AD #1488 – CR’s Grain-of-Salt Ratings, Lincoln Ads Spoofed, Seat Belts Save From Zombies

October 28th, 2014 at 11:59am

Runtime: 7:46

- Are Consumer Reports Ratings Reliable?
- Carrey Spoofs McConaughey
- Honda’s 2nd Quarter Pretty Good
- Can Seat Belts Save You From Zombies?
- You Said It!

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone and Dow Automotive Systems.

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

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

63 Comments to “AD #1488 – CR’s Grain-of-Salt Ratings, Lincoln Ads Spoofed, Seat Belts Save From Zombies”

  1. Bradley Says:

    Yes, the SNL skits for Lincoln were good.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Consumer Reports reliability ratings are about one thing, the number of problems reported by those who fill out their annual questionnaire. They now require at least 100 responses for a car model, or they list it as having “insufficient date.”

    They actually have a question about how well people like their car, wording something like “If you could make your purchase decision over, would you buy the same car.” Some vehicles that rate very low in both CR’s reliability survey and and performance evaluations rate high in the “I would buy it again” question. The Jeep Wrangler stands out in that regard.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Like all reviews of cars, and other products, you need to read CR’s reports completely and consider what you do, and don’t care about in a car. All cars have their strong and weak points compared to the competition. A Wrangler is noisy, rides bad, is thirsty and unreliable, but people love them for the “image,” and with a few people, for the very good off-road capability.

  4. Patrick Says:

    I miss Peter D and Jim Hall.

  5. Lex Says:

    Those Matthew McConaughey commercials for Lincoln are terrible. Every time one comes on my wife mutes the sound on the TV. She hates to seeing him so thin and lowering himself for a few extra bucks in a car commercial.

  6. HtG Says:

    Are those CR rankings still relative only? Come on, cars are so much better and have so much more equipment, is it fair to say anyone is making junk?


    Matthew McCauneghy

    There’s just so much hilarious stuff in the original ads.

    Like when he says, ‘I just liiiiike it.’ -makes me giggle every time.

    That’s great how long Jim Carrey dragged out the booger rolling joke. Wait for it,….wait for it.

  7. Carroll E. Gant, JR. Says:

    It would have been nice if the video played at all?

  8. HtG Says:

    5 Is it lowering himself? I don’t know anymore how this works with actors and US audiences. I am however amused when they call them ‘brand ambassadors.’ So high statusy, not like pitchmen or spokesmen at all.

  9. MJB Says:

    …I miss Jim Hall

  10. Valvefloat Says:

    Trouble pairing cell phones? I pair my phone with at least 50 new cars each year–of all kinds. The process has become very easy and I can’t remember the last time I had to crack a manual to do it. I wonder if those who can’t pair a phone in a modern car are intelligent enough to have drivers licenses.

  11. Tom Tyson (ARHPG) Says:

    CU’s reliability studies are not meant to be an index to how well a car might sell, so John’s statement, “does not accurately capture what consumers really think about a car,” is a non sequitur with regard to what that organization is trying to accomplish.

    There are many potential buyers that are very conscious of a car’s reliability and the “cost-of-ownership,” and that sort of thing. On the other hand, there are many others who don’t pay any attention to this aspect of a car and buy mostly on aesthetic, emotional appeal within a particular segment. So, the reliability studies and ratings are important, improve competitive quality and amount to more than “Grain-of-Salt Ratings, as the headline goes.

  12. Steve Ashley Says:

    I gave up on Consumer Reports a few years ago. I noticed their bias against American car companies by using data from prior years, vs current data on the imports. The lack of relevant data on U.S. brands made CU irrelevant to me.
    Steve Ashley

  13. RumNCoke Says:

    That great CR knowledgebase about insulation and food processors sure makes for insightful analysis of vehicle dynamics. Not!

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    6, Most aspects of CR’s “points” ratings for all cars seem to be on the same scale, since the best of the high dollar luxury cars are in the mid-high 90′s, the better of the small cars in the 70′s, etc. Some things, though, like fuel economy must get points based on how well they do compared to the direct competition, or all large cars and SUV’s would get very low ratings, and a car like the S-class probably wouldn’t score 96 points overall in the ratings.

  15. Barry from Indy Says:

    Hey John,
    Like so many others, I truly enjoy your programs! The information that you present is great.
    Suggestion: How about a live audience for the Afterhours program? A small group of Autoline Junkies each week at your broadcasts? Maybe even charge a nominal amount to attend and give the money to your favorite charity?

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12, What bias against American car companies? They rank the Focus pretty highly, in spite of the crappy controls. They rank the Impala and 300 highly in the “large car” class. They rank all of the “Detroit Three” pickups above the Tundra and Titan. I could give more examples.

    The reliability data is based on owners’ reports, with at least 100 surveys for data to be published. It’s possible, but not likely that the rate of “lying” on the surveys would vary much by country of origin of the vehicle.

  17. HtG Says:

    15 I admit to keeping quiet about a problem with my Honda’s driver side window. Sad whale noises

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    16 Do you get the sad whale sound when rolling the window up and down, or when going over bumps?

  19. HtG Says:

    rolling up/down. I’m just too lazy to fix it. But I don’t hear myself talking down the car. Not even when I notice the cloth on the doors is separating a little. Who knows what people really think about their precious/hated cars? I’m also pretty well trained when answering satisfaction surveys; I’m helping out the person that helped me.

  20. John McElroy Says:

    We would love to have Jim Hall back, but since he now works for General Motors as an analyst he really can’t be publicly giving out his personal opinion on everything that’s going on in the automotive industry. However, you can see Jim on the Woodward Dream Cruise show we did two months ago. You can find that on the Autoline Live channel listed at the top of this page. Since Jim was helping us identify classic cars cruising down Woodward and giving us the back story on those cars, there was no conflict of interest for us, or GM.

    And for you Peter DeLorenzo fans, check out the Autoline This Week that will be posted on our website this Thursday afternoon. Peter is a great addition to that discussion, which features Jason Vines and some of the bombshells that came out in his new book.

  21. Victor West Says:

    Consumer Reports has strange analysis. I have a Jeep Cherokee 4 cyl Latitude 4×4. I am getting 32mpg across country and have crossed the US 3 times so far. No power or acceleration issues. High or low altitude is no problem. 9% grades are no issue. Ride is better than my Toyota Venza . 15K miles and no problems.

  22. Don MacConnel Says:

    Valvefloat (aka “Close the valves with the pistons”) hit it right on the head. The users having trouble pairing phones may have an acute attack of dumb.

    These people can be identified by the flashing digital clocks on their old VCR’s.

    As for me, there’s a high degree of joy in finding new features on my new Ford Flex. I love the car but wish Lincoln had branded it.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21, Different people have different things they care about in a vehicle. Your Cherokee has Prius-like acceleration, which is entirely adequate for any normal driving. You find it adequate, and I find it adequate in my Prius. CR says the Cherokee is relatively quiet, and reasonably comfortable for its class. Overall, though, other vehicles, like the Subaru Forester are better in certain ways that result in a higher “score” in CR’s test.

    Since you have had no problems, you may be lucky, like I am probably lucky having no problems with my 2010 MINI. Both are statistically unreliable from CR’s data, and at least in the case of the MINI, in JD Power data.

  24. merv Says:

    not a fan of cr,never have been. I find what I need to know,here and a few other places

  25. T. Bejma Says:


    Great idea!!

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR ratings once again prove what different mechanics have been telling me for years, Toyota (Lexus) and Honda are tops, Europeans drain your bank account and of the domestics, #1 Gm #2 Ford #3 Chrysler and they will be dragged down even more with all the Fiat and Fiat derived products being introduced. I met a fellow the other day with a 15 yr old, 200k+ miles BMW 5 series, he tell me he spends around $1200 per year on maintenance and repairs, which is about 4 times what I spend on mine.

  27. HtG Says:

    I wonder if I’m so old now that I can’t change my opinions about brands’ quality and reliability. If I were a lessee prospect I’d prolly take more risks. Do those guys really care?

  28. HtG Says:

    It seems like not a day goes by on Twitter that I don’t see an ad for the Acura TLX. Always the interior.


  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    26, It sounds like the guy with the 5 series also spend at least 5 times as much on maintenance and repair as my friend with the 200K+ Pontiac Sunfire. I guess that depends upon if tires are part of the $1200.

    27, I have never leased, but if I did, I’d lease almost anything. It would be an inconvenience if it were in the shop all the time, but I wouldn’t have to worry about resale value of a car that turned out to be a “lemon.”

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Plus repairs and parts for German cars, especially the luxury brands are way higher than a GM or Toyota product, BTW congrats to TB and his peeps for the good showing by GM in the CR surveys, I knew they were making good progress in the QC dept.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG of course not, the typical BMW lessee could care less, free maintenance, bumper to bumper warranty even brakes, so after the lease is up, bye bye and don’t worry baby.

  32. s zuech Says:

    Consumer Reports should be called “Anal Reports”

  33. HtG Says:

    My gut check question is, “Is this a ten year car?”

    With all today’s tech, that’s a tough one

  34. cwolf Says:

    Take care of your car and it will take care of you without spending a large bankroll.

    T. Bejma: Howdy young fella. My future plans call for a boat in the not too distant future, so your truck remains planted on my list…as long as it doesn’t get any larger over the next year or so.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, I treated my X-Car with the same care as all the others and it was still an unreliable, POS that I had to dump at a big loss.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34, I sold my X-car to a friend, and we are still friends. Maybe we are lucky.

  37. G.A.Branigan Says:

    My last chevy,and the one I have now never needed anything but oil changes.My nox has been problem free believe it or not,and the same went for my last 1500 silvey.I don’t know what cr thinks about my chebbys but I love em.

  38. XA351GT Says:

    John, How about a on the road show from SEMA? That’s what I’d be most interested in seeing in all honesty.

  39. R.E.Kinnee Says:

    We have a 2013 Chevy Malibu LT with 13K miles been a flawless vehicle great mileage and we have 2014 Cruze LT also a great flawless vehicle previous vehicle was a 2010 Chevy 2LT with 82K miles never had a single problem I love GM & Chevrolet…great USA owned company

  40. cwolf Says:

    I am hopeful my MKZ is as problem free as my prior autos,but all of the electronics have created some doubt in my mind. Thus far, the only thing I dislike about “Lenny” Lincoln are the 19″ 40 series tires. If I had 50 or 55 series tires the ride would be even better than it is. I have always disliked low profiles and now I am even more convinced they don’t belong on a non-sporty Luxury car. The sport mode it has is nothing more than a waste of technology,added components and, of course, money!

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    38, Do all MKZ’s have the 19 inch super low profile tires, or is that an option? My 1996 Corvette has 17 inch wheels, small these days for anything but very small cars.

  42. donfromnaples Says:

    Consumer Reports uses surveys, no actual scientific methods of experimentation. Secondly, you buy a Toyota Camry for example that is supposed to be very reliable. You have a small problem with your window switch but don’t report it on the annual survey due to having a “very reliable” car. The most unreliable cars have something like 20 total “problems” (e.g. squeaks) out of 100 cars. How many late model cars do you see stranded on the road? All newer cars are far more reliable than in the good old days. Consumer Reports has thus adjusted its reliability indicators as cars have improved in reliability to sell magazines. The Toyota Matrix was recommended while the Pontiac Vibe was not. Just one of many examples of anti-American bias. They run tests in which the rater knows exactly what vehicle he is in. I had suggested to them that a passenger blindfolded could rate several of the subjective categories like comfort, etc… They told me to stop offering suggestions. Their ratings are irrelevant since recommended vehicles are not based on objective data alone. The fifty percent of subjective data definitely effects their recommended list of vehicles. In 2004, the Ford Mustang had fewer reported problems than all but 3 other vehicles yet failed to be on the recommended list. Many discrepancies can be found in their “reports” over the years. VW is number two in total sales globally. Very few VW models have been recommended over the years. CR has continued to bash diesels until very recently.

  43. HtG Says:

    I say bring back white walls.

    Vodka, obviously ;)

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    40, Huh?? CR generally recommended both the Matrix and Vibe, and said in the reports that they were essentially the same car.

    CR’s ratings, while not 100% objective, are much more objective than ratings by C & D, Motor Trend, etc. There is some subjectivity in CR’s ratings because, as much as some people want to deny it, CR’s car testers are, in fact, “car guys,” and some emotion will be part of the evaluations.

    CR’s testers generally like VW’s, except the recently Americanized, i.e. downgraded Jetta, but the VW’s are often not on the “recommended” list because they don’t do well in the reliability survey. As far as performance evaluations, they like the VW TDI’s, as well as the diesel E-class and Ram 1500 diesel. They have liked the VW diesels for years.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    41, I’ve been thinking about putting whitewalls on my Prius when I need tires. I think they might be available in the proper size.

  46. HtG Says:

    should look sharp, Kit

    (ok, now I’m giggling)

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    44, Me too, giggling. It would be different, though. Would the whitewalls look better with the silver wheel covers, or with the black wheels sans covers?

  48. Anthony Says:

    So wait, you bought a MKC knowing it has low profiles tires on it and you bought it anyway?

    Some people…. Yikes also worried about electronics?

    Can I also blame your generation for jacking up the prices of classic cars too?

  49. MJB Says:

    #33. “Take care of your car and it will take care of you without spending a large bankroll.”

    In most cases, yes. A friend of mine with a 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo has had his car in the shop twice in the last 6 weeks (for spans not less than 10-days each) for electrical issues completely unrelated to driver error or lack of maintenance.

    The car has too much technology for it’s own good. While driving down the road, the car’s systems actually began shutting down one by one until it (the on-board computer) instructed him to pull over and not drive the car any further.

    Side note: But if this can happen with a uber technology laden non-autonomous car, imagine what all could go wrong with a fully autonomous vehicle…

  50. HtG Says:

    I like that guy on the internet who was complaining about his 911 being all buggy and the dealer couldn’t make it right, but after the owner had done all these aftermarket stereo and radar system ‘upgrades.’

    Oh, was there a problem with the car?

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33, 47 Taking care of a car, both in the way it is maintained and driven will certainly make the car hold up well, mechanically, but if a car has electronic gremlins, you don’t have much control over it. If the guy with the Porsche is lucky, the dealer will be able to fix it, but there is so much complexity, it can be tough. A simple connector can cause a problem that is very difficult to find, especially if it is intermittent.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s kind of amazing to me that all of this technology in today’s cars is as reliable as it is. My 4 year old Prius hasn’t had a glitch, and there is a lot of electronic complexity in that powertrain.

  53. MJB Says:


    Yes, there was. But it did take him a couple of weeks for them to get it all sewn up (the first time). It’s back at the dealer again now (I don’t know what for this time).

    BTW, he’s got zero mods of any sort. He’s not the type to mod a car in any way, sort or fashion.

  54. MJB Says:


    I second that, Kit. It is quite amazing there aren’t more squirrely things happening with our cars. A testament to good engineering and thorough life-cycle testing.

  55. Ziggy Says:

    Thank you Kit Gerhart, for being part of this forum, your contributions are like a breath of fresh air in this place where bullshit passes for opinion a lot of the time. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Keep up the good work my friend.

  56. donfromnaples Says:

    43. I repeat, the Vibe was not recommended while the Matrix was recommended until model years later when CR finally lumped the two cars together. Likewise, the Prism was panned and not recommended until model years later when the Prism and Corolla were lumped together. Comparing CR with C&D and Motor Trend who make no such reliability or recommendation claims is definitely comparing apples and oranges. Here is a good objective reason not to recommend a car: Ford Fiesta: Owners responding to Consumer Reports’ survey didn’t like its automatic transmission. Wow! Really? What does I don’t like the automatic transmission mean? How about this one, the Fusion was questioned because of the MyTouch feature despite it’s reliability surpassing the Accord and Camry for several years now. The road test has half of its values coming from opinion not data. They liked the VWs lol That is a good joke. Up until the 2009 VW Jetta I can’t recall one VW that was recommended. The poor reliability ratings occur do to electrical gremlins that trigger CEL in about 20 out of every 100 VW vehicles. Such terrible cars they are if you have spent anytime reading CR over the years. CR may have had a place and value to American consumers years ago when the reliability of some cars was questionable and could cause someone danger or a major inconvenience. Today, their value has diminished to the point of unnecessary, though altering their reliability data to show continued discrepancies between brands and various models is a neat parlor trick.

  57. donfromnaples Says:

    Consumer Reports and Consumers Union, the policy and action division of the magazine, showed a profit of $21,414,103 for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2008. The next two years were profitable, too — $6.9 million and $912,031 — but the declines caused concern.

    The bad news came in June of 2011, when Consumer Reports reported a fiscal year loss of $3,502,757.

  58. LV curious Says:

    People have a hard time understanidng what CR wants to accomplish – they are interested in rating cars based on reliability and a few other things. How many of them are sold (predictor of sales) is not one of their concerns – they don’t care. I watch their you tube videos occasionally, read their magazine when it come to cars, and I think they really understand cars. Sure, in the end everybody buys what they want anyway, or who gives the highest rebates. Some people think CR rates cars based on the highest bribes…. it’s a free country, what are you gonna do…..

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    54, Thanks, Ziggy

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    55, CR lumped Vibe with Matrix at least as far back as 2004. I have the the “buyers guide” in front of me, and under the Vibe listing it says “The Vibe, cousin to the Toyota Matrix is a roomy small wagon……” The recommended the Vibe, as they did the Matrix.

    I do remember “owner satisfaction” as being low for the AWD version of the Vibe in one of their reports.

  61. Kate McLeod Says:

    I agree with Tom Tyson. Very unfair to call CR’s reliability survey a “grain of salt”.

  62. donfromnaples Says:

    Eventually they recommended the Vibe as they had done for several years with the identical Matrix.

  63. Jim Thykeson Says:

    John, it’s reliability not desirability that CR is reporting on. There a lot of cars that guys lust for, but that doesn’t mean their reliable.