Is owning a vehicle a requirement for a VH? : LUSENET : Epinions Autos & Motorsport : One Thread

I'm not sure if this forum is going to take off or not, but I thought I'd throw this question out to get things started.

When I first began writing and reading the Auto reviews, I would immedeately downgrade someone if they didn't own the car. My reasoning was that if you don't own it, you can't have enough experience with the vehicle to give enough information.

However, most people that review autos at Epinions would only be able to review a handful of different vehicles using this method. Most of us can't remember all the details of cars we've owned years and years ago (okay, I'm only 23, but 18 was a few years ago), so only the last 2 or 3 vehicles, at most, would be qualified.

These days I pretty much ignore the 'owned/leased/rented' description. If someone has written a good review that covers all the bases, that's good enough for me. I was wondering what everyone else thinks about this topic.

-- Bennett Campbell (, May 13, 2002


Funny this should come up: a well-known and widely-trusted member of Epinions was posting a series of reviews on used cars late last week, but she pulled all of them because she was being harrassed by the membership about this specific issue (I asked - not anybody within the TR/Ad group here). The question also came up in my CL interview.

You can buy a new lipstick for a couple of bucks at Ulta. You can check the latest Grisham out of the library for free. You can buy the latest Green Day CD for under $15. But a new car is the second most expensive single purchase most people ever make: you just can't buy a new car for review every month or so. I've been "lucky" in that respect, I rent a lot. Otherwise, I'd be restricted to the (51 ford+55 pontiac+63 ford+63 VW+62 VW+67 Camaro+73 Minibus+82 Civic+81 Rabbit+88 Toyota+92 Accord+99 Tacoma+02 CRV)=13 cars I've owned in my life...

I've said it before, I'll say it again: some people can write a better review of a car based on an hour's test drive than another person who's owned the same car for a year. It's a matter of paying attention to detail, of doing your research, of keeping abreast of the technology.

When I read some of the opinions written by test drivers, I'm amazed at how much they know about autos in general and this one in specific. Other times I get a gut feeling that someone's simply copying in "data" from the manufacturer's brochure. I for one think we should take this obvious level of background knowledge and research into consideration when issuing a rating.

-- Rex Knepp (, May 14, 2002.

I think it's fair to write a review on a car you don't own. Test driving a car, driving a car for a week, driving a friends car, ETC ETC are all fine as long as you experience the test drive with an open mind to detail. I live in an area where there are hills, stop lights, areas where you have to accelerate fast, very twisty roads, bumps, and smooth freeway surfaces, etc. When I test drive a car I make sure I experience the most out of any certain car for as long as I can. Sometimes a dealer will let me spend all day with it, most of the time not. The one thing that a 1 day tester really can't comment on is reliability, something the consumer really weants to know! But even if you own the 2002 or 2003 model, how are you going to tell the reader how reliable the car is? It's simply too new. If this was going to stop us from writing reviews then there would be no 2002 model reviews until 2006 or so, since it does take about 50K miles or so to give a good personal report on reliability.


-- Liz Marsh (, May 14, 2002.

It is impossible to write reviews of cars you own. If you do just that, you won't be an automotive editor. :) Besides, do ALL car magazines owns all the countless cars they review? Absolutely not.

If you know what you are looking for, you can write a great review with just spending a few hours in the car. This is especially true when you are intrested in a car, and you research your stuff first, then go out for a test drive. In fact, this is a great way to not only review the car, but also the dealerships as well. It gives the readers a sense of what to expect when they want to buy the car.

As for used cars, same deal: if you are interested it a certain model, and do go for a test drive, and pay attn to details (like cup holders, acceleration, braking, handling, noise level, etc), there shouldn't be a problem.

And don't be afraid to say "I don't know if..." used cars are a BIG IF. "Brakes are soft as hell, but not really sure if that's because it's a defect or abuse from previous owners, or the way it was designed". You may get "comments" that will answer that question. "Hey, I own that car, and yea... it does that". "Glad you didn't buy it, 'cuz I have one, and the brakes are stiff... and they're stock".

-- nad_masters (, May 14, 2002.

I think I agree with Liz - by not owning a car you're limited only on reporting about it's reliability. I get cars directly from the manufacturer and drive them for a week, so I feel pretty sure that I'm able to cover the pros and cons in that time frame. If owning a car is a requirement for writing a good review, then I better take all mine down as I have not once written about a car I've owned.

The thing that really bugs me is someone writing an opinion about a car they simply read about in a magazine, I guess that is their opinion and they are entitled to it but that wouldn't be of any use to me if I was shopping for that certain car.

-- Brian Moody (, May 24, 2002.

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