity. Is there really the need to be so integrated? I have an Iphone, Ipod, and all the gizmos. I have an MP3 hedphone jack that can play all my 9,000 songs through the car. And in my other vehciles, I have a CASSETTE tape adapter that hooks to the ipod. When all else fails, keep it simple.

    Do I realy need two zone climate controls? When my wife and I take trips, I wear a short sleave, and she wears a sweater. No need for dual climate control.

    ok, ok, I am off the box again…. :)

  40. tj Martin Says:


    Maybe CR has simply lost the program

    Oh wait ! That info from the publishing Birdie !

    CR HAS lost the program !

    Face it Kit . The Old Grey CR , She Aint What She Used to Be . Having become the unreliable broken down Old Nag she now is

    I know its hard to let go Kit . Had to do the same with my formerly precious Ferrari ideals . But believe me , the sooner you do , the easier it becomes . And the pain only lasts a year or two …. or three …. well two actually

  41. tj Martin Says:


    Funny …… CR doesn’t go on a rant about BMW’s iDrive which is about 1000 times more complex than FORD’s requiring a Masters in Computer Engineering just to set the radio station .

    So……. go back on the Box mate . Its valid .

  42. HtG Says:

    You guys want to hear people vent? Check out this hate site for Kia. I need to tell myself to step away from the new Rio hatch.(my ten year sentence with the civic is up)


  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG stick with Honda or Toyota, why take a chance? You and I buy cars for the long run, my mechanic tells me I’m the mileage champion at his shop, the next car was a 215k mile Kia Sephia which the the old guy just kept fixing and putting money into it and then one day he just had enough and junked it. (all that money is then lost)

  44. Brett Says:

    Last payment goes to Mitsubishi Credit next month on our 2006 Outlander. With 50k on the clock we’ll definitely be keeping it. 2.4L with manual tranny and FWD. Nothing around that I could finance or be willing to go on the hook for.

    Took a 30 mile drive last night to a monthly acoustic folk jam in the old 1990 Eclipse GS. Cool air with the window down runing the backroads of Central Florida. Looking forward to finish prepping the radiator core support I salvaged last winter off a pristine 1990 Eagle Talon from the local U-Pull-It. Then I’ll be able to replace the busted up original core support and refit the pop-up headlamps, front plastic, etc. (the hitch receiver of a late model Expedition does a fearsome amount of damage when driven through the passenger headlight bucket and half-way up the hood) and start thinking about respraying it. It’s got 140k on it and I see no reason to replace it. Runs like a watch and is a pleasure to drive.

    None of the new car mfgs are going to make any money off of me for quite a while…

  45. HtG Says:

    @43 Nah. The civic is great, I’m just bored driving it. All those gadgets on new cars aren’t aimed at me, and it’s fundamental quality and reliability that I value. Do you believe all the gadgets will keep working for years? I think I’m officially old, now.

  46. MJB Says:


    …Heck yeah we need dual-zone climate controls. I’m not donning a sweater just because my wife wants it ‘brisk’ in the car.


  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks pretty bad for Kia on that site, but, out of curiosity, I checked out the same site for Honda and Toyota. There is plenty of stuff on them too. Really PO’d customers find these sites, even if there aren’t very many of them.

    Anyway, it will be interesting to see how all these direct injection engines do over the long haul. VW/Audi have been doing direct injection for quite a while in their 2 liter turbo, and I haven’t heard of many problems, but I wouldn’t want one if I planned to drive the car 300K miles.

  48. HtG Says:

    @47 Exactly, Kit. One wonders what people that grew up with the internet do with all the available information.

  49. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Thoughts on the engineering student’s quandary; is he looking to become a mechanic or does he truly want to be a mechanical engineer. If the latter, then he should do just fine in high school prepping with mathematics and physics (because he’s going to need all that and more to get a degree in engineering); if he is looking to become a mechanic, he’ll still going to need some math to prep himself for a technical school (of those there are plenty).

  50. Les of Mesa Says:

    On your report of Ford’s profits, you state that the pre-tax profits were 1.9 Million. Are you sure that wasn’t 1.9 Billion?

  51. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB



  52. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    @ all <<>>

    It is called Consumers Report and the opinion came from Consumers. When I was up to my ears in Consumers Satisfaction I was reprimanded by Mr. Shigeta because I thought that the customer comment were, well, Stupid. He had enough experience to put me through various scenarios that showed me how right the customer comment was and I have been paying attention a little bit more then.

    Yes, Jeep is not #1 in my book either, but I didn’t pay for it and I think like any other 30 something year in the automotive think. But If the lady that bought it thinks it is great, then IT IS GREAT, and if the guy that bought the Focus thinks that it is terrible Than, IT IS TERRIBLE.

    Ford and their HF engineers should not have liked their design as much as they did. The Speech recognition on their system is one factor and let that be a warning to NHTSA and other OEM/Tier if they are going to persist in accepting speech into the car. People are not suppose to be doing that much behind the wheel unless they are trained driver with special missions like a policeman or ambulance driver or jet pilot. Using iffy technology to grab as much control as “theoretically possible” is not technically or humanly feasable. Quit it!!

    Simple is beautiful. Everybody is praising the late Steve Jobs, but not because of his look or personality or personal wealth. They like what he did with HMI. Yes Siri is a smart gadget and works well when I am standing in my driveway with the phone to my mouth, put it in a cradle and drive around and it is as good of a distraction as two kids feuding in the back seat.

    The Customers are right because they used their money to buy the “TV hype” by Ford. I hardly see a Jeep commercial and definitely nothing as intense as the Ford commercials, so the consumers were more likely “pleasantly surprised”

  53. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:


    I have introduced many companies to an HMI that works like the iPod, but no one licensed, but many took what I introduced and shoved it inside their “BOX” and ended up with where they started.

  54. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    A suggestion . Like I just did , get over your technophobia in cars , realize NO ONE is making cars to last any longer , all this ‘Green’ stuff like the Anti Green on the other side is just so much Horse Manure and Propaganda its painful ( read about the 40% of Saudi oil fields that are dormant lately ? ) Gas prices like the Stock Market will continue on Roller Coastering for at least the next five years , E/V’s and Hybrids aren’t the answer , causing more problems than they solve , to heck with what anyone else thinks and …

    Buy what ever the heck you want . Like a white GLK


    That’s my suggestion .

    (let me tell ya also the GLK is a dream to drive in and around the city , parking it is not a problem , and it sure evens out the rough pavement all the lack of finances cities have to to fix them has caused )

    PS; Did you drive the ‘ Course ‘ yet ?

  55. tj Martin Says:


    You may be confusing the title of the magazine with what is by the publishers its intended focus . An ESL error if I’ve ever seen one .

    The title means in fact that the magazine is A REPORT for the CONSUMER , supposedly by the publishers own admission to include UNBIASED & ACCURATE FACTS AND INFORMATION on the cars they review

    Sorry if that threw you and its an understandable error , but thats the way our lovely and excessively confusing language can be sometimes , especially when you’re dealing with Idioms

  56. tj Martin Says:

    @ Mouhamad A. Naboulsi

    As to ” The Customer Is Always Right ”

    According to the Tao of Steve Jobs , the customer is never right and in fact has no idea what he/she wants or needs .

    That was part of the Genius of Steve Jobs .

  57. tj Martin Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci

    I get the feeling from the report that this kid isn’t functioning too well in a traditional school setting and is in need of a bit more ” Hands On ” education to go with the Math etc of course he’ll need in any job .

    To me he sounds like a perfect candidate for a H.S. Industrial Arts program of which unfortunately there are hardly any to be found

    This kid , from what the letter is saying is one of those that is ” Slipping ” thru the Education System we’ve ( read GWB and now Obama ) created over the last 20 years , placing almost all the emphasis on the University Tract , completely ignoring those like this young man that do not fit .

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    Follow Million mile Joe with his million mile Accord on facebook and youtube! The sure don’t make them like that anymore.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @tj, #53,

    A suggestion… Get over your technophobia in cars. Turbochargers and hybrids are here to stay, as is direct injection.

  60. HtG Says:

    I’ll try to drive the course this weekend, tj. I’ve been on the flatlands along the river 15+ years ago. I understood that Imperatore was trying to develop the area even then. The views are world class, and for the days of the race it’ll be spectacular. The opposite of Valencia.

  61. pedro fernandez Says:

    #58 I think it’s more of a case of mechanicphobia and highrepairbillphobia and nocontroloverthe vehiclephobia, if you ask me. Guilty as charged!

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe I’ll check out a GLK when they have the diesel, if they will sell it to we Americans with RWD.

  63. HtG Says:

    @60 that’s it, Pedro.

  64. HtG Says:

    I’ve just got a long memory of fixing things on cars. From Chevys, to BMWs, to Infinitis, one becomes wary. I purposely got the Civic without the luxury hardware(got the AC, let’s be real) because I didn’t want to fix things I really don’t need, eg power windows and doors. I have no ABS, and haven’t ever had an issue, even in panic stops. Of course, the Miata is costing me since it’s a 96 with ~115K miles, but it’s emotional for me. I’m just waiting for the power windows to go; I need to get an AC compressor too, but how long should these last anyway?

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    My son’s used 95 Prizm came with ABS, fine and dandy till it just stopped working, for the sake of safety(new driver) I wanted it fixed. no shop would do it, all referred me to the dealer, where they wanted over a grand to fix the damn thing, this would have constituted 1/3 of what we had paid for the car, so I told him to slow down in the rain and never bothered to fix it.

  66. HtG Says:

    the Civic has had one malfunction, the B section of the exhaust was barking and was replaced under warranty, and there was a bulletin for something in the steering, which cost me to replace. Otherwise, just regular maintenance. I’m looking for a superior car. And I’ve driven electrically boosted steering, and I’ll take the hydraulic boost for its road feel.

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    ditto for direct pedal to throttle wire, not the electronic crap that every new car seems to be cursed with nowadays, I think the small gain in mpg’s is not worth its mechanical complexity.

  68. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Watch this photo essay of the Swiss banking industry and tell me it doesn’t creep you out just a little

    The music is quite apposite as well .


    Grey haired shadows , ruling the World from atop their high perches .

    Its giving me chills just posting this for you

  69. tj Martin Says:

    # 60 As well as ItDon’tWorkWorthaDamnaphobia

    e.g. Kit – when the stuff works , I’ll buy it . As long as its pretentious fluff designed only to separate a Man from his Money for Early Adapter who can’t be bothered to do their research/homework .. I’ll leave it on the showroom floor

    @ Kit – Please take the time to actually LOOK at the M-B USA website for a change ! The GLK’s been available in RWD since its introduction .

  70. HtG Says:

    that’s the thing. Versa is electric throttle and steer. The civic is cable throttle and hydro steer. The civic is satisfying, while you don’t feel very involved in the Versa, even though it’s quite pleasant. But both cars weigh within 50lbs of each other, though the Civic kicks keester on mpg. When I hear about 7 speed trannys and ecoboost, and electric water pumps, I can’t help thinking these are work arounds for a basic physical problem of pushing a large mass through thick air. I can go on and on, but I start getting irrational. Other people simply have car needs that are different from mine.

  71. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Two things. Turbos work, and hybrids work. I know. I have both of them.

    Also, I KNOW THE CURRENT GLK350 IS SOLD RWD. I DON’T know if the DIESEL will be sold RWD, and I doubt if you do either.

  72. HtG Says:

    @67 Pictures at an Exhibition. Yes, sickifying, but remember govts around the world exploit the secrecy too. And then there’s Andorra, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, the Cayman’s, Isle of White, etc.

    Did you read this piece in the Independent, tj? I had to stop, my brain box got so tight.


  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, all of today’s cars have “throttle by wire.” It’s mechanically very simple, but electronically complex. Hopefully they will generally keep working for the life of the car.

  74. tj Martin Says:


    That just about sums up my attitudes towards E/V’s , Hybrids , Turbochargers ( owned two , so enough with the lectures ) Extended Range Hybrids along with all the other BS the manufactures are trying to pawn off on us as Brilliant Technological Advances that are in Truth a lot of Hype .. as I stated earlier .. designed to Separate a Man from His Money , sucking in every early adapter who’s never learned the benefit of Research and doing a bit of Work before getting buffaloed into yet another Scheme to accomplish what ?

    Feed their egos a bit while emptying their Bank Accounts ?

    Well folks , my egos just fine . Never followed Hollywoods lead in my life ( can you say … Prius ) even when I worked there and sure as a rats behind couldn’t care less what some pretentious bought off Celebrity has in his/her garage .

    Well I could go on forever with this , but what’s the point ?

    Those of you that ‘ Get It ” already do and those of you Who Don’t Never Will .

    Funny how something so fragile as Rose Colored Glasses can be so hard to break on some folks .

    Oh well . I got mine and I’m enjoying it so ..

    Se La Vie 8)

  75. tj Martin Says:


    Keep on repairing those Rose Colored Glasses and keep on telling yourself that

    Someday ( in the Magic Kingdom ) it might actually come true

    But don’t bet on it

  76. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    And this surprises you mien freund ?

    Didn’t I give a lecture awhile back about how easy it is to hack into a Cell Phone ?

    Now you know .

  77. HtG Says:

    75 It’s the planning and professionalism of the intrusions. Police paid off to make it happen. Politicians in kneepads. It’s the destruction of society.

  78. cwolf Says:

    Now that the word is out knowing 47% of female drivers are injured in an accident,I can just invission the new regulation requiring ALL seatbelts to be fitted with cups ranging from AA to DD! And there should be no doubt they will be scorned by CR for a lack of padding.

    Did ja’here the Chrys contract is passing..maybe. Reports state skilled tradesaren’t buying into it. Time for the UAW to read the fine print,prolly to their advantage, to only include the majority vote of all workers. Hmmm…I guess if you’re a Chry. skilled tradesman one isn’t required to be realistic or smart.
    And speaking of tradesmen: A fellow worker and I have been complaining to our boss and his boss about a co-worker who is never in the dept. in the A.M. to take the first calls,only does one job/day,2 if lucky,makes a 30 min. repair last for hours, and totally ignored a call after lunch to correct properly a repair he made in the A.M! When I bitched to the boss’s boss in perfect pissed off factory grammer,the boss did NOTHING, but throw up his hands. WTF! Tomorrow we are going even higher on the ladder. By the way,srew my union who,also,have been of no help except to say he is a dues paying brother. Well not one of mine and a real brother doesn’t screw another brother! Don’t offer any sympathy, guys, just an open wallet if I am the one walked out the door!

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Feed their egos a bit while emptying their Bank Accounts ?”

    That sounds a little like a certain “tj Martin” with the GLK that cost almost twice as much as my Prius, and uses twice as much gas as my Prius, more than twice is much in city driving, while carrying the same one or two people around.

  80. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    Hate to repeat myself but ……….. again …….. this surprises you ?

    Ohhhh the stories I could tell …….. if ………. I could tell them

  81. HtG Says:

    79 I know what you’re talking about, but if you have a secret you want to keep you must not let it be known that you have a secret.

  82. tj Martin Says:

    #78 …… looks twice as nice …. is twice as fun to drive ….. as well as ten times more comfortable ………… as well as it was the preferred choice by twice as many folks here ….. and I can afford it ( and more if I’d wanted to ) ……

    And best of all

    IT WORKS !

    Some day Kit when you’re feeling a bit more amiable we should have a discussion/comparison of our respected Carbon Footprints

    Without even going there I’ll bet you my Carbon Footprint is less than Half of what yours is . Which ultimately if you’re trying to be Green is the ONLY thing that counts . Individual bits and Bobs like a Prius just don’t stack up against what is it .. two homes … at least three vehicles …. a hobby that puts out more pollution than two lawn mowers combined ….. and thats just what I know about

    Yep Kit Dollars to Donuts my Carbon Footprint is way less than Half of Yours .

  83. HtG Says:

    On complexity. Did you notice, tj, that in the book on the RedBull F1 car, how elegant the solutions were? The engineers faced challenges that were solved with the least material, and lowest energy costs. Yet we get told how complex the cars are; no, they’re elegant, with the simplist possible solution. Pointless expensive systems and materials are rejected. I find that cool.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    How our carbon footprints compare would depend a lot on how much energy your home uses, the source of the energy, and how much you fly in airplanes.

    My Florida place is in the middle of a 5 story condo. Everything is electric, and average monthly bill is about $50-60. The power is from a utility that has nuclear plants, and several small natural gas plants. My Indiana place is old and inefficient, but I only heat it to 43 degrees most of the winter, enough to keep pipes from freezing. Yeah, I have.multiple vehicles. I drive about 20K miles a year, most of it with the Prius, and most of the rest with the MINI and a motorcycle.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What does it take to heat your home, and is it gas, electricity from coal, or?? A big part of my carbon footprint might be flying. I probably fly an average of 8000 miles a year. Airliner do about 20 seat-miles per gallon, or so I’ve heard.

  86. W L Simpson Says:

    The demise of “shop” in grade school is a direct contributor to prison over population. The working class is not being prepared to survive their future.
    Much crime by first offenders is an act of desperation.
    On the other hand, since offshoring has removed so many job opportunities, what do we do next, draft them all & send them to Libya, the next hotspot?

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I first started living in Florida for 2/3 of the year, I was surprised that they didn’t have any shop classes in high school, while they still had them in Indiana. Now, they are mostly gone in Indiana too.

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Yep Kit Dollars to Donuts my Carbon Footprint is way less than Half of Yours ”

    That may ( or may not) be true, but if it is true, it’s only because you have two or more people in your household, while I have one. In any case, if I am reducing my carbon footprint, and my use of politically volatile oil by 15% by driving a Prius and a MINI instead of an SUV and a Viper, that’s something.

  89. HtG Says:

    In DC, council chairman Kwame Brown has championed teaching paying trades in the schools, since he holds that lots of young kids are not well served by being prepared for the college track, solely. Creating practical courses is one of the things he ran on to become the chairman.

  90. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I was in high school, taking, and passing a couple years of machine shop would about guarantee you a job in skilled trades with GM or Chrysler, and with pay that would support raising families, and buying houses and new cars. My, how things have changed.

  91. C-Tech Says:

    From what I understand, school districts are cutting shop classes because it costs more to insure and run (materials for a body shop are greater than for a computer lab). Also with the emphasis on passing state-wide tests for a state-endorsed diploma, “more time”is being spent “teaching to the tests”.

  92. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    @ tj Martin

    I am talking about HF & Telematics only.

    Steve Jobs said that about the customers prior to introducing them to the device, but once they have it, they liked it.

    What Jeep have now is what Apple does. What Ford has is not.

    Besides, Steve lived and breathed his customers inner desires above any other consideration. Overall, this is definetly NOT THE CASE in the industry where a ton of BS gets in the way of everything. I do not care how much the car cost or what the brand is.

    The HF is poorely exectued on all makes and models without exception. Indeed they are, and I know my business better then all of them combined. Here, I said it.

    The products on the market are so poor that many customers of big brands and plain old brands do not hook up their phones for the HF/Bluetooth feature because it is too diffuclt to do, and when they do on one of their vehicles, they do not use it because of the functionality and reliability issues.

  93. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t get all the anti CR sentiment, they report the Asians are still tops, we all know that to be true, Ford has slipped, we’ve all heard about the My Ford Touch issues and the double clutch problems with Fiesta and that the European brands, as desirable as they are to many, still lack behind in reliability. So the only doubtful thing there is Chrysler group improvements, who know maybe getting rid of all the lunch time drunks has helped matters.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, the big things CR has over JD Powers are that CR gives data for individual “trouble areas,” and CR gives data for “sub-models,” like MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S. It’s nice to be able to separate blown engines from paint flaws, and it’s nice to be able to separate a semi-reliable model like the base MINI from the unreliable S. To my knowledge, Powers publishes data on neither.

  95. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that both CR and Powers have suspect data. CR now gives decent ratings for Jeep, and Powers says Jaguars are dependable. I’n not convinced in either case, but I could be wrong.

  96. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit both of these use customer response to gather their data, I just wonder if people that are ok with their cars don’t bother even filing out the forms, and those who have had issues and are pissed off, take the time to vent their anger and frustration by filling out the survey, one thing is always consistent, British makes always seem to lag way behind in all studies, I believe Jag did ok a few years after Ford had stepped in and improved their quality, but now they’re back to their old ways.

  97. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect the pissed off people are more likely to sent in the forms than the average customer, but I always send the forms in, and I haven’t had a “lemon” car since my ’82 J2000. I’ve subscribed to CR for years, and you get a survey form every year. I’ve gotten a few Powers surveys, which are randomly sent out. I think I have received only the “initial quality” forms, though, and not the “dependability” surveys.

    As far as Chrysler, I never thought they were as bad as a lot of people let on. I know a lot of people who have Chryslers, since there are about 4000 Chrysler employees in the town where I’m from, and the cars never seemed bad. I guess the Journey you’re acquainted with has been bad, though. My 1989 turbo Caravan which is still have, is the most recent Chrysler product I’ve had. It has had a sheltered life, but it drives very well for a 22 year old minivan.

  98. Dave Marsh Says:


    I’d point this young man to two excellent programs:

    The robotic FIRST competition in high school and then, to wet his appetite, send him to the Formula SAE or Mini-Baja competition in his area for when he gets to college.




  99. Dave Marsh Says:

    about people lying on their surveys:

    it’s called Cognitive Dissonance – in a nutshell,
    it’s when you eventually convince yourself that you are right, regardless of the facts.

  100. Andrew Charles Says:

    The biggest problem with CR’s surveys is an inherently flawed methodology. As Kit says, JD Powers sends surveys out to a randomized selection of buyers. Even if a vehicle has a smaller response pool they can get accurate results, although the “confidence” decreases as the sample size falls. JD Power excludes models or brands whose sample volume is too small. CR on the other hand selects from a pool whose responses are predictable even before the surveys are returned. Subscribers may span a wide demographic of vehicle owners, but since subscriptions are not randomized they are inherently biased toward people with certain preferences and prejudices—a specific psychographic who will respond in a broadly predictable way. This specific psychographic is also self-reinforcing—new subscribers predictably will largely agree with the responses given by existing subscribers, while people who have a different experience and responses dismiss the results, and fail to subscribe or re-subscribe, further skewing the results.