Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Car Magazines Suck

The Automotive Gossip industry is almost as big and competitive as the Automotive industry itself. On the newsstand you have magazines such as Car and Driver, Road and Track, Motor Trend, and AutoWeek. On the web you have AutoBlog, and Jalopnik. There are no shortage of publications claiming to have the most authentic and most current industry news about the car industry.

For the longest time, I enjoyed keeping up with the news in the automotive industry through magazines and periodicals. After a while though, the magazines all started to sound the same to me.Why Car Magazines Suck
One problem with car magazines is that the reviewers are always so snobbish about the vehicles they test drive. They expected the Cadillac to be more luxurious or the Mustang to be faster. They complain about the suspension being too stiff or the engine not powerful enough. They gripe about automatic transmissions being slushy or a steering wheel that feels too small.

These automotive pundits have forgotten that the majority of their readers do not get behind the wheel of a high-performance or exotic car every day. Most drivers have very boring cars, and we would be happy to have a vehicle that works without breaking down on us.

For example, the 14-year old economy car that I drive has been nothing but one expensive repair after another during the six years I have owned it. I would gladly take home any new car featured in a magazine, even if the reviewer thinks the leather trim is the wrong color.

After a while, the things that reviewers dislike about cars start to sound petty, insignificant, and downright ridiculous. It's almost as though they approach every vehicle with a magnifying glass rather than looking at the bigger picture, which is this: car manufacturing has come a LONG way over the past few decades. New vehicles are dramatically safer, more comfortable, and more efficient than ever before. There's almost nothing to complain about, so they magnify the smallest quirks in a vehicle to write an article.

What car magazines should focus on is helping people find the right car for their needs. How fun it is to drive, how well it performs in everyday situations, and how much it costs to maintain. These are things that average drivers would like to know before purchasing a new vehicle.

Instead, car magazines love to bombard you with useless facts, like how fast it goes around some fucking racetrack in Germany or how the new Mercedes has 0.006 inches more legroom than the BMW. They blast you with statistics that really aren't that important or relevant to how the vehicle will be driven in the real world.

They claim one car is superior to another because it has six more horsepower or is a fraction of a second faster down the dragstrip. Honestly, I would be happy to have a car with a zero-to-sixty time that's not measured in minutes! The automotive gossip industry is so wrapped up in cramming data down your throat that they've lost touch with the people who truly enjoy the experience of driving.

In spite of all this, the automotive gossip industry stronger than ever. An entire subculture of people now post their thoughts about every new make and model to be announced. Log on to any automotive news forum or message board to find out what Joe from Philadelphia thinks of the newest Kia crossover. Seriously, who gives a crap? These armchair experts probably drive around in a 1992 Toyota Corolla and yet trumpet their opinions about the newest generation of muscle cars like they're the freaking world experts.

As a whole, the automotive gossip industry is full of self-absorbed know-it-alls and "experts" who quote arbitrary facts out of context to try and seem smart. Headlines that are of paramount importance one day are discarded and forgotten the next day. Everyone's looking for the next big thing and living in the "now" with no thought to the past or future. I'm sorry, but car magazines just aren't fun to read anymore.

I'm not the only one who feels this way: