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Automakers strive for tighter, plusher interiors

Associated Press
DETROIT - With automakers quickly narrowing the overall quality gap between their vehicles, the race now is to produce a vehicle with an interior that is both more luxurious and tightly made.

This is a challenge Greg Bernas, an automotive engineer who is an executive program manager with Toyota Motor Corp., faces daily. Bernas' job is to minimize the fissures that define the "fit and finish" of a vehicle's interior, such as the gaps between the glove box, door and dashboard.

"The holy grail would be totally flush conditions from part to part with zero gap," Bernas told The Detroit News for a Monday story.

Toyota has traditionally led the pack in that effort. But Detroit automakers are spending more to narrow the gap between them and their Asian and European competitors.

Based on consumer complaints in the first three months of a vehicle's ownership, vehicle interior quality has steadly improved, accoding to J.D. Powers and Associates. From 1998 to 2003, vehicle interior quality jumped 29 percent, with the most dramatic gains coming from the domestic automakers.

Among Detroit automakers, interior problems fell 31.2 percent, from 250 problems per 100 models in 1998 to an industry low of 17.1 per 100 models last year. European automakers reported a 23.2 percent improvement during the same period, going from 30.6 problems per 100 models to 23.5.

Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, remain the industry leaders. At last month's Chicago Auto Show, Toyota raised the standard even higher with its 2004 Solara which promises to narrow the gap between interior parts to 0.5 millimeters from the previous year's 1.5 millimeters.

"Such close tolerances result in a look and feel of extreme high quality and refinement, which, of course, is important," said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of Toyota's U.S. sales division. "Even more important, however, is that such precision results in a car that will retain its structural integrity over many years."

U.S. automakers say they're unfazed.

"Admittedly, we're a little behind the Japanese," said Bob Lutz, vice chairman and product development chief at General Motors Corp. "But we're learning and our suppliers are learning."

Lutz says the debut of the Buick LaCrosse Sedan will highlight advances the company has made in interiors. He says GM wants the Buick brand to become the "American Lexus," offering premium quality at affordable prices.

Ford Motor Co. is also determined to not be left behind.

FULL Story Here'

 

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very good! i now look at interior almost more than i do exterior, i mean thats what im going to be looking at and feeling most of the time. and sense im the one paying im the one that counts. not the bloody fools looking at my car!

kidding asside im really happy to hear this.

what do you guys know about the murc couger, would it be a good deal to get one for about 3500$? 1999, V6, 60-70k miles, 170hp.

can you think of a better car that i can get for this price?
 

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I'm no expert on the Cougar, but that does sound like a good price. I like the Cougar because it looks "modern" even now several years later. Even with the V6 I don't think it is known for being a particularly powerful car, but certainly the underpinnings/mechanicals are more modern than many other compact cars you could get at that price.
 

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yeah, i had it down to a V6 avenger at 163hp but now sense the the couger looks better the 7hp doesnt really do anything for me, i think ill be getting the couger.

but im always interested in what everyone else thinks.
 

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I've been seeing the Cougar through different eyes for the last few months. I'm stricken, not just because of how much it's mimiced by the Accord coupe, but also by how fresh it continues to look. From a styling standpoint, it is ahead of its time, if not exactly timeless or classic.

Ghrankenstein
 

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It was ahead of its time, but it has been cancelled by Mercury, as they apparently don't produce original vehicles anymore. Just rebadged Fords.

It's nice to see some positive press coverage of the fact that domestic interior quality is on par with the rest of the world. Of course they had to include quotes making it seem like Toyota is still the king of the auto industry and that GM and Ford are still way behind, but I think it's still a decent article.
 

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I wish the [automotive] press would get it right and stop insinuating that the domestics need to do catch-up work with the "Japanese" and Europeans in terms of qaulity. While the article's focus was about interiors, the overall sentiment is once again that Detroit builds a cheap car. Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura are the companies that build high-quality cars; the last time I checked, Suzuki, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Mazda all placed below average in qaulity, and Nissan wasn't too far above average in quality. None of the aforementioned non-Toyota/non-Honda makes have been benchmarked for their interiors. And while companies like VW, Audi and Mercedes make nice-looking interiors, they're quality, too, along with Land Rover and Volvo, were below the industry average.

It's no wonder the domestics, including near-the-top placing Buick, Cadillac, Mercury and Lincoln, have such an uphill fight on their hands. Maybe one day we'll be treated to some balanced reporting!
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Feb 24 2004, 01:39 PM
I wish the [automotive] press would get it right and stop insinuating that the domestics need to do catch-up work with the "Japanese" and Europeans in terms of qaulity. While the article's focus was about interiors, the overall sentiment is once again that Detroit builds a cheap car. Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura are the companies that build high-quality cars; the last time I checked, Suzuki, Isuzu, Mitsubishi and Mazda all placed below average in qaulity, and Nissan wasn't too far above average in quality. None of the aforementioned non-Toyota/non-Honda makes have been benchmarked for their interiors. And while companies like VW, Audi and Mercedes make nice-looking interiors, they're quality, too, along with Land Rover and Volvo, were below the industry average.

It's no wonder the domestics, including near-the-top placing Buick, Cadillac, Mercury and Lincoln, have such an uphill fight on their hands. Maybe one day we'll be treated to some balanced reporting!
"Admittedly, we're a little behind the Japanese," said Bob Lutz, vice chairman and product development chief at General Motors Corp. "But we're learning and our suppliers are learning."

that's lutz! can't blame the press for that quote! and i'll guess he wouldn't say that if it wasn't true.
 

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Lutz is not referring to overall quality in this statement; he's referring to interior fit and finish. I'm speaking about overall quality. Call me paranoid, but I firmly believe the press does not pay homage to the truth.

The facts speak for themselves, and I stand by statement. Check out the latest J.D. Power quality studies as one example. And if we're quoting Lutz on the issue to which I'm refering, I believe he agrees with me (or I agree with him; as quoted in Ming's signature): "If you look at J.D. Power ranking by make, by nameplate, as opposed to by corporation, Toyota is actually now in ninth place. And Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac are ahead of Toyota."
 
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Good news. I've seen the quality in GM's interiors improve these past few years.

In response to 'smilingoat', do you buy your vehcle for yourself or the guy next to you at the stoplight. I buy my vehcles for myself, not what the guy next to me at the stoplight.

later.............

<_< ;) <_< ;) <_< ;) ;) ;)
 

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Originally posted by NewMexico_Sunset_On_RT66_Yep@Feb 24 2004, 06:45 PM
Good news. I've seen the quality in GM's interiors improve these past few years.

In response to 'smilingoat', do you buy your vehcle for yourself or the guy next to you at the stoplight. I buy my vehcles for myself, not what the guy next to me at the stoplight.

later.............

<_< ;) <_< ;) <_< ;) ;) ;)
?????

what are you talking about? :kama: i was just asking what people new about it, i dont know anything about them really, except for the stats i found on the net. just wondering what people thought of it, if it was bad reliability. so yes i buy a car from me, but that doesnt mean that the guy next to me doesnt know more about it. if i cared what the guy next to me at the stop light thought i would probably be driving a honda civic with huge body cladding...

:ph34r:
 

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o and i sat in the malibu and equinox (S?) at the auto show and both were leaps and bounds past the current modles (tracker) and both where even better than i was expecting.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Feb 24 2004, 10:29 AM
Lutz is not referring to overall quality in this statement; he's referring to interior fit and finish. I'm speaking about overall quality. Call me paranoid, but I firmly believe the press does not pay homage to the truth.

The facts speak for themselves, and I stand by statement. Check out the latest J.D. Power quality studies as one example. And if we're quoting Lutz on the issue to which I'm refering, I believe he agrees with me (or I agree with him; as quoted in Ming's signature): "If you look at J.D. Power ranking by make, by nameplate, as opposed to by corporation, Toyota is actually now in ninth place. And Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac are ahead of Toyota."
I agree 100% with your comments about the press. Every article about the domestics is about how they need to catch up in this area or that or how they lag Toyota in some new particular way.

Mark
 

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I look at the inside of that Buick and I think "Bland and boring with a side of I don't want it." If GM wants to be just like Toyota, they're doing a good job! It's easy to do an interior if you're going to make it bland. Does anybody really think if the gap between the panels in their dash is .5 MM instead of 1.5 MM their car will last longer? That is the biggest load of hogwash I have ever heard.
 

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I agree about the gap tolerence issue. Toyota must be nuts if it thinks customers are measuring the panal gaps in their interiors. I am a car guy and have never even heard of anyone doing this. No, people just want presentable interiors with nice color choices, nice fabrics, good quality and no squeaks and rattles. This is a sore point of a lot of modern cars. The interiors on 70's and 80's cars were nicer in some ways! You could at least get nice velour, awesome color choices like blue, maroon or even light green. The gaps were not the greatest for sure. But all that nice chrome and velour and pretty color choices was great. I like the interior of my 87 Olds Cutlass Salon better than most any new car for instance. It still looks like new inside and the quality is just fine! And boy it sure gets a lot of compliments at shows. "They don't make em like they used to" is a common saying I hear quite often. And why are divisions like Caddilac and Lincoln only offering dull gray, tan and charcoal for the interior colors? This is absurd to limit customers like this. And they sure charge a massive sum for those vehicles. I'm not sure what some of the luxury *** cars have as I have little interest in those vehicles. But I sure would like some efferts to be placed in these areas. More interior colors, nicer fabrics, not like the crap they put in the new Grand prix, Malibu, Camry Solara and some Dodge products, and some nice wood trim too!
One car I did check out that had a decent interior was a Taurus! Yup it had wood interior and steering wheel, chrome door opener handles, a nice dash arrangement and materials. It was by no means perfect but was a big step up for a Ford product or from most cars in it's price class. Chevy does an Impala interior in dark blue that is pretty good too.
 

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the only color i like in my interior is in the gages. i like black gray wight leather, maybe tan... i dont like blue green red blah blah blah, so you can blame all of the lack of color choices in the world on me. :kama:
 

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Poncho raises an excellent point. Why is it that car interiors have gotten so good, yet so darn dull?

I mean seriously - you go lok at a Chevrolet. The interior comes in (1) black, (2) "parchment," a sickly yellow-green beige color, and (3) gray. Boom, end of story. OK, fine, you think: it's a Chevy.

Then you shop Cadillac. Yeah, they used to do awesome interiors. But no, it's the same story: black, gray and "parchment," a sickly yellow-green beige color. Same story at the imports, too. Even Mercedes.

The chilling part of this, though, was that I saw a big ugly Lex-arse LS430 the other day. It was upholstered in a rich tobacco brown. Gorgeous, even though I really hate the rest of the car - make that the rest of the whole line. But heaven help us all if Lexus is the only maker to figure out that for big bucks people could use a little style, even beauty in their car interiors.
 

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OK, and while I'm on my horse: when is Cadillac going to figure out that leather upholstery is no longer a luxury item? I mean you can get freaking leather in bleeding Kia! Or a Cavalier! It's no longer a mark of distinction, no way no how.

Having recently bought a really expensive sofa, let me tell you: there are some really nice fabrics out there. How about nylon so fine that it's softer and smoother than silk, and which when sown up, looks incredibly precise. Remember when you could get a Caddy with a fabric and leather trimmed interior? Do that with some of these new high-grade fabrics and you'd have something that really differentiates Cadillac from the competition, and from Kia, too.
 

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hey, leather works, i wouldnt want a caddy with nylon... although maybe seats that you can sink into more. i mean like a lay z boy.
 

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Two things drive industry, competition and cost. I am sure that all that chrome and all those colours could be done back then. Materials were alot cheaper. Nowadays, empasis is of interior design is on the "premium" look, a light green dash would not fit the "Premium" image as this entails a certain elegance. This is why mos interiors will appear "bland". If you like jazzied up interiors you are more likely to be satisfied by pure sports cars rather than luxury cars. Luxury interiors are supposed to be somewhat understated and less "busy" and may appear bland to some. This is why the neutral colors are chosen. If you want a brightly colored interior try the GTO, but don't expect Cadillac to build a vehicle with a fluorescent green interior, it is highly unlikely and does not suit the image they are trying to portray.
 
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