Toyota, Honda Lead Consumer Reports Survey; GM Gains

Toyota, Honda ‘Dominate’ Consumer Reports Reliability Survey
Toyota Motor Corp. tied with Honda Motor Co. for the most models with top scores in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., which has recalled more than 10 million vehicles in the past year, tied with Honda Motor Co. for the most models with top scores in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey.

Toyota and Honda each led in five categories and continue to “dominate” the ratings, the Yonkers, New York-based magazine said in a statement today. Ford Motor Co. was the only U.S. automaker with top scores, in two categories. General Motors Co. improved the most among the domestic companies.

Most of the recalls at Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, followed reports of sudden, unintended acceleration, which caused the company to slow its vehicle-development process and scrutinize suppliers. Toyota’s U.S. market share fell 1.4 percentage points to 15.2 percent this year through September, according to Autodata Corp. in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

“There’s a difference between actually having problems and having your car recalled,” Jake Fisher, senior automotive engineer at Consumer Reports’ vehicle test center, said in a telephone interview. “While the recalls were widespread, the actual problems people were having associated with those recalls were much smaller.”

Consumer Reports based its findings on responses of subscribers who owned or leased 1.3 million cars and trucks.

For Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, the Yaris small car, FJ Cruiser mid-size sport-utility vehicle, Lexus LX luxury SUV, Sienna minivan with V-6 engine and front-wheel drive and Tundra full-size pickup truck led in Consumer Reports’ categories.

Tokyo-based Honda’s top scorers were the front-wheel-drive Acura TL for upscale cars, Acura RL luxury car, CR-V small SUV, Acura RDX upscale compact SUV and Ridgeline compact pickup.

Cadillac, Chevrolet Gains

For Detroit-based GM’s Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands, 69 percent had at least average reliability. Cadillac rose seven places from a year earlier, the biggest improvement, and the percentage of Chevrolet models with average or better reliability increased to 83 percent from 50 percent.

“We’ve freed up our engineers to focus on making great vehicles,” Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global quality, said in a telephone interview. “We’re not going to be happy until every single model is a recommended one.”

Ford’s Category Leaders

Ford, which today reported record third-quarter profit of $1.69 billion, won top scores for its Fusion Hybrid family car and Flex EcoBoost large SUV. Consumer Reports said 90 percent of the Dearborn, Michigan-based company’s models had at least average reliability.

“We’ve standardized our processes in all of our plants, in the way we look at and solve problems, and build and design our vehicles,” Mike Hardie, Ford’s director of quality and productivity planning, said in a telephone interview.

None of Chrysler Group LLC’s vehicles scored above average, and 12 of the 20 models for which enough data were available for a rating were below average, the magazine said.

Three European luxury brands, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, scored among the worst this year, Consumer Reports said. Almost three-fourths of Audi models and about half of BMW and Mercedes vehicles were rated below average, the magazine said.

“Luxury vehicles today are filled with electronics, power equipment and new, leading-edge technologies that often don’t work that well,” Consumer Reports’ Fisher said.

Porsche SE’s Boxster had the best score, and the Audi A6 3.0T and Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar XF had the worst, according to the magazine’s statement.

Consumer Reports, published by the nonprofit advocacy group Consumers Union, surveyed magazine or online subscribers earlier this year. Each vehicle is evaluated 50 different ways, from handling to fuel economy to seat comfort, the magazine said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Craig Trudell in New York at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net