Tired of all the news coming out of Detroit? Amid reports of restructuring, brand closings, government bailouts and bankruptcy, no one could blame you if you're sick of hearing about the Big Three.
The American auto industry -- from suppliers to dealers to executives -- is worried that the bad industry news is driving car buyers away from domestics and toward imports, and the numbers seem to back that worry up. But if you're in the market for a new car, succumbing to Big-Three fatigue would be a big mistake. While there is no denying that American automakers have made mistakes in management, many of their current products are some of the best in their classes, and some common consumer worries about domestic cars are unfounded. So if you haven't considered an American car, here are five reasons why you should.
1. They're Class Leaders
For a long time, "mid-size sedan" meant two things: Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Not anymore. The Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion have changed all that. Both cars are at the top of the U.S. News Midsize Car Rankings, and the Chevrolet Malibu was named North American Car of the Year in 2008, beating the Honda Accord. The Saturn Aura took the honors in 2007 (the same year the Toyota Camry and Honda Fit were up for the award). But American cars aren't just winning awards, they're also matching imports when it comes to quality. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality Survey, Ford and all GM brands but Saab matched Honda, Nissan, Acura, BMW and Audi in overall initial quality. Ford's Mercury brand even earned ratings equal to Toyota, Lexus and Mercedes Benz.
2. You're Covered
With all the negative news surrounding the viability of American car companies, buyers may be nervous about buying a domestic car because they worry the company that made it won't be around to honor the warranty. That's one worry you can check off your list. Even if your car company goes out of business, there will still be plenty of parts and mechanics available to work on it. Furthermore, even if your car company closes or sells your car's brand, it is still obligated to uphold the warranty.
3. You Can Get a Great Deal
While Honda and Toyota are offering deals on some of their less popular models, domestic manufacturers are going all out to get you into the showroom. GM is offering zero-percent financing on almost every model it makes, including 2009s. Ford is offering zero-percent financing and up to $5,000 cash-back on some of its most popular models. If saving money is the name of the game, a domestic showroom may be the best place to play right now.
4. You Can Still Go Green
Though domestic automakers have developed a bad rap for focusing on large trucks and SUVs, you might be surprised to find out that American car companies also make some pretty good green cars. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has received positive reviews, even when put up against the venerable Toyota Prius and Camry. The Chevy Malibu Hybrid offers family-sedan comfort and green driving.
But what about those big trucks and SUVs? The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid was named 2008 North American Green Car of the Year and offers a nearly 50 percent increase in city fuel economy over the conventional model. GM also offers the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon as hybrids. While none are as fuel-efficient as the Prius, they do offer more seating and amenities. And, along with the Fusion and Malibu Hybrids, they offer domestic buyers a chance to go red, white, blue and green. Warren Brown, automotive critic for The Washington Post, confirmed in a recent online chat, "Toyota now has stiff competition in the hybrid category. And, like it or not, Ford and GM are among the companies bringing it."
5. Import Brands Aren't Much Better Off
Americans tend to be pretty hardcore capitalists, and we tend not to like companies that we see as losing ground. That explains a lot of the anger people are feeling toward American automakers. But, before you take the anger you might be feeling and head for an import dealership, remember that many car companies are in the same boat. Honda, Mazda and Toyota have raised the possibility of getting help from the Japanese government, and European governments have been asked to extend money to automakers there as well. While it's true that American car companies have made mistakes, few car companies -- import or domestic -- appear to be strong enough to get through the downturn without some help.