I sure felt lonely two years ago when I was defending the bailout of U.S. auto companies. To me it was obvious that the circumstances driving General Motors and Chrysler to the brink were a unique combination of record fuel prices and credit-market collapse unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime. It also seemed obvious that if the government let General Motors in particular go out of business, that would be a mortal blow to what remained of America’s manufacturing base. TheTimes and Post ran numerous articles about how intertwined the fate of America’s industrial heartland was with the health of the auto sector, so I thought failing to help the companies would end up costing a lot more than putting them back on their feet. I found the spectacle of “conservative” legislators with foreign car plants in their state refusing to support a bailout of domestic automakers disgusting. For me, it was the final proof that the Reagan Revolution had run out of gas.
You will recall that at the time, many critics of the bailout complained Detroit made lousy cars. My own experience in switching from a Toyota to a GMC suggested that complaints of low quality were out of date, but one person’s experience doesn’t prove much. Now, however, we have the latest results from the J.D. Power & Associates 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study, and it validates my personal experience. Out of dozens of major car brands produced around the world, here are the most dependable brands:
3. Buick & Lexus (tie)
The news gets better. The most dependable midsize sporty car in the world is the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The most dependable midsize sedan is the Buick LaCrosse. The most dependable large car is the Mercury Montego. The most dependable entry-level premium vehicle is the Lincoln MKZ. The most dependable large premium car is the Cadillac DTS. In each category, owners who purchased these American vehicles in 2007 reported the lowest number of problems after three years. Some prestige foreign brands such as Land Rover did not fare well at all by comparison.
So I’m feeling pretty good right now about supporting the bailout, because it turns out that Washington rescued some world-class brands from an undeserved death. I hope more Americans realize this in the years ahead, since there is no way our nation can remain a global power if we don’t sustain a strong manufacturing base and shrink our massive merchandise trade deficit. There was a time when the uneven quality of U.S. vehicles made buying Camry or Corolla a smarter move than buying a Chevrolet. Those days are over. The quality of American cars has caught up with foreign brands in most categories. Besides, the Chevy looks better.
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