• May 5, 2009
Familiarizing ourselves with Fiat - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Chrysler's reliability ratings from Consumer Reports have been less-than-stellar in recent years. In its 2008 survey, where CR tallied up its subscribers' experience with some 1.4 million vehicles among 34 brands, Jeep came in 28th, Dodge took the 30th spot and Chrysler listed in at number 32 – with a bullet. This caused CR to ask the obvious question: how will Chrysler's tentative alliance with Fiat affect its overall score? More to the point, does Fiat bring anything positive to the table? According to CR's research, gleaned from the Which? Car – the equivalent of CR abroad – not much.

WC's annual survey of ownership experiences in the UK rates vehicle models up to eight-years-old, and keeps track of all the standard quality metrics (breakdowns, unscheduled repairs, etc.). WC's ratings largely mimicked CR's 2008 reliability list, with Honda and Toyota taking the top spots, followed by Lexus, Mazda and Subaru. Of the 38 brands listed last year, Fiat ranked 35th on the list, with Renault, Land Rover and Chrysler/Dodge filling the bottom and garnering a "Very Poor" rating. Jeep came in 29th, just missing the lowest designation, but still walking away with an overall rating of "Poor."

Consumer Reports sums up its findings, "When Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler in 1997, it was billed as 'merger of equals.' The Chrysler and Fiat deal seems to fit that description better." And judging by the course set last week, we might find out if the adage from the '80s, "Fix it again, Tony" holds up in the 21st century.



[Source: Consumer Reports]


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  • 65 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The recent Fiat vehicles have proven quite reliable these last years, especially the Panda which fared a whopping 3rd place in ADAC's last reliability survey ("Kleine Klasse" category), behind the Audi A2 and Toyota Aygo, but ahead of the Mini (4th), the Nissan Note (6th), the Honda Jazz (12th) or the Ford Fiesta (27th). The Punto is only 13th since the previous version wasn't that good, but it isn't a bad score either. The 500 wasn't included in the stats since the sales were too low to provide any reliable figure in 2008.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 500's reliability _should_ be pretty close to the Panda's, as it shares a ton of components and is made in the same plant. (Viva Polski Fiat!)
      • 5 Years Ago
      That Bravo looks ok, the other ones just can't make me look at 'em.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And for those of you familiar with Which? magazine, its readers are generally history teachers and librarians and usually service their cars once every 50K miles. It's long been considered something of a joke within the motor industry.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We had a consumer report here in Australia about a year or two ago which had Subaru and Mitsubishi as top two with Jeep in the top six while GM's Holden was the worst.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Auto Bild (Germany) probably does the most comprehensive analysis of reliability in the industry.

      2008 Rankings

      1. Toyota
      2. Honda & Mazda
      4. Opel
      5. Hyundai
      6. Mitsubishi
      7. Audi & Mercedes & Nissan
      10. BMW & Volvo
      12. Suzuki
      13. Skoda & Smart
      15. KIA & VW
      17. Seat
      18. Ford
      19. Fiat
      20. Citroen & Renault
      21. Peugeot

      While Fiat probably has improved their quality, it has yet to show in the reliability rankings (since the rankings are of older autos).

      One thing of note - while Mazda seems to do pretty well in European reliability rankings, they don't seem to do nearly as well here w/ CR and esp. JD Power (probably has to do w/ the different product line Mazda offers here in the States and in Europe).
        Woochifer
        • 5 Years Ago
        Seems to me that the Mazda vehicles built on the CD3 platform (Mazda6 and CX-9) haven't fared as well as the ones built on the BK/C1 platform (Mazda3, Mazda5). That might explain the difference in the reliability ratings, since most of the European sales would come from the BK/C1 platform and the DY/DE platform (Mazda2).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well folks, it looks like you Found, ON, Road, Dead owners and Gotta, Mechanic, Coming owners are going to have to eat some CROW when Chrysler/Fiat get their medium/small size high mileage and HYBRED vehicles to the dealers which should be some time this year! I know Chrysler can do it, I had a 1991 Omni Miser that advertized 50 mpg, I was on the roar quite a bit escorting oversize loads and the best I ever got was 51 mpg returning from a run to St. Louis, Mo.! I was returning to Dallas, TX. running 70-75 mph so I could get another run the next day! I kept my vehicle in good running condition and did service every 3,500 miles! I finally burned an intake valve at 414,000 miles and put a rebuilt engine in and got the same kind of service out of it! Incidently, we had the crank and cylinders checked and they were std. It was a 1.7 LTR VW block with a Chrysler head! I had to keep a log for the DOT and this is all written up in it!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think everyone see thorough this one pretty easily.

      At the end of the day, Fiat has rebuilt its brand over the last several years -- apparently to amazing levels.

      I have hunch this new company will be a good one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is no reason why Chrysler should continue to exist in any form.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wouldn't put a lot of faith in anything consumer reports says. To them, any American car is junk. They praise any Japanese car company even if the frames and bodies rust out from underneath them.(Toyota) . I have owned many Chrysler products and they have been very reliable transportation. I own an 89 Dodge Shadow and a 2001 Neon and both are great little American cars that are easy to maintain and get great gas mileage.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Old attitudes do die hard. Frankly I've read so much nonsense written about Fiat and this merger that completely misses the point. Fiat went through a poor patch when even their cars from the sixties were outlasting their later ones - but now is a different story and they seem to have turned a corner. What also gets me about a lot that's being written is that they're not just 'getting Chrysler for free' - in their technology they're bringing real value to the table, as they are with their overall business model for Fiat-Chrysler.
      Woochifer
      • 5 Years Ago
      While I take plenty of issue with how CR conducts its auto testing (basically, rewarding bland and predictable cars for the lowest common denominator), their reliability data should not be discounted out of hand. Anyone can anecdotally talk about how reliable their Chrysler was, or how they got a Toyota lemon, but personal experiences cannot be generalized in the same way that a large statistically significant sample like the CR car survey does.

      Basically, the CR and JD Power surveys draw from the largest numbers of responses in North America, which means that they have the most reliable data. The CR survey rates cars up to five years old, while the JD Power survey only looks at problems within the first year of ownership.

      Fiat had to withdraw from the U.S. market because they developed that well-deserved reputation for making unreliable cars. At the time, it seemed to me that Fiat failed to adapt their cars to American driving habits (i.e., longer commutes, rustproofing the cars for northern climates, etc.), and they suffered as a result.

      Chrysler's precipitous decline doesn't surprise me. Their partnership with Daimler coincided with Daimler beginning to cut corners on its vehicles, which consequently led to a steep decline in product quality (something that has been heavily discussed on Mercedes discussion boards). And then Chrysler got acquired by a private equity firm. Some of their actions, such as closing their California design center, do not reflect a company trying to bounce back by creating new and exciting products that people want to buy. Rather, those moves look more like cost cutting measures designed to turn a quick buck on reselling the company.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I find it hilarious how this angers so many discriminating people of the USA. Yes the US "does" indeed discriminate against Italy and it's people. FIAT does not produce the same cars that were built in the 70's when there were few mechanics knowledgeable of such technology in the US. FIAT's engine design was very advanced for their time incorporating dual or single overhead cams, timing belts and adjustable timing camshafts. Wow, isn't it so amazing how 99.99% of modern cars these days are built just like the engine design from FIAT in the 70's? But then again if it wasn't made in Germany, than nothing from Europe is good then right? Just a note about rusting. All cars rusted out in those days because the steel was recycled crap from Japan that was corrected later on when galvanization was discovered. Come on, let's drop this stupid discrimination and get over it! News flash, the Italians and Germans have built cars side by side for a LONG time but nobody in the US ever thinks of Italian cars being anything but unreliable. I hope that FIAT buys out Chrysler and proves to those Italy bashers that they are (and have been) way better than what was generally perceived.
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