EPA fuel economy testing is very scientific. If it's EPA rated the same as an Accord, you can expect similar results as an Accord. Hypermiling, which differs greatly from EPA testing, might not work quite as consistently but it should still work.
Originally Posted by RoadWarrior
IMO import vs domestic reliability is a maintenance/throwaway car syndrome issue, sure, there's been some bad engines and transmissions in domestics, but there's been the same issues in some imports.
Even when pre 2003 GM quality was questionable, Buicks got high ranking, with the same motors, transmissions and many other parts that other GMs had... so why? Because they were mostly bought by older guys who maintained them meticulously.
You could as easily get screwed on a used import, just because historically, owners in general were more careful with them, doesn't mean every one is a gem.
What import owners call "maintenance" domestic owners call "Sucking my wallet dry, damn thing needed plugs, wires, oil, timing belt, freaking piece of junk...." When imports need new balljoints, bushings, shocks etc at 100K it's wear, when domestics need them it's "Freaking piece of crap is a money pit..." then also the import is more likely to get dealer parts, whereas the domestic gets the $10 made in china part.
So it's really up to the owner, if you figure you're going to be getting reliability out of an import you treat like crap, then you're not going to think much of imports.
Originally Posted by theclencher
IMHO the import vs domestic quality debate is a moot point and has been for many years. Yes, once upon a time there were palpable differences. Not anymore. I've owned both imports and domestics and don't really favor one over the other as far as quality. I do give domestics the nod for cheaper parts prices though.
I've quoted those posts in entirety because I agree with them in their entirety and can't say it better. I can barely even scrape up anything to add.
I can give you a one-on-one Toyota vs. GM case study, though.
My dad and I maintain our vehicles about the same. We both got new full size pickups in 2002, approximately the same configuration, and piled on the miles at approximately the same rate. His is a Toyota, mine is a GMC.
We have had a similar quantity of problems. His suffered from a mismanufactured ball joint that resulted in a wheel coming off and folding under the truck at speed, which is far more dangerous than the seal leak that left my truck without oil. Toyota has been dogged by that ball joint manufacturing issue continually. My seal failure was individual, though GM had rusting tailgate cables that they eventually recalled to replace with stainless steel and my rusty cables did break once (luckily the tailgate wasn't dented by the bumper).
His has not aged well. Mine runs quiet and smooth, his has awful NVH. My 4wd engages immediately without you even being able to notice; his takes time and goes clunk. Granted, when new it wasn't quite as smooth, but it has gotten worse while mine has remained as good as new.
I have lots of maintenance that I haven't done (deferring it until I have money for it), he has done more of his maintenance but he is much rougher on his truck.
Every manufacturer has some bad runs and some good runs. Every owner has bad and good personal experiences with some manufacturers. As a whole, the same driver doing the same stuff will generally get the same results from almost any manufacturer. If you've had bad experiences with modern GMs then you shouldn't get another one; but if you haven't then you can expect about the same result.