Saturday Soup

On this day in 2010 Toyota Motor Corporation agreed to pay the US government $32.4 million in additional fines to settle an investigation into its handling of two recalls at the heart of its safety crisis. The latest settlement, on top of a $16.4 million fine Toyota paid earlier in a related investigation, brought the total penalties levied on the company to $48.8 million.

I believe that many Americans are what I call “self-hating Americans.” They think the grass is greener elsewhere. Inherent in that view for many of these people is the incorrect belief that American cars are inferior to those made elsewhere. These are people for whom the facts don’t intrude into their views.

For the last five years, for example, Buick and Chevrolet have ranked in the top 5 or so in the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). This is a more meaningful survey than the JD Power Initial Quality Report. The VDS surveys thousands of car owners about their three-year old vehicles (the 2019 study is about model year 2016 cars/trucks) and tabulates the number of reported problems. Here are the results from 2015-2019 for Buick and Chevrolet:


Buick Chevrolet
2015 2nd 9th
2016 3rd 5th
2017 4th 7th
2018 3rd 6th
2019 5th 4th


By the way, the historical fact presented in this post is not a knock at Toyota. That make has finished 3rd or 4th in the JD Power VDS every year except one since 2015 (a 9th-place finish in 2018).

For the vast majority of people, facts that run contrary to their a priori beliefs are ignored. However, as Huxley wrote, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” I could write the somewhat vulgar, yet often-repeated, remark about opinions being like a certain part of the human anatomy in that (almost) everyone has one and almost all of them stink, but I would never do that.

Not that my life experiences are representative of everyone’s or constitute a significant sample, but I have owned vehicles manufactured in the US, in Japan, in Germany and in South Korea. The least reliable car I ever owned was a product of the supposedly superior Germans.

To honor Buick here is a picture from Hemmings of a beautiful 1965 Buick Riviera GS, a car that appeared in my Ultimate Garage 2.0:


See the source image


I would really like to own one of these as a companion to my 2016 Corvette Z06, but they are too expensive for my budget and, of course, do not represent the product of a defunct American make. Of course, if/when I actually pull the trigger who knows what I might buy?






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7 thoughts on “Saturday Soup

  1. … heh heh … As you well know by now, I am not a great fan of The General but I am happy to see them ranking high in these JD Power surveys – call it American Pride, if you will.

    That Riviera is, IMO, a great choice for your Ultimate Garage. I have always thought this car to be one of the very best designs to come out of GM – or any other manufacturer for that matter. 👍


    1. Thanks for the comment, sir. My point, of course, was that American cars are, dollar for dollar, as good as cars made anywhere else.

      Although Buick topped the VDS survey one year this decade, Lexus almost always finishes on top. What’s the MSRP of the average Lexus compared to the average Buick?


      1. “American cars are, dollar for dollar, as good as cars made anywhere else”

        Therein is the problem. While it might be a domestic corporation, if you have a Ram built in Mexico, a Buick built in China and a Kia built in the USA, which one is more the “domestic” product? And which one is built better? Unfortunately the survey doesn’t differentiate, as far as I know, based on the country of manufacture.


      2. Good points. Yes, BMW builds cars in the US and Buick builds cars in China. Still, the cars Buick builds in China are sold in China; the survey is for cars sold in the US.


      3. “Still, the cars Buick builds in China are sold in China”

        Not all of them unfortunately.

        I rent approx 20 different cars a year in my travels for work. I play a game I call “where is it from?” Every vehicle has a letter in it’s VIN identifying it’s country of manufacture. I’ll look up the VIN just to see where it’s from.

        It can be depressing. This year I had 6 that were made in the US, and 4 of those were made by non domestic companies.


      4. Live and learn…seems absurd to me for US companies to build cars abroad (I mean in another hemisphere) only to be sold in the US. Of course, the Nash Metropolitan was built in England under the direction of Nash to be sold in the US and Canada.


  2. When I finally made enough money to buy new cars, I was disappointed in American cars. The Fords and Buick that I owned didn’t last, suffering under the era’s “planned obsolence” model. After that I bought a Nissan Maxima, had excellent service out of it, then after a few Nissans, I switched to a Toyota Avalon and have had four, including two hybrids.

    I know reliability of American cars is vastly improved and I am growing tired of the somewhat buggy electronics in the latest Avalons. I’m not due for a couple of years yet to replace my 2019, but I am considering a change.


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