What Chronicle Writer Mark Morford Doesn’t Know About Math and Cars is a Lot.

San Francisco Chronicle writer Mark Morford is entitled to his opinion, of course. Facts are a different story however. To wit:

“They know the end is near, the signs are all in place, as that giant $63K Toyota Land Cruiser V8 you bought just a couple years ago violently depreciates down to less than half of what you paid for it. Ouch.”

Do you get the rather banal gist? Gas prices have roughly doubled the past four years, so there will be a negative effect on the resale value of vehicles that get bad mileage. However, he’s made an error in the specifics. Happily, Markus showed his work by linking to this:

A 2008 Suburban 2500 with a 6.0-liter V8, four-wheel drive, automatic transmission and leather sells new for $43,235; a two-year-old model with 24,000 miles in excellent condition can be yours for less than $20,000. A new-generation 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser with a 5.7-liter V8 that gets 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway runs for $64,785; a two-year-old model similarly equipped goes for between $34,120 and $35,975, depending on its condition.

O.K. kids, you do the math. So, when Mark goes “less than half of what you paid for it” he really means “more than half of what you paid for it. But, you see, the word “less” sounds so much better, you dig?

But wait, there’s more fail to this whale. Nobody paid $64K for a Toyota Land Cruiser back in model year 2006, as the MSRP of the well-equipped base model was just $56,215 and there simply weren’t options available to get the price up to $63K.

Additionally, the comparison between the prices cited for 2008 and 2006 is apples and oranges because one is a market price and the other a list price. In the real world, you could get a 2006 Land Cruiser back in 2006 for something in the high 40’s area. Glancing at real-world used prices at cars.com, the most expensive 2006 Land Cruisers have asking prices in the high 40’s. That’s a tad unrealistic as you could buy the new improved 2008 model with a larger engine and better MPG for something less than $60K right now today. But no Toyota ever built depreciated more than 50% in “just a couple of years.”

And don’t let’s get started with the Chevy Suburban that “sells new for $43,235.” In reality, you can buy that new “$43K” Suburban for less than $33K owing to such bennies as GM’s “Bonus Cash” and a direct-to-customer rebate – each of these are worth thousands of dollars off the price of the vehicle. And back in 2006, you could have purchased a 2006 Suburban “2500” model (with rich, non-Corinthean leather) for even less. Obviously, new cars start to look tempting to buyers if they’re so heavily discounted. That drives down the price of similar used vehicles.

So, yes, SUVs aren’t in favor right now, and gas prices are a factor in that. Point taken. But that’s no reason to lie to people, Mark. 

The Land Cruiser was born in the 1950’s, right? Based upon this recent photo, St. Mark was born in the 1960’s. Click if you dare:


An incredible moment, captured by violet.blue (the famous one) on the Flickr 

Who will live longer – the Land Cruiser or Mark Morford? That’s an easy one, as the Cruiser will continue to be produced in the Toyota City area long after Mark has escaped this mortal coil. (BTW, nice Diesel jeans! Don’t they go for $130+? How much do they depreciate after a couple of years?) 

And if you want to call the Land Bruiser “giant,” that’s fine. But the aforementioned 2006 model was ever so slightly shorter than a non-giant two-door Toyota Camry Solara from that era. And the current Sequoia from Toyota (you know, the kind Mark’s corporate overlords want you to buy) is larger yet – perhaps it could be labeled “violently super duper giant”? And the stuff about SUV rollovers? Well, some vehicles do better in some areas than others. It’s a nuance thing. 

But let’s not get into nuance. The point is this: “What Dreamy Chronicle Writer Mark Morford Doesn’t Know About Math and Cars is a Lot.

Game, Set, Match.

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4 Responses to “What Chronicle Writer Mark Morford Doesn’t Know About Math and Cars is a Lot.”

  1. Jen says:

    Well at least he’s brazen enough to try to rock the nut-hugger look. (I was going to try come up with something snarky about the depreciation rate for Diesel jeans, but you covered it.)

    And come on…

    this guy can’t be expected to be good at math.

  2. Jen says:

    Darn I tried to add a picture but it wouldn’t let me :(

  3. sfcitizen says:

    I think it was this one?
    Scary, but on purpose.

    Had no idea Diesel jeans cost so much.

  4. Jen says:

    Yeah that’s the one. And scary on purpose? I thought that ratty blond wig was part of his signature look. :)