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Consumer Reports Rates Ford and Japanese Brands Highest Page 2

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2009 Chevrolet Malibu

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

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GM models were "a mixed bag," according to Consumer Reports. They spanned the range from above average for the 4-cylinder Chevrolet Malibu, average for the V-6 model of the same vehicle, and above-average ratings for the Buick Lucerne V-8 and four-cylinder Pontiac G6 (cousin to the Chevrolet Malibu). Chevrolet’s Avalanche has moved up to an average ranking, but a solid one-quarter of GM’s models are "still well below average." Sadly, models that performed well in Consumer Reports' testing regimen, such as the Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook, rang in with reliability that was below average.

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

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But the worst reliability story come from the now Cerberus-owned Chrysler. While the newer platform-mates Dodge Caliber and Jeep Patriot small SUVs made respectable above-average ratings, nearly two-thirds of Chrysler’s products were solidly below average. The Pentastar's bread-and-butter minivans, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, which are claimed by many to be perhaps their most valuable products next to the new 2009 Ram pickup, earned low scores from Consumer Reports. Also scoring low for Chrysler were its Jeep Liberty, Dodge Avenger, and Chrysler Sebring V-6. Scoring abysmally low was the Chrysler Sebring Convertible, earning the worst predicted reliability score that was calculated at a whopping 283 percent lower than average--not good numbers for a car company that’s struggling for existence.

It’s a good day when we can report that an American manufacturer like Ford, whose future is at stake just like competitors GM and Chrysler, is at least turning out reliable, well-built cars that can compete on the same ground as the Japanese. Changing consumer opinion is a longer, tougher road, but with large agencies like Consumer Reports lending their support, perhaps the tides will change for Ford, which has recently seen stock prices drop to desperately low 1980s levels, leading some of its largest stockholders like tycoon Kirk Kerkorian to consider the sale of his entire holdings of Ford stock.

Fresher European-sourced products are quickly on the way for Ford, as consumers and the media have long complained about Ford’s decision not to bring the excellent European Focus platform to America. Instead, we persist with the 8-year-old Focus platform spruced up only with styling and sheetmetal changes. If they can keep up the quality story with the new European products that are sized right for the times (and enjoy commensurately smaller consumption), Ford may be poised for a slow but sure comeback as long as the stock market and credit crisis begin a resolution. And that's a big "if."--Colin Mathews

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Comments (5)
  1. What CR doesn't say, and that few people realize:
    1. The data are already about five months old, and will be over a year old when many people use them to buy a car next summer.
    2. The average problem rate isn't very high, probably around 18 problems per 100 cars for the 2008s (based on past years; they didn't have a number when asked this year). So the differences between the different "blobs" is only three or four problems per 100 cars.
    For vehicle reliability information that is promptly updated four times a year, and actual repair rates rather than just blobs:

  2. I agree with Michael. Ford and Chrysler have played this game before that they are rated so high on reliability etc. How many Mid-early 90's Fords do you see on the road? Not many... When you compare a Ford to an Audi or Mercedes you look like a fool! I buy Audi for all the extras, but realize that that may come with an issue or two, but the day to day joy of ownership outweighs the hassle.
    CR needs to get in the cars, do reviews based on real owners that have had the vehicle for over a year or two so we can get an overall opinion on a carmakers reliability. I mean, if a car maker can't make a car that meets the buyers reliability expectations during the 1st year of ownership, they either have serious issues or the person bought the wrong car.
    Ford uses cheap materials and cuts every penny they can in R&D and elsewhere, so please don't try and paint a rosy picture of an automaker that is just getting by...

  3. Hey Michael - I was unaware of truedelta, I appreciate the link and I'm going to go over and check them out. I definitely think that CR's cold, hard numbers have relevance, but I also agree that the difference in quality of new vehicles is getting ever smaller. And with, I believe, CR considering items like an over-torqued lug nut a "factory defect," you have to ask if that's truly a reliability issue, or some severe nit-picking. I'd take a car that drives great but has a couple of flaws over one that is perfect yet drives like a toaster. Having said that, Ford quality really has improved markedly, and that's great news for the legions of Americans who buy Ford products en masse. Nonetheless, for my dollar, I'd by Audi over Lincoln any day of the week, regardless of differences in reliability.

  4. Firstly, I would like to thank Michael for the site info, Jay for the common view of CR needing to get into the cars and doing reviews based on 'real owners', and Colin for his pragmatic approach. Secondly, again dealing with CR methodology, I would really like to see some transparency in how they get to their results. They test model X in year 200x, then include it in a model comparison two/three years later based on the same old results - how exactly is this a honest comparison? With 16 million+ unit sales/yr (avg pre-2008!), there are A LOT of opinions out there...CR has paid circulation base of about 1.4 million - of these individuals, that we KNOW NOTHING about, what percentage actually takes the time to complete the surveys that these results are based? I take their results with a grain of salt. If you want totally unbiased, accurate vehicle appraisal, check out the results of the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada Testfest. Over 70 of Canada's top automotive writers gather over a four-day period to evaluate over 180 new models, using public roads in back-to back-to back testing. Vehicles, grouped in pairings that result in apples versus apples comparisons, evaluated on the same roads, in the same weather, on the same day....CR only wish they could be so 'objective'! Website or call the ajac office @ 1-800-361-1516

  5. What's with these Audi people complaining that Consumer Reports needs to get "real people who drive real cars" for their reviews. That's what they do. And their reliability surveys go out to MILLIONS of us "real people", not to just a handfull of "automotive journalists" (mostly unknowlegeable, opinionated blowhards out for a free lunch, a free ride!).

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