Consumer Reports Rates Ford and Japanese Brands Highest

October 23, 2008
We reported earlier today about Ford Motor Company's solid reliability ratings in Consumer Reports' 2008 Annual Car Reliability Survey. Says Consumer Reports, "on average, Ford continues to build the most reliable American cars." But the comprehensive test also revealed that reliability of European makes is on the rise and that fuel-efficient vehicles represented with largely superior reliability. These findings and others were presented today at an Automotive Press Association Lunch in Detroit, Michigan.

Again, Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury "continue to pull away from the rest of Detroit," good news that Ford should proudly claim in this hostile market, and hopefully a harbinger of the quality and reliability of its upcoming European-derived models like the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Says CR, "Ford’s reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers." The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans, notably sharing production and design with the new Mazda6, rank among the top family cars in reliability, and the new Focus sedan has risen dramatically since its debut in 2000 to now rank as above average.

2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

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Long plagued with quality issues, European brands like Mercedes-Benz are finally improving. That automaker’s C-Class, E-Class V-6, and ML350 SUV have improved to average reliability, placing them in Consumer Report’s "recommended" category. Three more Mercedes models made it to the average reliability level. This is in contrast to last year, when Mercedes made no models that even managed an average score.

2009 Audi A4

2009 Audi A4

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Even with the improvements, roughly one third of Mercedes’ products have reliability problems, with no models scoring above average. With that storied brand trying to bring diesel back to America, qualms about their reliability doesn't bolster an argument for a fuel the U.S. abandoned in the passenger car market 20-odd years ago. Audi presented a better story, also the purveyor of new diesels for it's '09 lineup, with two-thirds of its fleet scoring average or better, and most of BMW's 3 Series and 5 Series also scoring average or better. A Ford-owned Volvo made strides, leaving only the XC70 wagon rated below average.

Side view of 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sdn w/Nav Silver

Side view of 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sdn w/Nav Silver

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As to the excellent reliability of fuel-efficient vehicles, the big story from Consumer Reports is in the gasoline/electric hybrid segment. Hybrid leader Toyota Motor Company scored high with its Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Lexus GS450h hybrid sedans, as well as its Lexus RX400h and Toyota Highlander hybrid SUVs. Nissan’s Altima hybrid rated highly in the sedan category, and Ford scored yet another reliability win with its Escape Hybrid/Mercury Mariner Hybrid small SUV twins, which scored above average in predicted reliability. Finally, in the hybrid realm, the Honda Civic Hybrid, with its Integrated Motor Assist, scored above average.

2008 Infiniti EX35

2008 Infiniti EX35

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Following the Japanese-heavy solid reliability stories with hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles, Japanese brands in general scored tops in reliability in Consumer Reports’ annual survey, and lead a staggering 15 of 16 categories in the organization's predicted reliability ratings. We’re used to this story from Japanese brands, though some of their newer ventures like the Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, Nissan Armada, and Infiniti QX56 SUV have been marked exceptions to their high-quality habits. Last year’s Toyota Camry also had significant reliability problems, but the brand seems to to have these issues on the mend as they did score above average once more in the '08 survey. The Nissan vehicles mentioned "showed striking improvements" with the troubled models gaining average reliability. New products from Nissan such as the Rogue small SUV and the similarly sized Infiniti EX crossover have begun their product cycles with above average reliability, helping Nissan and Infiniti enjoy overall improvements in their rankings versus last year.

South Korean companies Hyundai and Kia also rank highly, scoring about even with the Japanese makers mentioned above. The majority of their models scored at least above average.

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