Our cover story on automotive quality (DN, 10.10.05, http://rbi.ims.ca/4400-507) described a design strategy employed by Japanese automakers that leads to older Asian cars having higher quality than new European and American cars. It drew lots of letters from readers.
Many of them, like Al Belotserkovskiy, thought the article was right on and raved about their experiences driving a Lexus and other Asian cars. "I own a 2004 Lexus ES330, and it's a pleasure to drive," says Belotserkovskiy.
Reader Chris Shaffer fondly remembered his 1985 Toyota Tercel, which he retired recently after 11 years and 245,000 miles. "Wish I still had the 35 mpg," he wrote wistfully. And of course, Dan the used car dealer and owner of the 1997 Lexus we ran on the cover of that issue, could not have been more enthusiastic about his middle-age vehicle.
Other readers disagreed with some of the points raised in the article. Raymond Arkwright, for example, thought that we gave way too much credence to Consumer Reports. He used my beloved 1995 Jetta as a case in point: "Now let's take a look at your 1995 VW Jetta," he wrote. "The 2001, 2002, and 2003 CR Buying Guides all list the 1995 Jetta as a used car to avoid. The 2004 CR Buying Guide says to avoid every Jetta from 1995 to 2002 and lists it as one of the worst used cars." Thank goodness I don't intend to sell it!
John Zajaros told us the article was "full of gunk," and said that he was willing to "Stack his Olds SSL up against any Japanese car that you can dig up." Abe Rutkovsky waded in to defend American-made vehicles. His choice in cars has been strictly American for the last 60 years. He noted that his current vehicle, a 2002 Buick LeSabre, is "a magnificent performer."
Reader George Jenkins is another engineer who loves his 1999 Saturn four-door sedan with 65,000 miles. "It's the best car we have," he wrote. "Everyone loves our used car, and asks if we are going to sell it. No, we want to keep it going." Erin Hynes told us she cried when she had to put down her 1989 Volvo 240 DL sedan. "I don't care for the new cars—cars are meant to be boxy, like the drawing of cars you made in kindergarten. If I wanted something aerodynamic, I'd get a Piper Cub," she penned.
Most striking was the number of readers who drive old cars, and buy them used. Maybe it's an engineer thing—function over form and the notion of value. After all, why buy a new car when the old one still works perfectly well? There's also the strong impression that new cars—like software—are buggy. Chris Schaffer—the guy who just got rid of his 11-year-old Tercel couldn't agree more. Check out his comments on his new Ford Expedition on page 14 of this issue.