The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

31 May 2008

We demand crummy tires

A letter to the editor of Consumer Reports, published in the July issue:

In the June 2008 Up Front article "Consider a Snappier Prius," I see no mention of the fact that the 16-inch tires for the Touring model are performance tires and thus more expensive to replace than the base version 15-inch tires. I realize buying tires isn't a frequent expense, but CR should note models that require performance tires when reviewing automobiles so consumers can know more about the real cost of owning a particular vehicle.

The response, typical of CR, was a model of politeness; they noted that "we show the tire size and model that came with our tested cars in the specifications section of our full automobile reviews." Which they do, and have for some time.

For the record, the base Prius comes with 185-65R15 rim protectors, chosen mostly for low rolling resistance, to help plump up the MPG figures; the Touring package offers 195-55R16s by Bridgestone, which look suspiciously similar to the Turanzas that came on my dear, departed Mazda 626, albeit one speed rating higher (V instead of H), explaining the price difference in one fell swoop. What I fail to understand is why someone willing to fork out two grand for the Touring package would balk at $30 extra per tire 30,000 miles or so down the road.

Then again, the same sort of folks haunt Nissan message boards, wanting to know if they can use regular gas in their Maximas — or, yes, occasionally, their Infiniti I30s. The answer is always the same: no, you probably won't kill your engine, but you're going to sacrifice both performance and fuel economy, and if you're that pinched for cash, why on God's greenish earth do you own a Maxima? Get ye unto a Toyota store and buy a Prius. Preferably without the Touring package.

Posted at 12:57 PM to Driver's Seat

Of such false economies are marketing fortunes made.

Posted by: Charles Pergiel at 8:54 PM on 31 May 2008
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