Monday, August 12, 2013

Objective Evaluation

No different than many of my peers, I have strong feelings on many issues. Some are well grounded in fact; others are “gut reactions” on a much more emotional level. Likely, my evaluations, opinions and judgments reflect my values, which impact their objectivity.

When I purchase products, I look for the most highly rated product at the best price possible with the greatest reliability. And where I look first is Consumer Reports (CR). I have been reading and relying on CR for decades; I am a lifetime subscriber; and I am as impressed today as I was when I first started reading CR decades ago. The only major change in my CR reading habits is that I glance at the magazine when it arrives, but I do my research using the online version.

Consumer Reports has not been thrilled by many American cars over the years; Japanese and German cars prevail here and I think their judgment has been accurate. Most car magazines have more widely different results but the objectivity is often compromised with ratings that give significant points to styling or the fun factor or some other intangible way of skewing results. Often, the difference between first and last in the typical car magazine is directly tied to these somewhat subjective standards. I don’t need or want a magazine to make style evaluations for me; I’ll do that myself. What I need is a full evaluation of ride, handling, acceleration, gas mileage, reliability and safety results. Here CR delivers and delivers well.

New cars have come and new cars have gone and the ratings in CR for American cars are consistently in the fair to middling group; that is until now. The new Chevrolet Impala has just been evaluated and is now rated as the top large size car by CR joining the highly acclaimed ranks of cars such as Audi and Infiniti.

In evaluating the Impala CR stated that “with its 2014 redesign, the Chevrolet Impala has been dramatically transformed from a woefully uncompetitive and outdated model—one that was to be avoided even as a free upgrade at the rental-car counter—into a thoroughly modern and remarkably enjoyable car.” CR continues by noting that “This phoenix like rise has propelled it from the bottom of our large-sedan ratings to being one of the top-scoring cars we’ve tested overall. . . . and in the process, it’s now reclaimed a stature befitting such a classic nameplate.” In addition to the terrific write up, Impala received 95 out of 100 possible points and was ranked higher than upscale sedans from everyone including Acura, Lexus, Toyota, Hyundai, and Nissan.

I supported the government bailout of General Motors and of Chrysler. They were each effectively given a new lease on life and both, as well as Ford, are doing a great job utilizing the opportunity. Our industry and our products can compete effectively with the best. What a terrific change for American automobiles. Now if the industry can resist taking the consumer for granted, which I am convinced caused some of the earlier difficulties, American automobiles should continue to thrive. This is a good lesson for all of us to remember in industry as well as in education.

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