Is this a good rule to follow?
And I'm talking about the first year of a new model
I don't know how solid a rule it is, but its still one I follow. It has more to do with the brand and how new it is for me though.
I really like the idea of a 2012 Impreza wago for the wife, but new engine and new transmission in a 1st year car scare the bejesus out of me...even if its a brand I trust.
On the flip side, we're also looking at a Prius for her. We'll likely go new as used costs are ridiculous, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a a first year model of the current style as its a brand I trust, and was largely a carryover with new skin (I think).
If you want to narrow it down to simply an all-new car for the first year? Yeah, that's kind of a gamble.
2012 Focus = new generation
2011 Cruze = new car
Well, I'm not on a new car budget... but that's what I was taught.
It makes sense, to me. The manufacturer will only have made a [relatively] small number of pre-production prototype cars for testing. Some manufacturers will test more thoroughly than others.
Even the best testing won't reveal potential long term problems and pattern failures the same way as it will to sell tens of thousands of the car and wait for them to break.
That being said, I would make an exception for new generation cars where the engine and transmission are proven designs and a direct carryover from the previous generation.