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Old 11-06-2003, 09:51 PM   #1
Power1pete
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Default December 2003 consumer report rating

STI beats RX-8 and EVO, however, Ford SVT focus is #1 out of the "Sporty Cars" class.
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:13 PM   #2
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Got a link for the story?
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:45 PM   #3
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Originally posted by A_Train
Got a link for the story?
no links. sorry. it's not on their website.
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:48 PM   #4
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Guess the number of RECALLS wasn't an issue....so much for being on the consumer's side.
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Old 11-06-2003, 10:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ghostrider600
Guess the number of RECALLS wasn't an issue....so much for being on the consumer's side.
believe it or not, both sti and focus svt has same relibility rating, which is average.
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Old 11-07-2003, 01:30 AM   #6
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Oooh, I havent gotten that issue yet! However, stupid kiplingers put the RX-8 as the best new sporty car (STI and EVO were including in that list too)


Its a great car, but not THAT great!
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Old 11-07-2003, 09:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ghostrider600
Guess the number of RECALLS wasn't an issue....so much for being on the consumer's side.
Consumer Reports treats "peformance" so to speak and "reliability" as two separate things. When the SVT is at the top of the sporty class in terms of its rating, it means that overall handling, speed, acceleration, braking, safety, ergonomics, space, etc. are very competitive.

The key to reliability is whether they recommend it or not. The reason why the Focus (as I last know it) is at the top but doesn't receive the Consumer Reports Red Check and red highlighted name for recommended (unlike the Acura RSX and Celica) is precisely because of the ****ty reliability.
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Old 11-07-2003, 09:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by NeoteriX
Consumer Reports treats "peformance" so to speak and "reliability" as two separate things. When the SVT is at the top of the sporty class in terms of its rating, it means that overall handling, speed, acceleration, braking, safety, ergonomics, space, etc. are very competitive.

The key to reliability is whether they recommend it or not. The reason why the Focus (as I last know it) is at the top but doesn't receive the Consumer Reports Red Check and red highlighted name for recommended (unlike the Acura RSX and Celica) is precisely because of the ****ty reliability.
I tend to agree. The Focus has always tested well in the past, but the reliabilty has hurt it. Apparently Ford has improved the car's relability since its introduction, hence CR's new-found "recommended" rating.

Bob
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Old 11-07-2003, 10:17 AM   #9
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Another aspect that CR consider is VALUE.
Focus is listed at $19k, where all other car in their list are >$25K.
Fun, yet affordable, I think that is the main reason Focus is on top.

Besides, what does CR know about PERFORMANCE car anyway??
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Old 11-07-2003, 11:35 AM   #10
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I've got to say IMHO Consumer Reports is very good with testing cars, and their opinions are a lot more sensical than most, if not all, car magazines. The SVT Focus is a superb car: brilliant feedback, control and ride quality, a nice interior, great practicality, excellent braking, and an engine that's "good enough" for pretty much all street driving. If you don't need balls to the wall acceleration, I can see how the SVTF beats the STi, Evo and RX-8.

As an overall package you live with day to day, it probably makes the most sense. Having looked atm but not driven an rx-8, I assume it was marked down for a lack of interior space and practicality. The absolutely horrendous fuel mileage (worse than a 400hp M5 by most owners reported mileage) probably didn't help.
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Old 11-07-2003, 01:38 PM   #11
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Another blurb about the CR ratings:

Quote:
By Joseph B. White
November 4, 2003


Consumer Reports magazine, which has a powerful influence on vehicle
reputation in the U.S., ranked General Motors Corp.'s Buick Regal as the
most reliable family sedan sold in America and has given recommended
ratings to four Ford Motor Co. models, including the once-maligned Focus
small car.


The Buick Regal, which outscored the Toyota Camry, Nissan Maxima and Honda
Accord among other rivals, is the only model from a traditional U.S. brand
to make the magazine's "most reliable" list for 2004 models. The rankings
will appear in Consumer Reports New Car Preview 2004 issue. The newly
released list remains dominated by vehicles from Japanese auto makers,
including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi
Motors Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp.


European luxury brands took some of the toughest criticism from the
magazine. All models from DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen
AG's Audi, and Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover brands were ranked below
average. VW's Golf, Jetta and New Beetle received "much worse than average"
ratings.


Cars from GM's Saab brand and Ford's Volvo brand received above-average
reliability rankings from Consumer Reports. But Volvo's hot-selling XC90
sport-utility vehicle was classified among the industry's least-reliable
models. Also on the least reliable list was Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's
popular Mini Cooper.


Consumer Reports said this year's reliability rankings were based on
675,000 survey responses, the largest number received to date. The magazine
asked the five million subscribers to its magazine and Web site to answer
questions about problems with their vehicle during the past 12 months.


GM received recommended ratings for several other models, including the
Buick Park Avenue and Rendezvous and the Saturn L-series. Several of the
auto maker's large trucks and SUVs received "average" ratings. But two of
its hottest models, the Cadillac CTS and Hummer H2, didn't do well enough
in the surveys to get recommendations. GM North America President Gary
Cowger said through a spokesman, "We are obviously pleased with the
performance of the Regal and feel it is indicative of the direction in
which GM is headed, industry leadership."


The tendency of Consumer Reports readers to give high marks for reliability
to Japanese brands and assign low ones to Detroit models has long been a
source of consternation among executives at GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler's
Chrysler Group.


At Ford, the Focus's recovery from what Consumer Reports called "a
disastrous start" to its new ranking as "average" and "recommended" is a
cause of celebration. Following a string of recalls and quality glitches
that hobbled the car's launch, workers at the suburban Detroit plant that
builds the Focus began systematic efforts to eradicate quality gremlins,
installing new testing equipment on the assembly line and creating war
rooms papered over with warranty and quality data.


David Champion, director of automotive testing for Consumers Union, which
publishes Consumer Reports, said the Focus "was always a really good car,
but we could never recommend it because it was unreliable. . . . They have
been making substantial strides in the last three years."
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Old 11-07-2003, 02:10 PM   #12
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Why buick regal? cuz only 90 year olds buy it and they drive it like Miss Daisy with about 2k miles a year to the nearest supermarket ONLY...
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Old 11-07-2003, 02:23 PM   #13
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Buick Regal???? LOL

Sorry, don't mean to offend any folks who like this car. It's just that I had one as a rental once, and it's too darn comfortable (as in making you want to take a nap). Can't comment on reliability.. but if that's true, then more power to them. So when is Buick going to build their version of a WRX?
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Old 11-07-2003, 02:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by hunts
So when is Buick going to build their version of a WRX?
Well, probably Never...It's not Old American enough. Doesn't float enough on the highway. They do make a High horsepower version that's good in a straight line. Having driven an Regal SLP Stage III, it's pretty fast in a straight line for a FWD 1 and 1/2 ton vehicle. Just don't ask it to turn.
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Old 11-07-2003, 03:57 PM   #15
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Just to note, all 4 mentioned cars got an Excellent rating, so they are all pretty close in value in CR's eyes. They do a have a few comments on each car, which will give an idea of the things they look at (it seems that they consider the whole model line, at least somewhat, although they tested the top models):

"The Lancer is Mitsubishi's entry-level sedan. Interior appointments look and feel insubstantial. Handling is clumsy, the ride is just tolerable, and road noise is pronounced. The powerplant is a relatively spirited (but noisy) 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A turbocharged all-wheel-drive Evolution rally race car model with 271 hp has joined the lineup and competes with the extreme Subaru Impreza WRX STi. The Evo is super fast and agile, with a harsh ride. The Lancer received a Good rating in an insurance-industry frontal offset-crash test. A wagon version arrives for the 2004 model year to compete with the Ford Focus Wagon. "

"The new RX-8 is a sporty coupe, and successor to the RX-7. It marks the return of the "Wankel" rotary engine, delivering 197 hp with the automatic and 238 with the manual. With the latter, acceleration is not explosive but is exceptionally smooth and responsive, provided you keep the engine at mid revs, which becomes natural and sounds invigorating. Handling is super agile with quick, communicative steering and is forgiving at the limits. Unlike some competitors, the ride is fairly comfortable. This truly fun-to-drive car doesn't beat you up and seats four. The rear-hinged rear doors with no center roof pillar make access to the rear easy. Fuel economy is a bit disappointing. "

"The agile, fun-to-drive Focus handles like a true sports car, especially in its nimble, souped-up SVT version. Reliability has finally improved, allowing us to recommend it. The seating position is high and commanding, major controls are clear and logically laid out, and the easy-to-access interior has a spacious, airy feel. The ride is firm, steady, and well-controlled. The base engine is a 110-hp Four, but even the 130-hp Four delivers only adequate acceleration. All versions we tested handled nimbly and felt forgiving at their limits. The wagon is a cleverly packaged and very practical choice, with better rear-seat and cargo space. A four-door SVT version is now available. "

"One of the better small cars, the Impreza serves up a supple ride and well-balanced handling. The WRX's turbocharged 227-hp engine provides quick and effortless acceleration, especially at mid-rpm, and its well-tuned suspension offers agile, enjoyable handling along with a compliant ride. The RS sedan, TS wagon, and SUV-influenced Outback Sport make do with a 2.5-liter, 165-hp engine. The wagon's cargo volume is small. The Outback Sport rides stiffly and doesn't handle as well as other Imprezas. A score of Good in an IIHS offset-crash test is a plus. The ferociously quick 300-hp WRX STi model must be the performance bargain of the decade. It goes like a Corvette and handles like a Boxster. "

Eric

P.S. The SVT and both WRX/STi received the red "recommended" check mark; the RX-8, EVO did not.

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Old 11-08-2003, 10:47 AM   #16
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I have a love hate relationship with CR. They are probably the best source for reliability data out there (not that they have a lot of competition for reporting this data) but I wish that their methods for computing reliability were more transparent. How big a sample size for each model do they have? What statistical methods do they use? I am puzzled because they rank the WRX’s reliability as average and I have not had even a single problem with my ’02… and I don’t drive it like a Buick Regal either.

Also, I think that their ranking scheme is more obscure than airline ticket pricing. Products that have all ‘excellent’ scores are often ranked lower than a product that got a few ‘very goods’ and a ‘good.’ How does that work?

That said, I admit that I am hopelessly addicted to reading CR and I generally recommend them as a great place to start when researching almost any purchase… Just don’t take their word as gospel.

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Old 11-08-2003, 12:14 PM   #17
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Agreed. However, one thing that does tip my hat in it's favor is its strict no advertising policy.

If the only way they make money is to provide unbiased reports and hope that consumers will buy their publications, that has to mean something in terms of its rating practices.

But yes, more transparency is always a good thing.
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Old 11-08-2003, 11:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Train
Got a link for the story?
OCR...

1 Ford SVT Focus
2 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
3 MazdaRX-8
4 Subaru Impreza WRX
5 Toyota Celica GT-S
6 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
7 Mini Cooper
8 Volkswagen New Beetle- TurboS
9 Honda Civic Si
10 Acura RSX Type-S
11 Nissan 350Z Touring
12 Chrysler Crossfire
13 Hyundai Tiburon GT(V6)
14 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT(V6)

The stereotypical image of a sports car is a small, low-slung two-seater, with little or no rear-passenger space and barely enough cargo room to carry groceries. The reality, however, is changing. New designs are blending high performance with a higher degree of practicality
Of the five sports cars we tested for this issue, two—the Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (commonly called the Evo)—are four-door sedans with a reasonable backseat and trunk.
Another four-door model, the Mazda RX-8, is a coupe with two small rear-hinged doors in back to allow easier access to its small but usable rear seat. The other two cars
-the Nissan 350Z and the Chrysler Crossfire—are two-seaters with no room for rear passengers.
All cost about $30,000 and provide excellent acceleration and braking. But handling and driving character vary. As with many sporty cars, the trade-offs for good performance are ride comfort, interior quiet, and fuel economy The STi and Evo are all-wheel drive; the other three cars are rear-wheel drive. All require premium fuel.
The Subaru STi was the highest-scoring car in this group and one of two that we can recommend. (See CR Quick on page 61 for our criteria.) It's a high-performance version of the Impreza sedan and is very similar to Subaru's
professional rally racing cars (see CloseUp, opposite page). The first WRX model, which was introduced in 2001, was also patterned after the rally-car design and has been our top pick in the Fun-to-Drive category since we tested it for our December 2001 report. Available as a sedan or wagon, the $25,000 Subaru WRX is a relatively inexpensive car that successfully blends sporty performance with four-door practicality.
The STi version, available only as a sedan, is closer to the real race car. It delivers quicker acceleration and better handling, but it is stiffer and noisier. It also costs $6,500 more than the WRX.
The Mazda RX-8, new for 2004, is a successor to the
RX-7 two-seat sports car, which was introduced for 1979 and hasn't been imported since 1995. It's essentially a 2+2 coupe (with two front seats and two small rear seats), and it has the added convenience of small rear doors. Like its predecessors, the RX-8 uses a rotary "Wankel" engine, now the only production car to do so. The engine has a pair of three-sided rotors instead of pistons to create compression. It is smaller and lighter than other types of engines and revs exceptionally smoothly. However, it gets lower gas mileage, and its emissions aren't as clean.
Like the STi, the Mitsubishi Evo is a high-performance version of an existing small sedan, the Lancer, and a close replica of the company's rally racing cars. The Evo has been sold in Europe and Japan for several years, but this eighth-generation model is the first to be imported to the U.S.
The Nissan 350Z, introduced for 2003, is fifth in the line ofDatsun/Nissan"Z" cars, which started with the 1970 240Z and was discontinued in 1996. The 350Z Touring model we tested comes with a 287-hp version of the 3.5-liter V6 found in several other Nissan and Infiniti vehicles.
The 2004 Chrysler Crossfire, built in Germany, is being touted as the first car from DaimlerChrysler to be co-developed by the American and German groups. The Crossfire is based on the outgoing Mercedes-Benz SLK, which was introduced in 1997 and is being redesigned for 2005. Although a new model, the Crossfire relies on a seven-year-old design and can't compete with newer sports-car designs.
Sporty cars are designed primarily to be fun to drive, with the best providing quick acceleration; agile handling;
responsive, communicative steering; and strong braking. To a large degree, those attributes determine how a car scores in our Ratings. While practicality is of less concern, the six top-rated models also provide some passenger- or cargo-carrying practicality, which makes them appealing to a wider range of drivers.
Of the 14 sporty cars listed here, 7 have all the requisites to be recommended. Among them is the Ford Focus (1), which showed improved reliability in our latest subscriber survey. We don't have sufficient reliability data to recommend the RX-8 (3), Lancer Evolution (6), Chrysler Crossfire (12), or Hyundai Tiburon (13). Below-average reliability prevents us from recommending the Mini Cooper (7) or Volkswagen New Beetle (8). The Mitsubishi Eclipse (14) has had average reliability but falls short in both performance and practicality.

The Ratings (right) rank vehicles based on how they performed in our tests. Recommended models (if) not only performed well in our tests, but also have shown average or better reliability and performed at least adequately if crash-tested. Quick Picks (below) are recommended models that deserve special consideration.


The Subaru WRX STi combines race-car-like acceleration and handling with the practicality of a four-door, five-passenger sedan. For about $31,000, the STi is also a performance-car value. Its 300-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine accelerates like a high-performance V8, making it almost as quick as a $50,000 Chevrolet Corvette while delivering reasonable fuel economy (20 mpg), albeit on premium fuel. The STi's nimble handling is reminiscent of a $50,000 Porsche Boxster.
The trade-off is a stiff ride that is jittery but tolerable. There is also constant noise

from the engine, drivetrain, and, particularly the tires.
For $6,500 less, you can buy the 227-hp Impreza WRX sedan or wagon. It isn't as quick as the STi version, but it's quieter and has a more comfortable ride. Reliability of the WRX has been average.
THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE
The STi effectively absorbs road impacts and bumps but feels jittery. Highway ride is firm, and the cabin is not well-isolated.
The STi feels at home on twisty roads, cornering with very little body lean. Steering is well-weighted and commu-
SUMMERFUN The high-performance tires provide good grip on dry or wet pavement, but '•'-ey need to be ;--ianged for driving in snow or cold climates.

nicative but not very quick. Emergency handling was predictable and controllable. After some initial understeer, the STi demonstrated excellent balance in corners and in our avoidance maneuver.
The 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, coupled with a six-speed manual transmission, achieved the quickest acceleration of the group. The amount of lock in the all-wheel-drive system's center differential is adjustable, but we found that it didn't make much difference. Braking performance was excellent.
INSIDE THE CABIN
The interior is put together well with quality materials and outfitted with a racing-style Momo steering wheel and sport seats. The driver's view is unobstructed except for a large hood scoop and rear spoiler. Head room and leg room are good.
The comfortable cloth front seats are bolstered to firmly

hold drivers in place around tight corners. The rear seats have just enough room for two adults. Access to the front seats is relatively easy, though rear access is more difficult.
Controls are readable and well-placed. The illuminated gauges are clear, but the optional turbo-boost gauge blocks the temperature display Controls let the driver adjust the height of HID headlights.
Cabin storage space is limited. There are two sturdy, narrow cup holders in the center console and a flimsy one in the dash. The rear seat doesn't fold.
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Old 11-09-2003, 10:47 AM   #19
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I always remember a mid-80s review that I read in CR. It ranked the Mustang as excellent in it's electrical integrity, but poor for the Mercury Capri. Mechanically, the cars were almost identical. They must have been too sidetracked trying to flip Samurais to know it....
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Old 11-10-2003, 09:24 AM   #20
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Look back at the reviews for the WRX and the 2.5 RS. The WRX gets a 'very good' for ACCESS and CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS while the RS gets a 'good' in both of these categories. Additionally, the WRX gets a ‘good’ rear seat comfort and the RS only gets a ‘fair.' The cars are, as far as I know, identical in these respects.

What's more, the WRX gets an 'excellent' overall rating while the RS gets a good. Since the cars are, overall, so similar I would expect their rankings to be a little closer together.

Yes, I know that it is very OCD of me to dwell on this, but I am completely vexed by it.

Last edited by unity; 11-10-2003 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 11-10-2003, 09:55 AM   #21
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One interesting thing about the article is their bumper basher repair estimate. IIRC, most of the cars were in the $400 to $600 range except for the Evo which was like $2000 front / 1200 rear. I understand the front (FMIC) but the rear baffles me. Insurance rates are going to me crazy for this car.

Ross
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Old 11-10-2003, 09:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by unity
What's more, the WRX gets an 'excellent' overall rating while the RS gets a good. Since the cars are, overall, so similar I would expect their rankings to be a little closer together.

Yes, I know that it is very OCD of me to dwell on this, but I am completely vexed by it.
It may be within the context of the review. The RS, when reviewed is competing against other small, econo-boxes... so compared to players like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, etc. things like ergonomics, build quality, seat room, etc. may be for one thing, given more weight, and for the other thing the bar may be raised when compared to the excellent Corolla and Civic.

However, the WRX is in a playing field filled with little coupes and hatchbacks, like the RSX, Celica, Tiburon, where it's 4 door chassis and larger size, ergonomics, build quality, may be better than the norm.
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Old 11-11-2003, 04:30 AM   #23
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Just got the issue today... Good stuff.
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Old 11-11-2003, 08:06 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by NeoteriX
It may be within the context of the review. The RS, when reviewed is competing against other small, econo-boxes... so compared to players like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, etc. things like ergonomics, build quality, seat room, etc. may be for one thing, given more weight, and for the other thing the bar may be raised when compared to the excellent Corolla and Civic.

However, the WRX is in a playing field filled with little coupes and hatchbacks, like the RSX, Celica, Tiburon, where it's 4 door chassis and larger size, ergonomics, build quality, may be better than the norm.
I guess that explanation makes more sense then my hypothesis that the reviews were written by deranged mutant space monkeys. However, I will point out that the Civic EX and Civic Si rate identically in their 'overall' scores even though they are ranked separately in small cars and sporty cars (respectively) just like the RS and WRX. Hmmm.
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Old 11-12-2003, 01:54 AM   #25
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Vehicle:
2002 Impreza 2.5RS
Silver

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Quote:
Originally posted by unity
I have a love hate relationship with CR. They are probably the best source for reliability data out there (not that they have a lot of competition for reporting this data) but I wish that their methods for computing reliability were more transparent. How big a sample size for each model do they have? What statistical methods do they use? I am puzzled because they rank the WRX’s reliability as average and I have not had even a single problem with my ’02… and I don’t drive it like a Buick Regal either.

Also, I think that their ranking scheme is more obscure than airline ticket pricing. Products that have all ‘excellent’ scores are often ranked lower than a product that got a few ‘very goods’ and a ‘good.’ How does that work?

That said, I admit that I am hopelessly addicted to reading CR and I generally recommend them as a great place to start when researching almost any purchase… Just don’t take their word as gospel.
i agree. they should be more transparent. i got my degree in stats, and we often analyzed CR stuff. one thing me and my classmates came to the conclusion, as i'm sure many of you have, is that they could sell their results better if they gave more background as to how they formulated the results. but then there is the flip side of that, and if you start loading the stuff with technical jargon that the average joe doesn't understand, it would just confuse them.
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