GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Not their OWN Oldsmobile
Six popular alternatives to 'old-fogy' cars
By Robert Powell, CBS MarketWatch.com

April 22, 2004

BOSTON (CBS.MW) -- Most older Americans are so set in their car-buying ways, a carnival barker could make a tidy sum guessing the model they drive in three tries.

Yet while many seniors like big, safe "land yachts" that are easy to climb in and out of, many are breaking with tradition and abandoning their own Oldsmobiles for cars and sport-utility vehicles designed with younger drivers in mind.

They're also buying more dependable Japanese models, often at the urging of their children, Champion says. "The kids don't want to see their inheritance going to the dealer in repair costs. And the older people get, the less they want to be broken down on the side of the road."

Status means less to older Americans than it did 30 years ago, which is clear in the vehicles many choose to drive, says David Wolfe, author of Ageless Marketing. "What others think of a car-buying decision matters a great deal more to younger people."

Older Americans today want to be thought of as mobile, vital and active, and that's the theme evident in increasingly popular alternatives to typical "old-fogy" cars.

These models are gaining in popularity among seniors for all the reasons cited above:

Toyota Camry

Once the first step-up car of choice among baby boomers, America's top selling sedan is becoming a car of choice for seniors too. Adult children are persuading their parents to buy the very same car they know and love.

"This car is quiet and comfortable," Champion says. "It's like a Japanese-built Buick. Plus it has bullet-proof reliability."

The typical Camry ($19,560) can be had for $13,412 less than a Buick Park Avenue ($32,972). And with side airbags, the Camry was one of just two cars to receive a "good" side-impact crash rating yesterday from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (The other was the Honda Accord.)

Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4

Not to be left out of the SUV craze, seniors have taken the opposite tack of their Chevy Suburban-driving, soccer-mom daughters and opted for small sport-utility vehicles. They may drive "land-yacht" cars, but they prefer little bay-cruiser SUVs.

These Honda (HMC: news, chart, profile) and Toyota (TM: news, chart, profile) models are highly regarded for both performance and reliability. They appeal to the senior who wants to be viewed as having a vibrant and active lifestyle.

Mini-SUVs are especially popular among seniors who want a four-wheel drive vehicle for better control in snow and rain. "It gives them some peace of mind," Champion says.

"The seats are butt height, so seniors can waddle up and plunk themselves into the seat," he says. "They have better visibility in a MSUV than in a low sedan, and feel safer because they're higher up and not threatened by large SUVs."

The New Beetle

Many seniors who long for the days of their youth are buying Volkswagen's (VLKPY: news, chart, profile) New Beetle. It's a far sturdier and better-built model than the old Beetle, an underpowered tin can that was notoriously unsafe in head-on crashes due to its trunk being in the front.

The New Beetle has a wide door and a seat height that allows for easy access for seniors, Champion says. Unfortunately, they should forget about getting in and out of the cramped back seat, he says. That is, unless they want to take their nostalgic bent into the back seat for some necking at the drive-in.

The Honda Element

While many people find this quasi-SUV downright ugly, it's the perfect second vehicle for grandmas and grandpas who take an active role in their grandchildren's upbringing.

At $20,000 less than the starting price for the Lincoln Town Car, the four-door model is perfect for hauling around young-uns. The reason: Presumably you can hose out the interior and wash away the remnants of hastily consumed Happy Meals.

To think Honda conceived of the Element largely as a vehicle for 20-something guys. "If seniors are buying this car, Honda really missed the mark," Champion says.

Full Article Here


 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I know. This article was so bad - so stereotypical of bias found in the auto media of just a few years ago - that I just had to add it.

Unfortunately there are a lot of still people that think like him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Maybe I'm missing something but where exactly is all this bias? It's true that the japanese models are typically more reliable than the american ones, it's true that the Element is selling to many more 50+ year olds than the ~20 year old age bracket they where targeting, it's true that many older people listen to their children & grandchildren about vehicles, especially newer ones as they are not as familiar as we are with them. Why do we shoot the messanger? If anything american car manufactures need to get off there collective a$$e$ and do something about it (thats not to say they aren't, but the effort came way to late, the japanese brands have a foothold in many of the automotive markets and the ones they dont, they're trying their best to make one).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Perhaps he could have spread his picks across a wider range of brands. After all there are so many to choose from.

Also "The Japanese" includes many automakers, not justLToyota and Honda. And Buick and Cadillac are right up there with them - and on top of Honda.

These are the "automatic" answers of mental regurgitation and bias, nothing new or insightful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
236 Posts
Don't show this article to my grandma's 20 year old Buick--it'll have to kick the author's butt! :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
461 Posts
Around these parts, the Toyota Camry and Avalon are already old fogy cars. Old folks drive them aplenty. Younger folks find them too Buick-like.

It's also important to note that most of the quotes and so-called research was provided by the head of auto testing at Consumer Reports, which has traditionally loved import cars (they cater to the effete that wants to know what's "best" in everything, damn the cost) and hated domestics.

Finally, I found it hilarious to use the argument about dependability and repair costs, and then include a Chrysler in their list. Somebody must have had a little too much Chateau de Pomposity with their lunch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,013 Posts
...nothing to say
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
316 Posts
this may not be an entirely bad thing...initially it may seem so, but in the long run in may turn out that toyota and those other brands become what buick and oldsmobile were over the last 10 to 15 years; old people cars. this will lessen their appeal to the younger crowd and may very well end up hurting them in the long run, much like it did buick and olds. the domestics just have to make sure they are ready for the opportunity...they have to have a lot of new and exciting models available that suit both the youth and the older people who may want them, then they should be in good shape.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
669 Posts
Originally posted by Ming@Apr 24 2004, 11:47 AM
I know. This article was so bad - so stereotypical of bias found in the auto media of just a few years ago - that I just had to add it.

Unfortunately there are a lot of still people that think like him.
Agreed.

I find it hard to believe the author knows anything about the auto indistry at all. And the article is so amateurishly written...

Add to that the fact that it looks like a bought+paid plug from japanese automakers....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Originally posted by 3eb@Apr 24 2004, 09:11 PM
this may not be an entirely bad thing...initially it may seem so, but in the long run in may turn out that toyota and those other brands become what buick and oldsmobile were over the last 10 to 15 years; old people cars. this will lessen their appeal to the younger crowd and may very well end up hurting them in the long run, much like it did buick and olds. the domestics just have to make sure they are ready for the opportunity...they have to have a lot of new and exciting models available that suit both the youth and the older people who may want them, then they should be in good shape.
Interesting point. I thought some of that was happening with Toyota already.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,853 Posts
For those few of you who may be interested, I read this article several days ago and was moved by its ignorance of automobiles, so I wrote a letter to its author. Surprisingly, he wrote back! Granted, I deserved some of his jabs, though in my defense, I'm aware of the points that he amde (and that we've argued about on this site): Hondas are built in America, some "American" cars are built overseas, and I'm painfully aware that the Chrysler [PT] is made by an American car company. I admit up front that I added these types of comments for "drama."

My letter is first, his response follows. (I took out my personal identifiers). This is a bit long, so grab some coffee. His response seems thoughtful enough, though I will have to agree to disagree with him.

"I just read your recent article, "Not their OWN Oldsmobile: Six popular
alternatives to 'old-fogy' cars," and can understand the sentiment of what
you're trying to say, but it might behoove you to extend the courtesy to the
American public, and to America's Big Three, if you checked your facts.
While there is no doubt that Buick, Lincoln, Oldsmobile, Mercury, and to a
lesser extent Cadillac attract older drivers, you might want to note that
part of the reason may be that they build higher quality cars than many
makes, including the vaunted Toyota and Honda.

To cite J.D. Power, as you did, 3-year dependability studies placed Buick #3
behind Lexus and Infiniti (true, Lexus comes under Toyota), but Toyota
placed below Buick at #6. And Honda sat at #9, below #7 Cadillac and #8
Lincoln.

In looking at car and truck segments, Buick's Century places right at the
top of the premium mid-sized car segment with Toyota's Avalon and the
Camry/Solara. In the full-sized cars segment, the Mercury Grand Marquis and
Buick LeSabre took top marks. Mid-luxury showed the Acura RL on top, but
the Town Car and Park Ave were right beneath.

Maybe "old fogies" like the fact that their American car companies do
service better than the Japanese cars you mentioned. According to J.D.
Power, it seems that Lincoln (895), Cadillac (893), Buick (889), Mercury
(867), and Oldsmobile (863) all place above Honda (854) and Toyota (838) in
service satisfaction. And in case you aren't paying attention, the industry
average is 851, so Toyota can't even make average in terms of service
satisfaction. That counts to a lot of people.

Maybe old-fogies are responding to the reality of quality, as I've
illustrated, rather than the perception of quality, as you portray. It's
one thing to deride American car companies, but at least show that you did a
little research before you set out to ruin American workers' income and
perpetuate the myth that so many ill-informed auto consumers act under. The
Japanese have nothing on the Americans in manufacturing ability and
certainly nothing on them in terms of service satisfaction. I won't even
mention the lesser Japanese companies like Nissan and Mitsubishi; I don't
want to totally embarass you!

Your proclamation that the imports do it better really holds no water. And
if you think that the Camry is such a rocket-ship compared to a Century,
then I suggest you put down the keyboard and actually drive both first
before you slam American cars.

Maybe a little responsible journalism is in order. I guess this is the
problem when a non-expert writes about the auto industry."

Shame on you, Powell. Many people read your commentaries and are affected
by what you write. You really ought to be more careful."



Bill responds:
"Thanks for your letter. A couple brief and random comments.

- I drove a 1989 Toyota Camry for more than 10 years, passing it to charity
only when the cost of repairing the electric windows was greater than the
trade-in on the vehicle (which by then had over 150,000.) No doubt, based on
your stats below, the Camry belongs on the list of alternatives. And given
your stats below, I probably should have included the Toyota Avalon, as
well.

- Today, I drive a 1995 Ford Windstar, the head gasket of which blew around
70,000 miles ($2,500 in repair costs). By contrast, my wife drives - very
happily mind you - a Honda minivan.

- My dad does drive a Buick Century, no complaints that I know of...

- The column was written to provide folks with some alternatives to the
tried and true cars of today's senior buyer. It was not meant to slam the
America's Big Three. I trust you noticed that I quoted several authorities
on the car-buying habits of Americans, including Consumer Reports and the
head of MIT's Age Lab (which does work for Ford, I believe.) I didn't ask
them for alternatives to American cars... I asked them for alternatives that
seniors are indeed buying today or could buy. I did mention the PT Cruiser,
but perhaps you don't regard that as an American made car.

- And since we are on the topic.... I don't believe there is an
"American-made" car today. American-branded, yes. But American-made, no.
Many parts come from other countries... Plus, many foreign-branded cars are
built here in the states.. Can you tell me where buying an American-made
Honda is any worse than buying a Swedish-built, Ford-owned Volvo.

- Any thanks for writing; your points are well taken and considered.

- Bob"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,973 Posts
to put it in simple words, if today the only cars would be hondas and toyotas, now I would write on a bike message board-ehhe-
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,704 Posts
In regards to Bill's/Bob's response:

I like old fogey cars myself. I sell Chevy, so I drive Chevy.

No doubt, based on
your stats below, the Camry belongs on the list of alternatives. And given
your stats below, I probably should have included the Toyota Avalon, as
well.
The Camry belongs; the Avalon, with its new "Super Prius" shape, will not be a hit with old fogeys, nor will it be a hit with young hipsters, young fogeys, or any combination therof. And that's as an alternative. I think more of the old hipsters will be going to the Chrysler 300, especially the V-6 versions, to take up where their 305 cid Caprices left off. The saving grace is whether or not the old fogeys can get them under sticker; with the 300C/Hemi stealing most of the show, after the first few months I think that will be the case. At any rate, I'm glad that GM has the '05 LaCrosse and a new LeSabre and Park Avenue in the wings.

The Lincoln Zephyr, IMHO, looks like a winner. Equal to the LaCrosse if it weren't limited to its 3.0L Duratec engine.

In the "Old Fogeys Alternatives" category should just as easily go the Malibu MAXX LT. So far, that's who I've seen as the primary clientele, for the day-to-day comfort offered by the reasonably priced LT package, and the room for grown children, or the pacification for grandchildren. The Malibu has proven a highly reliable package that will, by my estimation (0 complaints) be attractive to anyone, including old fogeys.

As for the parts content: they are posted on the window stickers. Imported parts are chosen if they have a cost-benefit advantage. The reason is because Honda, Toyota, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and every other automotive manufacturer cannot afford a cost-benefit disadvantage over another. I don't know the extent of taxation of American brands vs. imported brands, but I know that also costs GM more to import an Aveo than it would have for Daewoo to import a Kalos, on top of reimbursing the UAW for not building that car, but it was overall less than building a factory in the US and building the Aveo here.

Btw, the Aveo is also turning out to be a fine alternative for old fogeys, commuters, as well as for young folks.

I am insane.

Ghrankenstein
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,013 Posts
Why do people keep on saying the Avalon will be shaped like the Prius!?!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
And since we are on the topic.... I don't believe there is an
"American-made" car today. American-branded, yes. But American-made, no.

All Toyotas and Hondas are made in America- in fact, they employ more American engineers, and Fujio Cho works out of an office in Mississippi and employs 1000 personal servants who would otherwise have no job, and the Pontiac Bonneville was engineered and made in Toyoda, Japan and sports a Toyota engine. You are more patriotic if you buy a Honda, because all Honda worldwide profits go to Ohio assembly line workers and a marketing center in California, and we would all be out of work if it weren't for Toyota and Honda, begging for scraps on the streets.

Riiiight. :rolleyes:

Somebody been sippin the Toyohonda Kool-Aid.

This guy is obviously no auto journalist. You can still buy an American car, engineered in Detroit, with 90% american sourced parts if you want to. It's not that hard if you do your research.

Is it more difficult to tell what has been made where today? Sure.

Do Honda and Toyota contribute to our economy and job market in the US? Sure.

But don't tell me there are "No American-made cars today". That's just BS that makes you feel good about your own Import-brand purchasing choices, while GM lays off more workers to compete.

The main problem with this dude is that he limited his choices to what is so predictable that it isn't young or "hip" at all.

If he just HAD to go Toyota, he could have mentioned the old folks buying Scions. I know I've seen them, and articles have been written on this before.

The Element is about the only one I agree with. It's relatively new and funky and is indeed bringing in older buyers. Volkswagen's reliability is percieved only these days - so he needs to check more JD Power research while he is on their site.

The PT cruiser's popularity is waning, so that seems a last minute throw in to make sure his list wasn't dominated by Toyohonda and one Volkswagen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,056 Posts
Camry?
I have a hard enough time not falling asleep watching tv let alone driving this blah car. That's why I purchased the supercharged Monte Carlo. And plan to change the exhaust and make some mods once the warranty is up.
I can think of many other vehicles in this category more desireable than the Camry. On the high end, BMW's 325i.
I do also like the minivans for moving stuff. My old jalopy gets a workout every weekend either bringing home shrubs for the wife's garden or lumber for whatever project is going on. It's reliable and paid for and with 170,000 miles, I don't get a heart attack if somebody spills dirt in the hatch area (ps-Don't ever do this to my Monte though).
I do like the Honda CR-V for this reason. It gives some cargo hauling space and is the right height for my wife so she doesn't have to climb aboard. The tight turning radius makes it easy to park. An underwhelming horsepower is only seen when merging into traffic.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top