Trucks are here to stay

As long as Ford and GM continue to build cars that are not cutting-edge and have no yearly styling or visible technical changes, clients will be bored with cars. People require more function today. We all have to be cross-trained and multi-task, so our vehicles need to be that way, too.
Michael Brillhart
Cuyahoga Falls, OH

It's as much about semantics and marketing as it is about reality. Most hot new vehicles are defined as trucks rather than cars, so the relative number of these vehicles keeps increasing. Many are little more than tall-body wagons with (in some cases) all-wheel drive, but they are marketed as trucks. People will keep flocking after the newest and coolest, and for the foreseeable future, those are going to be marketed as trucks.
Glenn E. Westreich
San Anselmo, CA

Bigger is American

I agree with John McElroy's assessment that there's nothing more American than a fullsize car (see WAW — Oct. '01, p.19). Put mom, grandma and the kids in the car, throw the Christmas tree and the trimmings in the trunk, and do it all safely and comfortably. I have an '84 Olds 88 that I use for just that kind of thing. It's a great car! I bought a '97 Olds 88 and it just doesn't do it. The Grand Marquis is really quite nice, but I want GM. If GM could strip the DeVille (keep the V-8!) and call it an Olds, they may have just the ticket.
Dennis Eichenberg

Bring on the big iron

As one of the “Echo Boomers” Mr. McElroy mentions in his October column, I'd like to stand up and praise him for his insight into our demographics' tastes! Bring us a big V-6 or small V-8, seating for six to even seven, make it a styling knockout, include all the safety features, a killer sound system, and keep the price below $21,000, we'd all buy it in a heartbeat. Bring back the Mustang LX, give it real room for four, a big V-8, power nothing, keep the price under $20K, and watch the California kids abandon their front-drive imports on the congested freeways.
Aaron D. Bragman
Troy, MI

Reliability is the key

John McElroy thinks that a revival of '60s cars will save the American car industry — ridiculous! Car buyers want a reliable, safe, good performance car with sensible styling. Your columnist apparently has not noticed that German and Japanese cars already have these features and are selling quite well.
Phil Pauley
Sacramento, CA

Reputation is slipping

Aside from its “doorstop” styling that I dislike, the main deficiency in the Cadillac CTS is its retention of the 54-degree, Swedish/English/German/American V-6 with its failure-prone camshaft timing belt. The worst engine that GM sells today, the 54-degree V-6, was originally intended for a transverse installation in a Saab. It certainly is no way to build an engine. Cadillac is playing fast and loose with its reputation and, unfortunately, it doesn't have much reputation left to play with.
James Byrne
Hertford, NC

Editor's note: We won't disagree with the notion that the 54-degree V-6 — in 3L form designated L81 in North America, although the CTS uses a re-engineered 3.2L variant (LA3) that engineers claim carries over only four major components — is one of GM's more underachieving engines. The CTS reputedly gets GM's all-new, all-aluminum “High Feature” V-6 sometime next year, but we believe it was a strategic mistake to launch an important “image” vehicle like the CTS with the “old” V-6.

Odyssey is not an Accord

RE: Your response to E.L. Springolo (see WAW — Oct. '01, p.10). The original Odyssey, as pointed out, was based on the Accord platform. The Honda Odyssey (1999 and on) and Acura MDX share the same platform, which is different from the Accord platform. The Accord and Acura TL/CL share the same platform and are assembled in Marysville, OH.

The Odyssey and MDX are assembled in the Alliston, Canada, facility and will be at the new facility located in Lincoln, AL.
Michael Cavin
Engineering Coordinator
Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.
Anna Engine Plant

Geared up

I need a little help with that term used in your Camry article (see WAW — Oct. '01, p.71). I am aware of the added friction with an “overdrive gear” and I always wondered why one didn't just use a lower-ratio differential and make the top trans gear 1:1. Is that what Toyota has done?
Curt Franz
Central, NJ

Editor's note: You've hit on it exactly. For the old Camry, the automatic used a direct, 1:1 third gear, while 4th gear was a pretty tall overdrive of 0.706:1 (V-6) or 0.735 (4-cyl.). The final drive — or differential gear ratio — was 3.944 (V-6) or 3.933 (4-cyl.)

The new 2002 car uses a 3rd gear ratio of 1.411 (V-6) and 1.413 (4-cyl.), while 4th gear now is 1.019 and 1.020, both still “underdriven.” The new differential ratio is 2.814 (V-6) and 2.740 (4-cyl.), quite “taller” than the old model.

We really don't know why this design technique now is coming into vogue, but we plan to ask the next transmission person we find.

GM has a few sore thumbs

I would like to reply to the statement made by a Mr. Duane L. Allen of Mason, MI, in your May 2001 issue under “Letters” (see WAW — May '01, p.11). Thanks for your review of my $0.02.

Mr. Allen: I am also a GM supporter, but I would have to disagree with your rebuttal against Jerry Flint (you can contact me to buy me a Big Mac meal and desert). I was born and raised by GM, as almost my entire family tree has worked for them, except for me. I am currently working for Lear Corp.-DCX div. as an Interior Craftsmanship Plastics/Trim engineer.

GM is slightly better than Ford when it comes to interiors, but both are way behind DCX and its design teams! Every GM vehicle I have reviewed, with the exception of a '00 Corvette, has major interior issues. Many issues stick out like sore thumbs: weld lines in plastic bezels, paint rub-off on bezels, mismatch of colors from one component to another, and misalignment of interior components and hatchbacks. However, I will always support and drive GM vehicles, as we all know “they are the most dependable vehicles on the road!”
Bartholomew J. Wellisley
Interior Craftsmanship Engineer
Lear Corporation - DCX Division
Rochester Hills, MI

Real leaders in short supply

Freudenberg-NOK's Joseph Day points out the need for management to apply lean thinking (see WAW — Nov. '01, p.19). I've been working with companies for the last 20 years and have seen that in almost every instance when management talks about quality, safety, productivity and customer satisfaction they fail to transfer their words to deeds on the shop floor.

Managers have all the theory and tools they need to make lean and continual improvement a reality. It takes leadership, and that is something in very short supply. Unfortunately, the latest fad is to send employees to a leadership training course and expect leaders to magically appear. It doesn't work that way, and searching for instant pudding won't help companies that aren't prepared for the challenges they face now and in the future.

Kudos …

I read almost every monthly auto magazine and find WAW the absolute best in content, layout and every other aspect. I really enjoy the “Automotive Insight” and “The Contrarian” sections, just to mention a couple. Keep up the fantastically good automotive journalism.
Christopher Kean
Senior Member-Engineering Staff
Terrestrial Systems Engineering

… and brickbats

I think it was not necessary and in extremely poor taste to show pictures of the burning World Trade Center on pgs. 7 and 25 to call attention to your articles. It makes your magazine into a tabloid.
Arthur McKew
Nashville, TN

Question of the Month October 2001

Has the light truck boom hit its peak?

Yes 0%
No 100%

Question of the Month<br /><b>December 2001</b>

Does the war on terrorism make it more likely or less likely that CAFE standards will be raised in 2002?

More likely
Less likely

E-Mail, FAX or Write your response along with your comments to: E-Mail: FAX: 248-357-0810 Write: Ward's AutoWorld 3000 Town Center, Suite 2750, Southfield, MI, 48075.

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