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Episode 652 – UAW Wants Big 3 Seats, Japanese Recovery Ahead of Schedule, BMW Autonomy at 9/10ths

May 27th, 2011 at 12:21pm

Runtime 8:36

The UAW wants to get seats on the boards of the Detroit automakers. The Japanese automaker recovery is going faster than initially predicted. BMW demonstrates the advanced state of autonomous technology at race tracks around the world. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit in which the panel debates which foreign transplant the union will target.

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This is Autoline Daily for May 27, 2011. And now, the news.

UAW WANTS BIG 3 BOARD SEATS
UAW workers routinely install front seats and back seats. But now it sounds like they may want to get their hands on some board seats as well. The Detroit Bureau reports that the union is targeting seats on the board of directors on all three Detroit manufacturers as part of this summer’s contract talks. Even though the union did have a seat on Chrysler’s board for a short time in the ’80s, it’s not an American business staple, unlike the Germans who — by law — are required to include union representatives on their Board of Supervisors. It’s probably not a high priority but who knows?

JAPANESE RECOVERY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
After the earthquake in Japan, automakers predicted that production wouldn’t return to normal until the end of the year but Reuters reports that manufacturing for Japanese automakers should recover more quickly than they anticipated. A report from the Nikkei business daily says Nissan will return to normal production by June and Toyota could be close to 90 percent in the same month. Yesterday Honda announced production in North America will be back to normal for all models except for the new Civic.

NESBITT GETS SHANGHAIED
General Motors announced that Bryan Nesbitt will be appointed to vice president of GMIO Design. Nesbitt is currently the executive director of North American Exterior Design and Global Architecture Strategy. Nesbitt will relocate to Shanghai and replaces Ken Parkinson who will take over Nesbitt’s current position. The moves are effective August first.

A HORN FOR EVERY SEASON (subscription required)
Every car has a horn, and in different parts of the world horns have different sounds, but Ward’s reports that Ford was shocked to find just how people in different regions of the world use their horns differently. In the US and Canada, people often use their horns as a greeting, like honking at their neighbors when they drive down the street. And so they use trumpet horns that have a richer, more mellifluous sound, like this Ford F-150. But in South America, China and India, people use their horns much more frequently, and usually to get people out of their way. For those markets Ford uses disc horns, like you might see on a motorcycle, and can be found on the new Ford Ranger. Europe has the quietest horns because of noise regulations.

RAM PLUG-INS GET REAL WORLD USE
Chrysler will loan out 140 plug-in hybrid versions of its Ram 1500 pick-up to select cities and states across the country. The company developed the vehicles with funding from the Department of Energy and will test them over the next three years. Powering the plug-in pick-ups is a liquid cooled lithium-ion battery pack along with a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger. The powertrain also includes a 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 with a two-mode hybrid transmission that includes cylinder deactivation, so it can run on four-cylinders on the highway to help save fuel. Chrysler says this is just a demonstration program and doesn’t have plans for a production version at this time.

AUTONOMY AT 9/10ths
Anyone who follows Autoline knows I’m a big proponent of autonomous cars, that is, cars that can drive themselves. And now BMW is showing just how far this technology has come, by putting an autonomous 330i on the track at the Nurburgring and Hockenheim and Laguna Seca. In these examples we found on Autoblog, the cars are traveling pretty quickly, and while there is a driver in the car, he’s not touching the steering wheel, the gas pedal, or the brakes. Of course, doing this on a race course, with no cross traffic, or pedestrians, or traffic lights really doesn’t show off the true capabilities of autonomous technology. But this does show how this technology can drive a car at 9/10ths.

The UAW may want to try and get on the board at the Big Three, but it also wants to organize one of the foreign transplants in the American market. Who will their target be? That’s coming up next.

On Autoline Detroit this week the talk is all about labor negotiations. In the following clip, I ask three labor experts which of the transplants they think the UAW will go after to try and organize.

My three guests on the show are Sean McAlinden from the Center For Automotive Research, Bob Chiaravalli, from Strategic Labor and Human Resources LLC and Joe Szczesny from the Oakland Press. And you can watch that entire show right now at AutolineDetroit.tv.

Don’t forget to catch a LIVE episode of RoundAbout tonight hosted by Autoblog’s Steven Ewing. This week you’ll learn a very non-green way to charge a Nissan Leaf and find out how UPS is becoming 40% more fuel efficient without using an alternative powertrain. That’s 6:30PM Eastern every Friday at AutolineDetroit.TV.

And that’s it for today’s show. But a programming note here. Monday is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday, where we remember all the veterans who have fought to keep this country free. As such, we’ll be taking the day off. So, have a great weekend, we’ll see you back here on Tuesday.

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

51 Comments to “Episode 652 – UAW Wants Big 3 Seats, Japanese Recovery Ahead of Schedule, BMW Autonomy at 9/10ths”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    American Quality ???

    Go to ;

    http://www.bangshift.com

    read the FAT CAD update

    Especially the comments about the paint . Remembering this is a Cadillac . America’s so called ” Premier ” Auto Maker .

    Then tell me all about American Automotive Quality

  2. tj Martin Says:

    And on that note ;

    Have a safe Memorial Day.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From my experience, lower volume cars, like that CTS-V wagon tend to have more orange peel than higher volume, but cheaper ones. My ’86 Karmann-built VW Cabriolet has a lot more orange peel than cheaper Golf hatchbacks of the time.

    In the case of very expensive cars like Rolls-Royce, though, they do whatever hand work is needed to end up with a good paint job. Still, Cadillac needs to get paint jobs up to mainstream Chevy/Ford standards, never mind Lexus. Whatever one thinks of Lexus products, they still seem to have the best paint jobs in the industry.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    ” … lower voulume cars ….. tend to have more orange peel ”

    I’m not arguing that its true , but that makes Zero sense .

    You Pay more to Get Less ?

    From my point of view Cadillac has no excuse for this pathetic level of paint quality on one of their most expensive cars .

    Makes me wonder if what showing is this bad … what’s the stuff not showing look like ? And how well will it still work in a month or two .

    Cadillac has a lot to answer for on this ! GM as well !

  5. tj Martin Says:

    F1 News

    FYI; The Poison Dwarf is at it again , pushing for the Bahrain GP to be reinstated .

    Brilliant ! Just as things are getting worse ( and Bahrain being the most Despot of them all )

    Good ol Ecclestone . Forever clueless .

    JEEP

    225,000 Wranglers under investigation for Air Bag failure ! This is what ? Round six of Wrangler recalls and potential recalls for 2011 ?

  6. tj Martin Says:

    My apologies to any and all UAW folks on site . Actually my profoundest apologies .

    I’m sorry the companies you work so hard for can’t be bothered to build Quality Vehicles

    I’m sorry I need to spend my money overseas instead of with a manufacture in my own back yard

    I’m sorry that your jobs are on the line because the manufactures can’t be bothered with quality .

    And in fact it PO’s me to no end !

    But what’s a man to do ? (A) Spend his money on junk to help provide more jobs for American Workers ?

    Or (B) Vote with my checkbook in vain hopes that the American Manufactures will get the message ?

    Well sorry again . It is my hard earned and the thought of spending it on dreck is just silly .

    So its (B) for me .

    And I am truly sorry that it is . No sarcasm intended .

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    According to this Ultimate Factories TV show, OEM’s go to great lengths to make sure their painting process is mistake-free and visually and tactically inspect every single vehicle to make sure the job is flawless, so I guess when the cameras go away the same “who gives a crap” attitude returns to the assembly process.

  8. MJB Says:

    Hmmm… Just wondering whether or not it was coincidence that the one particular photo of Bob King (used by Autoline more than once) makes him look rather “saintly” as his bust is almost perfectly framed by the brilliant radiance of the blue & yellow UAW logo back drop.

    Just saying……’Cuz it jumps out at me everytime you guys flash that shot, John.

    I keep thinking there should be an angelic host singing or something. LOL

  9. Ed Says:

    The UAW wants seats in the board, however I remember just recently the unions were offered stock in their own companies , if they had to take it, they said they couldn’t wait to dump it and go to other stocks, is this how much faith they have in their own business? I think if they want a seat at the table they must become responsible and accountable for the profitability of same, otherwise they look like some spoiled child throwing a tantrum over something they don’t understand. Ed

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @tj #4,

    I agree that expensive cars should be better in every way than less expensive ones, but I was just stating what I’ve observed over the years. As far as paint jobs, at least with my VW, I can see a reason. Karmann built maybe 15K cars like mine a year. The people doing the painting would have less “practice,” and might even have worse spraying equipment than at the VW plants building 300K Golf hatches a year. I agree that they need to do what it takes to have good paint jobs on Cadillacs, even if it would add to production cost. A conspicuously bad paint job doesn’t “get it” even on a cheap car any more, much less on an expensive one.

    Also sort of related to what I said earlier, from what I’ve heard, very expensive cars were generally less reliable than cheaper cars, at least in the 70′s and 80′s. Even though very expensive, when you are only building a few hundred Rolls-Royces or Ferraris a year, you can’t afford the development costs that can be put into cars you will build millions of.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My local Cadillac dealer is on the way to where I’m going for dinner tonight, so I’ll stop in their lot and do a “crappy paint job” check. I hope what I see is better than described in that article.

  12. MJB Says:

    @ #6 tj

    Funny you should bring this up. I heard a radio spot the other day for the Chrysler 200 that really made me want to do some research. And I couldn’t for the life of me substantiate anything for or against my suspicions. So let me lay it out and perhaps someone here can help with my query.

    The main line in this ad (the line that really lit my fuse) was this: “Do you really have to cross an ocean to buy a car you can be proud of?”

    My instant mental rebuttal was, “Do YOU really have to cross an ocean to get the parts to assemble YOUR car?”

    So…Can someone tell me if any part of the new Chrysler 200 is manufactured overseas? (actually the question should be “How much of it is manufactured overseas”, because to my knowledge only one or two automobiles are still 100% American) I guess I am just not any good at Googling this type of data. I couldn’t find a single trace of data on the geographic origin of parts/manufacturing on that car.

    I just want to know if Chrysler is trying to fool people into thinking that by buying a 200 they are getting much less of a “foriegn” car than someone buying an American built Toyota.

  13. HtG Says:

    on the orange peel. I wonder if Amir’s car was black? Would peel be more visible on the color that shows reflections best?

    I recently saw a merc SL from the 50′s that had been repainted in black, and lord, did the doors have that cheesy ripple going on.

    on BMW boffins. I do wonder why they need to keep the driverless track car away from the limits? Keeping up with the GPS and local tracking wouldn’t be an issue. What’s the big nut getting in the way of directing a car that’s breaking loose? (And this ability would seem to me to be the heart of aggressive driving. Sorry Otto)

    On Bahrain. Bahrain is the Saudi recroom. Much larger issues at play here, like Shia influence in the Gulf.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    MJB,
    If I remember right, the US/Canadian content of the 200 is ~80%, so, while some of the remaining 20% would Mexican, but I’m sure some is “overseas.”

    I’m sure there are no cars that are 100% American, just as there are no cars that are 100% Japanese. I doubt if there are any cars that are even 80% US, since there are few with a combined US/Canadian content as high as 80%, and none much higher than that.

  15. phil Says:

    Bull!!!!!!!!!!

  16. len simpson Says:

    Since all painting is now robotic , I would think that a little reprogramming is in order . What happened to the quality control dept? Probably a UAW member.
    I saw a demo recently of 3 cars at a time in one booth, 3 different colors being applied sy mool tainiously

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Can someone explain to me what is the point of this autonomous vehicle crap, if you don’t want to drive, TAKE MASS TRANSIT. or hire a cab.

  18. MJB Says:

    Well then, Kit, from those numbers I suppose Chrysler does have a leg to stand on with that ad.

    I was just concerned that they were trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

  19. HtG Says:

    tj, here’s some porn about our graphite mistress, LFA.

    http://drivers.lexus.com/lexusdrivers/magazine/articles/Vehicle-Insider/A-Wicked-Drivers-Ed?s_ocid=Pursuit:0511:CTA1:LexusMag&cid=Pursuit:0511:CTA1:LexusMag

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think it would be an interesting, though useless, exercise to see how fast you could make a race car go around a track autonomously. Do it without a driver in the car, and keep everyone well away from unprotected areas of the track for when the crash occurs. I suspect it would be very difficult to come even close to the lap times of a good driver.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Pick up a copy of Motor Trend Classic summer 2011 and read the Bob Lutz article .

    That’ll give you an idea where the book is heading . No quotes etc but …….

    (cuss) May have to become a Bob Lutz fan after all ( cuss cuss it )

  22. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    The more I see of the MP4-12C both racing and street versions the less I’m liking the LF-A . Never thought I’d say that !

    The LF-A has the ‘ sound ‘ ( does it ever ) and the looks but the Mclaren doe the business ! ( performance & driving )

    Hmmn .

  23. tj Martin Says:

    Just a reminder on place of origin should we think its only American cars who’s construction is spread all over the planet .

    The Volvo XC60 I’ve considered ;

    Swedish brand
    Owned by the Chinese ( Geely )
    Built in Belgium
    Engine from UK
    Transmission – Japan ( how’d Haldex get made in JPN ? )
    Misc – China , Japan , US , CDN

    What’s from Sweden you ask ?

    Not one solitary percentage . Not even one ( sticker lists it all out )

    Global Economy or Global Pea Soup ? ( pea soup = confusion )

    I’ll vote Pea Soup

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    #10 Read the Bob Lutz article I just recommended to HtG

    In about a paragraph all will become clear as to why Cadillac and GM in general doesn’t take the time to ” Do it right ”

    From the pages I’ve seen , the book goes even deeper . Highly recommended and again I don’t even like the guy !

    ( cuss ) now I’m even schilling for Lutz )

  25. Brett Says:

    I think the rationale behind limited production vehicles possibly having poorer paint finishes would depend on whether they were built on the same line as the main production vehicles or not.

    If the limited production units were built on a separate, smaller, more primitive line, they might be hand-sprayed in a less effective paint booth, whereas the main production units were painted by robots in a state-of-art, multi-million dollar paint system whose cost was justified by the volume being run through it.

    Not that counter-intuitive from a manufacturing perspective.

  26. HtG Says:

    I saw that Lamborghini has individual painters do any given car, since there was a difference between how each shot the paint. Lambo wanted each car to be consistent all around.

  27. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ John McElroy: Memorial day is in remembrance of American troops in all of her wars that were KILLED IN ACTION period.VETERANS DAY (nov.11th) is in remembrance of ALL Veterans.Please get that straight.

  28. tj Martin Says:

    Stupidest Music/Marketing Tie In Contender 2011

    So you ( as I do ) think Chrysler and Audi have made some pretty stupid choices as to which Music ( I use the term losely ) Entertainer to feature in their Marketing Schemes .

    Harley Davidson has them both beat .

    The ” Motor Company ” having come out with their supposed Youth Market oriented ” Dark Series ” motorcycles has decided to promote a Nationwide tour to coincide with the release of the M/Cs

    So do they hire say Kid Rock ? Wilco ? The Avett Brothers ? The National or even Daniel Lanois ( who’s been riding H-D’s since the 70′s ) All names mostly or very familiar to the Youth Market that might be interested in the ” Dark Series ” Or even one of the young Blues players/bands like Doyle Bramlett II , Johnny Lang or Kenny Wayne Shepherd ?

    Why no they do not .

    They’ve chosen Willie Nelson . Who has about as much cred with the under 30 crowd as Paul Anka does .

    Makes you wonder what ” The Motor Company ” has been smoking , doesn’t it .

  29. tj Martin Says:

    G.A. Branigan – #27

    Amen !

  30. tj Martin Says:

    @ Brett #25

    A truly “good ” painter can paint around any level of equipment . I’ve seen Hot Rodders in their garages , with minimal equipment do perfect ( black included ) paint jobs on 60′s and 70′s Muscle cars .

    What this tells me is that either ;

    1) Cadillac is not properly training the guys in the CTS-V paint booth

    or;

    2) Cadillac is placing production numbers over quality : hence forcing the painters to do a 2nd rate job in order to keep their production numbers up .

    Or ;A combination of 1 & 2

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    MJB,
    Actually, some Toyotas, including most Camrys are among the most “American” of cars sold in the US. Fusion, with 20% US+Canada content is among the least American cars, especially in its “generic front-drive sedan” class.

  32. tj Martin Says:

    FYI

    If you read the Bob Lutz ( Im doing it again ( cuss ) it ) article I alluded earlier to as to # 30 you’ll probably pick reason # 2

  33. Chuck Grenci Says:

    On my Sunday morning motorcycle rides I quite often stop by the Cadillac’s dealer to look over their inventory (knowing I won’t be bothered by salemen as I would during the regular work week). While I’m sure 100% of all of GM’s (Cadillac’s in this case) aren’t going to be flawless, I’ve never seen a paint job (on this lot) that can be construed to be as hideous as the one described in the article. Just saying, maybe we shouldn’t toss the baby out with the wash water from this particular gripe of one man’s vehicle.

    I’m a GM man from way back and haven’t ever been disappointed with a paint job (okay maybe once, back in the early 80′s) when they were having trouble with the switchover to the water based paints; currently own an ’04 Bravada and ’06 STS and paint still looks real good (and these cars live in S.C.) under some brutally bright sun.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ll see if they have the mag with the Lutz article at the library.

    re #6
    My two newest cars are among the most foreign sold in the US. One (Prius) has higher quality ratings than most Detroit 3 products. The other, (MINI) has worse. The general quality of today’s cars is good enough that I would buy a car from any company now selling in the US, if they made what I wanted. If there were a tie between a Detroit 3 product and an Asian or Euro nameplate, I’d buy the domestic nameplate and not worry about the quality.

    The reason I bought my foreign name plate cars is because Toyota and MINI made the type cars I wanted. If you want a roomy, “do everything” hatchback that gets exceptional fuel economy, the Prius has little serious competition. If you want a fun to drive, not-terribly-expensive (if you don’t load it with options) relatively fuel efficient car with a manual transmission, MINI is hard to beat. Sorry, “Big 3,” but you don’t make the kind of cars I like. That’s why you didn’t get my business. Your quality is good enough that I’d chance it, occasional crappy paint job notwithstanding.

  35. Tom L Says:

    Re #23–tj
    Lesjöfors Automotive AB
    is in Sweden and make springs for the world of cars

  36. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    #34

    1) The non turbo MINI Cooper ( ours ) is actually as good if not better than any of the big three’s products reliability wise . ( Turbo S is below average, read the fine print )

    2) Build what I want . Precisely what the Big Three do not do ! If you look back at my SRX review from last year you’ll see I went into the car ( renting it ) wanting to love it and hoping to buy one . Not even close !

    3) There’s now way assuming I loved the CTS-V Wagon I’d put up with that low a quality paint job on a car at that price . I don’t care how good the car itself was !

    @ Tom L

    I know there’s still production in Sweden , but the sad fact is there is not a Single % of Swedish built bits or pieces on the Entire XC60 . Its all on the Volvo Price & Specs sheet in the window . Funny it was the wife that noticed the Country of Origin notice and the fact that no Swedish parts were used in the XC60 first . Smart gal .

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In recent years, the non-turbo MINI has rated “average” in reliability in CR surveys. Several “big 3″ products have done better, and some worse. MINI, as a brand, did very poorly in a recent JD Power survey of some sort. As far as the paint jobs, both my Prius and MINI are very free of orange peel. They forgot to tighten the bolts of the striker plate for the passenger door on my MINI. Other than that, no apparent quality issues. My Prius has been flawless.

    I looked at the cars at the Cadillac dealer this evening. The SRX’s all seemed to have very good paint jobs, but the two black CTS’s had some visible orange peel. I wouldn’t consider it a problem on the type cars I buy, but I wouldn’t like it if I ever splurged and bought a $40K car.

  38. cwolf Says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen,what I would consider, a bad paint job on any newer vehicle,even Cadillacs. From my experiences, only two coats of paint were applied before laying two,sometimes3 coats of clear at the many dealerships I once did work for. The orange peel had to come from the clear coat,for sure. Since there are so many variables that could cause peeling,my guess would be application speed or volume,because the other factors are easier to control in a manufacturing environment. What still surprises me is the small,yet noticed,number of vehicles where the paint fails to adhere to the rubber components,and even hoods! Old excuses were bad primers, but I think it’s either due to too thin of color base or not applied wet enough. Of the big3, I believe GM is most problematic. Interesting chats on this subject! One salvation to the orange peel problem is that it can be rubbed out.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    cwolf,
    Does rubbing out, in the usual sense with mildly abrasive compound, work with today’s standard clear coat?

  40. cwolf Says:

    tj: your not in a good mood today, I CAN TELL! You voice your tiffs about American quality as if there were a drastic difference between them and the others! And I know that you know that the field is becoming eye squinting closer to even par. Give Mrs.tj 2 asprin and you 3 fingers and I bet your have a more pleasant insight tommorow. Hang in there!

  41. cwolf Says:

    Kit: Sure does. If you hav’nt done this many times before, I suggest you hire someone experienced. You kinda let the buffer do the work and your booty gets into the rythem of the thing. It can be made to look easy,but you could burn your paint in a heart beat! Just be careful.

  42. cwolf Says:

    @ #9Ed: Ed,your a newbi,so welcome. Your point well taken,but there is always a flip side to ponder. The UAW really had no other options but to take stock in return for monies owed and not paid to the retirement fund. Now,for simplicity, fault thw UAW for all they deserve,then consider where the remainder of blaim lies; Now ask yourself if you think it wise to hold on to this stock, knowing it is not worth anything close to what is owed? And if the UAW seeks to have a seat on the board of directors,is it more logical the motive is to better the company they have stock in,to return those huge CEO bonuses back into US factories so they can be “state of the art”? Or do you think these seats are being negotiated so the UAW can revive past habits many on this forum have dwelled on for lazyness and returning from lunch drunk or high? Don’t get stupid on me Ed or I’ll start to think your onr of them dumb union fellers!

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    Motorweek just tested the VW Tourag hybrid with a 24mpg highway mileage and said nothing about such a disappointing number, these guys really have lost whatever credibility they had left. Instead they bragged about its performance

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With the 380hp Toureg hybrid, VW is selling a bargain Cayenne, rather than trying to compete with a Prius or something like that. Still, 24mpg highway rating is very poor.

  45. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    If en yer peakin in .

    No , I was in quite a good mood last Friday . The Bob Lutz book preview had me feeling vindicated about my opinions of where the US Auto Industry is and why ( same way “Mondavino” vindicated my opinions of ten years previous as to what was happening in the Wine Industry )

    I’d struck the XC60 and the X3 from the list ( only the GLK left and need to check out the Subaru Forester XT )

    After Wednesdays near disaster ( tornado ) Thursday was incredible and Friday darn decent

    My efforts Wednesday morning and Thursday /Friday paid off ( concert yesterday went top notch )

    So nope . I was in a really good mood . Just feeling less and less happy about the Big Three and their ” Virtual ” gains on the quality front .

    And heck . Now I’m a Lutz fan . Darn it ! Buy the book when it comes out !

    Just call me BobLutzaiSmoke :o

  46. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    MotorWeek AutoWeek CAR you name it .

    They’re all becoming Literal Advertising Mediums with reporting , investigation and unbiased reviews having become a thing of the past .

    You know when one of the idiots from AW starts singing the praises of the Chrysler Re-Badged Alfa Romeo Giulietta , claiming it to be the best example of what an Alfa Romeo should be : that honest appraisal as well as any clue of Automotive History has gone the way of Pluto . Gone Baby Gone !

  47. tj Martin Says:

    Kit Gerhart ;

    Looking at above average ratings on US cars in CR , here’s the tally

    Buick – 0
    Cadillac -0
    Chevy – 1
    Chrysler -2
    Ford – 3
    GMC-0
    JEEP (why even look ) – 0
    Lincoln – 4

    So all in all MINI comes out looking pretty good .

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    Honestly, every single Mini owner I have ever talked to has been ga ga about their “little wonder”, from economical, to fun to drive to practical, it almost makes me want to dump the Vibrolla.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro,
    A Mini like tj’s and mine is fun to drive and fuel efficient (albeit on premium), but is practical only if you don’t need a back seat. A Prius, on the othrr hand is very practical with a roomy cabin, hatchback utility, and exceptional fuel economy. “fun to drive” is not part of the equation, though, unless you are entertained just by seeing those big numbers on the mpg readouts.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit have you tried reg gas on your mini? a couple of these owners I’ve spoken to don’t use premium and tell me they get by just fine, but I wonder if they will pay the price later on.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I haven’t tried regular, but probably would if I drove the Mini a lot of miles. The owner’s manual seems to indicate that using regular wouldn’t cause engine damage, but you should use premium for best performance and gas mileage. Based on power/displacement ratio, it would seem that the non-turbo Mini shouldn’t need premium, but they recommend it.