I rented a car yesterday, and it’s made the problems in Detroit utterly clear to me. The vehicle in question is a 2007 Chevy Cobalt, a vehicle so heinous that it makes it clear that no executive from that company ever even tried to drive it around a test course. It is a vehicle that is utterly devoid of design concern for the user, and has such poor fit and finish that I surmise they would have trouble giving them away for free.
You need to understand one thing: while I am not a small man, I am also not incredibly tall. I am am a hair under 6 foot. Yet in the Cobalt, with the seat fully adjusted, at eye level, I am looking over the visor. In order to look through the windsheild, I must hunch over. Even then, my head is hitting the roof.
When I knew I was getting a Cobalt, I mentioned it to a friend and he quickly told me to ask them for something else. “My mother and brother rented one recently and they both said it was the most uncomfortable car they’d ever ridden in.”
Prior to trying to ride in the beast, I thought they were full of it. Now I realize that “uncomfortable” was actually a polite description of the vehicle.
I’d tell you that I crossed Chevy off my shopping list because of this incident, but honestly, my experiences with my former 1997 Chevy Blazer did that 5 years ago. 3 rear ends, 2 gas tanks (how do gas tanks go bad?) and a slurry of other uncommon and unacknowledged design flaws had me swear the whole company off. Prior to that, since 1984 I had bought nothing but Chevy Blazers.
The new car search is still in its infancy. I will try to buy new this time, and have generally narrowed the list to something with 4wd and something with two seats (ruling out a standard pickup). I like the Nissan Xterra, and will also be looking carefully at the Subaru line after a rave testimonial by Peter Kuhn. I’d like to buy American, as I always have, but I really don’t see anything I like. So I’ll at least take a look at Ford and Dodge, but I expect I’ll for the first time have to buy foreign.