Sorting it out….

This week may not be the ideal one for those of you with an optimistic disposition. I’ve got a few things to get off my chest, and as it turns out a few others have too. I’d rather keep it focused on the cars and how much fun they are to own, to look at and to drive. But sometimes you’ve got to open the dump valve and relieve some pressure.

So the following will be a little bit about what I do on this site, why I do it the way I do it and why I think GM are dropping the ball with Saab in various jurisdictions in this new modern age that we live in.

A picture tells a thousand words. I could use a number of pictures here and all would be equally suitable, but I’ll choose this one and entitle it “This is what it’s all about”

Black900Gmstock.jpg

This one’s a long-ish one, so grab a coffee and sit down.

This post has been prompted by the suggestion (yes, it’s still nagging at me) that stories surrounding the MY 2008 Saab 9-3 were a primary factor for the sagged Saab 9-3 sales in the United States during February 2007. 9-3 sales were down by around 550 units compared to February 2006, though interestingly, they were only down a small amount from the preceding month.

I can accept the fact that some shoppers, upon hearing of the re-style and the addition of XWD would consider waiting for the new model. However, I can’t accept that this site has the traffic or the clout to influence a shopper’s decision to anywhere near that degree. If it has, then Saab should consider hiring me as I’m having a greater impact on their market than their multi-milllion dollar ads – and I think you’ll agree that that whole notion is rather preposterous.

My job here on Trollhattan Saab is pretty simple. I work for the visitors that come here. I do everything I can to provide all the latest news about Saab automobiles. This site is primarily aimed at Saab enthusiasts and it’s presented the only way I know – from the perspective of an enthusiast. My appreciation for Saab was born at 200km/h and honed by occasion after occasion where I have enjoyed the fun, speed and utility of turbocharged, sporty and practical Saabs. I love driving them and I love sharing knowledge about this most iconic of carmakers. I’m interested in what they’re doing and it’s quite obvious to me as a blogger that there’s a lot of people out there who are in the same boat.

My primary loyalty is to the Saab brand and culture. GM own the company but Saab owners and enthusiasts own the culture – and the sooner GM learn that the greater they’ll benefit from having Saab in their stable.

Saab isn’t mainstream and hence isn’t always understood by the mainstream media. We see this all the time in misguided road tests that judge the cars based on the adequacy of their cupholders rather than the ease and comforth with which you can take a 4-hour roadtrip with breathless performance and a truckload of luggage. This site exists to expound on the joys of Saab ownership from the perspective of a group of people that “gets it” – actual Saab owners themselves.

When your average curious Joe does a search on Google and lands here, he’ll find a site that writes honestly about Saabs from an ownership and enthusiast perspective. He’ll find a place that appreciates the Saab brand and what it represents rather than the people that own it. He’ll be able to learn a little about the foundations upon which the company was built, its ability to punch well above its weight and the whole philosophy of building the car around the driver.

It’s to their detriment that GM have seemingly lost the ability to communicate that to their Saab customers in recent years through either their products or their marketing.

Saab’s job is to produce compelling products built in the Saab tradition with excellent engineering and innovative ideas to provide a unique driving experience. It’s secondary job is market these vehicles in a compelling manner that attracts a sufficient and suitable customer base. Last but not least, it’s job is also to service these customers in a way that fits in with Saab being the premium European brand within GM’s fold.

I think they’re getting better at some of these, but there’s little doubt they’ve dropped the ball in many areas and current events point to further bumps in the road.

Compelling Products

I’ve driven the latest 9-3 in all three forms and I’ve also driven the latest 9-5 vehicles as well. They’re all excellent cars and I’d be happy to have any of them in my garage if were fortunate enough to be in the position to buy one.

But consider the following cars and the times when they were released:

The Saab 96 GT750
The Saab 99 EMS
The Saab 99 Turbo
The Saab 900 Aero (SPG)
The Saab 900 convertible
The Saab 9000 Aero
The Saab 9-3 Viggen
The first Saab 9-5 Aero

Each of these vehicles was a compelling car for its time. Each had that certain something about it that encapsulated the brand and at the same time took it to a new level. Each was differentiated from its siblings in a way that made people aspire to owning one – and they continue to do it to this day as collector’s pieces or as the dream Saab for an enthusiast like me that can’t yet afford to buy new.

Now, as good as the current cars are (and they are very, very good) – is there really anything in the range that would fit in with the pantheon listed above? Maybe a 9-3 Aero Sportcombi fits this bill and perhaps a 9-3 Convertible as well. Maybe.

Saab shot itself in the foot around 4 or 5 years ago with a lack of cost control that saw prospective vehicles axed and a fair bit of independance lost. It’s now paying the price for this with average quality ratings and poor customer perception.

The prospects for the future are improving, however. With a fundamentally different 9-3 on the horizon, the evolution of BioPower, a new 9-5 to come and a 9-4x and a 9-1 on the drawing board there’s little doubt that things are looking up.

But you can hardly blame an enthusiast community for showing interest in these future models when the history of the brand has been so storied, so innovative, and the current models are devoid of a hatch or many other points of difference from their competition. As competent and fun to drive as the 9-3 was, there’s something that’s quite “me-too” about having a sedan as your primary model for so long and for a demographic like Saab’s, it’s just not enough. Thank goodness for the addition of the SportCombi.

Compelling Service

Saab buyers expect a different level of service from their dealer. As a Saab enthusiast I’d expect my dealer to be knowledgable of both the current cars and Saab’s history. I’d expect them to gain an understanding of my knowledge and respect the fact that I’ve done my homework and know what I want. I’d expect them to come to a sale through relationship rather than tactics and pressure. And I’d expect them to be still be interested about the sale after it went through.

Thankfully, my local dealer exhibits all these qualities and I hope yours does too, but I know that many don’t. Saab would do well to take their top 5 dealers in each jurisdiction and employ them for three months a year as trainers to others. Sounds silly, I know. But how many Saab dealers out there now are dealing Saabs because they have to under a dealership agreement and don’t really know diddly-squat about the brand, its history and its typical customer?

Cadillac recently won BusinessWeek’s inaugural award for best automotive-related customer service. What’s more, they placed third in the entire award, being pitched against category winners from non-automotive areas. So it’s not like it’s impossible for a GM company to do well in when it comes to customer service. I’ve heard enough stories through this site to know that some Saab dealers can do it exceptionally well and some can leave a lot to be desired.

GM may not fully realise this, but Saab owners are a finicky bunch and there’s very good historical reasons for this. Many of them have owned Saabs in the past and therefore have possibly had poor repairs done on their cars by a non-specialist Saab repairer. This harks back to the days where Saab were indeed quite different to everything else out there. It’s why I take my Viggen to a specialist rather than the local Saab dealership, which also deals with Holdens and Hyundais. If you think I’m letting some 19 year old apprentice loose on my Viggen when he likely hasn’t seen anything remotely like it before in his life then you’ve got another thing coming. And I’d be just as wary if I owned a 9-5.

Saab owners should be made to feel every bit as welcome as Caddy owners. They should get treatment comparable to Mercedes owners (ask a Benz owner when was the last time they paid for a globe when they called in to have one replaced). They should be appreciated with the same level of respect as BMW and Audi have for their customers. Anything less and you’re just handing another win to your competition.

Compelling marketing

This might be the single area where Saab may have the most catching up to do. The electronic world is changing month by month and hiring a kid who’s a wiz at Flash to tart up your website isn’t going to cut it. As a matter of fact it may even be an impediment in many situations as you’re forcing your customers to be compatible, but that’s another matter.

It’s not only the changing nature of the electronic world, it’s the engagement of the Saab community in that changing world. This site has grown exponentially in the last 2 years. The Saab Network (or as I like to think of it, the electronic version of “Cheers” for Saab enthusiasts) involves a huge community of Saab owners as do SaabCentral, Saablink and numerous club websites and other forums around the world.

Saab’s own demographic studies show that the average Saab buyer is around 42 years old, professionally employed and quite discerning in what they choose to compliment their lifestyle. They’re quite capable and engaged in using the web to research what they’re looking for and Saab need to tap into this with more than just a flashy website.

There isn’t a car company yet that’s properly tapped into the phenomenon that’s referred to as “Web 2.0” but they’d be well advised to do so. This site is just a blog and therefore a very basic part of that, but a properly resourced and established interaction between company and customer is possible and vital, now more than ever, and moreover it’s perfectly suited to a brand like Saab with a small but highly engaged customer base.

Contrary to my previous writing here, that’s not a job that I’d want. I’m now content in my little corner of cyberspace with my independance and ability to grow the site as I wish. I’m also lacking the knowledge and skills to do the engineroom work that would need to be done in such an exercise. I can tell you though, that the company that does this first and best will rake in a windfall.

As to the more traditional kind of marketing….

Saab seem to have a number of campaigns going on in different places, which points to the fact that they’re either well on top of what customers expect in different markets, or that they haven’t got a clue.

I tend to lean towards the former rather than the latter. I think their marketing is pretty well presented, there just needs to be more of it and the control over that lies with the beancounters at GM. Saab are takers of budgetary advice, not givers. But GM don’t need to be told that you’ve got to spend money to make money.

Hopefully Saab’s budget will increase as new models come on board. GM are getting plenty of benefit from Saab engineering and turbocharging knowledge and Saab’s got heaps of upside potential in many markets, so a little investment could go a long, long way.

Conclusion

If I were to make a presentation to a global Saab company conference, I’d tell them that I work for the visitors that take the time to come and read stories on the website.

I’d tell the bosses from Detroit and Russelsheim that they work for the engineers and designers. Their job is to make decisions that provide the best environment for the real brains of the company to do the best job they can in producing the best Saabs for a modern age.

I’d tell the engineers and designers that they work for the interests of Saab dealers. The dealers have to have something compelling to sell to clients and it’s the job of the engineers and designers to provide a compelling product that inherits all the elements that made Saabs so distinctive over the years.

And I’d tell the Saab dealers that they work for the customers. They’re the people who are going to pay your wage, make you look good in the eyes of the company and hence make the company look good in the eyes of more people. The dealers have to be outstanding and they have to have something outstanding to sell.

I’m going to do my bit and cover everything Saab in the best possible way that I can. Here’s hoping that GM and Saab can do their part to best of their ability too.

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22 Comments

  1. well said.

    You realize when this blog has become an addiction, when you have looked on it the last 2h to see if there is a new post out… The reason is not that I am a totaly crazy saab fan, it is just that it is a great blog, with lots of interesting discussions and news.

    You made agreat point abotu the sales in January vs Feb.

    A comment on the dealer network. I live in Canada. 3 weeks ago me and my girlfried whent into the local dealer. THe sales rep was rather pushy and wanted to have our e-mail to send us some information if he could lover the price on a SC. We hessitated as we where just looking around, but gave it to him. 3 weeks since we have not heard anything. Its not that we would have bought the car, because most likely we would not, but the fact that we did not hear anything does not build relations….

    I think SAAB is on the right track, and I admire GM for the pations they have had with saab, but I do not think that spypics of a new car could effect sales that much. If that would have been the case, that would be the same for each and every brand, and that is not the case.

    Like I said, well said Swade

  2. well done swade, one thing I would like to say is that the my08 9-3 was not realy a spy shot (not in my eyes). the badges were all over it for every one to see, even the grill still has the saab badge on it. and dont forget it was driving in the town as well as the country side, it was out there to be seen. great article swade.
    p.s. on a lighter note, I have my new shirt on as I type…robin.

  3. i always enjoy your comments and website swade. i really don’t think the info on the MY2008 9-3 presented here had much to do with declining sales for the 9-3 for 07. regarding saab and it’s dealers entering the web marketing age one area to improve is being able to search
    dealer inventories for your desired new car. right now there is a mish mosh of info available, some dealers in the US have their inventory online others do not even have their own website and just use the generic saab usa site. i see people online despairing that they can not find an 06 9-3 to buy in their area but often there is a dealer fairly close with quite a few 06’s

  4. I agree with your thoughts here, Swade—especially the service aspect.

    When I pull into the local dealership, with my 1988 Saab 900 Turbo, I want to be treated as a valued customer not a poor boy who can’t afford a new car. Believe it or not, some people drive older cars by choice … and enjoy it!

    At one dealership, the service writer smirked when I pulled in for service, wondering why I was there. Quite frankly, I began to wonder why HE was there. Isn’t this supposed to be a SERVICE department?

    At another dealership, the service writer talked fast and said, “yeah, yeah” so many times I wondered if he was even listening. I felt like saying, “Listen, buddy. If you’re not gonna listen to me, I can go elsewhere.” Maybe I should have.

    But when Shaker Saab was still in Shaker Heights, one service writer made me feel as if I was important. He patiently and kindly answered my questions—even when I was wrong. That kind of service caused me to go back again and again.

    So, you’re right. One of the best ways to build customer loyalty/brand loyalty is with good service. And from my experience, that has happened best when the dealership deals only with Saabs.

  5. heck im only 17 but this is one the most frequently visited site i go to. though i do have a cts i fought my parents this whole summer to get me a 9-3 ss, but in the end couldnt. i got the price down to 22000 but dad wanted 21000. i seriously beg them everyday to trade in the caddy, though my dad says his next car is a saab which is good. ive learned sooo much from this site about saabs i plan to get an internship this semester and hopefully summer at the local saab dealership. cant wait

  6. I think this promo the US had going on with MASSIVE discounts on ’06 models was the reason behind declining sales in Feb of the ’07 9-3. Hell Id take a huge dollop of cash from GM to take an ’06 model especially when you consider the outrageous interest rates GM financial is charging on new models AND the fact the ’06 is no different to the ’07 on the outside.

    Lets hope the ’08 pics may have stimulated a bit of interest in Saab.

    Swade, have you ever walked into an Audi dealership. They truly are the rudest sales people I have ever met but somehow they manage to sell cars. I, for one, would never have an Audi just for the fact they are so rude!

  7. Well done Mr. Swade, I agree. About that list of magic Saabs, IMHO, I think the Viggen will be the last one until we get a 9-1ish halo car. I hate to say it. I would still enjoy a 9-5 wagon, aero of course, pre ’06…

  8. Swade – I love the Saab picture.

    You wrote:

    “We see this all the time in misguided road tests that judge the cars based on the adequacy of their cupholders rather than the ease and comforth with which you can take a 4-hour roadtrip with breathless performance and a truckload of luggage.”

    I’m in total agreement with you vis-a-vis the character and uniqueness of the Saab marque and how it isn’t appreciated by C&D and the like for being special.

    And that Saabs are subjugated to the monotony of cup-holder styled everyman practicality tests.

    That said, your argument falls into the devil’s hands (i.e. those of most car mag editors’) because with few exceptions Saab’s prime competition – BMW and Audi – make quieter, more comfortable cars even better suited to those “4-hour trips”.

    And in comparo tests in which Saabs are pitted against Bimmers et al., this inevitably shows.

    I, for one, do not believe that Saab has to compete on the same comfort level with the Germans. The 9-3s and 9-5s are comfortable enough.

    What Saab must do is maintain that singular, iconic status that you mentioned – above all else.

  9. Glad some folks (if I can use that Bushism) can see where I’m coming from on these things.

    Gunnar, the quietness issue always tugs at me too. I’ve got a seven year old car that I think is reasonable quiet. That’s because my previous car was a 1979 99T. But I think my Viggen would drive new car owners nuts as it wouldn’t be considered quiet enough.

    I think what happens as we go along this road to the future is that people’s expectations are lifted higher and higher and start to get a little crazy. A Saab may not be as quiet as a BMW or Audi but does that mean it’s noisy?

    One day Toyota will make a car that navigates to a programmed destination while you sleep and all cars will then be judged on how many REM sleeps you get on your trip.

    It’s all fun and games, isn’t it?

    Robin, pleased to read that you feel so comfortable in your new TS T-shirt. Obviously life is much better now and you’re in for a lottery win, the air smells cleaner and people in the street stop and say “Hi”.

    OK, maybe I’m exaggerating the flow-on effects of TS T-shirt acquisition, but I’m pleased nonetheless 😉

    Mo, all good things…..

  10. Swade, you wrote: “A Saab may not be as quiet as a BMW or Audi but does that mean it’s noisy?”

    My reply: Certainly not. Like I said, your generation 9-3, the subsequent model and the 9-5 are comfortable (that includes noise) cars.

    What grates me with Saab is not so much the exterior noise issue (which isn’t bad) as much as ride quality.

    Take a spin in a BMW 3-Series with low-profile rims and the driver is still treated to a vehicle with a well dampened ride that compromises nothing in the way of handling.

    Saab, on the other hand, was probably too cautious in balancing the needs of sport with that of comfort. The result is a buckboard ride (though the new 9-3 is a significant improvement).

    Saab has room for growth in these areas.

    That said, there’s something instantly smile inducing about the way each of the aforementioned models handles a curve that prompts one to forgive quickly.

    I don’t know if I’d want cushy comfort over smiles in Saab – unless I commuted every day in slow inner-city traffic over pot-hole ridden roads.

    In such a scenario I’d likely foresake both BMW and Saab and buy a Lexus ES.

  11. If anyone should be getting a rocket under their asses is GM for not taking the opportunity at hand and go on to produce a massive incentive discounting campaign on the current line and increase sales. To point the finger at Swade and this site for poor sales figures is like them blaming the Swedes on making such a fantastic leap forward by getting such new products like the AWD Black Turbo and the face lift of the current models. Lets be clear on the sate of the nation and GM is the sole culprit on where the brand is when compared to the rest of suppliers in this market segment. Shame on you GM to dare to think that the work at Trollhatten is the reason for your poor decisions on where the brand is after you took it over. You have to shove up the dealer network nostrils with the Hummer and the Cadillac range to have them sell more than a 2 car line up since you have basically not done anything with the brand to make it in par to Volvo under Ford as an example. I wont add more examples like Audi, BMW etc etc as it is pointless to list the line up they have and how ridiculous GM looks with what they allowed Saab to offer in the last 10 years. If anything Swade has kept the loyalty of the brand intact and I would dare to say he’s contribution is even expanding it. So get off your butt and do something constructive with this gold mine you have since putting the blame on to others rather than yourself only proofs the level of incompetence on your behalf. I am really pissed off on this ridiculous claim !!!

  12. — you said —
    When your average curious Joe does a search on Google and lands here, he’ll find a site that writes honestly about Saabs from an ownership and enthusiast perspective. He’ll find a place that appreciates the Saab brand and what it represents rather than the people that own it.

    — i say —

    That’s how I happened upon this glorious place!

    Swade, nice work, I’d raise a pint to that! I know I don’t speak for only myself when I say that we are all behind you and support you. Thanks so much for all you do and sacrifice for us Saab-ists.

    You’re my hero, Swade…

  13. Joe Lobo, I agree with your GM comments… But i’m not sure that gm directly pointed a finger at Swade, did i miss something?

  14. That’s my car! The picture was taken in 1996 just before Saab had their 50th anniversary! Saab borrowed the car from me for a day. The picture is taken here in Gothenburg, at a place called Ramberget. It was published in the 50th anniversary calendar that Saab gave out the same year.

    The car was put into the garage just after the picture was taken and have been standing there for more than 10 years now. Just waiting for me to find some time and money to get it going again.

    /Anth

  15. I have a unique perspective here as I was just car shopping with my mother this weekend to try and find her a new car. She test-drove an AUDI A4 and SAAB 9-5 amongst other things.

    It wasn’t an “apples to apples” test, as she was pitting an A4 against a 9-5, which is not generally a class-to-class comparison (the 9-5 is higher class).

    We drove an ’05-1/2 A4 2.0T FSI versus an ’03 9-5 Arc.

    The AUDI was much louder (as far as engine noise is concerned) than any of the other cars we tested and was my mom’s main motivation for eliminating it from her list of cars to consider.

    The Anniversary Edition 9-3 and 9-5 are practically SILENT. I haven’t driven a brand new AUDI or BMW, but I can’t believe they’d be much better than the SAAB. In fact, I kind of miss the noise as I use it to judge when to shift! Plus the SAAB traditionally has a nice distinctive exhaust note with the turbo spool-up! 🙂

    There was nothing wrong with the sales staff at either the AUDI or SAAB dealership, but I guess that’s due to the area in which I live. There are TONS of car dealers on the same street so it’s very competitive.

    As for SAAB financing, I don’t think the assertion that was made earlier and hasn’t been challenged so far is correct. SAAB is offering quite low financing on even ’07 models. Go to http://www.saabusa.com and see for yourself (or go to the new cars section and look at “incentives” at http://www.edmunds.com). They’re offering as low as 0% financing if you forego the customer cash (assuming certain criteria, such as credit history and such…). Look here:
    http://www.edmunds.com/new/2007/saab/93/100769511/incentives.html

    The main issue my mom had with the 9-5 and made her eliminate it from her list in favor of the Acura TL or Infiniti G35 is that its reliability rating was lower than those two in Consumer Reports. I have the feeling these CR issues are killing A LOT of SAAB sales. Most people who buy SAABs are smart and educated, not impulse buyers. They do their research. And when they look in CR they get scared-off.

  16. Firstly, Swade the spy picture issue is bull, if you get hassle from SAAB. Car Magazine (with a fine Australian editorial heritage I might add) was lambasted in the 60s and 70s for spy shots, to the point where car manufacturers stopped advertising. Then it was recognised that spy shots can help promote the brand. The advertising came back. Frankly they are probaly pissed that the shots did not get better coverage. SAAB knew that spy pics would appear if undisguised cars were put on the road. I would wager that they were eagerly awaiting reaction from TS to the revamp.

    Secondly, I watched a program last night on buying a c900 Turbo, repairing and selling at a profit. What made me sit up, was that for a 22 year old car it needed a new exhaust, brakes and they retrimmed the interior. That was it, on a car 2 decades old. Well ok they gave it a polish too. For me, the USP of the car was a destinctive design, with the build quality of a Mercedes with the driver appeal of a BMW and the get up and go of a Porsche .

    The amazing thing for me is the passion for the brand I see on this site daily. I doubt if anyone using this site agrees with anything I post but I hope that SAAB can see that there is a massive amount of goodwill out there if they can provide the correct product.

    Finally, and this is meant positively Gripen, I would encourage you to drive the BM a new A4and even a Merc and Volvo. I would not accept criticisim of SAAB from someone who had not driven one. If they drive it and dislike it thats fine, it is all personal choice.
    Personally I have driven all all the cars you have listed and while I agree about the AUDI I think you would find the BM quieter than the SAAB. BUT, quiet is not always better a SAAB should be refined in the same way an Alfa should be loud. (Or as they dont sell Afas in the states anymore) the same way a Mustang should be loud.

    Anyway it’s only the start of the year. Lets all take a deep breath and see how the UK and Europe does.

    PS Gunnar, my wife has a brand new 3 riding on low profile 17″ run flats and the rise is s**t. Honestly. Apparently the 5 is just as bad.

  17. Jon, I think we’re both on the same “wavelength” here (regarding your comment above. I actually PRAISED the quietness of a four-year old 9-5 versus a year-and-a-half old A4. I also pointed out that the current ’07 models are extremely quiet. I don’t know if you misunderstood my comment or if I’m misunderstanding yours.

    My mom isn’t interested in a BMW. I didn’t ask her why, but I suspect it’s because we see them EVERYWHERE around here. She wants something a little different, which is why I could get her to test the 9-5. Too bad it couldn’t pass CR’s “projected reliability” muster, or she might have bought it.

  18. The comment above about comparisons has always surprised me. Why compare a 9-5 with anything higher than a 3 series BMW? I would spend a similar amount for both! It’s about the value, folks.

  19. Gripen – dont worry I am not advising buying a BMW (even if you liked it!!). My pet hate is someone who puts SAAB down having never driven one, so I was just asking you to try the BM to see how you think it compares and if you don’t like it fine, personally, I just can’t warm to AUDI. I think it is important to look at the competition and as Swade argues when talking about car magazine, it’s all about driving and enjoying it. I refer you to the anniversary SAAB 9-3, when you finally drove it you liked it!

  20. Thanks for the advice, Jon. I haven’t driven a BMW, but I did sit in a new 335i (twin-turbo) at the L.A. Auto Show and I was REALLY impressed by the interior quality materials.

    However, it’s not ME who’s shopping for a car, it’s my mom. BMWs are nice but very common around here so I’m suspecting that’s why she’s not considering Bimmer.

    Although I really enjoyed driving the 9-3 and 9-5 Anniversary Editions, I would be hard pressed to recommend my mom buy a 9-3. I know people put WAY too much faith in CR, but they’re about the only gauge of reliability out there so I think that though there’s a chance that a SAAB might not have ANY problems, the first time it had ANY sort of problem I’d hear it from my mom how we should have listened to Consumer Reports and how an Acura or Infiniti wouldn’t have had the same problem! If she goes and buys the Acura or Infiniti if it had a problem I’m not to blame, I told her to buy the 9-5! 🙂

    But I highly doubt these cars would have any problems. I don’t necessarily believe in the almighty CR, she’s owned a 1995 Toyota Camry and 1984 Honda Accord for over 10 years each and never had to have them in for repair for anything other than a routine replacement of the timing belt on the Camry and routine maintenance (oil changes, etc.). Her experience with Japanese cars is that they’re flawless reliability-wise.

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