Sunday, January 01, 2006

Car and Driver's "Everyday Heroes": How do they pick these things?

I'm torn... Car and Driver is my favorite automotive publication, and my Subaru Legacy GT is my favorite of all the cars I've ever owned, and was my favorite of all the cars I compared it with. In the February '06 issue, Car and Driver seems to have forgotten that the Legacy GT exists. It's like having your two best friends hate each other and trying to keep them both happy.

So Car and Driver's Tony Swan writes a comparison test article entitled "Everyday Heroes" in which they're supposed to be comparing cars for those automotive enthusiasts who, like me, can't afford to have a practical car AND a sports car, so we look for a good compromise. They seemed to have a pretty good program, requiring sporty sedans with manual transmissions and a base price under $30k. They included in the test the Acura TSX, Honda Accord EX V6, Mazdaspeed 6, Pontiac GTP and VW Jetta GLI. They explicitly stated that they couldn't get a suitably-equipped 325i or A4 under the $30k cap so they excluded those.

The Legacy GT Limited sedan lists with Edmunds at $29,420 including destination charge with a 5spd, and has more horsepower and torque than all of the cars in the comparison save the Mazda. It's AWD and quite sporty, and seems to lack none of the required elements in their comparison. As I wrote to them, perhaps it's like when they picked the defective 3-series as a comparison winner against a field of fully-functional cars last October, they simply reject our reality and substitute their own.

Note that I'm not bitching that the Legacy didn't WIN, I'm complaining that it wasn't included in the test. The win is a subjective thing in the final reckoning, even though they consider objective parameters as well (how else would a BMW with a defective braking system win?) Still, it seems strange to exclude a mainstream competitor that fits in quite well with the other cars tested.

2 Jan 2006
Ah, details... a careful re-reading of the article found a comment indicating that any car that had been in a similar comparison but wasn't the winner wouldn't be included. So, the underpowered TSX won last year's comparison and gets a chance to lose this year. I suppose they have to draw the line somewhere, but I could've told them to skip the G6, it wasn't going to win anything.

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