• Oct 27th 2009 at 2:00PM
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Consumer Reports annual reliability survey – Click above for results charts

Consumer Reports has just released results from its annual reliability survey and the findings show that Ford has made major gains to place itself among or ahead the most reliable Japanese brands. CR reports that 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products scored average or better reliability, and important models like the mid-size Fusion scored above the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Not all was rosy for FoMoCo, however, as all-wheel-drive versions of the Lincoln MKS, MKX and MKZ all scored below average in reliability.

General Motors had 20 of 48 models score average reliability, while Chrysler saw one-third of its models place below average. The Asian brands, meanwhile, are still the standard bearer for reliability. Of all the Asian models included in the report, 69 percent scored above average reliability, while only 47 percent of European models and 42 percent of American models could claim the same. European brands, however, are improving according to CR. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Audi have all improved in the survey this year, though some BMW models like the 535i and X3 have declined and the Porsche Boxster fell below average in reliability and lost its spot on the CR Recommended list.

Follow the jump for an official press release from Consumer Reports that wades through all the data better than we can and click below for charts that further reveal which brands and models performed well and which didn't. You can also hop on over to ConsumerReports.org for a live chat to discuss the results with the CR team.

[Source: Consumer Reports]



Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan Reliability Tops Honda Accord and Toyota Camry

YONKERS, NY - Ford has secured its position as the only Detroit automaker with world-class reliability. About 90 percent (46 of 51) of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln products were found to have average or better reliability, according to Consumer Reports' 2009 Annual Car Reliability Survey. The results were announced today at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit.

Ford's sustained production of vehicles that are as dependable-or better than-some of the industry's best dispels the notion that only Japanese manufacturers make reliable cars. Other than the Toyota Prius, the reliability of the 4-cylinder Fusion and Milan ranks higher than that of any other family sedan. Both of those Ford Motor Company products continue to beat the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, while the upscale Lincoln MKZ tops its rivals, the Acura TL and Lexus ES.

"It's rare for Consumer Reports to see family sedans from domestic carmakers continue to beat the reliability scores of such highly regarded Japanese models as the Camry and Accord," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Automotive Test Center. The last domestic sedan that had better reliability than the Camry and Accord was the Buick Regal in 2004, he noted.

Ford's position as the most reliable domestic carmaker includes good scores for its new Ford Flex SUV. But the Lincoln ivision has had mixed results; some models score below their Ford equivalents. All-wheel-drive versions of the Lincoln MKS, MKX, and MKZ, essentially high-end versions of the Ford Taurus, Edge, and Fusion, respectively, are all below average.

More details, and a list of models with the best and worst predicted-reliability Ratings, will appear first on www.ConsumerReports.org. The reliability report will also appear in the December issue of Consumer Reports, on sale November 3, and in the latest Consumer Reports Cars publication, Best & Worst New Cars for 2010, which also includes predicted-reliability ratings for more than 300 models.

A large margin separates the best from the worst. The least reliable vehicle, the Volkswagen Touareg, is 27 times more likely to have a problem than the most reliable car, the Honda Insight.

In addition to the Insight, small car reliability scores stood out. Twenty of 37 small cars have above-average predicted-reliability including the Honda Fit, Scion xD and Volkswagen Golf. Family cars fared nearly as well, with 21 out of 42 scoring above average. Five of the eight most reliable family cars are hybrids, including the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Even good brands falter. Among the least reliable vehicles in their respective classes are the all-wheel-drive Lexus GS, the Nissan Versa sedan, and the Subaru Impreza WRX.

General Motors shows some bright spots, Chrysler still struggles

Some newer GM products are bright spots. Overall 20 of the 48 GM models Consumer Reports surveyed have average reliability scores, while the Chevrolet Malibu V6 has shown better-than-average scores and is on par with the most reliable family sedans. The Buick Lucerne did well in Consumer Reports road tests, and it scores average in reliability.

The Chevrolet Traverse SUV also makes the cut, as does its cousin, the Buick Enclave, but only in the all-wheel-drive version. The reliability scores of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups has improved enough to earn Consumer Reports' Recommendation. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on the Annual Auto Survey, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

GM has a number of strong contenders either just released or in the pipeline, but they are too new for CR to have reliability data on them.

Chrysler continues to struggle. More than one-third of Chrysler products are much worse than average, including its new car-based SUV, the Dodge Journey. Last year, Consumers Reports couldn't Recommend any of its products either because of mediocre performance, poor reliability scores, or both. However, this year CR can recommend one important vehicle in Chrysler's lineup: the four-wheel-drive version of the redesigned Dodge Ram 1500 pickup. It did well in CR road tests and rates average in reliability.

Asian brands still in command

Of the 48 models with top reliability scores, 36 are Asian-Toyota accounts for 18; Honda, eight; Nissan, four; and Hyundai/Kia and Subaru, three each. With only a few exceptions, Japanese vehicles are consistently good. All Honda and Acura products have average or above average reliability. Although, Toyota, with its Lexus and Scion brands, provides a broader product range, the Lexus GS AWD is the only Toyota model with below average reliability.

Models from Nissan and its Infiniti luxury division have mostly been very reliable. The once-troublesome Infiniti QX56 and Nissan Armada are now average, as is the four-wheel-drive Nissan Titan, although its rear-wheel-drive version is still troublesome. The Nissan Versa has produced uneven results. Over the last two surveys, the hatchback has been average while the sedan has been far below average. The Nissan Quest minivan also remains troublesome.

Hyundai and Kia continue to make reliable cars. The Hyundai Elantra and Tucson, and the Kia Sportage get top marks. The new Hyundai Genesis V6 is better than average; the V8 version is average. Only Kia's Sedona minivan and Sorento SUV score below average.

European models continue to rally

European brands continue to improve. Mercedes-Benz has significantly rebounded, with most models average or better, and the GLK did exceptionally well in its first year in CR's survey. Scores from rival BMW are more mixed. The 535i sedan and X3 SUV declined in reliability, and the 135i, debuting in this survey, scores below average. Some BMW models have average or better reliability, but the 328i versions are the only ones that we have tested and can Recommend.

Volkswagen and Audi are also staging a nice reliability recovery. The Volkswagen Rabbit (Golf) and the new CC earn top scores. The VW Jetta's Recommendation now extends to the diesel version, making it the only diesel Consumer Reports currently recommends.

Both the VW Passat and Audi A3 have improved so that they now have average reliability scores. The new VW Tiguan SUV is average. The Audi Q7 SUV continues to be much worse than average, but not as bad as its platform mate, the VW Touareg, which not only scores poorly but has the worst new-car predicted reliability score in the survey.

All of Volvo's sedans are average or better, but Volvo's XC90 SUV is below average. Porsche, which has been doing quite well in our survey of late, has one serious hiccup this year: The Boxster drops to below average, which strikes it from Consumer Reports Recommended list. But the Cayenne SUV improved to average.

Findings are based on responses on more than 1.4 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its Web site, www.ConsumerReports.org, the biggest response in the Annual Auto Survey's history. The survey was conducted in the spring of 2009 by Consumer Reports' National Survey Research Center and covered model years 2000 to 2009.

Consumer Reports' expert team of statisticians and automotive engineers used the survey data to predict reliability of new 2010 models. Predicted reliability is CR's forecast of how well models currently on sale are likely to hold up. To calculate predicted-reliability ratings, CR averages the overall reliability scores (used car verdicts) for the most recent three model years, provided that the model remained unchanged in that period and also didn't substantially change for 2010. If a model was new or redesigned in the past couple of years, one or two years' data may be used, or if that's all that's available.

Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey is used in determining which makes and models are recommended to consumers by CR. Consumer Reports recommends only models that have performed well in tests conducted at its 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut, and that have average or better predicted reliability based on its annual survey. In addition, vehicles must perform well in government or insurance-industry crash and rollover tests, if tested, in order to be Recommended. Occasionally, Consumer Reports may recommend a redesigned model too new to have compiled a reliability record if the previous generation, and the manufacturer's reliability track record has been consistently outstanding, and if the model meets the other criteria.

Full reliability history charts and predicted-reliability ratings on hundreds of 2010 models, plus a list of what's up and what's down, best and worst models, and a comparison chart of brands can be found online at www.ConsumerReports.org, in the December issue and in the latest Consumer Reports Cars publication, Best & Worst New Car for 2010 ($5.99 U.S./$6.99 Canada), on sale November 17, 2009 everywhere magazines are sold.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Congrats Ford. Keep up the good work.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good on you, Ford!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm most impressed with the top socres acheived by hybrid models. The Prius, Insight, Camry Hybrid, Fusion/Milan Hybrid, and Altima Hybrid all scored in the best section of their respective classes. That is quite a feat considering how much more complicated they are than a conventional car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the manufacturers spend a larger amount of resources on quality control for them. I know Toyota specifically did this on the Prius, because if it was a quality flop, they'd never be able to convince people to buy hybrids again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hybrids are a win-win for reliability. Their manufacturers have been able to integrate the electric propulsion and added complexity without major flaws, and the electric motor takes a lot of strain off the engine and other mechanical parts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like how the most reliable "domestic" is made in Mexico in a non-union factory and based on a Japanese platform! And you retards are cheering it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Meant to write "you retards are cheering it as some example of Detroit/UAW engineering. Get real.

        Fusion=Mazda 6, made in Mexico.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford wins again. They have some very nice and reliable products.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Something doesn't add up. All Japanese cars I have owned had many more problems than any European or US cars. The worst of them all was the 02 Odyssey (list of replacements: 2 transmissions, air conditioner, sliding doors, engine mount, interior light switches, driver seat electronic, and many more parts broke but didn't replace them and finally gave up after 150k mile)
      • 5 Years Ago
      am i not reading the charts properly or is Ford 16th and has improved by 1 place up?
      • 5 Years Ago
      how does Saab jump up 12 spots and Mini go down 10 spots, what do they base these scores from?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Predicted reliability report? What kind of rubbish is that?
        • 5 Years Ago

        I understand what predictable is. The problem I have with this joke of a report is what it's based on and with the way it's trying to influence public opinion. At no point you can predict reliability of a complex machinery that you simply couldn't have tested. That's why, in German TUV, they run long-term observations, tests and service data gathering and then they publish their reliability report. They have data from about 7 million cars. With that amount, you report results. Over the years, you can observe a trend, but it's up to the readers to come up with their predictions.

        No self respecting audit company will dare to publish predicted reliability report.

        A mental note, that acclaimed 4 pot in the Fusion is Mazda MZR engine, hence it should be equally reliable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is based off of their experiences with the vehicles and what to expect for you over the same period of time and well into the future based upon what they observed. They do more than check the oil and fill the tank.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I actually have a problem with CR's "predicted reliability". I subscribe to their magazine and take everything with a grain of salt. When I see a completely new vehicle with new engine/powertrain... CR predicts reliability of "good". Then I see another vehicle, with carryover engine/powertrain... CR predicts reliability of "too new". Their prediction is as reliable as the people who complian about the senstivity of their window switches... which equates to an electrical issues.

        Seriously... each year I get their stupid surveys which I don't bother filling out, as they are so skewed with the results for people who don't know much about what's going on with their own cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great news for Ford, even though I don't always trust CR. They are a reliable source, but their truck section is not very impressive to me. But for a car, let alone a domestic and a FORD, to top Camry and Accord is big news. CR absolutely loves Camry and Accord. Great job to the Ford lineup, scoring very well, except those few Lincolns. One surprise I noticed was a lack of recommendation of the Avalanche, usually preferred by CR. GM is slipping.
        • 5 Years Ago
        CR has no ads you're confusing them with MotorTrend or Car and Driver
        • 5 Years Ago
        @sk Before you rant on a magazine, check the source....nimrod. I am not a fan of CR, but I respect them. They have credentials, and I do pick up the magazine every now and then.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "General Motors had 20 of 48 models score average reliability, while Chrysler saw one-third of its models place below average."

      Does anybody else sense a "leading" statement here by Mr. Neff? A more consistent phrase would have been "GM had 42% of its models score average reliability, while Chrsler saw 66% of its models score average reliability."

      Or, may I alternately offer another consistent phrase: "GM had 58% of its models place below average, while Chrysler saw 33% of its models place below average."

      Why go the "average reliability" route with GM, but the "below average" route with Chrysler? Why not use a consistent style of providing information?

      The consistent approach gives a potientially different perception, doesn't it? Maybe one you intentionally didn't wish to give?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because it's worded like that in the press release.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought only FoxNews had an opinion! LOL
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, caught that too...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice catch. Factual or not, the press release is very leading. Is it any wonder that people accuse CR of leading their reader's votes?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Look again at the charts, it's a typo. It's not twisting the facts, it's getting the facts wrong. GM's models did far better than Chryslers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If the only two categories were "average" and "below average", you would be correct.

        However, as the Japanese show, there is a third category labeled "above average", which they dominate. For example: "All Honda and Acura products have average or above average reliability. ... the Lexus GS AWD is the only Toyota model with below average reliability."
        • 5 Years Ago
        "GM has 20 of 48 scoring average reliability" - meaning 28 of 48 scored either above average or below average. Something tells me all 28 aren't "below average", especially since Buick's been a chart-leader with Lexus, et al, and they do say this: "the Chevrolet Malibu V6 has shown better-than-average scores and is on par with the most reliable family sedans."

        Also: "GM has a number of strong contenders either just released or in the pipeline, but they are too new for CR to have reliability data on them", which presumably includes a few more of the 28...

        Conversely, 33% of Chrysler scored "below average", which is indicative of the brand.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Man, as 'unreliable' as I keep reading VW is here in the comments, I can't imagine what it's like to own something even worse like, say, a mercedes, bmw, mini, dodge, caddy, chevy, gm... or AUDI (lol).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Having purchased a Dodge and a BMW new in the past decade I can tell you it's awful. Of course the added bonus with anything made in Europe is the horrific maintenance and repair costs. At least with the Dodge I could get it fixed every other week for pretty cheap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I keep scratching my head as to why folks still don't get it. Let me try to explain it in simple words.


        • 5 Years Ago
        oh, yeah, i know, active steering going out @ 85 on 545i, headlights never leveling on the first gen mini until a sixth try from the dealer, i could go on and on. it's itnerresting to see bmw's simplest na car on the good side (328) and a car no more complex than the new A6 (535x) on the bad side. then again, cr doesn't seem to like the 5 series much at all, and i'm surprised to see a few VW models join the most reliable side (without a single BMW or Audi (and just a Merc). Looks like you'll definatly need that free maintence with your BMW, not sure how they'd sell them without it... well not that BMW 'sells' cars in the US, they lease most of em, but you get the drift.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @speedball - it looks like vw has one very unreliable car, the touareg, something no vw fan or detractor will argue, it's been plagued with problems from day one.

        what's odd is none of bmw's core (sedans) made any of the most reliable lists, while two vws did. So yeah, the toaureg is going to be a boat load of return trips to the dealer, just as many as an X5 or a 5 series, but the core cars VW's selling (medium sized and compact) seem to be doing quite well with representation on the most reliable lists.

        Passat, Jetta, Golf, CC, Tiguan all recommended.
        5 series, x3, mini reliability going down with the 1 series below average.
        It's odd. you'd think there'd be more than 1 vw model on the not recommended list, or a single vw model on the declining reliability list, but there aren't any.

        It can't just be the touareg weighing the entire brand down. I just don't get what else is out there when you've covered the golf models, passats, jettas, and tiguan. Routan?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, those bad VW comments seem accurate based on the first chart. While the overall average reliability of VW is good, it also has the lowest "less reliable" score out of all other makes... so while you would most likely get a relatively reliable VW, you can also get a really really bad one. =)
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