To put it plainly, The Star sold out…
Once upon a time, the gentleman who writes car reviews for the newspaper – Tom Strongman – was a straight down the line automotive journalist. Never cutting edge, but legit.
A few years back the Star decided to follow the money and circle the journalistic wagons around its key remaining local advertisers. As in car dealers. To do so, it needed to abandon what remained of its automotive objectivity. So it relabeled the weekly sections as advertising – just prominently enough to claim the high road but low key enough that most readers wouldn’t notice.
Question is, why? Legit automotive journalists like Car & Driver, Road & Track and Motor Trend lay down plenty of automotive attaboys, but they also cast a critical eye when reviewing. Despite the allure of the almighty advertising buck.
Remember what C&D said about the new Ford Explorer -one of the mag’s biggest advertisers?
"Despite Ford’s claims that the new engine is 32 percent more efficient than the old V-8, we got only 18 mpg out of the Explorer. While that’s better than the 16 we got in the previous truck, it’s still 2 mpg off the last (Honda) Pilot we tested."
That took, you know, balls.
Now flash forward to the headline atop today’s Strongman review of the Chevrolet Cruz Eco:
"Cruze Eco fuel economy rivals that of a hybrid."
Allow me to explain how bogus that is; with City mileage of 26, the tested Cruze Eco barely matches a Toyota Corolla.
In other words, it’s misleading.
While there have been bogus "hybrids" like the Chevy’s Malibu that only got 24 mpg in the city, knowlegeable buyers are keenly aware that Honda’s Civic Hybrid gets 40 City, Toyota’s Prius 51, even Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid delivers 35.
And while Strongman might arue his review clearly states the Cruze Eco "delivers highway fuel economy that is similar to a hybrid," that claim is totally bogus.
For two reasons.
The first being that highway mileage is unaffected by hybrid systems. Hybrid systems operate in stop-and-go city driving. Not on the highway where their gas engines take over. So there’s really no comparison to be made.
Second, automatic transmission equippeds Sonata Hybrid get 40 mpg Highway, Civic Hybrids 43, the Prius 48.
No horse race there.
Here’s the bottom line:
if the Star wants any true credibilty with readers for its car section it needs to drop the advertising section tag, restore Strongman’s journalstic credentials, stop sucking up to manufactures and start telling it like it is.
Is that too much to ask?