3/02/2006

Why you should care that the Top 10 cars are Japanese I've been car shopping for a few months now, wanting to make sure I make the right decision on my next purchase. So today's WSJ story about the latest results from Consumer Reports really caught my eye. It said that the latest findings indicated that ALL the cars to make the top 10 list are Japanese. It's the first time since the top 10 list was introduced in 1997 that an American car didn't make the cut. Of course, I immediately went to the list of which cars made it. My two favorites, the Acura TL and Infinity m35 were both there. Somehow, I felt validated and sad at the same time. I've been buying American cars for a long time and, for the most part, have been very happy with them. But my awful experience of owning a 1999 Cadillac Seville ST has caused me to turn an eye toward foreign cars for the first time. There's an excellent chance my next vehicle will not be American. The bottom line: the American auto makers are becoming less relevant to me by the day. In a three year period, it cost $18,000 to fix "minor" things wrong with my Cadillac. Luckily, I had purchased an extended warranty, so most expenses were covered. Still, I've spent over $2,000 just in deductions. What's worse, my local Cadillac dealer hasn't seemed the least bit concerned about this. In fact, when I complained that the car drank two quarts of oil every 1,000 miles, I was told, "That's not so unusual, especially in a high performance car." I've always felt dismissed, even bamboozled, when I dealt with Cadillac. I mistakenly thought that luxury cars were backed by luxury service. Sadly, this story of disapointment in performance, compounded by irritation at bad service, is playing out in many industries, not just the car business. Like the Big 3 American auto makers, many companies are getting arrogant and complacent about their offerings. It's easy to think when you're on top that just because you climbed the mountain and reached the peak, you'll stay there. It just doesn't work that way. Relevance must be earned every day. What about you? Are you riding a high right now? If so, what's your plan to stay there?

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