Is consumerreports the best source when shopping for a car

How Toyota can still make marginal improvements in a car like the Yaris and still sell it has got to be an attempt to " give a few sales away " to the more profitable Corolla and Scion models . Every time they improve it ever so slightly, I read consumer reports hoping they are wrong with their bad reviews and then try one out myself. I would like to think to I might buy one a some point. But they still really stink. What is it with Toyota ? All the engineers go on break every time the Yaris topic comes up at a meeting?

Can’t have the Yaris be too good

Wouldn’t want to crowd Corolla and Camry’s style

The dealers won’t stock the Yaris. A friend contacted 6 dealers within 100 miles and none had a 4 door last year and only 2 had a 2 door. It had occurred to me that the yen/dollar exchange might make that model unprofitable compared to the domestically produced Corolla.

The automatic Corolla cost less then a thousand more and performs dramatically better, is much larger and gets one mile per galon less on the highway than a Yaris. The Yaris parks easier…it’s a city car and that is the only reason I can think of to buy it. Self respecting car thieves will have little to do with it…you’re safe there too.

There is an as-yet unmentioned but critical thing to remember when using any automotive rating publication; the buyer. While I’m a believe that CR is the most objective and accurate publication available, I bought a new Corolla LE in 2005 and, much to my (economic) dismay, it didn’t work out. The ride and the seats were simply too hard for me. It was killing my back. Experience has taught me that it probably would have been a pillar of reliability and economy (it got fully the rated 38 mpg on the highway), it simply didn’t work out. I had to trade it after only two months. It was an expensive lesson. I had not test driven the vehicle sufficiently.

I believe in using data. But it does not and cannot replace spending time behind the wheel doing test drives.

My son’s wife has a Yaris hatchback. She is an outdoors type and spends a lot of time in the mountains. This little car has been virtually indestructable, and with the rear seat down she has carried a freezer in it. She puts up with the lack of comfort and funny dasboard.

But I agree, this car needs a major makeover. The Hyundai Accent had such a makeover and is now a very desirable vehicle.

Sometimes that extra $1000 is a deal breaker. My daughter says that a lot of people her age (early 20s) want a new car when they get out of college, but want to pay as little as possible. They buy a car with few amenities, expect to keep it for a couple of years, then trade up when they can afford it. I suspect that was the situation with the 2010 Cobalt I bought for another daughter to use. It doesn’t have power windows or power locks; no key fob. I was surprised to see a car like that. But that keeps the price down, and many young consumers like it that way.

" But that keeps the price down, and many young consumers like it that way". I’m an old geezer and I agree with the young people.
When I was ready to buy a new car back in 1965, I looked at the stripped models. Most dealerships tried to talk me up to something more expensive. However, when I went to the Rambler dealer, the salesman said “Do you really want to save money?” When I replied in the affirmative, he said, “I think I have the perfect car for you. It is not the American series but the Classic series. This car is a bottom of the line Classic 550 with 7000 miles. It has the balance of the 24,000 mile warranty and this will save you a lot of money. Nobody really wants the car”. After I drove the car, I did want it. I drove it eight years and put well over 100,000 miles on it (quite a few miles in those days). It got me through the next round of graduate school. I bought the car for $1750 in 1965 and sold it for $250 eight years later.
Consumer Reports did not give the car a high rating–it said that it would only appeal to those who wanted the maximum interior space at the lowest cost. It was downgraded for handling. I didn’t find the handling bad and it was a reliable car.

You know what I’d pay for? Collections of old CR reviews, say a volume of '50s, a volume of '60s. Would be interesting to see those old cars, the ones that regular folks drove, as opposed to the muscle cars/classics that get all the press now.

I think Consumer Reports continues to not recommend the Yaris as a new car, mostly due to an uncomfortable driver position. I’ve never driven one, but when I see people driving them down the road, I notice the driver does seem to be in an awkward position. A non-ideal ride was another factor in the ratings I think, but that’s somewhat to be expected from the shorter wheelbase. I expect the ride is similar to other cars with similar short wheelbases, like Scions, Fits, etc. The harsher ride vs easy maneuvering & parking is the compromise w/ small cars.

The 2-door version of the Yaris is sort of homely, but I think the 4-door is reasonably attractive. Hopefully Toyota will give it a makeover and turn it more into more of what their prior car in this marketing segment was, the Echo. If I were looking for a small car right now, I’d be more inclined to purchase the Honda Fit. The Fit’s reliablity ratings on the whole range of systems they rate in CR, from major engine repairs all the way to the door hinges, rated as a used car over the past 8-10 years, are very, very impressive. Honda designers and engineer did an excellent job w/their Fit product.

If the Fit and Yaris are made in Japan and the Corolla in the USA, then the Fit and Yaris may look more attractive price-wise going forward, as the Yen is being devalued by the central bank in Japan. This should make Japanese products less expensive when they are sold in America.

I bought a 1955 Pontiac back in 1962. It was on CR recommended list. I had problems with the valve train on that car from day 1. The rocker arms were mounted on a ball mounted on studs. The oil to lubricate the valves came through the studs. These studs would get plugged up and the rocker arms would chirp. I bought the car from a Rambler dealer and the engine was overhauled by the dealer’s service department just before I purchased the car.
Part of the problem may have been that the mechanic that did the overhaul didn’t do it right. The other problem was that an oil filter was an option, and my Pontiac did not have that option. Even though the engine was overhauled, some sludge probably remained in the oil passages.
I did go to a wrecking yard and pull the filter assembly off a wreck, removed the block-off plate and installed the filter.
I knew other people who had 1955 Pontiacs and had very little problem. My guess is that most Pontiacs had the optional oil filter and this prevented the difficulty that I had. The owners that CR surveyed probably had oil filter equipped 1955 Pontiacs. However, Pontiac did revise the valve train for the 1956 and later Pontiacs. The omission of the oil filter seems strange to me on an engine equipped with hydraulic valve lifters.

Texases, you made me laugh. A younger man’s “history” is an older man’s “memories”.

Did you know that the Yaris has a full size spare? That’s because it uses 4 space saver spares as the regular tires.

I thought the Yaris was a size 15 roller skate

I certainly hope there aren’t any Yaris owners following this thread

Ultimately you have to “consider the source.” What is the demographic of the researchers, the audience they are speaking to, what is their motivation? Consumer Reports could probably be characterized to be well educated, liberal tendencies, less “blue collar worker,” more “popular environmentalist,” and small car oriented… How can someone who drives a Honda CRV or Prius gauge what is needed in a tough work-truck that is called on to do heavy lifting with an uncomprimising, (3,000 lb.payloads) not just getting from 0-60 as fast as you can? Trucks are not fuel efficient—because they DO WORK! They are not merely to transport you to your office desk—so you can write about how fast, or fuel efficient, or colors the accessories come in. First and foremost a “work truck” does work. What are the capacities for work???

CR didn’t test pickup trucks until the late 1960s or early 1970s. I remember the test of the really light pickup trucks–the Datsun, Toyota, Chevrolet LUV and the Ford Courier. I think that these trucks were all rated “Not Acceptable” because using its bumper basher, CR found that with a 5 mph hit, these trucks were damaged so badly that they were inoperable. Later, in the 1970s, CR tested 3/4 ton trucks–the Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and International Harvester with a camper. CR found that these trucks weren’t up to the task–the camper’s weight caused the trucks to handle poorly and on at least one of the trucks, the wheels would come off the ground on a sharp turn.
Contractors, tradesmen, and farmers have different expectations for trucks than do most of the motoring public.

As others have mentioned, it’s usually best to consider as many sources as you can when researching a new car. The suggestion to rent one for a few days isn’t a bad one either. A few years ago, I was considering the purchase of a PT Cruiser. I used a rental for a few days and discovered that I hated the thing.

Some car enthusiasts complain that CR is too “clinical” and don’t consider the charisma of cars, and there’s some truth to that, I believe. They’ve always discouraged buying the “upscale” version of a car, such as a Mercury or Buick, when the same basic car is available cheaper. The Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable is a good example of this.

As far as R & T and Motor Trend goes, well, at their core, they’re magazines for enthusiats, and the writing reflects that. It had been a while since I’d read any of them. But a while ago, a coworker started leaving his old issues in the lunch room. I read one issue of Motor Trend that was comparing sedans, and was surprised that, while they do indeed have advertising from the various car makers, they didn’t hesitate to rip into a few of the cars they tested with no mercy shown. That surprised me a bit.

Even CR isn’t immune to creating some controversy. A few years ago, I recall their car editor stated that their data showed that American car manufacturers had surpassed the European makers, specifically VW, Audi, and Porche, in quality and reliability. Especially reliablity. German car fans went ballistic. It was downright funny.

What it comes down to, I think is that most people buy what they like, and live with the results when it comes to new cars. My father in law was a die hard Ford man. Never owned anything else. We have a picture of him somewhere whith his first car, a '38 Standard tudor sedan. The last car he bought was a Taurus. All his trucks were Fords as well. Me, almost all of my cars, including the first car I ever bought brand new has been a GM. (Cruze. Read my comments in the “what are others saying about your car?” section to see what I think of it.)

As mentioned, if you’re really serious about a car, and plan on keeping it around for a while, rent one, drive it like you own it, and go from there.

When CR deems a truck inappropriate because of it’s handling, it does so for this reason. Most people who buy trucks for other then their work, drive them to commute and transport the family, usually with more then one driver. Often the mother and the kids drive the truck. Probably 50 to 90 percent of the time, they are not used as a truck. For that majority of the time, they deserve their poor handling rating. Because of the influence CR has on buyers, car and truck makers take note. They have improved many of their cars and trucks in direct response to CR reviews, knowing these reviews ultimately affect sales.

That CR are is too “clinical” and does not consider the charisma of the car, is a joy to my ears. Not only does considering charisma become subjective, but it can lead to false preferences in ratings of cars and trucks. Love that brand with the bigger then life grill but can’t hold a candle to another make in fuel economy and towing; things that really matter. Love that charisma even though the car or truck handles poorly and is worse in class in fuel economy. IMO I would rather the automakers tout charisma and let the testers stick to facts. It’s expected that manufacturers will advertise to their advantage…hopefully we have testers that are " fair and balanced".


You hit the nail on the head

People don’t buy Wranglers because they’re highly rated reliable cars

They buy them because they’re quirky and got personality!