Edmunds Most Wanted List A Blow To Detroit

Posted by: David Kiley on November 7, 2006

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When Edmunds.com came out with its list of Most Wanted cars and trucks for 2007, Detroit was brutalized. The Big Three scored only two out of a possible 32 vehicles. Ouch. Thud. Kapow!

It may sound like spiking the punch, or bias. But I don’t think so. First, the Big Three spend a huge amount of money with Edmunds, so it’s not in Edmunds.com’s interest to rig the deck. And as I went through the list one by one, I could not come up with many disputes.

Remember…each vehicle represents the best choice in a given product and price segment. Hence, the Honda Civic scored the best sedan under $20K. The Mazda6 scored “Best Sedan Under $25K.” BMW 3 Series is “Best Sedan Under $35K.” Best wagon under $20K is Mazda3. Honda Odyssey is the best minivan. Go to the Edmunds.com link for all the choices. I can’t argue against these choices. Each one represents a benchmark against which the Big Three are, in fact, making new cars.

Peter DeLorenzo of www.autoextremist.com has implied that the import heavy list is due to Edmunds.com’s “anti-Detroit” editor-in-chief Karl Brauer. I don’t see it.

It’s not as if Detroit doesn’t have some great product that is competitive with each of Edmunds’ picks. But if you have to pick just one vehicle per segment…these choices are tough to argue with. The Saturn Sky is terrific. But would I maybe buy a Miata instead? [nodding…probably]. The Ford Fusion is a very nice piece of work. Would I choose it over a Mazda6? Or even a VW Jetta? Nay. Everyone is in love with the Toyota Tundra before it even goes on sale, and Edmunds.com is no exception. It’s a huge and hyped truck intro, but the Ford F150 still rules the roost in my head. Hyundai Azera is tops at Edmunds.com for sedans priced under $30K, but leaves me nodding in the other direction. I’d take a Buick Lucerne, Toyota Avalon or Chrysler 300 over the Azera. But those are really my only quibbles. On second thought, I might take a Toyota Yaris sedan over the Hyundai Accent Edmunds chose. But that doesn’t do Detroit any good. Actually, on third thought, I am in the minority among my peers, but I’d probably choose a Ford Focus (yes, the old one that Ford is still selling) for “best Sedan Under $15K”, including Ford’s incentives, over anything else in that segment.

I’ve driven the new Ford Edge and Saturn Outlook crossover SUVs. Very good, especially the Saturn. But the Mazda CX-9, Edmunds’ choice in that segment, is a solid choice. I can’t really argue that Edmunds.com is out to lunch on that one either. From Detroit, only the Dodge Magnum and Ford Mustang convertible made the list.

What I see in this list is that Edmunds’ pickers did not feel they had to spread the honors around to be “fair” or politic. The lopsided nature of the list tells me that the list is dead honest on the part of the staff.

As I make my way through product introductions for Big Three 2007 models, I still hear an awful lot of Detroit execs benchmarking Toyota and Mazda, as well as BMW for quality, cabin quiet and driving dynamics. They don’t talk much about benchmarking one another. Is it any wonder, then, that this list is top heavy with imports? Many of the new Detroit models are excellent…close to their Asian and European benchmarks….but for Edmunds.com…close, but still not many cigars.

Reader Comments

Cole Thompson

November 8, 2006 2:46 PM

American car companies are run by MBAs; Japanese car companies are run by engineers. And it shows. There's nothing wrong with American workers, or American engineers (the latter are used heavily by both Honda and Nissan). But GM and Ford are run by the typical dorks that are found throughout corporate America; their priorities are to boost share prices, and they practice generalist management over their companies to create "product". Toyota in particular gets it right, they work for the long term, winning market share one customer at a time on the strength of their reputation for building good cars. No amount of mergers or slogans on the part of American car company execs can overcome that.

Rich

November 8, 2006 7:19 PM

I know someone who used to be totally "Buy American." But his 2003 GMC truck has had transmission failure 4 times since he bought it. He is now completely disgusted with the American manufacturers, and his next truck will be a Toyota or Nissan. This person was the last holdout against "foreign" products. Detroit had better get its act together, and fast!

Josh

November 15, 2006 8:48 AM

I also don't think there's any bias to Edmund's list. It's just the way things are.

At the same time, I do believe American cars are improving, but it will take a while to catchup because the Japanese contimually push the envelope.

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