Not long ago, a young friend asked my opinion about a new hybrid subcompact. Her new job entailed a long daily commute, so she wanted a car that would be thrifty, reliable, comfortable, and easy to drive.
Having driven that model—the 2012 Toyota Prius c—briefly at a media event, I informed her that I’d been pleased with the littlest Prius. In ride, comfort, and road behavior, as well as frugality, it compared favorably to its better-known cousin.
Before making a purchase, she wisely sought a few second opinions. Several reviewers, it turned out, had panned the Prius c, including one particularly prominent journalist who’d declared it devoid of “pleasure.” Now, that’s quite a scathing commentary, which made me wonder if my initial appraisal had been mistaken. Fortunately, I was able to obtain that model for a more extensive evaluation.
Had I been wrong? Far from it. This more intensive test-drive demonstrated that the Prius c is a joyful, thrifty little automobile that delivers most of the benefits of its larger Prius sibling. In fact, it quickly became a favorite among recent cars I’ve test driven.
Does this mean the condescendingly critical reviewer erred in declaring the Prius c to be pleasure-free? Not at all. Reviews and evaluations of any product or service are opinions: nothing more, nothing less.
Professional reviews are supposed to be objective, based on expertise and knowledge, in contrast to amateur appraisals, which are typically defiantly subjective and often thin in the knowledge department.
So, should all serious reviews agree? Of course not. No matter how professionally derived, they’re still opinions, stemming from personal experience and specific expectations. If you and I agree on everything, the saying goes, one of us is unnecessary. That concept, referring to businessmen, is attributed to chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. But it’s relevant to nearly every human endeavor.
A trio of Las Vegas restaurant reviewers has a few lessons to teach the auto-writing community, as well as anyone who develops opinions for a living. As reported in The New York Times, the three men could hardly differ more in their tastes and approach to evaluating cuisine. Heavily tattooed and unconventional in appearance, Al Mancini reviews restaurants for an alternative weekly. He began his career in TV news then reported on strip clubs. John Curtas, a lawyer who “belongs to the old school of restaurant criticism,” reviews dining for Nevada Public Radio. Finally, with three decades of restaurant-criticism experience, the widely-traveled Max Jacobson formerly reported for The Los Angeles Times.
As The New York Times reported, the three men have “argued constantly” about what’s best in Las Vegas dining, and they “rarely agree about anything.” Yet, they’ve managed to collaborate on three annual editions of a guide called “Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants.”
How? Because each one accepts that the others are equally serious, and nobody insists that his opinions are the only correct ones.