Who buys crappy cars?

I like cars, so I read car magazines and car reviews even though I am not in the market for a car right now. There are always a handful of cars that get nothing but bad reviews and lose every comparison they are in - Who the hell is buying these cars? In most cases there are several cars in the same category that score much better and often the prices are very close. When you factor in better resale and lower repair costs the better car is cheaper in the long run most of the time. If you are spending a significant chunk of money on an item most people keep around 5 years I assume you do at least a minimum amount of research.

I am not counting people who got a great deal on one of these cars used, most of these cars depreciate like crazy anyway.

And - Yes I know a few people who own these cars. And - Yes I am embarrassed to ask them :o

Can you give us an example or two?

I can’t address specifics of particular cars, but I will tell you that when something is “cheaper in the long run” a lot of people are going to opt instead for “cheaper in the short run,” either due to cash-flow problems, or because they feel that the more expensive item is a gamble: What if you pay more for quality but then it breaks down anyway? Might as well have just got the cheaper car. Some people also tend to be brand-loyal to automobiles, so if dad’s Chevy ran for 25 years without breaking down (or whatever), well, they’re buying Chevy even if the quality isn’t as good now.

This is true. I’ve always bought American cars (even if they are actually made in Mexico or Canada), and have been happy with them. I’ve thought about buying a Japanese or German car, but can’t find a reason good enough to actually motivate me to buy one.

Also, people who don’t have the best credit rating and are short on cash may be motivated to find something that will run and get them to work.

People who don’t read car magazines and don’t base their decision on reviews and comparisons. There’s a wide range of how different people approach buying a car. For some, the main factor is how cute it is (e.g., the PT Cruiser). I think a lot of folks figure if it’s a new car, all will be good, so they look for features they like rather than factual analyses of performance, expected repair costs, resale value, etc.

I don’t take consumer reports as the final word on cars but I have one in front of me and they are generally pretty good. They also use numbers for ratings which makes it easy to show how much worse some of these cars are.

Chevy Aveo - Consumer reports gave it a score of 31, their top car scored 76 (Honda fit). If you look at the list of subcompacts the scores gradually get lower then there is a huge drop from the Toyota Yaris (52). Pretty much any small car (Honda fit, mazda2, Hyundai accent, Ford Focus, etc.) is a better choice and many are very close in price. The Smart ForTwo is also a piece of junk but at least in that case I understand people want to spend money to make some sort of statement.

Dodge Nitro - Score of 33, many better choices and most are cheaper. Also the only car with ‘none’ in the ‘highs’ column :stuck_out_tongue: .

Jeep Liberty/Jeep Wrangler - 27/ 17 :eek: , OK they have off road ability that most other cars in the category don’t have. The 1% of people who use their Jeeps off road are excused, everyone else?

Dodge Caliber - Not as bad as the others but still with a score of 49 significantly lower than anything in it’s category.

Mitsubishi Eclipse - Has all the negatives of a sports car but it doesn’t handle that well and isn’t all that fun to drive. In previous years they where also pretty slow but it seems they fixed that. I do admit it’s a great looking car.

Probably I’m one of these people. I don’t recall reading any reviews before I bought it, but the last car I ever bought was a brand-spanking-new 1979 Chevrolet Chevette. It now appears regularly on “worst car” lists. I didn’t know squat about cars – still don’t – and was just going with something I could afford under the Chevrolet brand.

I also should have mentioned in the OP - There are cars that are not that good and always finish last but at least they are close enough where other factors (brand loyalty, initial cost, looks, etc.) could tip someone towards choosing them. Then there are cars that are just awful and worse than the competition by a large margin. These are the ones I wonder about the most.

I bought a crappy car yesterday – in one of my dreams. No wonder it was “only” 9000 bucks. It was one of those crappy 80’s econoboxes which I purchased mistakenly thinking it was new until I saw it in the lot. But hey, as I drove off I thought at least it gets better mileage than current economy cars since they’ve added all the heavy safety features.

When my wife was 8-months pregnant, she got it in her head that she needed, NEEDED, an Isuzu Rodeo (2001), all the red circles in Consumer Reports be damned.

So I bought one for her, with an extended warranty. Damned extended warranty was the best part of the purchase as it gave us not one, not two, but THREE free transmissions as well as a free break replacement.

Aren’t the red circles the good ones?

Ha! I owned a ‘Vette’ too back in 79. Piece of crap. When I went to trade it in they wanted me to pay them :smiley:

The reason I got it, it was cheap. I think that’s why a lot of people buy these cars. They don’t sell well, sit on the dealer’s lot, and get taken by people who can’t afford anything better.

I finally sold it when I came to Thailand. Got $70, and that was only because I’d just put new tires on. Really.

Are they? I haven’t looked at CR in years. Regardless, whatever the “bad” color was, the Isuzu Rodeo was chock-full of bad circles.

Okay I’m curious - why?

  1. The buyers have different standards than the car magazines about what constitutes a good car.

  2. Even in a car that’s crappy, there are thousands of them that run well for years without problems.

  3. Much of the determination is based upon things like styling, which is purely subjective. Or road noise, which doesn’t bother a lot of people. Or acceleration, which many drivers aren’t going to notice.

  4. Cost. The car may be cheaper to buy and operate.

I have to ask, from where can you travel to Thailand that makes it worth bringing a $70.00 car with you?

Sorry. I meant that I sold it in the US when it was determined that I was moving to Thailand. Actually, it was sold after I left. I let my father keep the $70 for the his trouble in getting rid of it for me.

Not sure what the ‘why?’ is to. I say it’s a piece of junk because it scored 28 in consumer reports and I have seen other bad reviews. It is priced close to cars that are much more useful and practical like the Honda Fit. It does get better mileage but the fact that it needs premium negates some of that cost savings. Despite its better mileage Consumer Reports also shows it as having a higher total cost than the Honda Fit. The total cost number does seem to vary a bit depending on who calculates it.

I am sure some people are willing to spend more or suffer with the short commings just for the ‘look at me’ factor or the ‘hey, I’m saving the planet’ message they want to send.

(bolding mine)

There’s your problem. You know what they say about assuming… :smiley: