I always try to look at a particular vehicle from the point of view of the target customer.

That’s how you could end up seeing a fifteen thousand dollar subcompact get five stars, and a one hundred thousand dollar luxury vehicle get three stars.

I don’t profess to have any special knowledge. I’m not an engineer. I’n not a “gear head.” I’m a middle-aged, middle-class man, who has the opportunity to drive a lot of different vehicles. That does give me a unique perspective to understand what could make one vehicle special, and leave another lacking.

Auto companies provide the vehicles for reporters to test out. There are no conditions. We drive them, and we write about them. On average, we have a vehicle for a week.

My personal goal is to drive everything I possibly can, and to write about it honestly.

I give vehicles one to five stars. Here’s the meaning:

Five stars: The best vehicle I’ve driven, so far, in that category. It’s special, and blows away the competition.

Four stars: Very good vehicle. Lots of impressive qualities. A few issues, not necessarily flaws, but issues that you may want to know about.

Three stars: Vehicle is average. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, but there’s nothing to reccomend it either, unless you get a really good deal.

Two stars: Below average.

One star: Lots of issues with this vehicle.

Sometimes, I’m divided about a rating. That’s when I give half stars.

For the most part, all of today’s vehicles have something going for them. That’s why I rarely have to rate a vehcile below three stars. Generally, vehicles that get that kind of rating have either been on the market too long without an update, or come from a company that’s just trying to establish itself, and hasn’t quite made it yet.

Probably, the most common rating I give is four stars. That reflects an indusustry–domestic and foreign–that makes a lot of good cars, and a few great ones.

One last note, about domestic vs. foreign. I sometimes get complaints when I say nice things about foreign name plate vehicles. Yes, this area’s fate is tied to GM, Ford and Chrysler. But, I must be honest. Anything less would be cheating our listeners.

Domestic products are now on a quality par with the imports. I couldn’t say that truthfully, if I didn’t evaluate every vehicle on its own merits, regardless of who builds it, or where it’s built.

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