Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey: Ford Continues Fall While Seven Japanese Brands Top List

  Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey: Ford Continues Fall While Seven
                           Japanese Brands Top List

PR Newswire

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2012

Audi and Cadillac make major jumps in rankings

YONKERS, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --A perfect storm of
reliability problems has dropped Ford to next to last among the 28 car brands
ranked in Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, while its
luxury brand, Lincoln, placed just a notch higher. The findings were released
today before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

Only two years ago,  Ford was Detroit's poster child for reliability. It
cracked the top 10 among brands in Consumer Reports predicted-reliability
scores, with more than 90 percent of its models being average or better. This
year the top seven spots are all held by Japanese brands.

"Ford's bumpy road can be seen in the numbers. Sixty percent of Ford-branded
models and half of Lincolns were below average in predicted reliability, and
none placed above average," said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing
for Consumer Reports.

Several factors contributed to Ford's decline in Consumer Reports' reliability
rankings. A few new or redesigned models, including the Explorer, Fiesta, and
Focus, came out of the gate with more problems than normal. Ford has also
added the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch electronic infotainment system, which has
been problematic so far, to many vehicles. In addition, three historically
reliable models—the Ford Escape, Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ—are not included
in the analysis; the three were redesigned for 2013 and CR doesn't yet have
reliability data on them.

Toyota, on the other hand, has excelled in Consumer Reports' latest ratings.
Its three brands—Scion, Toyota, and Lexus—swept the top spots. Toyota is
clearly setting the pace in reliability. Of the 27 models in the brand's
lineup, 16 earned the highest rating. The subcompact Toyota Prius C earned
Consumer Reports' top score overall. The hatchback Prius, the larger Prius V,
and the new Prius plug-in were also above average.

The Toyota trio was followed by four other Japanese makes: Mazda, Subaru,
Honda, and Acura, in that order. All of the models produced by the top seven
brands had average or better reliability. And of the 90 Japanese models
reflected in Consumer Reports' brand comparison, 86 were average or better,
with 35 earning the highest rating.

Leading the Europeans, Audi had its best showing ever, moving up 18 spots to
eighth place, making it easily the most reliable European make and the top
non-Japanese brand.

The findings from Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Survey are based on
subscribers' experiences with 1.2 million vehicles. The organization uses that
extensive data to predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will
hold up. The complete report and rankings are available at
www.ConsumerReports.org starting today, and in the December issue of Consumer
Reports.

Mixed bag for domestics

Cadillac is the top U.S. brand, having moved up 14 spots this year. Its CTS
coupe was the most reliable domestic car.  A number of other General Motors
nameplates—Buick, Chevrolet, GMC—also moved up in the ranking. The Chevrolet
Volt extended-range electric car continues to have above-average reliability,
and the compact Chevrolet Cruze, dismal in its first year, improved to
average.

Chrysler brands had a few setbacks. This year, Consumer Reports has enough
data to report on some of the recently revamped Chrysler and Dodge models, and
their problems have dragged the nameplates' rankings down. The Dodge Charger,
for example, returns with well-below-average reliability. Other models had ups
and downs. The V6 version of the Chrysler 300 sedan, with an average rating,
is now the brand's most reliable model, and the V8 300 is its worst. Likewise,
the V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee scores average and the V8 is now below par. The
differences stem from the alternative powertrains and the extra features found
in higher-priced versions. Separating its trucks into a new nameplate, Ram,
didn't help Dodge's standing. And Fiat's 500 debuted with average reliability
in its first year in the United States.

Japanese models are tops

Mazda is hot on the tail of the three Toyota brands, and its improvement is
buoyed by the predicted-reliability score for the new 2013 CX-5 SUV, which is
much better than average. And Subaru's standing improved, with its redesigned
Impreza debuting with top marks and none of its models scoring below average.
Honda dropped one spot in the ranking, to sixth place, but its worst vehicle,
the Odyssey minivan, improved from below average to average.

Nissan and its Infiniti luxury brand performed well overall, but a few models
kept them from ranking with the other Japanese nameplates. Nissan's Versa
sedan, redesigned for 2012, was much worse than average, as was the large
Armada SUV. The Titan pickup truck was also below par. Of the seven Infiniti
models, only the convertible version of the G scored below average.

Germans brands lead Europe

All of the German luxury brands improved. Six of the seven Audis in CR's
survey rated average or better, as did 10 of the 12 BMWs. But the high-end BMW
7 Series and the turbocharged six-cylinder version of the X3 SUV were much
worse than average. Mercedes-Benz made a good showing, with the turbocharged,
four-cylinder C250 sedan doing well in its first year and the V6 E-Class sedan
moving from average to above average. But the redesigned M-Class came in below
average in its first year.

Volkswagen was a mix. The redesigned Passat did well, and the CC, Eos, and
diesel Jetta sedan improved. But the redesigned Beetle, four- and
five-cylinder gasoline Jetta, sporty GTI, and Touareg SUV were below average.
Volvo, which ranked highest among European brands last year, dropped 10
places, hurt by declining scores for the C30 hatchback and C70 convertible and
a below-average showing for the aging XC90 SUV.

Consumer Reports reliability ratings do not come from the organization's
experience during vehicle testing. Instead, it relies on owners to supply the
Consumer Reports National Research Center with the data. Earlier this year,
the organization asked subscribers to report about serious problems they've
had with their vehicles in the prior 12 months. CR bases its
predicted-reliability scores on the most recent three model years of data,
provided the model has not been redesigned for 2013. The scores are presented
as a percentage better or worse than the average of all cars.

The minimum sample size is 100 vehicles, but Consumer Reports often gets many
more. Among 2012 models, the Honda CR-V drew the most responses: 2,981. Other
2012 models with more than 2,000 responses are the Hyundai Elantra sedan and
the four-cylinder Toyota Camry and Subaru Outback. Some new and redesigned
models were released too late to be in our survey, and redesigned 2013 models
are not included in the brand's average reliability score.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing
organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey
research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services
annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to
its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division,
Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial
reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the
marketplace.

OCTOBER 2012

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SOURCE Consumer Reports

Website: http://www.ConsumerReports.org
Contact: C. Matt Fields, +1-914-378-2454, cfields@consumer.org, or Douglas
Love, +1-914-378-2437, dlove@consumer.org
 
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