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Every year Detroit products are hard to find when the leading U.S. automotive enthusiast magazines weigh in with their annual awards, top ten lists and so on.

The latest publication to announce its awards is Car and Driver magazine with its "10 Best" list. Included are just two Detroit cars -- the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Focus. Honda alone has three winners.

Whether they admit it or not, "expert" magazine journalists -- a tightly knit, isolated and often pampered group -- do tend to bias their selections in favor of Japanese and German vehicles.

That said, I admit that as an enthusiast driver myself I usually agree with at least the majority of the magazine writers' picks, though perhaps not for the same reasons.

What's really troubling is that the cars coming from Detroit have failed to make the grade among enthusiasts for so long. It's not as though the media's disillusionment with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Ag's Chrysler unit has just developed recently.

So why is it that Detroit has no answer to the Honda S2000, for example, a two-seat sports car that has been on the Car and Driver list for four years, let alone the Honda Accord, a winner 18 times!

In the higher end sporty segment, Audi's new S4 Quattro jumps in as a winner. Again, there's no Detroit rival in sight. The magazine also picks the Infiniti G35 as a winner for the second time in a row.

The G35's a significant choice, because a few years ago Nissan's luxury division had been written off by many industry observers. Infiniti was just as dead in the water back then as Lincoln appears to be now. Yet almost overnight Infiniti re-invented itself with sharp-looking, powerful vehicles and it is back in contention, and recognized as such by the media.

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How did the Focus make the 10 best list?
Weren't there 3 recalls on it just in this year?
Their only saving grace of the car is that it's easy to make them v8 powered and RWD.


With that said. People expect different things from a Japaneese automaker than they do from an American one. American automakers can't make a 4 cyl sports car without everybody already being biased against it for not having a V8. Meanwhile everyone expects Japaneese automakers to make 4 banger cars, so a 4 cyl sports car isn't much of an issue. And if they make something with 6's or 8's in them it's just icing on the cake. And that's pretty much because the companies came in, got a foothold at the bottom and worked their way up. Something GM and Ford can't really do since they are the names to beat. Dodge on the other hand, already hit rock bottom decades ago and can pull off since it's working it's way back up.
 

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So, Dodge's SRT-4 did not make the list?
It has been given very high marks for performance and everytime the mags try one of those comparison tests (cars under $20,000), the SRT-4 just runs rings around the others (Focus, Mazda-which shouldn't even be mentioned since it is so slow).

I estimate that none of the writers want to stick their necks out and become professionals and call it as they see it. It is so much easier to go along with the crowd. That is why the vette must really keep them awake at night.
 

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I posted a reply to the same article elsewhere, and thought I'd share it here:

The journalists have their favorites (BMW, Honda). Their nostalgia (MINI, Corvette). Their fear of stepping out of line with their peers by choosing something off the wall like the Subaru Baja.
Then there's my theory that many auto Journalists are pro-Import, in a way that ties in with an "anything but American" politically Left mindset. You know, the type that will go out for couscous and hummus & a Frappucino with their friends when deep down they really want a cheeseburger and a coke. The type that wears a fedora or Irish flatcap with a tweed jacket and patches on the elbows - with the salt & pepper distinguished beard.
It's a "culture" within the auto journalist circles, and not one that is about to be sold out to the likes of big corporate GM and Ford with their hateful vanilla product that embodies everything wrong with the US, Bush, and Imperialism -- not unless they make something that reminds them of the pinnacle of culture.....something NOT American. Something "sophisticated", and with "panache". Something decidedly European. And when something American does come down the line, you use words like "brash" and "good 'ol American muscle" like you're talking about a sweaty, brawny farmer's son and small town quarterback hero with a negligible IQ. Great and applicable to pickup trucks, but not to the kind of cars they like.

The irony is that the only way for American automakers to get awards is for them to be European in nature, or to have a built-in nostalgia like the Corvette, or GTO.

To hope to sway journalists who grew up on British roadsters, Open Wheel racing, and lusting after Porsches, you need to appeal to their sensibilities --- not to the "dumbed down" tastes of the masses. This is where cars like the Cadillac CTS and Ford SVT Focus come in.

Where I agree with them is that "fun to drive" is universal to desire. Where I don't is that DOHC high revving and good handling = fun to drive, and is more important than a powerful torque off of the line, whip your neck back 2002 Pontiac Trans Am type rollercoaster rush.
 

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I think there is definately a bias. I think some decisions are swayed just because it's built in everyones mind that Honda is a good looking, reliabe and versitle car.

For example (and it's true), GM came out with the Aztek first. Great car, features not found in other cars/trucks/things, but media hated on it because of it's styling. Fast forward some years, Honda comes out with the Element. Looks like a refidgerator box but everyone loves it because of it's configureability. It's the same versatility as the Aztek!!!

The Element and Aztek are right next to eachother on the fugly scale, but seriously, compared to what purpose they serve they aren't that much different, yet the magazines gave them ratings that had a difference of night and day.

BS!! And no, I don't own an Aztek.
 

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did you guys just not see the issue of car and driver where the Ford GT wiped the floor with the porsche gt3 and the ferarri??
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I remember the Honda CRX that came out years later and was a look alike of the AMC Gremlin. Just cut off in the rear like the artist took a straight edge to the model and said "cut here".
The only difference was the years (70's v 80's-90's) and the greater hp in the Gremlin.
 

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Originally posted by StangXTC@Dec 10 2003, 04:07 PM
did you guys just not see the issue of car and driver where the Ford GT wiped the floor with the porsche gt3 and the ferarri??
Ford got points for the built in nostalgia - and it really did wipe the floor with them, so what can they do but praise it?
 

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It's hard to believe that poor reviews are some sort of giant conspiracy. Give me a break - Car and Driver's Pat Bedard owns a mid-60's Hemi. And Brock Yates - who created the Cannonball - ran the race in an early 70's Challenger that he still owns (and loves). Not exactly guys who are anti-U.S cars.


Plus, the kinds of cars enthusiasts like tend to get pretty good reviews. Most of the F-body reviews I remember were pretty good. They may have knocked stuff like the huge expanse of dash or the interior plastics, but even people who like these cars acknowledge these shortcomings. But, they got full marks for power, handling and bang-for-buck.

Similarly, all the reviews of the 'Vette have been glowing.

Hell, in the mid-80's David E. Davis, who is known for his love of European cars, lusted after a 9C1 Impala. Why do I remember this? Because, until he wrote about it a couple of times in his column, I didn't know a 9C1 Impala even existed.

Harsher reviews tend to be for more mainstream cars, where even GM has admitted it hasn't invested enough money in development. Where it has spent its money - trucks - GM gets great reviews. Shooting the messager doesn't really change things.

Reviews I've read of both the Aztek and the Element were similar in the sense that both mentioned love-it or hate it looks, were positive on the sheer usability. Where they differ is the driving experience - the Aztec was based on an aging and only competitive GM minivan platform - most reviews only rated power/handling as average. The Element is based on the relatively well-received CRV platform - comments on handling have been quite positive, though like the Aztec it tends to get knocked for only average power.

And as far as the CRX and the Gremlin go - having driven both, I can't think of two more different cars. Other than being two-door hatchbacks, they are as different as chalk and cheese!
 

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No, if I am correct, the CRX is the vehicle with the back that ends up in a straight line cut immediately after the rear wheel wells. It looks like the Gremlin which was nothing more than a Hornet with the trunk cut off.
Granted that the CRX is FWD and had an anemic motor versus the Gremlin that had a solid, straight 6 or optional V-8.
But in concept, the Honda people didn't dream up something new.
 

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If you want a street racer buy a GTO/Mustang. That is not what the Focus is about.
I always thought that the Focus was a shoe box on wheels, until I drove 1. They do have it over a Cavlier/Sunfire or SRT (which to me is a Neon in discuise)
The ride quality, harshness and interior noise is on par with the best of the compacts. Drive 1 and see for yourself.
It's not about V8's or quarter mile times, it's about value for the dollar. even if it's a little boxy.
 

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Originally posted by StangXTC@Dec 10 2003, 04:07 PM
did you guys just not see the issue of car and driver where the Ford GT wiped the floor with the porsche gt3 and the ferarri??
Just wait until the new verison of the Vette comes out. It will whip three of those for under half the price.
 

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Okay folks...there's one cool head here so far.

There's no anti-American conspiracy. Aside from the Focus and Corvette, the American companies do not produce a world-class car. The Focus had recalls in its early years (including a recent one for the early year models), but the recent ones have been solid cars. They're fun to drive and have good quality and a reasonable price. The SRT-4 may be quick, but quality isn't a word that follows the Neon around...and overall, the SVT Focus is a better product.

The Subaru Baja isn't worthy of being considered in this group. It's a novelty item of nice quality and decent ability (especially in turbo form), but it's not one of the Ten Best vehicles in the US.

I don't really see the comparison of the Gremlin to the CRX. The base Civic in the mid 1980s could be considered to be a similar style as the Gremlin (nearly vertical kammback rear) while the CRX had a more traditional hatchback. "The only difference" between the Honda and Gremlin were the years and the power? How about quality? How about the poor handling of the AMC? How about the better gas mileage and resale of the Hondas? How about the better performance of the Honda (the fours and sixes in the Gremlin were the definition of anemic, and the V8 was a very rare option and doesn't compare well next to the Civic SI)? How about the better all weather traction of the Honda? The superficial comparison of the Gremlin and the Honda shows the ONLY similarity between them.
 

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Not to get sidetracked on what is a minor point ... but it's not like the Gremlin invented the hatchback. The Pinto was a Maverick without the trunk and was also available as a hatchback.

The '84 - '87 Civic has the boxy, small wagon style that I think 69Nova is referring to. But, so did many small hatchbacks of that era. That Civic was an evolution of a car introduced in the mid-70s. If the Civic copied anything, it was the original Mini, which was also a small, transverse mount, FWD car.

If you prefer the Gremlin, more power to you. They were a great platform for a small V8 (the AMC 304 was an option, I believe). They were small and light and had the potential to be quick. But as an economy car, they were only Ok. That smooth straight six only did a bit better on fuel economy than a small V8. Plus, being RWD, they were quite cramped in the rear seats. The Civic, on the other hand, was at least as quick as a 6 cylinder Gremlin, was capable of mid-30s (or better) fuel economy and had a back seat that normal-sized people could tolerate for at least a trip across town. And at 1800 lbs, the Civic was 500+ lbs lighter than the Gremlin.

As I said, chalk and cheese.
 

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Hudson,

I do not have a soapbox as large as the Detroit News or Free Press to publish me, but I believe we have gone over this before.

In most publication's cases, it is all about semantics. The predisposition of the writer appears through the little things, and that's what the reader picks up on. In the case of the GTO, although this is a more obvious dig, the tag line of the C&D piece was something to the effect of "phone-company fleet car". Will the average consumer who doesn't know squat about cars be interested in the vehicle with that line? Probably not. He will never read about the amazing performance and handling, not to mention interior that the car has. He is immediately presented with the idea of "Detroit" screwing up again. And that is inherently FALSE.

Everybody does not understand cars. They are influenced directly by what auto-writers (or their headlines) tell them. Having a headline like "Detroit Doesn't Screw Up", then writing an entire article how the vehicle actually performs quite well means nothing. You have already influenced the reader.

In fact it has progressed to a point of absurdity, with writers openly telling the reader before they have reached the second paragraph what their personal preferences are. All attempts at objectivity can be thrown out the window at that point. A certain writer at C&D seems to make this a mainstay of all his pieces.

Although you are a journalist, you should at least attempt to be what you purport to be. An Objective vehicle evaluator. Throw your biases out the window. Be professional. There are many American cars that are truly piles. However, there are also many European cars that are expensive piles. Japanese piles do exist (Honda Element, admittied by even the engineers at the company), but the American media covers them up quite well (Nissan Sentra, new Civic Si, the dog known as Matrix).

But, when a sensational American car appears, it behooves you to be professional and report it, even if it is bucking the herd.
 

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Unfair it maybe, but I think there is only one way for Detroit to redeem itself, and that is with Product. GM is already on the way, I seriously hope that the upcoming Ford products will be as good. Judging from the F150, I think they will be. DC, I am not too sure about. GM should continue to build higher quality products and continue to update the products. They should build product that not only match the competition but clearly surpasses them. The problem with GM in the recent past has not just been the issue of quality of their vehicles, but more that they have been using aging products to compete with much newer and regularly refreshed products from other manufacturers. When compared with these products, one can see why the Automotive magazines are quick to dismiss GM products. GM has to start paying more attention to it's products, especially mid to low end cars, to keep them refreshed and up to date. So far, only Cadillac is receiving this kind of attention. How come the Corvette got redisigned before the Cavalier replacement when the Cavalier is riding on an almost 20 year old platform? These are the cars that can make or break a company's reputation, why? Sheer numbers, there are a hell lot more Cavaliers out there than there are Corvettes, if they suck, people will say well Chevy's suck. Even if the best sportscar this side of the pond wears a chevrolet badge. When Toyota, started to take over the Quality crown, they did it with all their products, from an Echo, all the way to a Lexus. GM has built some outstanding products in the recent past, but the average GM car of the recent past has been outdated when compared to the competition. :type:
 

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Originally posted by Ming+Dec 10 2003, 10:01 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ming @ Dec 10 2003, 10:01 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-StangXTC@Dec 10 2003, 04:07 PM
did you guys just not see the issue of car and driver where the Ford GT wiped the floor with the porsche gt3 and the ferarri??
Ford got points for the built in nostalgia - and it really did wipe the floor with them, so what can they do but praise it? [/b][/quote]
The Ford GT actually beat the two Europeans pretty good. But still, no offense to Ford, but it's a Ford. For example, your hitting on a girl.

Girl: What kind of car do you have?
You: Ford GT, baby, ferarri slayer!
Girl: Oh, yeah my boyfriend has one of those, it's fast.
You: NO not a MUSTANG GT!!!!!!!

And not to single out girls, but you know that misconception will be there. Probably exaggerated by the common ricer as well.

However, that is a niche segment. I think the post was talking more mainstream.

But good job Ford. It is a good car.
 

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SmallBlock:

American brands have EARNED the abuse they've been taking for the past 10-20 years. They built shoddy products in the 1970s and 1980s when the Japanese were building quaity, economical cars at good prices. Although American cars are built on a quality level statistically on par with any cars in the world, the American companies still don't build many "sensational" cars. Aside from the Corvette and the novelty Ford GT, there aren't any "sensational" American cars.
 

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And this is bring us to crux of my argument. Will automotive writers force Domestic Car companies to pay for the sins of the past by downplaying the quality vehicles which are about to appear (GM in particular)? What will the autowriter intelligentsia come up with next to safely distance themselves from vehicles for the masses?

All I am asking for is even, unbiased reporting. A little more professionalism in the journalist ranks would be appreciated.
 

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Auto week front page..regarding the SRX

Originally posted by AutoWeek@ Bob Gritzinger
This is a really, really, really good car. That it is a Cadillac makes it all the more amazing. What makes it so good? I’d point to three keys: superb Northstar drivetrain; the solid chassis and cool stuff like the huge sunroof, well-appointed interior, projector-beam headlights and LED taillights
This is the kind of underhanded compliment they are always using. "That it is a Caddilac makes it all the more amazing."
 
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