They started doing that back in the '90s with all OEMs going to 'unitized assemblies' to make you buy far more parts than you needed. I drove Fords back then, the counter guy told me Ford wanted to hit a $50 per each sale average on parts, they no longer wanted sales under that if possible. They then swept through the parts books to move all single parts into bigger subassemblies and the only way you could get them.
I am similar to post #3
, but I built drag cars instead and obsessive/compulsive perfectionism ruled me then as now. After getting married I turned it all inward to do all work myself as no dealer could ever satisfy me. I as well leaned toward cheaper cars as I simply loathe wasted money (people do not value their own effort enough) and my view of others as throwing it away for nothing. That warped then into trying to do everything possible to fix even the broken parts the cheap cars have and quite a bit of success at that as well as spending so little to begin with that one car saves as much as several thousand dollars over its' life in money not spent the average American spends all day long. Cheap cars are actual money generators to me, the cash I save I do other things with. Odd as I could have afforded much more expensive cars all along. When something breaks I grouse at first then the learning high kicks in and I enjoy figuring out how to get around what most shell out big $$$$ for.
Itching to at some point drill down into a CVT to repair it. Normal ATX was a piece of cake.
Timing belts are actually cheaper than chains and easy enough to get back right. The chains last longer but not every single one of them do, the Japanese issue there is the same it always has been, or how long do the various plastic coated slippers and tensioner blades go before wearing off the friction surface to then be metal-to-metal to then break. Get an engine type that doesn't hit valve to piston when belt breaks and then timing belt could actually be better. BTDT, the belts last 120K miles now.
Versa is a rattletrap hard riding car not to mention ugly but it goes just fine and the mileage adds to that cash making I spoke of. The dealers will never see mine just like I said when I bought it. Speaking of which, when I turned down the new car warranty they looked at me like I was crazy, then they asked some pointed maintenance problem questions ('What do you do if your automatic transmission breaks?'....'Well, I fix it of course, that's not hard at all.') and next they tried to hire me for the shop. Funny, boys, I said.............you don't pay enough for what I can do. It's actually more that I simply would not be able to abide by their rules now of throwing the most expensive parts they can at the cars to make profit the number one goal there rather than satisfying the customer at a reasonable price.