The major reason all car manufacturers are using so much cheap, squeaky plastic these days is that Congress keeps raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Congressmen are not engineers, but they insist that automotive engineers squeeze more and more miles per gallon into the performance of every new automobile. That sounds great until you realize that the only way for an engineer to achieve such a feat is to use lighter and lighter materials such as cheap looking crappy plastic. If you don't like the plastic in your car, quit voting for the tree-hugging clowns who put it there. You are all big boys and girls. If you want great gas mileage and the cheap plastic that goes with it, you should be able to choose it without it being forced on you by some do-gooder in D.C. Demand the return of your personal liberty before it is too late.
An excellent commentary on why the U.S. is one of the most wasteful, environmentally unfriendly countries on the planet.
I agree with the comments about the CAFE standards, but I can't understand why this woman LOVES her Honda when the HHR was too noisy for her. The HHR is a MUCH MUCH quieter vehicle than anything that Honda has ever made. Civics are NOISY, Odysseys are NOISY. But HHRS are about as quiet a small car as you are going to find.
The reason why the cars are made with cheap plastics is because Americans will not pay the price for quality workmanship. European cars are not full of cheap plastic because they pay more for their cars and so get better quality (notice how GM are halting sales of their Chevy brands in Europe because Europeans don't like the cheap crap).
As for fuel economy, how about smaller, more efficient engines? The average engine size in Europe is a 1.4 (turbo).
That's actually not true. I know of at least one American automaker that pays such close attention to detail these days, that for every screw on the car they have a torque wrench which has a light illuminate when exactly the correct torque has been applied. Renault, a European automaker, cheaped out on hood clips on the Clio, and people have almost been killed when the hood flies open on the highway and smashes into the windshield. Is that quality?