Consumer Reports 2011 Reliability Survey: Japanese Dominate top 10, U.S. Ford sinks 10 places image

The first chart positions in the annual Consumer Reports 2011 Reliability Survey were dominated this year by Japanese brands including Scion, Lexus and Mazda, while European carmakers like Volkswagen and BMW gathered average rankings. Regarding the U.S. companies, Ford’s overall reliability rank fell 10 spots to #20, while several Chrysler brands improved significantly

According to the massive survey, the new Ford Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus all had below-average reliability in their first year, leading Ford’s overall reliability rank to fall 10 spots to #20 on the list of 28 brands. One bright spot for the automaker — its Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average. Ford’s drop can also be attributed to problems with new technologies: the new MyFord Touch infotainment system and the new automated-manual transmission used in the Fiesta and Focus.

David Champion, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, stated: “Even in our test cars, with MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, we saw problems with the system. And our reliability data really shows that many other consumers did also.”

Among the U.S. automakers, Chrysler was the highest-ranked domestic brand in the survey, reaching to 15th place, up from 27th. Out of the 97 specific models included in the survey, 67 percent were rated at ‘average’ or higher. Chrysler 200 (formerly Sebring) sedan and the redesigned Dodge Durango both made marked improvements in their rankings, while Chrysler’s Jeep brand jumped up seven spots to #13.
General Motors ranks almost the same as in previous year. The Buick and Cadillac brands, in particular, appear to have taken a step backward; Chevrolet held steady and GMC dropped one spot. General Motors’ bright spots include the above-average Chevrolet Avalanche and the Cadillac CTS, which has improved to average.

According to this year’s results, it seems Japanese cars are the most reliable. Nine Japanese carmakers ranked in the top 10. Makers include, in order, Scion (Toyota), Lexus, Acura (Honda), Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Infiniti, Subaru and Nissan. Up to 87 per cent of specific Japanese models were rated at ‘average’ or higher, with 24 models ranked with top marks.

Among the Japanese carmakers, Mazda showed the biggest improvement, moving up eight spots from last year, while Toyota Motor Corp. — a company dogged by a massive recall in 2010 — held steady at sixth overall.

The only European brand to enter the top 10 was Volvo, which was helped by the above-average first year results of its redesigned S60. Volkswagen AG also held at No. 16 overall, seven of its 11 models scoring average or better.

Car brands that didn’t shape up too well included, in order of least reliable, Jaguar, Porsche, Audi, Cadillac, Buick, and MINI. Out of the 58 European models in the survey, 64 per cent recorded ‘average’ or higher.

The results 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 and covered the 2002-2011 model years.