The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 March 2006

Testy commentary

Things I noticed in the Consumer Reports Auto Issue (April):

  • The magazine considers the '00 Mazda 626 to be one of the "reliable used cars" one can get for "$6000-$8000". Maybe. I've had no trouble with mine. But the Reliability Ratings include only the six-cylinder models — perhaps they didn't get enough responses from owners with fours — and a '00 626 with a V6 will cost more like $9000.

  • Quote from Environmental Defense's John DeCicco: "Hybrids have been overhyped, and the focus on the hybrid has created this image that if you want to be green, you have to get a hybrid. I think that's a very damaging perception because there are a lot of other ways to save fuel." This was incorporated into an article which states flatly that you'll never save enough fuel with a hybrid to cover the initial cost.

  • Instead of just showing the horizontal bar, they're giving you the actual road-test score (1-100) on each car tested. There was one actual 100: the Porsche Boxster. (The Boxster, however, is not Recommended, due to lack of reliability data.)

  • They got 21 mpg with their base-level Corvette convertible, the same mileage they got with a four-cylinder Dodge Stratus. (And the non-Z06 Vette runs on regular.)

  • A reader sent in an ad for a Ford product with, among other worthwhile features, "anti-lick brakes."

  • Their Scion tC test vehicle came with pricey Bridgestone Potenza RE92 45-series Z-rated tires that cost $680 for four at The Tire Rack. Rather a lot of rubber for a car that sells for under $17k.

I never have liked car shopping much; each year Consumer Reports justifies that dislike. Time to renew the old subscription, I guess.

Posted at 7:11 AM to Driver's Seat

A reader sent in an ad for a Ford product with, among other worthwhile features, "anti-lick brakes."

Still not quite up to this standard. Comes close, but...

Posted by: McGehee at 9:28 AM on 8 March 2006

CR's since had to admit a fundamental methodology flaw in their hybrid comparison, although they still have a long ways to go to make it fair for the Prius.

Posted by: M1EK at 12:28 PM on 8 March 2006

Besides which, if anyone's gotten the cost of these things down to a bearable level by now, it's got to be Toyota, if only because they had such a substantial head start. (Honda's Insight is about as old, but so few of them are sold that it hardly seems fair to count it.)

I don't count myself among the hybrid-haters; simply because they require no changes to the automotive infrastructure, they're a more reasonable technology than the fuel cells we're promised Real Soon Now.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:07 PM on 8 March 2006