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Old 04-05-2001, 11:33 PM   #1
Satcarguy
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Default Consumer Reports?

I am a proud owner of a beautiful and extremely high quality Saturn LW200. I have owned 9 brand new vehicles (Jap and American) in my lifetime. This car is without a doubt the best vehicle, quality wise, ride wise, service wise, sales wise, I have ever experienced.

The purpose of this message is to inform as many people as possible that I cancelled my subscription to Consumer Reports yesterday. The reason why? I just couldn't take it anymore. According to this organization (Consumer Reports), if your car was not made in Japan then as they suggest don't buy it. I must admit that I am perplexed at this point, because I tried to contact this, so called reputable organization, to clarify some of the information they publish. However, if you try to contact them through their website all you will receive is a statement that reads "they are unable to supply "contact access" because they are such a small organization and would be overwhelmed by the response they anticipate." If you don't believe me, than check it out for yourself. Simply go to their website www.consumerreports.org and try to contact them. They do provide a mail address of which my attempt to receive a reply of 8 weeks ago has yet to be received by me.

My question was simple. All I was asking was, why does Consumer Reports provide their coveted check mark of recommendation to vehicles with a lower reported rating... skipping over other vehicles with higher rating returns in the process?

As I examined a little further it became more apparent that this organization will gladly provide the "reccomendation check mark" for almost any vehicle with a Japanese nameplate. Some other foreign nameplates will be included, but those are reserved for the luxury or very expensive models. However? why will they not provide a recommendation for a Saturn even when the long established trend of satisfaction has been set or met? I believe this organization's biased practices are questionable and can not be trusted as source for unbiased evaluation on automobiles.

Since this organization will not allow me to express my experience of total quality and satisfaction for a domestic nameplate, then I feel compelled to express my experience and "questioning" of Consumer Reports motives and integrity through different venues.
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Old 04-06-2001, 12:15 AM   #2
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Well, if they really showed their bias in the reliability surveys, would the S Series Saturns show up as better than average? They really don't like the (Spring Hill) Saturn, yet they consistently give it high marks for reliability.
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Old 04-06-2001, 12:20 AM   #3
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I do agree that the S Series Saturns meet all of Consumer Reports criteria for being on the recommended list.
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Old 04-06-2001, 01:40 AM   #4
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Welcome, and congratulations on your first Saturn purchase. I too have owned many different makes of cars including all domestic makes, most of the Japanese and a few European. My Saturn is also my first, and my first domestic car in years.

The answer to your questions regarding Consumer Reports and most other car reviewers (Edmunds, etc.) will become clearer the longer you keep your car.

I too was impressed with the car originally (1999 SL), but have had so many problems, large and small, that when I now read the reviews, I understand and fully agree. My Saturn has been the worst car I have ever owned.
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Old 04-06-2001, 02:07 AM   #5
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JDB99Sl
Cars are cars. They are built by human beings and some are good and some are not. My list goes as follows (all brand new):
'78 Toyota Pickup - A truck with a real personality - blew engine at 96K $1200 repair
'83 Toyota pickup - Flawless
'87 Camry - Blew an engine at 52K - $6000 repair
'89 Chev S-10 - Put 107K without a single drop of oil leaking.
'91 Chevy Corsica - Put 72K on it and only replaced one radiator hose.
'96 Chevy S-10 - 12K total lemon, got my money back.
'96 Ford F150 - Still have, great truck.
'96 Buick Century - OK, but gave us tons of small probs for 48K.
'01 Saturn LW200 - So far excellent.
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Old 04-06-2001, 07:55 AM   #6
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Summary of my cars (at 16 almost 17 yrs old)

'93 Saturn SL2--burns oil, but is reliable. Has problems with a/c, some other small problems. For car w/ 125K not bad at all. I have been unhappy with it at times, but the car is solid. Previous owners were its' problem. Now it's getting the TLC that it deserves <img src="http://64.77.2.166/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle">

I have had bad experiences not only with comsumer reports, but many other car review firms. For example, take the Dodge Intrepid ('95). I test drove one when I was considering a car because they (newcartestdrive.com) ranted and raved about it. How good the ride was--how good and quiet it was. Well when I drove one with 40,000 miles, the ride quality wasn't all that much better than in my Saturn. And for a car as "Well sealed" as that one was, it sure had a lot of wind noise. As much or more than my Saturn. I don't trust car-review places any more. If I want to know about a car, I go and drive it and make up my own mind. As far as ANY car review place being unbiased--no way. Saturns are good cars no matter how the cookie crumbles, but they won't admit it. You'll find a few that give good reviews, but they are few and far in-between. Welcome to Earth, the planet that doesn't like Saturn. lol


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Old 04-06-2001, 08:57 AM   #7
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Yes, I saw the issue and I was shocked. <b>EVERY</b>, i say again, <b>EVERY</b> Toyota was recommonended. Even the new ones. That isn't possible. I mean, don't get me wrong, Toyota has great quality, but each and every Toyota gets a recommended rating. In bed with them? You bet.

As for cancelling your subscription, good for you. They rely only on subscriptions for their revenue and if more people felt like you then maybe they wouldn't be the end-all be-all.

Check their record, they have been sued by many companies, not just the automotive industry. They rely on sensationalism to sell mags and that is why cars like Trooper and Samuri flip over. Hell, they <b>all</b> flip over. That CR issue killed the Trooper and look what is happening; the new truck is called Axion and is being brough in along side Trooper, which is phased out in '02. Why? So that people don't think that Axion is really a redressed Trooper (or a generation 3 Trooper to be fair), which it is. But a new name and all evils are cancelled.

So there!
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Old 04-06-2001, 11:44 AM   #8
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saturncanuck, I couldn't agree with you more. I hate Consumer Retards more than any other publication. For them, God forbid an American car be competitive with the Japanese! I say Saturn should recruit the CR staff as real crash test dummies. They're more than qualified as dummies, IMHO <img src="http://64.77.2.166/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/Images/Happy.gif" border="0" align="middle">
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Old 04-06-2001, 11:58 AM   #9
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Yeah all Saturn's are junk, that's why I have a 96 SL2 with 75,000 miles and not nary a problem and I can think of numerous friends and co-workers who love theirs.

All Japanese cars are far superior to Saturn's, tell that to my sister in law who's Civic just blew an engine with 40,000 miles on it and cost her $2800.

Patrick
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Old 04-06-2001, 12:53 PM   #10
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If my Saturn broke down on me all the time I would assume Saturns suck. Mine has not broken down on me ever and at 80000k miles, I am happy. Total cost for repairs have been less than $500. Do all Hondas suck because one blew an engine, no. But I can understand how if it affects you, your opinion may differ.
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Old 04-06-2001, 01:11 PM   #11
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Lately, it seems like there's at least one Consumer Reports related topic every week saying they suck or whatever. Most of the digression comes because of the defaming black mark the L series received for the 00-01 reliability, even though the S series received a good grade in all categories. I dont know what their criteria is for being on their recommended list, so I can't comment. But to throw my experience, again, our LW1 is an excellent value with its attractive financing/lease package, but there was many quirks that had to be fixed since day 1. All these issues should NOT have been there, such as the wiper chattering, air conditioner leak, steering wheel vibration. Now after months of trying to identify where this high pitch whistling sound is coming from, I finally found it. Originally I thought it came from the one of the exterior mirrors because there's a TSB for it, but out LW1 didn't apply. Found out a couple of weeks ago the rear seat is not latching fully, no matter how hard to try to push the rear seat back to latch. Because of this, somethings rubbing back there. Next oil change is coming up, and again, another 4-8hr drop off. In comparison, my current selling model 98 Accord had no issues in its first year. Only in year two (28k miles) a fuel sending unit was replaced, and at 48k, the EGR valve needed cleaning at no charge per TSB. Although all these issues in our LW1 are minor (except for the steering wheel vibration), they're freakinng annoying, especially when you make a visit almost once a month to the Saturn retailer. I love my Accord, and I like our LW1, mainly because of its finance/lease package (plus my GMS discount) and wagon option.

Note, I'm not saying the L series is a bad or undependable car. It's just a version 1.0 (and 1.1) of a new GM model (reengineered Vectra with a GM corporate engine). Even my old 88 Accord had many flaws that CR reported, such as the air conditioning (half-black), electric (black), and brakes (half-black), but it that little guy was so dependable in my HS and college days. It is now passed on to my brother carrying 260,000 miles on it. The L series has a lot of very tough competition in a crowded market. Saturn can't hit a homerun in its first time at bat. Give it a few more years.
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Old 04-06-2001, 01:55 PM   #12
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It doesn't surprise me that a magazine would be preferencial. Remember that magazines are primarily supported by advertisers and donations from outside sources. Subscriptions are what pays their bills. The more subs they can accumulate the more money they can bargain for. They know that the market is primed for japanese cars in the US. Therefore angle toward that, and you can sell more subscriptions. Yes, in the beginning CR was a decent idea. If I remember correctly, it was just an annual thing without ads. I guess everything changes over time. I am on my fourth Saturn, and have only had one major issue... transmission on a '99 SC2, which was resolved over a weekend. Since then I have had NO other issues.
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Old 04-06-2001, 02:08 PM   #13
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Has there been any data released from other non-biased sources regarding the quality of the L Series Saturns?
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Old 04-06-2001, 02:36 PM   #14
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Hmm, why can't I modify my previous post? Anyway, I was going to ask - Does JD Power rank individual models or just brands as a whole?
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Old 04-06-2001, 02:44 PM   #15
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Edmunds dosen't give the L a great rating either. Not that I agree with either of these publications. Still fasinates me when I look at the circles in the ratings no bad marks yet they say it is unreliable
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Old 04-06-2001, 08:21 PM   #16
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Agree, Kazi,

The L's early issues could have been considerably shortened by more long term pre-release testing. First year cars usually do have their teething pains, but my dealer, Saturn's reputation, the great financing, and a discounted 75,000 Saturn warranty convinced me to go for it.

Don't regret it. The bugs are out now and it's a great value (LS/L100).
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Old 04-07-2001, 12:23 AM   #17
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Not that I think there is much in the way of "non-biased" sources for such information available, but "Consumer" Reports ranks as one of the worst, in my opinion, because they CLAIM to be both unbiased and to be a provider of "consumer" information, when they are neither. Consumer Reports has degenerated for the most part into publishing opinionated reviews of cars that contain less substantive information than many traditional car magazines.

While no one can say that their surveys are "biased", since they're just publishing statistics based on the responses they get, they ARE guilty of exaggerating (in their "overall" reliability rating) the differences between cars and the extent of problems themselves through the methodology they use, the comparison with the fictitious "average car". When they say a car has "40% worse than average" reported overall reliability, that could mean 7 cars out of every 100 vs. 5 cars out of every 100. Without further specifics, it's almost meaningless. The surveys are also poor in and of themselves in two key ways: they ask for problems that the owner CONSIDERS "serious" (thus introducing inconsistency into the survey because different people have different understandings or attitudes about what a "serious" problem is), and because they lump far too many things into broad categories such that many of them become meaningless.

Here's some information that a REAL "consumer" magazine should provide (but "Consumer" Reports does NOT) in their detailed reviews of each car...

1. Full details, for all trim levels, of pricing and equipment, plus available options.
2. Maintenance schedules.
3. Estimated labor costs (based on flat rate manuals) for standard service items like oil changes, spark plug replacement, accessory drive belt replacement, timing belt replacement, fuel filter replacement, transmission service (fluid change, etc.), brake pad and disc replacement, coolant replacement/flush, etc.
4. Cost of common replacement parts, such as oil, air, and fuel filters, head, tail, and marker lamps, brake pads and discs, coolant hoses, etc.
5. Complete leg, head, hip, and shoulder room dimensions front and rear; cargo volumes and maximum length/width/height of cargo area/trunk and openings.
6. Complete crash test data for both NHTSA and IIHSA.
7. Insurance costs for different states and driver classifications.

Given this type of information, a CONSUMER can make a well-informed decision about what car(s) they are considering. The present CR writeups are mostly about what THEY THINK about the things THEY think are important, which should amount to a passing comment, if anything, in a magazine that purports to assist carbuyers make informed purchasing decisions (as opposed to providing a lot of minutiae in the form of their opinions).
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Old 04-07-2001, 12:38 AM   #18
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Saturnmeister-
You are on the mark!! Have you ever thought about starting a real review magazine or website. If you stuck to that criteria, you would be the master. Please understand, I am not anti any manufacturer. I am just perplexed. How and why wouldn't an organization such as CR recognize the overwhelming and long term data of certain vehicles? The kicker is their lack of willingness to accept any questions from their loyal subscribers... one must ask why?

Thanks again for your excellent response to my question!

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Old 04-07-2001, 02:06 AM   #19
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Give me a break...do you think CR has the funding to test out all 200++ various variations of models under $60g out on the selling in production utilizing all the criterial you proposed. That's some SERIOUS, time consuming research you're demanding a non-automobile magazine. You should know better that there's NO ONE MAGAZINE that one person should depend on. Seriously, most of the members that are griping on CR lately are L series owners. Although currently the S series needs to play catch up, CR did give the S series some high marks. CR reviews are written by REAL people. People are naturally bias, no matter how hard they try not to be. Every autoreview, even the good ones to the Saturn L series, are about what THEY THINK blah, blah, blah...and try to 'purports to assist carbuyers make informed purchasing decisions', whatever. I bet if anyone of you write an 'unbias' auto review, someone, somewhere will call you bias too. Any consumer who wants to be well-informed will NOT depend on just one source. All those proposed criteria can be found in various publication (Edmunds, Intellichoice), <!--http--><a href="http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov" target="_blank">NHTSA's website</a><!--url-->,<!--http--><a href="http://www.highwaysafety.org" target="_blank">IIHS's website</a><!--url-->, and manufacturer's website or dealers. You must be joking about breaking up insurance data by state and driver profile. With hundreds of various model trims out, multiply that by 50 states, multiply it again by the various 'driver classification' (single/maried, age, points on records, etc....), imagine the volumes you'll end up just for this data. Just let it go. The S series got respectable marks, but the L series for its first couple of years has plenty of room for improvement. IMO, CR does provide some useful gripes and applauses that other automobile magazine never mention, such as the lack of window frame in the older ES300 and pre-99 Acura TL, and some good customer feedback.
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Old 04-07-2001, 02:46 AM   #20
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Kazi-
My question was so simple though. Yet they chose not to respond. I was just curious to why they provide their coveted check mark to Japanese vehicles with lower marks, in turn skipping over other models with higher marks. Simple, yet no response. They certainly took the liberty to let us know that they can't let consumers (their namesake) contact them through e-mail (look at their website). As a customer of CR for 3 years I did the only other thing I could do to let them know I do not appreciate their lack of concern for a loyal customer and cancel my subscription. Real people or not they do not respect being questioned. So I will gladly relay my personal experience with this biased organization through other means. As far as I am concerned if they want to be in this business of reporting on consumer experiences, than why not take the time to respond to a simple clarification. Trust me, I understand that it is a big world of automobiles and I do not hold expectations that they can cover it all perfectly. I just do not see how they can overlook all the positive interaction, unlike so many other cars, that this Saturn family has. In my opinion they are blowing it big time by not seriously considering the Saturn as a respectable auto company worthy of their recommendation. I don't come across many Camry websites with the interaction we enjoy here. But if this organization chooses to embrace a multitude of bland unenthused jap cars from here to eternity, then well... that's their choice. Personally I'll take this very satisfactory experience of owning and sharing the Saturn over their opinion anytime. I am extremely satisfied with my choice and I am enjoying it like nothing I ever purchased before. I'm not sure if they think they might risk something or jeopardize their leadership in automobile reviews by endorsing a vehicle that has clearly held it's own against there sweet japanese babys.

Afterall the only thing that matters really to me is that I am satisfied. I can tell you from my experience, Saturn is refreshing. I have never been treated so well when purchasing a car. When I bought a Toyota is what disgusting. I was turned by no less than 4 sales people and pressured like never before. I never really knew the actually price I was paying and left with total buyers remorse. Never knew my service manager and certainly was never thanked 1, 2 and 3 months after the sale. CR can shove it up their collective Japanese tail pipe for all I'm concerned.

JD Power at least recognizes that a reasonably priced car company can provide true customer service... and to boot, Saturn has answered all my e-mails within a day if not an hour. At least they recognize who the customer is and gives me access.

Saturn rules and CR is missing the boat. Shame on them!

Respectfully,
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