I know why the American auto companies are failing. I found out yesterday, when I finally got my rental car with three rows of seats. The car Randy delivered to me, after my incomparably disastrous morning, was none other than the Dodge Journey:
It’s a disaster on wheels. It’s ugly. It’s boxy. It’s small. It has absolutely NO visibility when looking over your right shoulder to make a lane change or turn. The interior is cramped- so much so, that even reaching for your cup in the cup holder requires contortion skills. The seats are uncomfortable. It’s hard to flip them open and back to access the rear seats, even my 7 year-old hits his head on the ceiling in the third row. If the boys are sitting in the third row, there is no room for legs in the second row. It’s dangerous to Abby’s legs, the space is so small. Forget an adult’s knee needs.
And, I’m not the only one who thinks so… a quick Google search turned up a scathing review by The Truth About Cars, and he says:
“…the instrument panel upper is finger sink soft. But all the bits attached to it, including the protruding center stack, are straight from the bargain basement. It looks, feels and smells cheap.”
“…the driving position is an ergonomic abomination. The steering wheel rim obstructs the temperature gauge and the right half of the tach, and the optional rearview monitor is positioned at knee level.”
As if that’s not damning enough, he adds
“And speaking of Novocain, the Journey’s driving experience is the only aspect of the vehicle that’s more forgettable than the exterior styling.”
My question is this: Why is this happening? With all the excellent automobiles out there, with all the fantastic designs, ergonomic beauties, why are American car designs so freaking butt-ugly? And not only are they ugly to look at, they are uncomfortable, and in the case of visibility, unsafe. I just don’t get it. There are car companies doing it well, making a quality product with good retention of value. There are companies making nice cars that fit your body comfortably, and get good gas mileage. So why are the Americans trying to reinvent the wheel? Why not look at what is doing well, and DO IT TOO?
Driving this disaster makes me all that much for frightened at the idea of bailing out the American Auto industry. It seems like a bottomless pit. If a company is making a sucky product, shouldn’t it fail? Nature abhors a vacuum, so another will rise and take their place, right? Maybe the next car company will be competitive with our Asian and German neighbors, and we won’t have to subsidize the American version of the Yugo.