My local VW showed no interest in selling me a new Golf, telling me that “Golfs aren’t that popular” when I asked why they didn’t have any on the lot. So I walked next door and bought a Civic Hatchback. I loved my TDI, and really miss getting 500 miles on a tank of gas, but I am pretty happy with the Civic.
Our other car is a Civic and I’m really happy with it. Happy enough that now that the VW stuff is done I’m off to Honda to buy one of the new Civic hatchbacks too.
Trying to find a manual Civic has been a job though. The first place I went claimed to have manuals but then after I said that was the only “must have” on the list they sent me 11 automatics to look at.
The next place I spoke to the salesman was either drunk or owned the place because he was clearly out of fucks to give when his opening gambit to “I want a manual” was “are you mad!?”
After we established I wasn’t mad, (just European), he told me he had five manuals, but I couldn’t choose the colour. The Sport version I wanted he only had one of and it was in lime green (why!?). But he had various other upper range Civic hatches in manual in more agreeable colours, including one with a lot of add-ons in deep red that looks really nice.
He sent me interior pictures along with an explanation that although they showed the entertainment system playing a song by Pitbull, that “doesn’t dramatically lower the value of the car.”
I like him already.
Why is it cool to hate on American made cars? My dad worked at Ford for almost 40 years. So we were a Ford family. I have a 2011 Focus that just rolled past 80,000 miles tonight, actually, and all I’ve done to it so far is change the oil, and put new tires and brakes on it. No problems at all. Why is there this misconception that they just break every five minutes? My whole life I’ve heard how bad American cars are supposed to be and it just doesn’t hold up in my experience. Sure, it’s not a Lamborghini or something, but it’s not $150,000 either.
My first self purchased car was an Escort that lasted for over ten years until it was totaled while I was in it. So why didn’t I even consider a Ford the second time around, their electronic system was tanked, not just the nsync and mytouch thing but just a lot of complaints about the software in those cars.
Let’s face it, American cars were just awful in terms of quality and safety for most of the 20th century, until the Taurus started to turn the corner in the early 80s. And even then it was quite a while before they came anywhere near to par Japanese in these respects across all model lines. They had a lot to live down.
I told the Honda dealer I wanted a manual as well…they said they didn’t have any and rarely sell them. Not sure if I believe that, but I didn’t want the Sport because it didn’t have Apple CarPlay, which was a necessity for my new car. Manuals are near impossible to get nowadays it seems.
@Eric_Majkut one of the cars I was planning to look at was the Ford Focus, seems like a nice car, I just liked the styling of the Civic Hatchback a lot more. Not to mention I was an idiot and drove the Civic and bought it right there, instead of looking around for the best offer/deal.One day I will learn to not impulse buy cars (not that it has ever backfired on me, yet).
My cars have been Dodge, Pontiac, Toyota, Honda. By far the Toyota and Honda have been the best vehicles I ever had in terms of quality/ repairs. Granted they were a total pain to work on compared to the Grand Prix, but they needed it less (and the Toyota had 160k+miles when I got rid of it)
I’d qualify that a bit: American cars’ design and quality-control was pretty bad in in the 1970s and 1980s, at least compared with the high-end European cars that made it across the ocean for sale in the US and compared to the cheaper Asian cars that were assembled in newer plants using better/newer technology.
The comparison between a mid-range Ford and a high-end BMW was never fair, but the US automakers still suffered for it because the only European cars that most US folks saw were the larger, higher-quality vehicles. The comparison between a Honda Civic and, say a Chevette was pretty fair… and the US cars didn’t score too well. US automakers were struggling to build lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and they weren’t very good at it. The Asian companies also aggressively pushed customer service - possibly even taking a loss in the early years - to push the idea that their cars were more reliable and that problems would be quickly fixed. Add in some widely-covered disasters like the explosive Ford Pinto, and the reputation of US vehicles plummeted… sometimes unfairly.
As automation became cheaper and US factories were re-tooled in the 1990s, the quality of US cars (never really THAT far behind) shot up and became much more consistent. I think that for the last few decades, dollar-for-dollar, there’s not much of a difference in terms of quality between US, European and Asian cars… but bad reputations are easy to gain and hard to lose, as VW is learning.
It’s not just that. During the SUV heyday of the 90s and early 2000s, American car manufacturers barely gave a shit about coupes and sedans. They threw most of their resources into SUVs, which had huge, fat margins. (And, due to their “light truck” designation, were not subject to anywhere close to the mileage requirements that cars were subjected to). They essentially ceded a lot of the profits to the Japanese and European manufacturers, who made nicer cars.
Then oil spiked to almost $5 a gallon, and the financial crisis hit, and cars were suddenly back in vogue with the buying public. American manufacturers had to play massive catch-up in terms of features and refinement with their cars.
Both @Tin_Wisdom and @Woolen_Horde are right. American car quality was the pits in the 70’s and 80’s. Lots of cheap plastic, inefficient engines, poor performance, and aesthetics that aged quickly and badly. The Asian and European manufacturers were dominant because they offered straight-up better autos. US car manufacturing recovered a bit in the 90’s, but then they all immediately fell into the truck and SUV market because no one cared about gas prices and families used SUVs as their daily drivers. Normal cars fell behind again. When the economy tanked, those US manufacturers were caught short.
The US auto industry was wildly successful for half a century because of the historical accidents of absurdly low gas prices and zero competition. That, and a culture that rapidly integrated the automobile into community planning, evolving a society where personal transportation was essential, not optional. As everyone has noted, this did not always result in objectively good vehicles. Prosperity, ample resources, and a voracious domestic market made huge inefficiencies possible–and profitable–in the short to medium term. Among these were a bloated manufacturing segment including a labor model that was ultimately unsustainable, and a culture that discouraged real innovation at the production engineering level in favor of sheer size and more of the same.
The literature about the rise, fall, and rise of the US auto industry is pretty voluminous, and it mostly agrees on the basics. Inertia, greed, a total inability to read the tea leaves of the market, and sheer complacency nearly doomed Detroit. The odd thing is, now, American cars are well-built, well-engineered, reliable, and perform well in general use. Yet the image they have is still rooted in the dismal years of the seventies and eighties. I had a Dodge Aspen, a 1976 four-door sedan with a vinyl roof, that may well be one of the worst motorized conveyances every built. It was a perfect emblem of a dismal era. My other Detroit cars were a lot better, including a Buick Century, a Mustang GT, a Camaro Z28, a Saturn sedan, a Fusion Sport, and a Focus ST.
From the news I read, a big problem with Detroit is that their margins are only viable with SUVs and pickups, so even as they start to make really good midsize cars like the Fusion and Malibu, or even smaller cars like the Cruze, they can’t make any money on them no matter how many they sell. They sort of dug themselves into a hole by betting the farm on those two segments, and they are very susceptible to oil price fluctuations, not to mention CAFE standards. One reason for robotic plants in Mexico is to increase the margins on cars that are not that profitable.
But there are pretty much zero American cars I’d consider buying today. Not because they’re bad, but because Detroit simply does not make many if any cars that fit my needs. Small (or small-ish), powerful, nimble cars that are not RWD (living in northern Vermont, RWD for a daily driver is far more hassle than I want), with quality interiors and restrained styling, preferably with a manual transmission. It’s why my current ride is a Golf R, and my previous car was a GTI. The Focus ST I had, an older generation admittedly, was “ok,” but while the Focus has good dynamics in general it’s, well, a cheap feeling car overall; even the new ones can’t match the VW for “feel.” The RS is wicked fun but as a daily driver, the refinement and usability–not to mention the restraint–simply isn’t there. And pretty much anything else from the Americans that meets my criteria is either a pony car, and hence RWD or in the case of some of FCA’s AWD offerings, weigh as much as a battleship and are hardly nimble, or a very expensive oddity like the ATS-V, which you can’t get in AWD as far as I know (and even if you could, it’s like $60k and has an interior more suited for a high-tech bordello than a daily driver).
God bless Ford for at least keeping the hot hatch flame burning, considering GM ditched the entire concept and we won’t even talk about FCA; the Fiat 500 Abarth has its place I guess but, um, no. So I’m very happy with my Golf R, but looking down the road (because I love cars and yes, greedy American than I am, I do look forward to being able to trade up!) there’s not that much I really would want to move up to. I would not want to sacrifice power, handling, quality, the right look, or utility, yet there’s so little competition in the niche I like. I did have a WRX at one point, but while fun I’m pretty sure I’m not going back to Subaru any time soon, and anyhow, a STI is pretty much on par with the R.
Add to all of this the dying off of the manual transmission in the face of certification costs, fuel standards, automated driver aid gizmos, and the undeniable superiority of the performance of modern torque converter and dual-clutch automatics over even the best manual gearboxes. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to having to get some form of automatic as my next car, if I move up the food chain. Audi has pretty much ditched the manual for things like the S4 or RS3, BMW has the 340i xDrive as a non-RWD performance model with a manual but that’s about it and who knows how long that will stay around, and Mercedes, well, effectively there are no manual Benzes in the USA other than one rather pathetic model. And really, right now only the Germans offer the whole package of car that I want. Nothing from the Japanese even stirs my interest, as it’s either too weird, too stylistically loud, or too over done.
As a brit we don’t really do automatics and most of our cars are midsize. The best selling car of the last year both new and secondhand is the Ford Fiesta. You can add the Ford Focus, Vauxhall (Opel everywhere else)Astra and Corsa. BMW, Merc and Audi as middle management popular and the japenese are very popular in the older generation.
Engine size seems to sit between 1.0 and 1.6 with 1.4 very popular. Hot hatches and boy racer cars have been insuranced off the road for many and petrol at £1.20 a litre it gets expensive quickly.
I only passed my test 14 months ago and have started with a Peugeout 307, 2.0 xsi. Insurance is £350 in my second year but MPG is 30 or slightly less. I was lucky the car had 1 owner 53,000 miles and was top spec. It had full service history and though it is 13 years old is immaculate, cost £1,400.
My next car would have been an Audi Diesel and likely Automatic as well but they way diesel costs and insurance and taxes are hitting it it may be I am off to the land of a 1.4 manual Fiesta instead.
VW outside fo the Golf have little appeal and also hold their value really well which makes it expensive versus other similar cars over here
Ford makes good cars. Which is probably why they were the only ones that didn’t need bailing out.
I always find the infamous redneck argument of Ford vs Chevy funny these days. I mean it was always kinda stupid, but then Chevy literally got bailed out by the government because they sucked so bad. But rednecks sill post stuff about how Chevy is awesome and Ford sucks because… it’s some sort of stupid heritage.
Well, the bigger reason is that the Ford CEO (who came from Boeing) took a $26 billion loan by mortgaging all of Ford’s assets. He did that in 2006, and it was controversial at the time, but two years later when the financial crisis almost wiped out GM and Chrysler, it looked prophetic. Ford didn’t need the bailout because they already had billions in cash reserves.
Mulally bet the farm and won, even if it was touch and go at times. According to some analysts, as well, Ford’s culture was better positioned to take risks than GM’s was, and there was somewhat less ossification at the top, particularly at the board level, where GM was a shitshow.
But really, today the cars GM and Ford make are fine. The last Ford I owned, a 2010 Fusion Sport, was made in Mexico and may well have been the best assembled vehicle I’ve every owned. My reasons for ditching it after two years had nothing to do with quality. I just had to have a clutch again (this was the only period in the last 35 years I didn’t drive a stick). That, and the car while quite competent was just too family sedan even with the Sport trimmings. But it was a very good car overall. And from what I’ve seen, most of Chevy’s offerings are built well too.
But again, selling cars doesn’t equal making money in the bizarre world of automobile manufacturing. A couple years ago Toyota was clearing about twice as much per car on average as the Americans, though Toyota has slipped a bit in recent months. And that’s average; on many models, the companies simply don’t make money. Back in the early 2000s, GM was producing huge quantities of cars and pressuring dealers to buy them, so the corporation could say they “sold” X thousand cars. But those cars sat on lots forever, and never moved to consumers. The real customers of Ford or GM or whatever company are the dealers, not retail buyers. The dealers have the burden of actually selling these things to people, and that can be a daunting task.
I turned in my paperwork for the fix in November 2016. I was thinking they would give me the $5100 and then I could just keep the car and get the fix when it was released. But because I had chosen the buy back option initially when filling out the online paperwork, but chose the emissions fix option when submitting my final paperwork, they rejected my claim. My job/financial situation changed in the interim so I just sat on it until now. Fast forward.
My registration expires at the end of September 2017 and I don’t want to put any more money into my car maintenance/tire wise. So I resubmitted my paperwork with the buyback and it was accepted. I just need to make an appointment with my local dealer with about a two week lead time and I will be turning in a 2009 Jetta with 127K on it and a lot of body damage and getting 12.2K cash back. Score!
I failed to post on it when the news broke a week or so ago, but VW is embroiled in yet another huge scandal, this time around price fixing with other German manufacturers.
That was being discussed on some of the car forums. It doesn’t seem that clear-cut, given the level of interaction in the market place between all car manufacturers in many markets, the US companies in the US included. I suspect while there may well be some skulduggery here, the car market is unlikely to be the best place for price fixing or “cartel-like” activity. Though within the EU I have no idea; perhaps the laws there are stricter.
Well at least you got to skip all the waiting and dealing with dealers who didn’t know what they were doing. It was an incredible deal in the end for me as well. Plus I just got another $350 last month over the Bosch settlement.
All that said, man, I wish I would have got another Golf. Honda might be a good reliable car, but my Civic Hatchback is already developing minor issues. And the car is much more plasticy and no where as solid as the Golf. Going to go back to VW in a few years.
Yeah I really had no beef with my Jetta aside from the maintenance costs. I paid 24K for my car new in 2008 and my first maintenance that I had to pay at 40K miles was over 1K because of the transmission rebuild. What the fuck! Owning a VW and paying Audi maintenance prices, no bueno.
That said…the car has been a tank for me. I had the HPFP blow out around 90K miles or so well outside of warranty but VW picked up the tab because it was a common issue I guess. I initially wanted to drive the car until the Sept 2018 turn in deadline but I got behind on the maintenance intervals and need new tires and a new registration and just decided I did not want to put any more money into the car considering there was 12K waiting for me to turn it in.
I am buying a 2011 335i. But I am basically trading my Jetta in for it and paying 5K for a car that is a lot nicer, 2 years newer with 50K less miles on it. Maintenance costs will continue to suck, however.