Consumer Reports has released its 2014 Car Brand Report Cards, with Lexus again reigning at the top and doing so with the same industry-topping score of 79 that it registered in last year's Report Cards. This year, the institute credited its lineup for being "usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient," noting it's the only brand on the list "to achieve an excellent average overall reliability score." The Car Brand Report Cars list is meant to rank the best all-around vehicles based on CR testing and reliability results tallied by subscribers it surveyed. Each brand included must have sufficient test and reliability data for at least three models, a standard which left out 11 marques including Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche.

This 2014 Brand Report Cars edition is the first of a new format in which sub-brands have been broken out from their parent brands, with Acura using this year to move up the leaderboard into second place with a score of 75 for its "reliable, well-finished and somewhat sporty models." The top three was rounded out by Audi, climbing from eighth to third by scoring a 74 for "well-crafted interiors, nice handling and good gas mileage." Audi scored highest in the road-test portion, its improved reliability aiding its rise. The top nine was completed by Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz.

Ford and Jeep weighed in at the other end of the rankings, Jeep taking the lowest overall score in the road tests and hampered by "a mix of spotty reliability." Ford was sunk by reliability issues with its MyFord Touch infotainment system which consumers found troublesome enough to negate its cars earning "solid test scores" for being "very nice to drive." Perhaps the rumored switch from Microsoft to Blackberry's QNX for the next generation SYNC will help them out. Cadillac's score also took a hit for infotainment reasons after it was the leading US brand last year, the CUE system in the XTS dragging Cadillac to the bottom of all General Motors brands.

Check out the press release below for more details on the brands that did well and not-so-well.
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2014 Car Brand Report Cards: Acura & Audi Jump to Join Lexus at the Head of the Class

YONKERS, NY, 02/25/2014 - Luxury brands rule the roost this year as Acura and Audi moved up a few spots to join Lexus with the top three highest scores in Consumer Reports' annual car brand report cards.

A perennial top scorer, Lexus earned the highest marks (79) for the second straight year. Consumer Reports' analysis finds the bulk of its models are usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient. Lexus was the only brand to achieve an excellent average overall reliability score.

Following close behind were rivals Acura and Audi, whose scores were just one point apart. Moving into second from fifth place last year, Acura earned a score of 75 with reliable, well-finished and somewhat sporty models. Audi's score (74) has trended upward in the past two years due to improved reliability. The brand moved from 8th to 3rd-thanks to its cars' well-crafted interiors, nice handling, and good gas mileage from its range of modern, efficient engines.

The complete report and scores for all 23 brands in Consumer Reports Car Brand Report Cards for 2014 is available in the annual auto issue of Consumer Reports or by visiting the 2014 Autos Spotlight on www.ConsumerReports.org.

"A lot can go wrong when building cars packed with luxury features," said Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports automotive testing. "It's impressive to have three luxury brands score top marks when reliability is one of the defining factors."

Consumer Reports' Annual Car Brand Report Cards are intended to show which brands are making the best all-around vehicles, based on how their models perform in Consumer Reports comprehensive road tests and how they rate in reliability. The reliability findings are based on CR's annual survey of its subscribers, in which they tell us about problems with their 1.1 million vehicles.

Consumer Reports calculates each brand's overall score using an equally weighted composite of its road-test scores and reliability scores for each model that the organization has tested and for which its subscribers have provided reliability data in its Annual Auto Survey. To be included, each brand needs at least three models for which Consumer Reports has test and reliability data.

In general, luxury brands outperformed their mainstream stablemates. The only exception was Cadillac, which scored the lowest of any of General Motors' brands, based mainly on problems with the XTS' CUE infotainment system. Audi's luxurious, fun-to-drive, and fuel-efficient cars earned it the highest overall average road-test score. Mercedes-Benz followed, and Chrysler, Infiniti, and Subaru tied. Jeep has the lowest road-test score, dragged down by score for the Wrangler, the dated Compass and Patriot, and the unimpressive new Cherokees.

In addition to Audi's surge, other European brands improved somewhat this year. Mercedes-Benz placed ninth in the rankings, moving up one place over last year. BMW and Volvo tied with an overall score of 66. Volkswagen held position, scoring a 59. Though it has a number of high-scoring cars in Consumer Reports' tests, several have reliability problems, which dragged down the brand's overall score.

Japanese brands dominated the rankings, taking seven of the top eight spots. Following the three highest-scoring spots were Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and Infiniti. The only Japanese brand that wasn't in the upper half is Nissan, which ranks 18th out of the 23 makes in Consumer Reports' analysis. Subaru builds a range of all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs with very good fuel economy and solid reliability, except for the rear-wheel-drive BRZ sports coupe. Toyota builds impressive hybrids and very reliable cars that are quiet and comfortable but rarely engaging. Mazda has come on strong with models that deliver impressive fuel economy while still being fun to drive.

Honda is another consistent performer, delivering well-constructed cars that do well in Consumer Reports' tests and hold up over the long haul. The brand's troublesome new infotainment system hurt reliability on high-end versions of the Accord, but it didn't drag down the brand score significantly. Nissan dropped five places following reliability problems with redesigns of the Pathfinder and the midsized Altima. The Sentra and Versa made backward steps in Consumer Reports' testing, with each model getting lower tests than previous generations did. The older Armada and Titan were extremely unreliable, as well.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jeep and Ford tied for the lowest score (50). Jeep has a mix of spotty reliability and mediocre road-test results. While a number of recent Ford models are very nice to drive and earn solid test scores, the brand continues to have reliability problems, especially with its MyFord Touch system. Three other Detroit brands, Dodge, Cadillac and Chevrolet round out the bottom five.

The top Domestic makes-Buick, GMC and Chrysler-scored mid-pack. Last year's leading U.S. brand, Cadillac, ran into similar problems as Ford with its CUE system, but it didn't affect a wide swath of cars. Cadillac dropped six places after replacing its large DTS with the XTS and introducing the small ATS. The redesigned CTS sports sedan is engaging to drive, but a tight rear seat and trunk and complicated controls hurt its road-test score. GM has recently revamped most of its cars and pickups, and the redesigned Impala and Silverado impressed Consumer Reports in tests, boosting Chevy's average road test score.

South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia rank in the lower third, between the best American brands and the stragglers. A bargain alternative, Consumer Reports finds Hyundai builds good cars that are well-rounded and comfortable, with good fuel economy. But Hyundai's average reliability lowered the brand's overall score. Like its sister brand, Kia builds well-rounded, functional models that rapidly improve with every redesign.

This year Consumer Reports doesn't have report cards for Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mini, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ram, Scion, Smart, and Tesla because either the organization has too few currently tested models from those makes or it lacked sufficient reliability data to make a valid determination. Ratings on individual models from those makers are available at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The complete report and scores for all 23 brands in Consumer Reports Car Brand Report Cards for 2014 is available in the annual auto issue of Consumer Reports and at the 2014 Autos Spotlight on www.ConsumerReports.org starting February 25, 2014. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

For live coverage of our breaking news, connect with us on Twitter at @ConsumerReports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ConsumerReports.

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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  • 81 Comments
      Patrick
      • 9 Months Ago
      Good PR for Acura. The only problem I have had so far is the heat shield rusting out to the point of rattling and needed to be removed.
      bookemd
      • 9 Months Ago
      I have a 2012 wrangler rubicon...yes CR I agree with the terrible road score overall, it rides rough, gets terrible gas mileage, parts of it feel very cheap for the money, etc. BUT that's not why people buy them!!!!! I love mine til death.
      carguy1701
      • 9 Months Ago
      Good thing I don't trust Consumer Reports.
      • 9 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      bethany.omalley
      • 9 Months Ago
      Dear Consumer Reports, Screw you! That is all, everyone else have a wonderful day!!
      Frank
      • 9 Months Ago
      Isn't Consumer Reports a bit of an echo chamber? I mean, the "reliability" aspect of the rating come from their own readers. And if their readers are buying the cars CR recommends, then those few who buy a non-Toyota or Honda brand (because CR has been a fanmag for Honda/Toyota for years), won't the domestics be underrepresented? I just find it weird how CR arrives at its recommendations. For one car, they say, "Oh, it's so quiet and fuel efficient." Then in another they say it gets high marks for it's interior appointments. It just never comes across as objective, even though they sell it as such. I find that off-putting. How do they objectively arrive at the Honda Accord over the Mazda6 in the mid-sized category? The Mazda meets or beats Accord in so many measurables, has more content across comparable models and is therefore a better value, and is definitely more fun to drive. Yet Accord gets the nod over Mazda? Makes no sense.
        animekyoto89
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Frank
        Translation: "The results aren't in agreement with my "superior" tastes, so they are wrong and biased." Seriously, grow up!
        makasay
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Frank
        I'm not sure where you arrive at the conclusion that the Mazda beats the Honda in so many measurables. The Accord has more space, more features for the money, is quieter, more comfortable and just as fuel efficient. The only place I can think of the Mazda has the Honda beat is being fun to drive which isn't a priority in this class. Styling is subjective.
        TopGun
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Frank
        I agree Frank. I got onto CR just for curiosity - and they seemed to allowed me to enter data for a car I had no proof I've never owned much less driven. I have no issues with people that don't give a crap liking CR as it gives them something to base their Corolla vs. Civic decision on. I do wonder why supposed "car enthusiasts" seem to go all ga-ga over the results.
      Andre Neves
      • 9 Months Ago
      I'd be more interested in what CR has to say about the leading toasters and how they fair up to the competition.
      CH
      • 9 Months Ago
      "Consumer Reports calculates each brand's overall score using an equally weighted composite of its road-test scores and reliability scores" Consumer reports is so stuck in the nineties! Today the average car is very reliable and reliability differences are materially small, yet CR still believes reliability is as important as everything else they measured combined. Of course the whole thing is PR fluff.
        mazeroni
        • 9 Months Ago
        @CH
        They need to remain relevant. Yes, it is fluff but their industry depends on ensuring sensational story telling for survival.
      Eggmania
      • 9 Months Ago
      of course it did lexus makes the best cars. only the germans can keep up with them at this point.
        Stridenttube
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Eggmania
        Other way around, only Lexus can keep up with the Germans.
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Eggmania
        [blocked]
      Rob J
      • 9 Months Ago
      The "problem" with CR is they review cars the same way they review ovens. Which is EXACTLY how most people but cars. Enthusiasts get their kickers in a twist because they think everybody should appreciate cars like them which is a pretty narrowmined viewpoint.
        Autoholics Anonymous
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Rob J
        Gee golly! That oven with the extra wide rack is so cool it gets my heart a racing with excitement and best of all it comes in Electric Blue Metallic! I'm sorry, I just cannot write this out. It is so hard to be enthusiastic about a kitchen tool, even out of jest. Most people I have ever met will never shop for a car like it is a simple appliance(such as an oven). They at the very least are emotionally attached to it in one way or another whether it be the way it looks, feels, or drives, etc. In my opinion if I had a car that I really liked because of it's core qualities(e.g. driving dynamics, comfort, fuel economy) and the infotainment stuff is just a bonus because I drive a car not an iPhone with wheels.
      i.own.your.ass
      • 9 Months Ago
      Not surprised by Ford. ...
      Dean Hammond
      • 9 Months Ago
      ahhhh, software.... reliability issues with its MyFord Touch.....and yet its a major reason people buy the cars in the first place....if you are selling a vehicle sans an infotainment system you are behind the ball in desire, yet apparently are more reliable....go figure...wonder if infotainment systems actually ever stranded acar in a similar fashion to a transmission going out....hmmmm
        Master Austin
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        Thats why Toyota faired to well...specially when the transmission in the newly "redesigned" Corolla is 28 years old. In their word, why change if it's its just good enough. All their newly "redesigned" vehicles have yesterday-generation drivetrain.
          Dean Hammond
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Master Austin
          BINGO.....simplicity inherits higher reliability scores...what is interesting Austin, is somhow ecalls diont enter into the equation....interesting no?...
        Greg
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        Yes, when MFT was first released in the Focus, there were some instances of it rendering the vehicle undrivable.
        Autoholics Anonymous
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Dean Hammond
        I have been in a car with no infotainment system whatsoever other than an FM/AM radio and a cassette player and it had the transmission cease to go into "D" yet now I have a car (2010 MKZ) with all of the infotainment you could throw in it and yet it has never given me a single problem.
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