Writing these things takes longer than you may think.
First, I don’t commute to work any more, so to put a car through its paces, I have to spend a few hours driving it — time I would not normally be driving, usually. Some time is reserved for Sunday so I can test highway driving without the usual left lane hogs constantly being in the way.
Second, there’s the photo shoots — and then the cropping, captioning, etc. that follows. Choosing photos takes longer than you might think, since few people take just one photo of each subject.
Then there’s the actual writing, which, unlike most of what I write, is edited and re-edited numerous times, (not that you’d know it, sometimes). I try to have the review done three days before I return the vehicle so I can correct it — test my writing, so to speak, and then make it match reality better.
I don’t pull punches but I do try to keep in mind what a car will be used for. If it’s a Wrangler, I’ll note noise but I won’t slam it incessantly for noise. If it’s a minivan, I won’t go on about how it’s not cool and trendy, because that’s like complaining about gas mileage on a Viper.
In the same time it takes to write a review, I could cover all sorts of other things, but reviews are needed for me to stay in touch. It’s the price I pay for driving cars for a full week to see what Chrysler and competing cars are really like. I need to know the market to do my job as a writer and editor.
Buying reviews is a lot cheaper than writing them, in real terms. However, writing them myself is necessary. It’s the cost of doing business even though, with ad rates what they are, each review is likely a losing proposition on its own. (There was a time…)
In short, it takes a few hours of driving, a couple of hours of photography and photo editing, and maybe three to five hours of writing and editing. That may not sound like a lot, but I have a pretty full schedule without a single car in the driveway, and it’s time away from family, tech and style upgrades, historical coverage, news and rumor updates, and doing what needs to be done to my Valiant. But … if I don’t do it … I’m not qualified to do everything else I do.
Also, … sometimes, it’s a lot of fun.