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Monday, March 07, 2005

Consumer Reports and Cars

I like Consumer Reports. I think they do an admirable job, trying to grade manufacturers and force them to live up to what they promise. Cars are incredibly expensive, but a necessity for most people in America. For decades they were poorly made, and the consumer suffered. Let's face it, corporations' biggest concern typically is profits, not customer satisfaction. If the two weren't mutually exclusive, then the Big 3 would update their lineups more often.

CR's annual report has been published, and that link takes you to a synopsis of what cars do what. Of course the Japanese makes are the "best" and the Europeans are the "worst", with the Americans somewhere in the middle.

You may gripe with their survey methods that they used to determine these rankings, but that's not my biggest issue with CR. My biggest issue is with their complete disregard to safety. Many of the cars that they say are best buys, are not necessarily the safest, as determined by the NHTSA, or various insurance companies' tests.

Does safety factor into the buying of a car? Of course. A family is always going to be concerned with the safety of their children. European brands tend to be the safest vehicles, and the most unreliable. Japanese brands are not nearly as esteemed in the world of safety as they are in reliability. CR would do better if they factored in crash test results. After all, though a vehicle may cost me several hundred dollars less to run over the course of its life than another vehicle, is that money worth my life?

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