Blues Brothers. Panned by critics, loved by millions. So who is right? What makes the critics opinion more valid than the consumer? Veteran Canadian auto writer, new to auto blogging, Jil McIntosh warns consumers that it is good to be critical of the critics. In other words, trust your butt over theirs.
So what gives? Why is this warrior of the press fleets telling readers to take our writings with a grain of salt? Because unlike many of our counterparts in the industry, Jil is very accessible to the public and still remembers that consumers actually buy cars based on so called journalists recommendations. I’ll take this one step further and say that many of todays motoring writers are journalism school grads who have little or no expertise in the automotive world. In other words, they don’t have a clue in hell what they are talking about, nor do they have any business advising people on the 2nd most expensive item they will purchase in their lifetime. The problem is even worse in my domain, the online world, where anyone can claim to be an expert.
Fighting words those!
So I guess I should use an example. Recently, one of the major market auto blogs tested a Ford Taurus X at the same time as we had one here in The Garage. The 24 year old, New York based journalism grad berated the vehicle’s drivetrain (among other things) because the 6 speed transmission couldn’t decide what gear to be in. As a 20 year veteran of the auto industry with a motor racing background, I’m here to tell you that the 6 speed in that vehicle shifts flawlessly every time. The difference here is likely that the kid was likely driving it like a sports car and not like a family wagon.
So how does one find information that is relevant to one’s own purchasing situation? Actual seat time isn’t always practical and a 15 minute test drive isn’t really enough time to tell if you really like a vehicle. Of course, written reviews will always be part of the buying experience for most consumers. The key is then to find a reliable source. One that has a similar sensibility to you, the consumer. That can be a tough fit to find. Let’s use the Taurus X above as an example: if you are in the market for a wagon to haul the family around, whose opinion is more relevant to you, a father of 3 or a university student?
So how does one find a writer who fits their own profile? Well, I suppose it’s not all that easy. The traditional media is often populated by curmudgeonly old men, while new media seems to be the domain of the young or the young at heart. Perhaps the best advice here would be to read as much as possible about your intended purchase in both types of media. As you digest all of this information, it is likely that you will see a trend form in regards to each vehicle. If 1 writer says a car has uncomfortable seats, while 6 love them. Chances are that 6 butts are right and the seventh has hemorrhoids.