Report cards are headed home in automakers' backpacks today, and provided there isn't any grade-changing subterfuge, Subaru has managed to land itself atop the Consumer Reports dean's list. The triumph comes thanks to a class-topping essay entitled "What I Did Over Winter Break: Redesigning the 2012 Impreza," which earned the rugged brand top marks in Small Sedans 101. Combined with high scores in other vehicle classes, Subaru knocked Honda from the valedictorian's position it has held for the past four years.

Also passing Honda were salutatorian Mazda and perennial top-three performer Toyota, who reliably proved that whether it's the smartest kid in the class or not, it's well liked. Mazda climbed in the rankings thanks to a lighter class load, while Honda's drop from the top reflected a year spent drawing giant spaceships and hoping that in Civics class nobody would notice when it turned in a weak rewrite of it's own popular essay from last semester.

Honda wasn't alone in spending the grading period not paying attention. Also spotted wandering the halls was Ford, which dropped out of the top five. While Chrysler found itself with the worst grades in the class – again – the carmaker did see some results from hitting the books lately, earning it the title of second most improved behind Mazda.

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CONSUMER REPORTS AUTOMAKER REPORT CARDS 2012: SUBARU DRIVES INTO TOP SPOT AS HONDA SLIPS
Mazda's score improves most while Ford's falls the farthest


YONKERS, NY - Riding a wave of impressive redesigned models in the last few years, Subaru for the first time has earned the top score in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012.

Subaru's score of 75, two points higher than last year, reflects better test scores for such redesigned models as the Impreza, Legacy, and Outback over the last few years. The 2012 Impreza, which Consumer Reports just tested, now tops the small-sedan class and is the Consumer Reports Top Pick in that category. Subaru's average road-test score of 82 is the highest in Consumer Reports analysis.

Honda, which had been the perennial winner for the past four years, slipped two points to fourth place among 13 major automakers, behind Mazda and Toyota. Honda has been hurt by several redesigned models-including the Civic and Odyssey-that didn't measure up to their predecessors. Honda models, however, are still among the most reliable on the road overall.

Toyota remains among the top three automakers for the fifth straight year, buoyed by consistently above-average reliability and most vehicles have high test scores.

Consumer Reports automaker report cards reflect the performance, comfort, utility, and reliability of more than 275 vehicles that CR recently rated, providing a perspective on which manufacturers are building the best all-around models. Each automaker's overall score is based on the average road test scores and reliability ratings for all of its models that CR has tested.

"While Japanese automakers still hold the top five spots, their lead is shrinking. In some of Honda's and Toyota's recently redesigned models, cost-cutting has become more noticeable," said David Champion, senior director, Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.

Mazda showed the most dramatic improvement among the 13 manufacturers rated by Consumer Reports. It climbed to second place from last year's seventh and increased its overall score by nine points. It was helped by an improved Mazda3 and the shedding of two models that dragged down its score, the Tribute SUV and RX-8 sports car.

On the other hand, Ford dropped the farthest, from fifth place last year to 10th. Ford's road-test score improved by two points over last year's, but subpar reliability of some new vehicles, due largely to the troublesome MyFord Touch infotainment system and Power-Shift automatic transmission, hurt its report-card grade.

"GM and Chrysler are building nicer cars with each redesign. Still, their scores are dragged down by several older designs that score low in Consumer Reports testing or have reliability issues," Champion said, "As more new products are introduced, their fortunes could change if they can improve their overall reliability."

Although Chrysler remains in last place, its overall score jumped eight points, making it the second most improved automaker. Chrysler's average road-test score also increased by eight points, the most of any automaker, and its overall reliability improved to average. The turnaround can be credited mostly to Chrysler's extensively freshened and redesigned vehicles.

Europe a mixed bag:

Volvo earned the best grade of any European automaker, thanks in part to a big improvement in the redesigned S60 sedan. Still, average reliability and less-than-stellar test scores kept it from making further progress.

Like Toyota and Honda, Volkswagen's redesigns of some of its best-selling models, including the Jetta and the Passat, dropped in Consumer Reports road-test scores. The Jetta once provided an upscale alternative to more common small cars, but its new interior is stingy and handling is lackluster, eroding that advantage. The Passat has evolved from a sportier midsized sedan to a larger, more mundane, less sophisticated car. The change has brought mixed results. On the other hand, the redesigned Audi A6 and A8 posted big gains in CR's road tests.

Despite having frustrating controls, BMW and Mercedes-Benz models are nicely finished and well-mannered on the road, and they get high scores in Consumer Reports road tests. And though reliability has climbed to average for both carmakers, they were hurt by the reliability of some popular models. Mercedes' flagship S-Class sedan joined the company's large GL SUV with subpar reliability. The reliability of some turbocharged Mini Coopers and the 5 Series hurt BMW's grade.

The complete report and scores for all 13 automakers in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012 is available in the April issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 6th or at www.ConsumerReports.org starting February 28, 2012.

Some manufacturers were not included in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012. In order to give an overall score, Consumer Reports must have both road-test data and sufficient reliability data from its Annual Auto Survey on at least four models. CR did not have sufficient data on enough models from Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Suzuki to calculate a score. Ratings on individual models from those makers are available at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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  • 73 Comments
      Abarthlyness
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here are my take-aways... "On the other hand, Ford dropped the farthest, from fifth place last year to 10th. Ford's road-test score improved by two points over last year's, but subpar reliability of some new vehicles, due largely to the troublesome MyFord Touch infotainment system and Power-Shift automatic transmission, hurt its report-card grade." "GM and Chrysler are building nicer cars with each redesign. Still, their scores are dragged down by several older designs that score low in Consumer Reports testing or have reliability issues," Champion said, "As more new products are introduced, their fortunes could change if they can improve their overall reliability." "Although Chrysler remains in last place, its overall score jumped eight points, making it the second most improved automaker. Chrysler's average road-test score also increased by eight points, the most of any automaker, and its overall reliability improved to average. The turnaround can be credited mostly to Chrysler's extensively freshened and redesigned vehicles." Most improved was Chrysler. Yeah, it's not hard to improve on utter crap... but at least they were mentioned because of their 8 point increase in both road test and reliability scores. Ford dropped from 5th to 10th. Not good...
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kudos Subaru.
      joejoe590
      • 2 Years Ago
      Haha Called it!! My wife and I took a joyride in one of these Imprezas a few weeks ago and I said... mark my words - Consumer Reports is going to love this thing. It NAILS every point that Consumer Reports looks for. And I was right. Does this directly result in the public's love? Not neccessarily. I've driven cars that Consumer Reports rates really high (the Civic) and hated it. I purchased a 2001 Ford Focus based off of their ratings and I loved that thing for 7 years. I currently own a 2002 Ford Focus based off of those same ratings. Anyhoo... I too loved the new Impreza. If I was to purchase a new, small commuter car. This is the ONLY one on my list. My wife and I currently love our 2008 Outback. Thanks Subaru!
      • 2 Years Ago
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        • 2 Years Ago
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        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Does anyone else remember a GM troll by the name of "Bubba" who trolled AB around May and June? Well, looks like he's back.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
        1454
        • 2 Years Ago
        All three of those suck. Just like you. Hey, if GM builds such great cars then why was/is nobody buying them?
          Marc Swankhuizen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1454
          The guy may be a douche, but there's nothing wrong with modern GM cars, most of them are world class. Mind you I'd be much happier with a Subaru, I don't understand the hate on GM. The Cruze is a pretty nice car and the Corvette is still challenging the world, even though it's practically a dinosaur now
          Jack Holliday
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1454
          just finished reading a book by Bill Vlasic . he quoted a US car executive as saying the American people hate American industry. this forum surely backs that man's observation.
          Klinkster
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1454
          Holy crap Jack! You can read?
        ravenosa
        • 2 Years Ago
        I'm going with Poe's Law on Bubba's comment. NOBODY loves fleet cars that much...
        JF
        • 2 Years Ago
        Don't feed the troll people, move along (downvoting is OK though).
      Jack Holliday
      • 2 Years Ago
      so what would you expect from old left wing, liberal, biased, anti-USA anything biased consumer distorts?
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack Holliday
        Over the years, I think CR has been way more anti-european than anti-US. Just as the print mags have been consistently pro-european and anti-US.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
        whofan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jack Holliday
        It reads more like a right wing mag if you ask me.
      whofan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Congradulations Subaru, Now, anyone care to rate Consumer Reports? I will, they suck! Chrysler has been their whipping boy for years. It`s not popular for them to put Toyota on a golden pedestol so now Subaru is their favorite. Chrysler quality is not that bad. I say its on par with everyone else.
        ndcart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @whofan
        I completely agree. I forgot Consumer Reports even existed.
        Alex740
        • 2 Years Ago
        @whofan
        Until recently Chrysler deserved what it got in terms of bad press, they were building some of the most unreliable cars on the market.
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @whofan
        So, three statistically sound sources all rate Chrysler at, or near the very bottom. JD Power, TrueDelta, and Consumer Reports. They are ALL wrong, and their sample sizes that are in the tens of thousands have no idea of what they are talking about? Get real. I love the fact that Chrysler has been kicking ass and taking names recently, but that doesn't mean their vehicles reliability is stellar.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @whofan
        Ummm- didn't Chrysler rank near the bottom in the JD Powers surveys also? Is it all just a coincidence?
          Frank
          • 2 Years Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          JDP is about 3 year old cars. What cars are those? 2008-9. what happened then? Carmaggeddon. the stuff Chrysler is making now won't show up in JDP until 2015 at the earliest. Then we'll know if they are getting better in the reliability department. I think they will. Even so, the way cars are made now the difference between the worst and the best is like 1 extra trip to the dealer. That should stop you from buying something you want?
      Jack Holliday
      • 2 Years Ago
      consumer reports said the 3800 GM V6 was noisy and thirsty despite the fact it produced over 30mpg in fairly large cars (BUICK, CHEV IMPALA) and was named one of the best engines of the last 100 years.. (WARDS TEN BEST.COM)
      ted.hess
      • 2 Years Ago
      I Find CR to be wrong a lot. Owned a Toyota Tacoma, nothing but problems from fan clutches to O2 sensors, got ride of the truck at 90K. Own a Colorado, truck has 120K Miles never been back to the dealer, simply not a single problem. Their ratings are just plain biased. Owned both trucks from new.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ted.hess
        You have a sample size of precisely one in each case. This is exactly the reason why CR is better than any other car media. They actually attempt to do a survey with a meaningful sample size. Whereas every other car reviewer, at best, only ever does a long term test on one car. CR is not perfect, and their reliability rating system is overly simplistic, but they are miles ahead of every other magazine or website.
      sirjaysmith
      • 2 Years Ago
      Considering CR's latest review of the 2012 JK Wrangler stated its offroad abilities were poor, I can't see how anyone can take ANYTHING CR says seriously anymore.
      Jack
      • 2 Years Ago
      What garbage. Consumer Reports is full of ****! You all know it's true!!
      • 2 Years Ago
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        • 2 Years Ago
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      icemilkcoffee
      • 2 Years Ago
      In a year when Hyundai/KIA is firing on all cylinders and bringing out world class products and engineering- CR is entirely and completely mute on the korean car makers. What's up with that?
        gnvlscdt23f
        • 2 Years Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        Their score wasn't much changed. Overall, it dropped from 66 to 63 based on reduced reliability of the Elantra and Sonata in their first year (not bad mind you, just lower) and also problems with the V6 version of the Sorento and Santa Fe. Of course, the Sedona remains a big drag on their overall reliability score, too. But their average test score has climbed, going from 75 to 77, placing them 3rd behind Subaru at 82 and VW at 79. Assuming H/K gets the bugs out of the new models, expect a big jump next year. But until the Sedona's in the grave, don't expect them to pass the best of the Japanese. Note that the reliability scores are for the the latest survey year, so no, they're not down with Dodge, though Chrysler as a whole still manages an average rating for the year.
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