Sunday, October 30, 2011

Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Reliability Auto Survey

Asian Brands Dominate Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Reliability Auto Survey
Japanese brands continue to dominate Consumer Reports survey taking the top nine spots, led by Scion, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda, and Toyota. Of the 91 Japanese models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 87 vehicles or 96 percent were rated average or better in predicted reliability. 24 Japanese models earned the highest rating.

The biggest improvement was from Mazda, which moved up eight spots from last year. All its models were rated above average. Scion remains the top brand in Consumer Reports survey, but only two models of its three, the xB and xD, had sufficient data to be included. Lexus, with 11 models included, rebounded seven places from last year.

Toyota finished sixth overall, the same as last year, and every Toyota model except the all-wheel-drive version of the Sienna minivan was average or better. Many hybrids are proving extremely reliable. The top two models in our survey are the Lexus CT 200h and Honda CR-Z. The Toyota Prius was among the top models, rebounding from brake problems that plagued the current design. Honda also had just one below-average vehicle, the redesigned Odyssey minivan.

The South Korean brands rank 11th and 12th in Consumer Reports' survey. Hyundai had just one below-par entry, the V6 Santa Fe. The V6 version of its corporate cousin, the Kia Sorento, also finished below average.

Domestic Brands Led by Chrysler
Even with Chrysler's improvement, Detroit models still have reliability problems. Of the 97 domestic models and versions for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 62 or 64 percent rated average or better in Consumer Reports's new-car reliability ratings.

Chrysler had better results with its new models, including the freshened Chrysler 200 (formerly Sebring) sedan and the redesigned Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs. Chrysler's Jeep brand moved up seven spots to 13, becoming the most reliable domestic brand, and all its models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data scored average in predicted reliability. The Chrysler brand moved up 12 but its rank is based on just two models: the 200, which was well above average, and the freshened Town & Country minivan, which tanked. and the Dodge brand gained three spots in the rankings. The remaining model, the 300, is too new for Consumer Reports to have sufficient data.

General Motors stumbled after edging up last year with Buick and Cadillac brands, in particular, taking a step backward while Chevrolet held steady and GMC dropped one spot. The new Buick Regal and Chevrolet Cruze were below par in reliability. The Buick LaCrosse, an all-wheel-drive version of the Buick Enclave, and the Cadillac SRX were all deemed reliable last year but dropped to below average and are no longer recommended.

General Motors' bright spots include the above-average Chevrolet Avalanche and the Cadillac CTS, which has improved to average. The gas/electric Chevrolet Volt, with much better than average predicted reliability, ranks as GM's most reliable car but with a caveat: The sample size was just a little more than Consumer Reports' minimum threshold of 100 cars, and most respondents had owned theirs for only a few months.

The new Ford Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus all had below-average reliability in their first year, according to Consumer Reports pushing Ford's rank to 20th out of 28 car makes, down from it's 10th ranking last year, the biggest drop for any major nameplate in Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Auto Survey. Ford's drop can also be attributed to problems with the new  MyFord Touch infotainment system and the new automated-manual transmission used in the Fiesta and Focus. Lincoln finished above Ford, although the freshened MKX, a cousin of the Edge, suffered from the MyLincoln Touch system. Heavy-duty, three-quarter-ton pickups are among the most problematic vehicles, with the exception of the turbo-diesel Ford F-250, they all scored below average. On the bright side, the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average.

Volvo Leads European Brands
Overall, European vehicles' reliability is slightly below that of domestic models. Of the 58 European models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 37 vehicles or 64 percent scored average or better in predicted reliability.

Volvo ranked the highest at 10th overall, helped by the redesigned S60, which was above average in its first year. Volkswagen was able to hold on to 16th place in the ranking with seven of its 11 models scored average or better.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW improved, but results were inconsistent for their various models. BMW's redesigned X3 SUV did well, for example, but the redesigned 5 Series sedan was well below average. Mercedes' compact GLK SUV improved, but its flagship S-Class luxury sedan fell to below average.

Jaguar, Porsche, and Audi are at the bottom among brands for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data. Porsche dropped from being the second-best brand last year to the second-worst. That big shift occurred because Consumer Reports has data for only two models, one of which, the redesigned Cayenne SUV, had a terrible debut year. Jaguar trails the pack as its XF and the new XJ were the two least reliable new cars in the survey.

Findings are based on responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its Website, The survey was conducted in the spring of 2011 by Consumer Reports' National Survey Research Center and covered model years 2002 to 2011.

The above article was taken information provided to the public by Consumer Reports. For more detailed information subscribe to Consumer Reports.