Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big Three Win J.D. Power Awards

For a time in the 1990s, all my friends and I drove Hondas. I'm not exactly sure why but maybe it was a combination of herd mentality in twenty-something adults, who yearn to be different, coupled with an evolving sensibility that let us escape our teen years largely intact. Hondas looked nice and were quality made automobiles that rarely broke. By comparison, nearly everyone I knew was skeptical of cars made by GM, Ford, and Chrysler because we perceived they lacked those same qualities.

Styling and quality are subjective. We all have our own notions of what looks good and our own standards of quality. I owned a 1996 Accord and have always thought it was one of the best looking, highest quality cars Honda ever made. You may agree with my opinion or might think I was dropped as a baby.

Like most people, my opinions are based on my experience, the opinions of people I respect, and the facts as I choose to interpret them. Part of my opinion of Hondas, and my perception about the quality of any car, is based on the findings of J.D. Power and Associates. Like the old E.F. Hutton saying, when J.D. Power talks, I listen.

This week J.D. Power came out with the results of their Initial Quality Study for 2009. This study measures the problems new car owners experience within the first 90 days of ownership. The results for 2009 showed many of the top ranked cars were made by the Big Three. Cars like the Chevy Malibu, Pontiac G6, Ford Mustang, Mercury Sable and Chrysler PT Cruiser scored as well or higher in this survey than similar cars made by Honda, Toyota and Lexus.

This news surprised a lot of people, but it shouldn't. Detroit has always made some very good cars. Bob Lutz has been saying this for years, and as the ultimate car guy, he should know. Lutz has worked for BMW, Ford, Chrysler and in 2002 he became GM's self appointed car czar. At the launch of the Pontiac G6, he stated that the quality of GM cars was as good as the imports. GM just needed to do a better job of getting the word out.

The word is now out. If I were in the market today, I would be hard pressed not to consider buying something from the Big Three. The cars on J.D. Power's list are quality vehicles offering a tremendous value in price and content. Many of them carry huge rebates or financing incentives. And to my eye, they offer good stying as well.

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