US: Detroit three still can’t grasp the small car concept image

The latest Consumer Reports quality survey on new cars is out and can be ours to dissect. Besides seeing the Japanese brands on top – business as usual – we can also see that the three Detroit automakers still don’t get it when it comes to smaller cars.

We understand – the Americans still love their big, hulking full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. And the three carmakers have been making them – alongside equally large sedans, station wagons and MPVs for decades. But, really – it’s not the 1980s so GM can blame the oil crisis and its lack of experience in the segment, getting away with acting surprised to see a car leak oil (as the Cruze compacts do in 2014). It’s not even 2009 so Chrysler can blame its German owner that it’s denying access to top-of the line technology. Even back in 2012 Ford might have gotten away when claiming they didn’t know the Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact’s performance of the Sync voice recognition system is deeply flawed.

Back in the day, cars such as the Chevrolet Cavalier, Ford Escort and Dodge Neon existed because the companies needed them to lower the corporate average fuel economy regulations – allowing the automaker to produce huge cars that would bring massive profits.

But today, models such as the Ford Focus, Fiesta, Chevrolet Cruze and Dodge Dart are not in the same league – they use world-class engineering, electronics and designs. They can be fun to drive, own and come with great mileage and prices. Still, Consumer Reports ranked them to be four of the five least reliable small cars on the US market – and the last one was the 500L subcompact, built by Chrysler’s owner Fiat.