The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 September 2003

Badge-engineering

So I'm listening to Car Talk this morning, and the young woman from the East Village is describing the no-start issues with her car, and either Click or Clack asks: "Is this a Honda?"

And of course it's not: "It's an Acura Integra."

Either an unprecedented level of restraint or the miracle of post-production editing prevented them from responding "It's still a Honda."

I wonder how many Lexus owners realize they're driving Toyotas.

Posted at 9:11 AM to Driver's Seat


And the Infiniti is a Nissan.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:17 AM on 6 September 2003

Yep. And Mazda's late, lamented Millenia was originally intended to bear the new Amati brand, but the company went into a tailspin and couldn't afford to support a whole new dealer network.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:25 AM on 6 September 2003

Well, yes, my wife's Lexus RX-300 is a Toyota Camry underneath, at the chassis level, but that doesn't have any bearing on:

-- How carefully the car was assembled,
-- How nice the extra appointments and luxury touches are,
-- How accommodating the service personnel are,
-- The free loaner cars and lattes she gets when she brings it in for service,
-- The dour faces of Toyota 4Runner drivers when she pulls up next to them in her gleaming black Carriage of State,
-- The size of the monthly payment (groan).

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 2:32 PM on 6 September 2003

Not being a luxe sort of guy myself, I might pass on some of those gewgaws, but Toyota, to my knowledge, takes just as much care screwing together lowly Corollas as it does for Lexuses (Lexi?), and Toyota dealerships could be just as friendly and service-oriented as Lexus stores but hardly ever are.

Then again, what I drive is notable mostly for nondescriptness; its high WTF factor expresses only the desire to go unnoticed by armed authority on the road. Had I a Romulan cloaking device — but never mind, you get the idea.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:13 PM on 6 September 2003

yeah, I love it... the rare moments when I can catch some person fawning over a Lexus, only to sorta mention in as a matter a fact way as I can, "yeah, its hard to beleive that Toyota makes them..."

I've gotten a few dropped jaws, and blank looks. Priceless...

Its like walking into Wal-Mart and seeing the same product you bought at a boutique shop for about 1/3 the cost. oops.

Posted by: bruce at 5:32 PM on 6 September 2003

I knew that, but then again my previous job was at an insurance agency.

Incidentally, one of my bosses at an even earlier job owned a Lexus. He used to have me park his car for him (our parking lot was too small and we were always jockeying cars around). I wasn't particularly impressed by the innards of the Lexus -- except for cloth instead of leather seats, and not as many gauges on the dash, my Toyota Echo is just as comfy and well-made as his Lexus was. Besides, in Florida leather seats aren't exactly a bonus, if you ask me.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 12:40 AM on 7 September 2003

As the proud owner of a '93 Infiniti G20 with over 150,000 miles on it, I have to say that Nissan makes a fine automobile, but Infiniti makes a great dealer network. I have *never* been coddled like that before, or since (it's waaaay off warranty).

Once, we took it in for mysterious over-heating and they returned it having removed (for free) about a quart of acorns from an air-intake. They boxed up the acorns and returned them! I am sure they would have stuffed and mounted the offending squirrel if they had been able.

Posted by: J. at 6:23 AM on 7 September 2003

Would've made a great hood ornament, I'm thinking.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:41 AM on 7 September 2003

My current dealership has treated me well, which means that a brand they sell is likely to look better to me when next I go shopping; this particular lot, besides Mazda, deals in Cadillac, Land Rover, Porsche/Audi and Infiniti, and they have a Chrysler/Jeep lot across town. Since my Vehicles To Consider list includes such things as the CTS, the G35, the 300C and Mazda's own 6 — yes, I remember when cars had names, but then I drive a freaking 626, fercryingoutloud — I may not have to worry about what kind of reception I'll get when I walk through the door.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:46 AM on 7 September 2003

You're best bet is to check out www.clonecars.com. It's always being revamped and usually they have some good info on how to find out which cars are badge engineered.

Posted by: kcchuck at 11:33 AM on 12 January 2004