Thursday, July 23, 2009

Consumer Reports disappointment

Early this year I started looking for a new (used) truck to replace the 1995 Isuzu P'up I have been driving for the past 9 years or so. One of the steps I took, to research the market, I bought a copy of Consumer Reports (2008 edition, I think). After looking through some of the write-ups, I can see one of the problems we are facing in personal transportation.

I am looking for, ideally, a small pickup with an extended cab, a 4 cylinder engine, and an automatic transmission. I thought, with the ever increasing cost of gas a few years ago (and I think someone like consumer reports would have some foresight) they would have some focus on gas mileage. No, not at all. There is a mention of mileage on only one model.

No, instead, the write ups for all small trucks read like a spoiled teenager wrote them. 4 cylinder engines are to be disdained. All pickups seem to lack horse power, which seems to be a big issue. They drive like trucks (duh), stiff and choppy. Well, dang, they are trucks. They all seem to have "inferior brakes" (I guess he is comparing them to his sports car).

And it isn't just trucks that read like a spoiled teenager. I happen to own a Hyundai Accent. Nice car, but too many bells and whistles under the hood. So I looked it up. "Back seat too small for tall people." You don't say. It IS a subcompact. "Look for a model with the optional power steering, a must have feature." WHAT! Is this guy on drugs or something? Must have? On a subcompact? My truck doesn't have a power steering.

This guy needs to be stuck behind the wheel of my old Deuce and a Half (M35) army truck for a while.

As I alluded to in the beginning of this article, this is symptomatic of the problems we, as a nation, face in personal transportation. We keep adding bells and whistles to our cars and trucks. Each and every one of these costs extra on the price of the vehicle and almost all of them cost money every time we fill up at the pump. Also, deluded by the temporary availability of cheap petroleum, we almost completely replaced the Light Utility Vehicle (named after the Chevy LUV) class of vehicles with sporty indulgences that are in many ways play-toys that look like small pickup trucks.

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