Let's take an objective (or is that subjective) look at the differences between american vs european vs japanese cars

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
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Let's face it, American cars are bang-for-the-buck values that while offering neither the build quality of imports (for those finnicky about gaps between doors) nor the handling (in many cases), they do offer a good value for the money you pay for them (depending on if you lease or buy, and the model).

Japanese cars are noted for great fuel economy and better build quality (and better reliability), however this reliability is sometimes over-rated. If some teen floors his civic at every stoplight it's not going to last any longer than if he did the same to some american car. European cars are comfortable and handle great, but aren't always the most reliable or the most frugal with gas.

It seems that most people have the attitude that American = Teh GAr8aG3. I even had this attitude somewhat, mostly because of others. I've come to see on my own though that imports aren't the gods of reliability as they claim (after seeing a friend's POS accord that he sold for 2000, that I told him I'd give him 500, and the guy that bought it for 2000 is pissed now because the engine died :) Dad had a similar story...), and that not all american cars are crap ( I was surprised with how comfy and fast a friend's bonneville was). These were individual experiences and they do not define the brand, of course.

Then there's my grandma's golf. I've heard of volkswagens and electrical problems and my grandma's golf was no exception but other than that she hasn't had any major problems. The car is surprisingly fun to drive and comfortable inside, things you usually don't associate with an economy car.

So what do you think?

As a point of comparison I used statistics from a car-talk survey:

Average cost of repairs for 1998 vehicles:

Honda Accord $228
Nissan Altima $120
Mitsubishi Eclipse $425
Pontiac Grand Prix $405
Volkswagen Jetta $215
Ford Taurus $391

Average cost of repairs / TMV

Honda Accord 1.4% - 2.3%
Nissan Altima 1.1% - 1.5%
Mitsubishi Eclipse 3.0% - 4.9%
Pontiac Grand Prix 3.5% - 4.2%
Volkswagen Jetta 1.7% - 2.4%
Ford Taurus 3.2% - 5.2%



Average cost of repairs for 1990 vehicles:

Honda Accord $726
Nissan Stanza $637
Mitsubishi Eclipse $1203
Pontiac Grand Prix $1164
Volkswagen Jetta $843
Ford Taurus $1184

Average cost of repairs / TMV

Honda Accord 14% - 19%
Nissan Stanza 22% - 42%
Mitsubishi Eclipse 41% - 61%
Pontiac Grand Prix 37% - 59%
Volkswagen Jetta 40% - 46%
Ford Taurus 57% - 91%


So what do these numbers mean? I dunno, they're just numbers. What I'm looking for is your personal opinion, stories, whatever, to make this thread an entertaining one to read. And no, I don't mean posts like "American sucks!!" or "Ricers can $**$ off!"
;)
 

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
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Such a controversial topic hasn't taken off yet? Hmm, maybe I should have bashed a brand so I would have had people in here defending them and then the thread would have taken off.
;)
 

Ns1

No Lifer
Jun 17, 2001
55,386
1,525
126
let's put all reliability issues aside here ;)

let's talk about driver comfort and ergonomics and such

i've been in almost every car imaginable, and i have to say american companies have no idea at all how to design an interior. cadillac makes "decent" interiors, but most fords and stuff suck. who the hell was the genius that decided you have to push a button to take out your keys from the ignition? why the hell do you have a stick to pull for the lights? why do you put crap like PW controls in such absurd positions(PT cruiser, on the dash WTF?)

*rant*
WTF IS UP WITH PEOPLE AND RANGE ROVERS OMFG. they put the window controls in the middle console (you know in between teh seats and up a litlte bit), except in some years the top 2 control the front windows, in some years it controls the back windows, and its just a pain in the ass to figure out
*/rant*

i like japanese cars, they're pretty no sh!t, everything's easy as hell to figure out, and they're easy to drive (even though they might be underpowered compared to their american counterparts), and they handle great. i absolutely LOVE german cars (except for vw, although the golf is pretty nice). bmw's handle great, has incredibly smooth stick (as do the newer porsche), and they're all oh so comfy ;) although i think the new mercedes went a litlte too button crazy though, so many damn buttons all over the place lol


name a car and i can give a pretty good review on it ;)
 

raptor13

Golden Member
Oct 9, 1999
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I couldn't vote in the poll because, really, it's not any particular brand of car that appeals to me. Rather, it's a certain type of car that appeals to me, i.e. a car with certain performance and aesthetics qualities (none of which applies to this topic).


But, as you said Ultima, each brand has its strong points and weak points. Just buy what you like. After all, to each goes his own.
 

alphatarget1

Diamond Member
Dec 9, 2001
5,710
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IMO American cars are really comfortable for the money, we rented a Buick Century once and the suspension and noise level beats our honda accord EX v6 by a mile.

a lot of japanese cars sold here are manufactured here. I don't have the figures on hand but do Japanese/European manufacturers employ more americans than American automakers? my nissan sentra is made in the US but a ford focus is made in mexico, wtf?
 

PsychoAndy

Lifer
Dec 31, 2000
10,735
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Originally posted by: kenleung
IMO American cars are really comfortable for the money, we rented a Buick Century once and the suspension and noise level beats our honda accord EX v6 by a mile.

a lot of japanese cars sold here are manufactured here. I don't have the figures on hand but do Japanese/European manufacturers employ more americans than American automakers? my nissan sentra is made in the US but a ford focus is made in mexico, wtf?
"Imports"
Accord- Marysville, Ohio
Maxima- Somewhere in Tennessee
Camry- Georgetown, Kentucky
MB- Somewhere in South Carolina.

"Domestics"
Chevy, Camaro & Silverado come to mind, I'm not sure about other models - Canada
Chrysler and Ford - Mexico. I believe the PT Cruiser and the Focus

As far as I am concerned, American build quality is not an issue. Its Detroit engineering.

Although I will give Detroit the edge on light-medium duty trucks. Thats the only category that they have the Japanese beat.

-PAB
 
Jan 9, 2002
5,232
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I think I actually won't get into this time, but I of course voted European. I drive a 1986 Volkswagen GTI, and my next ride will be a 2002 Volkswagen Passat turbo.
 

Nemesis77

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2001
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This is coming from an european BTW.

European all the way :). they have the quality, drivability, good looks, great interiors.... At least in Europe they do.

Japanese: reliable. Others suffer from all kinds of minor (or not so minor) problems, but not the japanese. But in return the cars are rather bland, drivability and such are average at best. They are just that: average. They are not bad, but not great either. they are just.... boring.

Now, american cars... Interiors aren't usually as good as in European cars. They look and feel plastic and the ergonomics aren't that good. Headlights are usually poor (altrough this is getting better. I remember one magazine where they test-drove Cadillac SeVille STS. Worth about 500.000FIM at the time. They jokingly noted that the Lada (worth about 50.000FIM) they also test-drove also in that magazine had clearly superior headlights when compared to the Cadillac ;)), and trunk is inefficient (big american cars have trunk comparable to smaller european cars). They have big engines but the power-output is not good when looking at the size of the engine. Surprisingly they are pretty good to drive, but at the expense of comfort. In Europe people dislike the softer suspension that is used in USA, so the companies re-tune the suspension for the car exported to USA. But they go almost overboard with it.
 

Ryan

Lifer
Oct 31, 2000
27,518
1
81
The thing that I'm most influenced by is Resale value. In that market, Imports rule supreme.
 

OS

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
15,581
1
76

woah, split 50/50 (9 to 9) and still not a single vote for domestic. :Q


 

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
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Originally posted by: Nemesis77
This is coming from an european BTW.

European all the way :). they have the quality, drivability, good looks, great interiors.... At least in Europe they do.

Japanese: reliable. Others suffer from all kinds of minor (or not so minor) problems, but not the japanese. But in return the cars are rather bland, drivability and such are average at best. They are just that: average. They are not bad, but not great either. they are just.... boring.

Now, american cars... Interiors aren't usually as good as in European cars. They look and feel plastic and the ergonomics aren't that good. Headlights are usually poor (altrough this is getting better. I remember one magazine where they test-drove Cadillac SeVille STS. Worth about 500.000FIM at the time. They jokingly noted that the Lada (worth about 50.000FIM) they also test-drove also in that magazine had clearly superior headlights when compared to the Cadillac ;)), and trunk is inefficient (big american cars have trunk comparable to smaller european cars). They have big engines but the power-output is not good when looking at the size of the engine. Surprisingly they are pretty good to drive, but at the expense of comfort. In Europe people dislike the softer suspension that is used in USA, so the companies re-tune the suspension for the car exported to USA. But they go almost overboard with it.

I don't agree with the power-output crap. How is a 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 160hp but only gets 22/28mpg any better than a 3.0L v6 that also makes 160hp and gets 22/28mpg (and also makes more torque than the 4-cylinder). Who cares if the engine's bigger, as long as the fuel economy is (almost) the same? A bigger engine will also wear less (more surface area to wear).
I mean it's not like we have 100hp V8's like back in the 50's ;)
Anyways... if my grandma's golf is any reliable measure of European performance then yes, European cars are fun to drive. If only hers was a standard.. ;)
 

thomsbrain

Lifer
Dec 4, 2001
18,148
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We rented a Grand Prix once, with whatever the big engine is. What a joke. 4 people and some suitcases, and that pos was bottoming out on every pothole. And I swear it was as slow as the Civic at home with the same load. It WAS quite though, gotta give them that. It's like every American car comes with 1000 pounds of sound deadening material that makes it nice and quiet and smooth but handle like cold syrup. Then on the "sporty" models they make the steering and braking twitchy to give the illusion that it's nimble.
 

OS

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
15,581
1
76
Originally posted by: Ultima


I don't agree with the power-output crap. How is a 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 160hp but only gets 22/28mpg any better than a 3.0L v6 that also makes 160hp and gets 22/28mpg (and also makes more torque than the 4-cylinder). Who cares if the engine's bigger, as long as the fuel economy is (almost) the same? A bigger engine will also wear less (more surface area to wear).
Depends on the application. 6 cylinders tend to weigh more than 4 bangers and so it often screws up the weight distribution and handling of lighter sports cars.

For example, if Honda's s2000 had a 240 HP V6 instead of a 4 banger, it's handling would be degraded a lot.

 

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
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Originally posted by: thomsbrain
We rented a Grand Prix once, with whatever the big engine is. What a joke. 4 people and some suitcases, and that pos was bottoming out on every pothole. And I swear it was as slow as the Civic at home with the same load. It WAS quite though, gotta give them that. It's like every American car comes with 1000 pounds of sound deadening material that makes it nice and quiet and smooth but handle like cold syrup. Then on the "sporty" models they make the steering and braking twitchy to give the illusion that it's nimble.
Oh god I hate twitchiness. For my driving lessons I sometimes drive this Kia that is nearly impossible to keep straight at speed. On the other hand my grandma's golf is very stable at speed while still being nimble enough to handle country roads easily. LMAO when I tried that in my parent's taurus wagon :) Scared my mom with my continuously scraping the shoulder - that car is simply too wide and that road too narrow.
 

OS

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
15,581
1
76
Originally posted by: RagingBITCH
<-- Voted domestic

Would take a Mustang or F150 anyday over this foreign crap :p

****flame away****

hahaha, first domestic vote, that's awesome.
 

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
2,893
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Originally posted by: RagingBITCH
<-- Voted domestic

Would take a Mustang or F150 anyday over this foreign crap :p

****flame away****

Yeah, you just gotta appreciate the raw power of a Cobra or LS1 :)

That said, I would not want one as a daily driver ;)
 

thomsbrain

Lifer
Dec 4, 2001
18,148
1
0
Originally posted by: RagingBITCH
<-- Voted domestic

Would take a Mustang or F150 anyday over this foreign crap :p

****flame away****
did you know that if you look under the hood of a ford pickup, you can actually see the rubber bands they use to connect the steering? that's how they get that classic "turn the wheel 4 inches but nothing happens" feel.
 

Ultima

Platinum Member
Oct 16, 1999
2,893
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Originally posted by: OuterSquare
Originally posted by: Ultima


I don't agree with the power-output crap. How is a 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 160hp but only gets 22/28mpg any better than a 3.0L v6 that also makes 160hp and gets 22/28mpg (and also makes more torque than the 4-cylinder). Who cares if the engine's bigger, as long as the fuel economy is (almost) the same? A bigger engine will also wear less (more surface area to wear).
Depends on the application. 6 cylinders tend to weigh more than 4 bangers and so it often screws up the weight distribution and handling of lighter sports cars.

For example, if Honda's s2000 had a 240 HP V6 instead of a 4 banger, it's handling would be degraded a lot.
In that case you're probably right. The engines shouldn't be like that just for the sake of high output power though. What advantages are there other than lighter weight and perhaps more fuel economy? I wonder how the engines last under hard driving as compared to V6 or V8, and then there's that pesky lack of torque ;)
But I suppose that's why you see engines like that in cars like the S2000.

 

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