• Dec 7, 2007
click above image for more pics of the 2008 Toyota Highlander from our review

Consumer Reports seems to have a few more fans ever since the folks there proved that they have no bias for Toyota by knocking the Japanese automaker down a few pegs. One of the measures taken after three Toyota vehicles, including a Lexus, were bumped from CR's recommended list was that no future Toyotas would get the benefit of the doubt and be labeled as "Recommended" based on the automaker's past performance. The first Toyota vehicle to be hit by this mandate is the new 2008 Toyota Highlander, which, despite becoming the highest rated mid-size SUV (it's really a CUV, but whatever) with three rows of seating, did not receive an automatic "Recommended" designation from the magazine. The Highlander received the highest score of 81 in CR's most recent test, while competitors that were tested alongside the Highlander like the Subaru Tribeca and Ford Taurus X scored 70 and 75, respectively, yet managed to earn the "Recommended" label. Like the Highlander, the Buick Enclave scored relatively well (75) but did not get recommended, with CR citing insufficient reliability data to make the call.

Though Toyota does not find itself in CR's good graces at the moment, the magazine has made it clear that if Toyota's reliability rating returns to "excellent", it will resume automatically recommending its models again. We're just curious, but do any CR readers out there know what other brands or automakers (not individual models) are also automatically recommended based on their past performance?

Click here to read a non-subscriber's version of CR's article, and click here to read our own review of the 2008 Toyota Highlander Sport.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bob-obomb
      You want a lesson in stats, here goes. Given the sample sizes that they're working with and the small number of problems that occur with a single part, the variation between the worst and the best vehicles is quite small. Confindence Intervals that you can achieve with even a million vehicle survey for individual parts of individual models would be so large that they would overlap. This means that the predicted reliability of single parts from the best model vs. the worst model could be completely wrong. With overlapping confindence intervals, it is quite possible that in the population (meaning every car on the road) the worst and the best models could be the opposite of the survey. Now, their data has more validity for the overall number of problems for vehicles. The overall data would be better because they're not splitting the sample multiple times.
      In my experience running data from much larger surveys than their survey, if you split it by the number of models on the road and then look for individual types of problems within those models, you would have very wide confidence intervals.
      A real statistical publication should at least publish their methodology for when the error gets too large, and they suppress the data because it lacks validity. Despite looking, I've never been able to find their methodolgy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If the Highlander was any good, why would Toyota have to heavily advertise it? (And they do...there is a TV commercial every day promoting the Highlander)

      Good products sell themselves.
        • 7 Years Ago
        America is the Marketers dream. Good products don't always sell themselves. Branding is paramount. Look at how Toyota had to create Lexus and Scion. You have to be able to market to the crowd and create an image. Advertising works thats why we get so much nice things today like Autoblog and many other websites and tv shows. You're just being very naive.
        • 7 Years Ago
        But Tylenol, Band-Aid and Coca-Cola still advertise... I'm in the ad industry, having a good product means you SHOULD advertise it since it can carry your brand and help bring people in the door. The idea that a good product will bring in buyers is a dying concept. Gone the way of the poodle and your primitive notions of modesty... Good products sustain brands and people respond to ads especially in cars among the hotter segments despite them actually being in the market for a minivan or midsize sedan.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports
      J.D. Power
      Edmunds
      CarMatchPro
      Road and track

      Can't go wrong these bunch.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "but do any CR readers out there know what other brands or automakers (not individual models) are also automatically recommended based on their past performance?"

      Yep. They do it with almost every manufacturer to some extent. Ford's new Escape, despite being significantly different (read: worse) than the previous model is automatically recommended.

      The only reason CR is doing this is to cave to the all the trolls who think no Japanese car should ever be recommended and everyone should buy an F-150. Git 'r done.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey I like my Focus! I think it's very peppy :).
      • 7 Years Ago
      So a Taurus X scores 75, and a Buick Enclave also scores a 75??? Okay........Whatever CR.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Apart from the fact that its ugly, the Taurus X is a great vehicle. It's extremely fuel efficient and doesn't way 4000+ lbs like the Buick. Plus it seats 7 and has a IIHS top pick safety rating.
        • 7 Years Ago
        just because they don't directly compete with each other doesn't mean they can't receive the same score.

        although I'm a little confused as to Buick's lower rating compared to the Toyota.

        The Taurus X may not be on everyone's shopping list, but that doesn't mean its bad. just means its bland and doesn't stand out.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Taurus X is extremely efficient and seats 7.

        Yes, the Taurus X AWD gets 15/22 mpg. Obviously EXTREMELY efficient.
        Whereas the Enclave AWD (which has 3 row seating up to 8, BTW) gets 16/22 mpg. What a POS.

        (The FWD versions of both cars get 16/24).

        The Enclave does weigh 1,000 lbs more than a Taurus X.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Can't blame them.. This week alone I had to take a 07 Camry to get the strut replaced, The car is only 4 months old, and an 07 Corolla LE (6 months) to get its brake drums readjusted..


        • 7 Years Ago
        I'd second George's experience with quality problems discovered immediately after buying a new Toyota. My 2007 Toyota Pruis spent 22 days in the shop and required a $5,406.73 warranty repair due to a manufacturing defect. I relied on the J.D. Power quality ranking as well as Consumer Reports Customer Satisfaction Index only to find out first hand that 2007 is a really, really bad year for Toyota.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Because he drives them like a monster truck.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Since both are brand new cars they have to replace/repair it under the warranty.. There no way that the strut of a 4 month old car needing replacement this early, and the car doesn’t even have 3000 miles on on it.. The Corolla is 6 months, but how can the brake drums be so flimsy from the get go?

      • 7 Years Ago
      The other day on the CR blog, they discussed small CUVs. The staffers who drove a Toyota Rav4 (3 of them) all thought that it was still the best vehicle in its class. The staffer who drove a Forrester thought his vehicle was still the best in class. Have they ever considered that their own bias of proving they made the right decision would lead them to be biased? Not one of the three staffers who owned a Rav4, thought that anything had surpaseed it...Hmm, confirmation bias?
      In addition, their statistics for reliability of individual parts of a car are terrible. Anyone who has worked in stats would look at their data and question their methodology. They deliberately hide their statistical methods and their methods for scoring a car? Why? Would someone who understood statistics just rip them to shreds?
        • 7 Years Ago
        So you say "anyone who's worked with stats" would disagree with their methodology. The methodology which you just said you don't know (even though it's clearly lined out in every auto issue). Gee, you'd make a great debater.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No model, or vendor, should get an automatic pass when it comes to new or significantly updated vehicles. period.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ******************************
      They stole the 2003 Hyundai Elantra headlights. Even the hood where it enters the grills is spot-on. ******************************
      http://www.nctd.com/review-intro.cfm?ReviewID=1301
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is repeating info, but CR gives prerecommendations for Honda, Acura, and Subaru. Toyota, Scion, and Lexus used to also get that treatment but not anymore. For anyone who bashes CR, consider this - they are the only magazine that tests all their vehicles under the same conditions (they have their own test facility and track) using objective measurements. Now, it would be nice if we could find out how they weigh all their scores, i.e. Car and Driver style with numbers in every category. But all we get are the CR dots.

      From what I can gather after reading many years of CR, there are several categories that bias their scores either higher or lower more than others. For example, ride, handling, comfort, and ergonomics appear to take priority over intangibles such as styling, market significance, and even price (ok this last one is a real quantity).
        • 7 Years Ago
        It could be interesting to compare CR with their rivals CG (Consumer Guide) and Consumer's Digest.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I've generally found Consumer Guide to be wonderful.

        Not so with Consumer Reports.
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