2011-01-06

Autofailblog: Edmunds Inside Line's Appalling Recent BMW X3 Review

It's been a really long time (over a year, in fact) since I've done an Autofailblog post. I read Edmunds Inside Line fairly frequently, and this week I came across this article reviewing the BMW X3 compact CUV.
Frequently, this online site has been criticized for being biased towards BMWs by brushing off faults that would be roundly criticized in other cars and giving excessive praise to certain other traits that would only earn mild praise in other cars. While I feel like that has become more true over the years (I've been reading it for over 4 years), I haven't really been bothered too much by it — until now.
First of all, while I should probably practice better what I'm about to preach, the writing style in that article is the epitome of incoherence. Take a look at this particular gem:
Let the weight of your shoe sink the throttle in a way intended not to clear the roadway but to maintain the integrity of the spiral "with whip" atop your caramel brûlée latte, and you'll have to be an astute gauge-watcher to notice you've moved at all. Of course, the heads-up speedometer reads 50 and the BMW is in 7th gear, but the sensation is like being wheeled into surgery on a hospital bed as someone has you counting, "10...9...8...."
What does that even mean? I know it generally speaks to the smoothness with which the car accelerates, but I had to read this a couple times and I still don't fully understand the point of the above statement.
Continuing on, the author of the article mildly scolds the X3 for excessive throttle lag and overly light steering, yet in both cases, the author quickly makes up for it with words of flowering praise.
Finally, there's this conclusion that made plenty of readers wonder aloud whether the site is in BMW's pocket:
Just don't expect it to be the Ultimate Driving Machine. After all, BMWs are about Joy now, and Joy isn't about responsive driving dynamics or throttle response. Joy, it turns out, is about isolation and comfort and in that, the 2011 BMW X3 excels.
This is straight from BMW's marketing playbook: they've moved away from the "Ultimate Driving Machine" image towards "Joy". Frequently, other competing cars are compared to the "Ultimate Driving Machine", yet the new BMWs are no longer held to that same standard. Furthermore, the author has blatantly defined "joy" to encompass all of the BMW X3's strengths and none of its weaknesses, such that it will seem like a much better car than it really is. In essence, new BMWs are being held to a far different standard than other cars, which are held to the standard of slightly older BMWs. Can anyone say "bribery"?
Reading that article reminded me in some ways of Jim Lynch's disappointing review (which I similarly lambasted), but in reverse. That article managed to turn molehills into mountains, along with disregarding standards to which previous distributions had been held in previous reviews. This one turns mountains into molehills, while also similarly disregarding existing standards. I said I have read Edmunds Inside Line since late 2006. I won't stop reading for the foreseeable future, but I will certainly scrutinize future articles (especially those on BMWs) a lot more.

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