Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Car Brand Report Cards: Lexus, Subaru & Mazda Earn Top Honors

  Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Car Brand Report Cards: Lexus, Subaru & Mazda
                               Earn Top Honors

PR Newswire

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 26, 2013

Audi leads inconsistent European pack; Cadillac shines among struggling

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With a current crop of
luxury models that are quiet, comfortable, fuel efficient, and among the most
reliable, Lexus has earned the best overall score in Consumer Reports' 2013
annual Car Brand Report Cards.

Lexus' models are rarely sporty, but the brand's overall score of 79 was
earned on a foundation of plush and very reliable vehicles. Consumer Reports
currently Recommends 100-percent of the Lexus vehicles it has tested.

"That is quite a feat for a brand whose cars are brimming with technology
including impressive hybrid drivetrains and complicated infotainment systems,"
said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports.

For 2013, Consumer Reports took a different approach than in previous years
for its annual brand report cards story. CR graded each automaker's individual
brands rather than calculating a single score for all the brands under one
carmaker. For example, Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models were each scored
separately this year instead of being incorporated into one overall score for
Toyota. The same was true for Honda, Ford, Nissan, General Motors, Chrysler
and other large manufacturers that market several brands.

Just off Lexus' pace are Subaru and Mazda, with dead-heat report-card scores
of 76. Consumer Reports notes that both brands build solid cars with good
handling, fuel economy, and versatility at relatively affordable prices.
Subaru scores points for the sportiness of some models, including the new BRZ
sports car. Testers found the BRZ great fun to drive, and its ratings improved
the brand's overall score.

Mazda models are among the most reliable cars. Most deliver a good blend of
practicality, sportiness, and efficiency. The company also moved forward with
the sporty new CX-5 SUV and its line of fuel-efficient Skyactiv engines.
Consumer Reports currently Recommends 89 percent of the Mazda models it has

Overall, eight of the top 10 scores were earned by Japanese brands. Toyota and
Acura brands round out the top five with a report card score of 74. Honda and
Toyota's scores have been buoyed by the significant strides the automakers
made with their respective redesigns of the Accord and Camry. Both handle
better than their predecessors and get impressive fuel economy. For 2013,
Honda delivered a solid, speedy refresh of the Civic that put it back on
Consumer Reports Recommended list after the unimpressive 2012 redesign had
fallen off. Honda and Acura ranked closely, with Acura achieving a higher test
score. Honda is still dragged down by the low scoring Insight and CR-Z.

Nissan brought up the rear among Japanese brands, weighed down by its low
scoring and unreliable large trucks and SUVs, but still managed to land
midpack among all automakers. The redesigned four-cylinder Altima delivered
impressive fuel economy, though it wasn't as engaging to drive as the previous
model. The company's luxury Infiniti brand placed four slots higher, thanks to
its excellent G and M sports sedans, although the G is due to be replaced this

European inconsistency

European brands ended up scattered across the middle of the spectrum,
distinguished from each other more by reliability than test score. Audi and
Mercedes-Benz were the only non-Japanese nameplates to crack the top 10. They
were ranked 8^th and 10^th, respectively. Audi separated itself from the pack
as the only European brand to achieve very good reliability overall along with
an excellent average road-test score.

Mercedes-Benz wasn't far behind Audi and was tied with Acura for having the
highest average road-test score. Volkswagen lost ground with some redesigned
sedans that didn't score as well as their peers. Several of its niche models,
such as the Touareg SUV and the New Beetle, have well-below-average

Mini had the worst overall score of any European brand, placing 20^th among
the 26 brands. Only nonturbocharged Minis deliver average or better
reliability. Recent Volvos, such as the S60 and XC60, are competitive and
reliable, but the brand is saddled with older models.

Detroit's struggles

General Motors is revamping its lineup and building several promising models,
but some of its brands still anchor the bottom of Consumer Reports Brand
Report Cards. Cadillac scored three places ahead of Chevrolet and GMC, based
largely on the strength of the CTS. Cadillac's small and midsized models
perform well and their reliability is average. Some of its newer designs are
hurt by complicated CUE controls. Buick, with subpar reliability, lagged
farther behind, just ahead of Ford and Chrysler.

Ford's and Lincoln's overall scores have been dragged down by various issues.
The MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch control interfaces are very difficult to
use, and electronic problems in those systems have affected Ford's reliability
scores. Ford vehicles' road-test scores have also been handicapped by some
models' unrefined dual-clutch automated manual transmissions and a new lineup
of EcoBoost turbocharged engines that don't deliver the performance and fuel
economy of some competitors' larger engines.

"That's unfortunate because many of Ford's new models ride and handle as well
as European luxury cars costing much more. And Ford's latest hybrids, the
Fusion Hybrid and C-Max, are impressive," Fisher said.

None of Chrysler's brands fared well. The only Dodge Consumer Reports
recommends is the Durango SUV. Although the new Dart is an improvement over
the car it replaced, it still lags behind the best compact sedans. Jeep
doesn't fare much better; the only model that is CR Recommended is the V6
Grand Cherokee. The unreliable Wrangler joins the clumsy Compass and Patriot
in weighing down the brand. The Chrysler brand is saddled with many older,
uncompetitive models. Only the V6 Chrysler 300 scored well and is reliable.
Overall, Consumer Reports Recommends fewer than half of the domestic models
the organization has tested, and most of them come from Chevrolet and GMC.

Consumer Reports calculates each brand's overall score using an equally
weighted composite of the road-test and reliability scores for each of its
tested models. Reliability scores are based on information that CR's
subscribers provided during the organization's Annual Auto Survey. For a brand
to be included, Consumer Reports must have test results and reliability data
for at least three models. That's why CR's 2013 rankings do not include Fiat,
Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche,Ram, or Smart:

Each had too few models for which CR had adequate reliability data. Several
sell fewer than three models. Ratings on individual models from those makers
are available at

The complete report and scores for all 13 automakers in Consumer Reports Car
Brand Report Cards for 2013 is available in the April issue of Consumer
Reports and at starting February 26, 2013. Updated
daily, is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews,
product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out
CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

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