Subaru, Mazda Rise, Ford Crashes, in Consumer Reports' Automaker Report Card

Subaru
Is it April already? No, but in Consumer Reports' world, the heavy downpours of spring are apparently already under way. It also means there's another issue of the consumer union's coveted Annual Auto Issue.

The April issue includes Consumer Reports' top automotive picks, new-car ratings, best and worst used cars and used-car reliability info for cars from 2006 to 2012.

We want to highlight the group's latest automaker rankings, which includes a first-place finish for Subaru.

Subaru, which scored 75 out of 100, moved one spot higher this year — it's the first time the Japanese carmaker has held the top spot. Consumer Reports recommends all of Subaru's models — not to disparage that kudo, but Subaru has only six models.

As for the other 12 automakers, Japanese brands round out the top five spots: Mazda, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, in that order. Consumer Reports points out that the numbers separating the top five from the rest are beginning to shrink.

Mazda did particularly well, too, showing the best improvement, rising from seventh to second place. Honda, which was No. 1 last year, fell two spots to third place, mainly due to poor marks for the redesigned Honda Civic and Odyssey.

Chrysler and GM remain at the bottom of the heap, though Consumer Reports does take note of Chrysler's marked improvement. Chrysler jumped eight points, making it the most improved automaker. Chrysler's reliability has also improved to “Average,” and its road test scores have improved on newer models, like the 2012 Chrysler 300C.

(Overall score out of 100)

1.     Subaru (75) 
2.     Mazda (74) 
3.     Toyota (73) 
4.     Honda (72) 
5.     Nissan (67) 
6.     Volvo (64) 
7.     Hyundai (63) 
8.     BMW (63) 
9.     Volkswagen (62) 
10.   Ford (60) 
11.   Mercedes-Benz (58) 
12.   General Motors (56) 
13.  Chrysler (51)

Comments 

CarGuy

Volvo, and BMW above Ford? Just further proof of how much bullisht this magazine is. I have NEVER been in a reliable Volvo or BMW.

Six

I always appreciate the effort CR puts into these lists, they go to great lengths to gather and sift through all of this car data, all for the benefit of buyers.

Sure, it's not as exciting as Top Gear, but when it comes time to buy a car, you better believe I look at their reliability data.

Amuro Ray

@ Colin Bird,

Seems to be an error in your post here

"Honda, which was No. 1 last year, fell two spots to third place"

Shouldn't Honda be in FOURTH place (Toyota being 3rd)?

J

AR,

Especially they listed the makers in their order.

JJJR

Doesn't it make you wonder how the big 3 have struggled. I wonder what old Henry Ford would think about the demise of Detroit?

sheth

What are the scores even based on? I don't get it. Cr releases data and rankings and provides no metrics to inform us how they come up with this stuff.

To some of the comments above, these are a mix of road-test and reliability scores, not just reliability. An automaker with products that hold up well but don't drive well is marked down, and vice versa.

Here's their chart: http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/02/2012-annual-auto-issue-the-grades-are-in-consumer-reports-releases-its-automaker-report-cards.html

Nothing new here. Same automakers at the top, and same at the bottom.

jstant01

It's interesting that the news release from CR mentions problems with MyFordTouch in relation to reliability. I don't get the magazine, but was it actually "unreliable" or did users just not like it? It's one thing if you push the button and it doesn't work. It's another thing if you don't like the buttons you have to push or how the menus operate. I question the reliability issue on the PowerShift also. Consumers aren't used to that type of transmission, and probably went back to the dealer with complaints even though there wasn't anything technically "wrong" with the transmission. This reveals an inherent fault in how CR determines reliability versus JD Power. Relying on consumer experience can be helpful on the one hand, but not when it comes to the delay it takes for a consumer to adapt to new technology. If I'm not mistaken, JD Power relies on actual data from the dealers in terms of what they are actually repairing, whereas CR relies on self-reported problems from consumers. Is that right?

sheth

If road test scores are a factor that explains a lot. Asian and german cars always score higher in crs tests. Cr doesn't bother to explain where their test numbers come from, there are no listed criteria or charts, just a final score. Its amazing that people accept cr as gospel when they can't even justify their subjective scoring. Gm and chrysler vehicles almost always score below average in cr, even models that are lauded by other sources.

sheth

Jstant:

Jd power uses customer surveys as well but they don't survey the same group every year and their survey group is likely much more balanced than cr. Cr often lacks data on certain models after a year, but those models tend to be domestics. Why? Because its safe to assume cr subscribers overwhelmingly drive imports. Conversely, cr has often had data on low volume imports within months. The crz was an example, they had reliability data on that car in less than a year even though honda barely sells any.

Derrick G

@jstant01,

Ford has issued TSB after TSB on the transmission, including different ones for loss of power, including the "smart pedal" overriding the throttle for no good reason. There's simply no way to honestly say that wasn't a legitimate problem with the transmission. Ford's also issued many updates to the MyFordTouch system for issues including freezing and rebooting. People seem to love to forward this line of reasoning every time CR comes up, but it's simply not true. These two systems are really causing performance problems for Ford.

If you're a CR subscriber you can see every score from their road tests.

Bowrider

That's the problem with CR - not everyone subscribes. I never would. Anyone who knows the history of VW and BMW knows they aren't as "reliable" as the domestics. If VW is reliable then Hillary Clinton is hot!

I will never again buy another Subaru. The gas mileage sucks, the car just isn’t as good as folks think it is. It came with a bent oil pan that required replacement, blew the radiator cap leaving us stranded in New Mexico on I-40 and the heater/air conditioning has problems that seem unsolvable.

I understand Subaru is also the defendant in a class action suit on inaccurate odometers, something that should be taken into account.

linda brooks

Does the JD Power lump all issues together? They don;t actually drive the cars, either, do they? The CR ratings are important to us when buying, but not the only source of information. If you don't subscribe, you can find it at your library so the information is available to all.

Swatboss

Let's see... I have a '98 FORD Mustang GT with 206k miles... and have only done about $1k in total major repairs... I also have an '04 FORD Taurus with 220k miles of which I have put about $1.4k in major repairs into (harder to work on).... yeah... I think I'll stick with Ford...! #HenryFord

mrbell

CarGuy,
I'm w/ you on BMW, but I have to completely disagree on the Volvo.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_P1800#Record-breaking_1800
Also, I owned a Volvo until it 250k on it and it only "broke down" once because I didn't want replace the clutch... which at about 180k just gave out. A good friend also had a Volvo that he drove for years until it had(If I remember correctly) around 400k on it.
Speaking of "above Ford", they certainly seem to have their stuff together lately, but my work Ford Explorer regularly had problems. I've also never been in a Ford Taurus with a properly working automatic transmission...

TheBetenoir

I've never been in a Ford with a properly working transmission...

I can explain the Hierarchy of the list:
I have an '03 Volvo XC90 Who was owned by:

FORD

Who sourced the transmission from:

GM

But now that Volvo isn't encumbered by Ford; they're doing VERY well; Not as well as in the OLD days.

But, better than Ford and GM...

John

To Swatboss,
I also have a '98 Mustang (not GT) with 45k miles. The first few years I had to have the CD player replaced and the support pistons for the trunk. The clutch developed the 'flutter' documented in TSB's but the dealer wouldn't fix it. Now the theft system is going (it's not the key transponders) and so I'm having trouble starting the car (apparently it thinks I'm trying to steal it.) Probably will have to get rid of it or spend big money replacing this theft system.
And this is after on 45k miles in 14 years.

I also have a suburu. After 9 years and 100k miles no repairs.

YMMV

Robert

Initial quality is one thing, long-term reliability is quite different and is more important to most people. How many 10 year-old Hyundais do you see on the road versus BMW's and Volvos? Mazdas are the most reliable and durable of the cars I've owned over 35 years. Each has gone over 230,000 miles with no significant repairs.

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