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Greg Melville of Money Magazine cautions car-buyers to reconsider when they hear and read about vehicle awards. In a new article, he addresses the strengths and weakness of the following award givers point-by-point:
J.D. Power & Associates
Melville finds the organization's consumer interviews for their quality surveys to be top notch. However, he maintains the company's 90-day results are irrelevant, and feels the three year results are more informative to consumers.

Strategic Vision
Surveys on buyers' emotional reactions to vehicles, writes Melville, are best left to the buyer since they'll know if they like the car. Or not. Also, choosing a vehicle based on which award it did not win (Vision has 23 categories!) does not inform buyers about specific details like reliability.

R.L. Polk & Co.
Melville believes people's long-term buying habits do not reveal anything meaningful about a car's quality or desirability (e.g., the Saturn Ion and the Mercury Grand Marquis have high loyalty ratings).

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Despite the different--and changing--methodology of both organizations, car buyers should seriously consider their safety ratings.

More details at the link. Curiously, Melville does not discuss what is arguably the buyer's best-known survey and data collection organization, Consumer Reports.

What do you think of Melville's evaluation?

[Source: Money via CNN.com]

Related: J.D. Power revamp should swing quality ratings
Consumer Reports Auto: Two dissenting views
TrueDelta questions quality of JD Power methodology

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago

      Who are you, CR's president? You sound like an advertisement for CR, not to mention that you are completely wrong. CR is a very biased publication which hates American cars, wants GM to burn to the ground, pushes a leftist agenda, and performs numerous irrelevant tests like "which coffee tastes best" or "which cereal tastes better." One more thing- comparing CR to the Bible is a grave insult, and I'm not even religious. How can you buy all of CR's hype?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Eric L.,

      Good point. The cut-off is at seven years old. I suppose this might account for 20-30% of the nonresponse. So the true nonresponse rate might be "only" about 84% (500,000 of 3.5 million respond) rather than the 90% I earlier estimated.

      This would actually be a fairly typical rate for a market research panel. I just think a much higher participation rate is possible if this rate is a top priority. So far I'm seeing a participation rate around 45% despite problems with some email services. My participation rate is in the mid-60s for Gmail and Comcast.
      • 9 Years Ago
      CR doesn't necessarily need as many members as they have. It's hard to say without the sort of detailed information about their sample and methods that they never provide. It's the response rate that concerns me--the 90% who don't respond, why aren't they responding?

      At any rate, they only have about 500,000 people who return surveys. That's easier to match than five million.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Omitting Consumer Reports from an auto awards discussion is like overlooking the Pope in a world religions piece. CR is the bible for tens of millions. It takes no industry money and faithfully reports subscribers’ reliability information. Its top rankings are not for sale, which cannot be said for all Car of the Year awards. All the auto manufacturers would kill for a favorable mention.
      • 9 Years Ago
      JD Power has the most bizzare awards. It seems like they make up awards so every car in the market has one; kinda like in elementry school when every kid got an award in the science fair because they didn't want anyone to feel like a loser.
      • 9 Years Ago
      #16 There would be to many nominations from GM.

      Oh God! I can't believe I typed that. Please forgive me.

      • 9 Years Ago
      It could be interesting to talk about awards from others countries and in others languages like the "Car of the Year" award in Europe, Latin America or by Australian magazine Wheels and the Spanish magazine Automundo who chosed the Pontiac G6 as "COTY" http://www.sportscarmarket.com/articles/archives/89 http://www.autoworld.com/news/full_story.asp?id=4355

      Maybe someone should start an award similar like the Golden Rasberry awards aka Razzie Awards http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razzie_Awards gived to the worst movie. But this time, it could be gived to the "Worst car of the year" LOL
      • 9 Years Ago
      Michael: I see your point and I have registered on your site. But you are going to need another 6,000,000 or so members to match CR. The testers at CR also have the advantage of driving and evaluating many cars in a short period of time and in many cases side-by-side. This makes it much easier to make relevant comparisons. Good luck with your site. With enough data it could be a valuable resourse for both car enthusiasts and everyday drivers.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Do we have to suffer through more Michael Karesh posts again? Now I understand why Buddhists say that "life is suffering."

      Listening to this self-professed market research genius--Karesh--is pure suffering.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I thought his analysis was pretty good of the different ratings. He would have done well by dicussing the pros and cons of CR too.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "Do we have to suffer through more Michael Karesh posts again? Now I understand why Buddhists say that "life is suffering."

      Suffering is having to shift through post, like yours, deficient in substance. At least he's contributing.... And next time you insult somebody, try another name, something like 'Tool' could be an indication of self...

      I also have to agree with Mad Scientist Matt, I still use CR but often I'm left with the feeling that something is missing. For the most part, the reviews are OK, I just wish to see greater explanation of their findings... "Cheap plastic...." as compared to what, the number you got from your plast-o-meter? ...etc
      • 9 Years Ago
      I don't like CR's polls because they're only filled out by smart people who have $26 to spend for a subscription.

      I prefer really dumb folks' opinions; you know, like the average guy who understands that buying foreign cars is really just aiding the enemy, and that illegal immigrants are going to use those cars to sneak weapons of mass destruction and Pakistanis across the Mexican border and cause another 7/11.
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