just to be clear, i don't prefer domestics over imports and vise versa.
but the mags are full of it. oh, i've had them all- car 'n driver, rodent track, hat rad, ottomobil, car crap, ottoweak... and for sikkles, psychoworld- for decades. and for decades they ragged on OHV engines like they were some sort of outmoded prehistoric relics, and they worshipped at the altar of OHC. The defining criteria for whether a car was any good or not was basically how fast they could sling it around a racetrack.
Sorry, iy've never driven on a car racetrack but i have driven quite a bit on roads. 8000 rpm redline, 0-60, 0-100-0, and 1.0 on the skidpad mean pretty much nothing out here. OHC is great when your revving to the moon (love it on sikkles) but when's the last time you felt the need to exceed 6500 rpm in your car? <6500 and the OHC "advantage" pretty much doesn't exist.
Who won some world-wide engine excellence award recently? GM. With a pushrod V8. OHV is much more compact, simple, and inexpensive yet it delivers the goods.
it appears to me the domestics also have a slight edge in rust prevention. yeah they all look like crap after 10 years in the rust belt but the imports seem to fail more spectacularly. i've never had a domestic, even when the floors were shot, get as structurally unsound as some toyos and vws i had.
tempos- almost 300,000 miles on the '84- still goes and it still has floors. if that isn't quality, what is? no doubt hondas and toyos can do that too. it's ridiculous to say one can and the other can't.
this summer me and a friend's cars both needed replacement exhaust pipes: his metro- somewhere around $400; tempo- $27. btw, the tempo exhaust was 23 years old and the metro 9.
i'm not a flag-waving buy american protectionist either. support whoever makes the best product.
i'ye yoosta engineer in the off-road industry. there are four major OEM players for that product. the enthusiast rags would name the "ultimate gottahaveit" of the year every year. it was hilarious! it didn't really matter who made the best whatsit or if the others caught up or surpassed the next year or not; the mags felt they COULDN'T choose the same oem two years in a row without risking the advert dollars from the others. SHAM
it was also hilarious to read the write-ups. for example, EVERY new body style is always "more aerodynamic". What total crap, I know for a fact it's not true. Geez, if it was, we wouldn't even need to put engines in 'em, just bigger and bigger brakes every year to hold 'em back!
consumer reports- well they like to say they are impartial, maybe they are from an advert pov. that doesn't change the fact that my experiences with products they dissed have often been good, and products they praised haven't necessarily been above average.
haha i live somewhat in the rust belt, cant find a older import without total rusted out... seen a few domestic truck that the whole bed is rusted out but the frame ws solid as could be. cant say that for any nissan or yota truck ive seen.
my car has 1.6L overhead cam and my trucks a pushrod 2.2L cant tell a lick of difference in them, both easy to work on and about the same size.
My first car was a '93 Saturn SW2 I4.... The Interior fell apart, but the ran even with hell thrown at it (timing chain guides pretty much exploded and the chain started to eat the valve cover - changing timing chain on that motor absolutely sucks, what the crap engineering went into that!>!?). I also had that reverse delay/slam that just wouldn't go away... I would love to tell you how many miles I put on it, but sadly the odometer gave out around the same time the a/c died - 68K miles. a/c was fixed and 4 years later, no clue how many miles were on that thing I loved that car - it was kinda expensive, but it took a lot of crap.
Second car was a '97 Mazda 626 2.0... Parts lasted a long time and didn't cost much. I did the timing belt for under $100 including a replacement idler and tensioner +$60 for a water pump. Spacing in the engine bay was a little tight, but compared to the Saturn, it was luxury. The only caveat, the dreaded Ford CD4E transaxle!! Seriously, who says "you know what's a good idea -- lets not put a filter on the transmission and then lets totally overpower it," nice....
Current car is a '00 VW Jetta 2.0.... Everyone warned me about CEL's galore... Bought the car at 91K miles, driven over 20K miles since then... Not 1 CEL. Only problem so far was a stripped oil pan bolt that I found on the first oil change Oh, and the headliner started sagging in a few spots (replacement was cheap and easy - really, for any car it is)....
So my mother has an '06 Nissan Altima 2.5.... They replaced the engine today due to improper piston ring selection (improper tension -- eats oil too fast). But even with a 2.5l engine, every safety feature option etc., I've gotten 40mpg+.... too early to say on reliability.
Father Drives an Element for work.... What a terrible idea that was... Perhaps I'm just missing it, but why do I have to reach around the half shaft to get to the oil filter? He's been driving with a CEL for who knows how long, but he does put crazy miles on the thing (and overloads it). I think his catalyst died/clogged/whatever given the symptoms he's described to me (I'll scan it when I go home if he doesn't first)... It eats tires due to very low loading capacity and the fact that he uses it as a work truck... At least it's a 5 speed
He used to drive a Mercedes 240 diesel - non turbo. I loved that car too, it was a freaking tank and I think it would win the slowest car on gassavers award. Survived two accidents too. FE wasn't great by even gasser standards, but that's the way this engine was - cast iron block and head Seats were terrible though (likely due to age). I only have good things to say - but it did start getting expensive near the end of it's life... We sold it to a Mercedes indy shop, the car is now cruising somewhere on the west coast of Florida
Before that, he had some sort of Toyota truck... Drove it something like 350,000 miles (perhaps 400,000). Sold it with a broken connecting rod (but it did drive away). The family that bought it put a new engine in it, apparently.
BEFORE THAT, he drove an early 90's Toyota corolla... And drove it into the ground - sold it in drive-able condition though Over 300,000 miles.
Mother/Father own a '96 GMC conversion van.... Now that is a fricken nightmare. Some component of the a/c is always going, constant CELs and coolant started magically disappearing - but you can't see anything as it's cab-over and interior access is on PITA! Interior has held up so-so, not bad, but not spectacular.
Sister drives a Toyota Solara v6 (whatever displacement).... Has an oil gelling problem, so the advice is just to keep on top of oil changes... Her car also went through a period of eating OEM O2 sensors for some stupid reason... Otherwise it has the best a/c of any car I've been in (probably due to smaller cab). Interior has held up very nice despite how messy she keeps it
Parent's recently acquired this boat thing... Has a Lehman I6 engine (I believe that's a division of ford). It's nice to work on - started up after a year of being dormant too (we found water in the engine oil o.0). Sucked out the oil, put 5 gallons back in, replaced the fuel raycore and put a bypass fuel tank on and it was start-able. The main fuel tank is 400 gallons - I don't even want to know how much it will be to "fill 'er up"
But of courseour independent anecdotal evidence isn't an indication of anything. The oldest car I've seen locally is a Toyota hatch (I think corolla) and my buddy's Porsche 944
Time is the best teacher. Unfortunately it kills all its students.
It seems to me that "reliability" is largely in the eye of the beholder. Some people will think that a car is crap if they have to replace the windshield wiper blades...and other people are tolerant enough that a transmission doesn't faze them at all.
I have had a LOT of cars...a toyota, a few hondas, a renault, a few mercedes, an audi, a few oldsmobiles, a buick, a few fords, a saab, a few chevys, in international, a lincoln, a dodge and I thought that each and everyone one of them was a pretty decent car in its own right.
The problem that CR and other magazines...is that they are taking consumer responses based on their experiences that are filtered by their own values. Not very scientific, if you ask me! Just take it with a grain of salt...
Oh...and my worst car was a 1979 Lincoln...bought it at auction for $300 in 1990. The best car... least money spent...my 1992 honda accord bought new ($14k) and traded at 180k miles for $3.5k...woulda driven to CA and back to NC w/o hesitation...but then again...my 1981 Olds Cutlass diesel...fit that bill too...but it liked to eat metric 200 trannies until I dropped a TH350 in it. Sold it at 196k miles. Most fun...that was my $50 1974 dodge dart...or was it the 1962 Mercedes 220Sb ($200)...or the 1966 Chevy Suburban ($100)?? :-)
Most of those cars were despised by CR, but they LOVED the accord...which 1/2 the time pissed me off with the notchy shifter, weird clunks from the front, recalled distributor, crappy snow traction (my 1981 camaro was better)??? :-)
McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."
O'Brien's First Corollary to McIntyre's First Law: "I don't know what the right circumstances are, either."
Allot of the trouble with selling efficient compacts has to do with the marketing and profit margins as well. The simple fact is: Car makers make more money on the nicer models and trims. Why should they want to sell anything less if that is the case?
Then of course a smart salesperson who's been around awhile knows the best trick in the book for closing the deal on an 'up-sell', which is to always show people the top of the line first. Anything less then comes across as inferior. It's like giving the whole bag of suckers to a 2 year old, then telling him or her he can only keep one. Instead of viewing it as gaining a sucker, they tend to view it as losing the bag!
Who could possibly want anything less than the whole bag?!?
Some small domestics are good, but they are invariably rebranding jobs. In fact, that's my favorite kind of car, Japanese made with domestic label. Good quality, and can actually get parts for them at good prices. I'm not surprised you had a decent experience with a mid 90's Escort, as that car was actually made by Mazda.
The late 80's Escort was made by Fix Or Repair Daily itself, and it was a cheap hunk of crap. The car simply wasn't designed to last more than about 70k miles. We pushed it to over 130k anyway, and by then its 2nd clutch needed replacing. No other car went through clutches like that thing did. Not to mention those weak ball joints, the whole power steering system, the A/C thanks to them using crap O-rings (you know, like the Challenger space shuttle), the ignition system (burned through 5 modules before we learned there was another part on the distributor that if bad would cause exactly that), the cracking bad plastic bumpers and fake aero crap, a leak deep in the weld between both fenders and passenger compartment that meant the carpet up front got wet every time it rained so the car always smelled a little moldy, and finally the heater core starting to leak antifreeze into the passenger compartment. Under engineered, poorly engineered, and poorly built.
Reliability most emphatically is not in the eye of the beholder. Who are these people who would dis a car over wiper blades? Do they exist?
anyway speed was mentioned as a possible enticement~
seems pretty counterproductive to me. barring some whacko engine inefficiency band, more speed = less fe. fe is the main point (as least for me) of having a small car in the first place. if a small vehicle is going to get fe less than or equal to a larger vehicle (and the larger one almost always has greater utility) then i'd go for the larger of course.
also speed differential is a major detriment to road safety. even tho i'm pretty much a safety schmafety sort of guy, i don't like the idea of different vehicles going significantly different speeds on the same piece of road. i think it's a little more palatable in regards to semis because they are large and visible and not subject to rapid changes in speed or direction, but still.
speaking of safety, that's probably one of the biggest hurdles to small car acceptance as our chickenschnit culture often uses that excuse for it's "need" for oversized battering rams. it is hard to convince today's ignorant masses that acceptable safety levels can be achieved without tons of mass. segue from that to the current movement to excuse the driver from any responsibility for knowing how to control a vehicle, and put the onus for safety all on the vehicle. segue that into the fact that women control the bulk of vehicle purchase decisions... and they are the ones that need to be convinced that they don't really need to be able to cart around 11 spawn at any given time and that if they can somehow control themselves to the point of only having two spawn, that something less than a Subdivision really will suffice. also there is some basic primal psychological crud going on here, with ladies especially and guys with hangups too insisting that they have the capability to look out over all else, and be able to smash through all else as well.
good luck effecting change on any of that "voluntarily".
i maintain that $5, $10, or whatever gas is the only way to finally make the small economical vehicle the "preferred choice" for the bulk of the sheeple.
yea its true, very few women know how to control a car in a skid, properly drive on rain/snow/fog and just generally driving safely...