Monday, February 8, 2010

The Trouble with Toyota Trouble

So lemme get this straight. The maker of some of the highest quality cars in the world finally screws up with one inconsistently-sourced accelerator linkage and suddenly there are questions about the quality of all Toyotas?

Congressional investigation coming up. Toyota company president Huki Saki Suki (I made that name up, so be assured it's spelled correctly) falls on his sword. Headlines everywhere: This Toyota model and that Toyota model might have this and that wrong with them too.

The Swine Flu is starting to look under-reported.

It's important to remember that Toyotas have always been good, if mostly boring cars. It's also important to remember that Toyotas have never been the perfect cars spun by the consumer media, who tend to evaluate reported problems with automotive models rather than actual problems.

Actual problems are tough to find when manufacturers make a habit of secretly fixing low-quality parts and secretly recalling low-quality parts, as Toyota did for much of its existence as a high-quality automotive manufacturer.

Engine melt down out of warranty? We've had some problems with that engine. We'll put a brand new engine into your car free of charge – just make sure to be nice to us on the customer comment card. And while you're in, we'd like to treat you to a rolling upgrade – we're rounding-off the edges on those square factory tire/wheel combos ... better ride and better gas mileage. No charge for our new upgraded see-through windshield, either.

(Foregoing embellishments courtesy of internet blogging, where you can get away with practically anything. And, oh yeah ... Huki Saki Suki , John Edwards, and a goat – really).

This whole fall-from-grace thing with Toyota is as blown out of proportion as the Tiger Woods-and-the-cocktail-waitresses tales that are all over the media, which suggest that the multi-racial Zen Buick driver has fallen to as many as 27 skanky cocktail waitresses recently when the number is much closer to 26.

The Americans and Europeans have given us cars with far worse design flaws over the years, yet we forgive them – knowing they're hamstrung by poor management, union bums, and German engineers, and Bosch and Lucas electronics – and cherish the best of their breed – muscle cars, sports sedans, hot hatches – not because they're perfect, but because someone with a driving soul laid it all on the line to give us cars that are good for our souls

Toyota makes cars that are good for some people's souls – mainly people who's souls are happy driving a car without soul. Those people will stick around, to be sure.

Maybe it wouldn't hurt, now that the whole "perfect" charade is over, for Toyota to re-dabble in some cars with real soul. The MR2, Celica, and Supra Turbo come to mind.

But in the meantime, there's nothing wrong with any Toyota that a little time in the shop won't fix.

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