Consumer Reports' Reliability Survey: Ford, Lincoln Continue to Plummet

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Consumer Reports' latest reliability survey has dropped Ford and its Lincoln subsidiary to the bottom tier in the magazine's 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, which predicts reliability for 2013 models. Among 28 brands ranked, Lincoln ranked 26th; Ford placed 27th.

Six out of 10 Fords had below-average reliability, as did half of all Lincolns, the New York-based magazine said. Recent Ford redesigns — like the Explorer SUV, Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact — continue to experience reliability issues, and Ford's much-maligned MyFord/MyLincoln Touch continue to have problems. As the magazine focuses on reliability for new cars, several reliability stalwarts — the Ford Escape, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ — were excluded because of 2013 redesigns. All three, however, gained Ford's controversial multimedia system in their overhauls.

This comes after Ford pledged renewed efforts to work the bugs out of MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch, tweaking the system for faster response times on many 2013 models. Consumer Reports' reliability findings appear to encompass only Ford's first-gen system. Still, we've driven thousands of miles with MyFord Touch 2.0, and it remains as buggy as ever, and Consumer Reports isn't the only publication to document real owners — not just journalists — taking issue.

On the other end, Toyota and its subsidiaries, Scion and Lexus, earned top reliability scores. Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Acura followed. Big movers included Cadillac (up 14 spots), Audi (up 18), GMC (up 10) and Volvo (down 10). Jaguar remains the least reliable brand.

We should note that the reliability survey assesses only reliability, as opposed to Consumer Reports' seasonal Automaker Report Cards, which combine reliability surveys with the magazine's editorial evaluations. Case in point: The magazine slammed quality and drivability in the new Toyota Prius c — a viewpoint we disagree with — but it turns out the Prius c is darn reliable, or so says Consumer Reports’ reliability survey.

What's more, the rankings appear to ignore sales popularity. We checked some of Consumer Reports' aggregate rankings against reliability for individual cars, and it appears the publication compiles a straight average among the cars any given brand sells, without any extra weight given to the more popular ones. That means if a brand sells six models with four popular nameplates that have above-average reliability and two low-volume sports cars with dismal reliability, the overall results would trend below average.

Chrysler's Ram brand appears to have been torpedoed by that math. The magazine says the Ram 1500 has average reliability, but the Ram 2500 HD is a reliability nightmare. Chrysler didn't return emails seeking a sales breakout (the automaker groups all Ram sales under one figure), but if Cars.com’s national inventory is any indication, the Ram 1500 is more popular than the 2500 by a 3-to-1 ratio. Adjusted for that, Ram's composite reliability for the models Consumer Reports ranked ought to be around 20% below average, which would place the brand considerably higher.

"We're basically looking at the manufacturer's ability to bring a reliable car to market," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. "Whether or not one of those models sells at higher volumes or not is somewhat immaterial to that. We're looking at the chances of their ability to bring a new car to market."

Here's how the magazine ranked the brands:

  1. Scion: 72% above average (no change vs. last year)
  2. Toyota: 47% (up four spots)
  3. Lexus: 47% (down one spot)
  4. Mazda: 40% (no change)
  5. Subaru: 37% (up three spots)
  6. Honda: 36% (down one spot)
  7. Acura: 26% (down four spots)
  8. Audi: 16% (up 18 spots)
  9. Infiniti: 14% (down two spots)
  10. Kia: 11% (up two spots)
  11. Cadillac: 10% (up 14 spots)
  12. GMC: 6% (up 10 spots)
  13. Nissan: 5% (down four spots)
  14. Mercedes-Benz: 4% (up four spots)
  15. Chevrolet: 3% (up two spots)
  16. BMW: -2% (up three spots)
  17. Hyundai: -3% (down six spots)
  18. Volkswagen: -9% (down two spots)
  19. Jeep: -12% (down six spots)
  20. Volvo: -14% (down 10 spots)
  21. Buick: -29% (up three spots)
  22. Mini: -42% (up one spot)
  23. Chrysler: -43% (down eight spots)
  24. Dodge: -46% (down three spots)
  25. Ram: -55% (first year)
  26. Lincoln: -58% (down 12 spots)
  27. Ford: -59% (down seven spots)
  28. Jaguar: -141% (no change)

Related
Living with MyFord Touch on a 3,500-Mile Road Trip
J.D. Power Releases 2012 Dependability Study
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Comments 

James

In the past 18 months my wife and I got rid of our problematic Traverse and CTS for a Honda Passport and Lexus. We got tired of the warranty work and the dealers nickle and diming us left and right. My neighbor told us he used to be a big General Motors fan until he changed to Subaru for better quality. Based on his advice we thought we'd give the Japanese brands a try. We are very glad we did.

Agent Mike

When the UAW is involved in the process, there will always be quality issues. Plain and simple.

@ James: You replaced your Traverse with a Honda Passport? I can't remember the last time I heard about a Passport... how is its fuel economy?
BTW, what model Lexus did you buy to replace your CTS?

Dodobreeder

I've noticed more people seem to keep their new car or truck only for the duration of the warranty period.

If ANY vehicle needs ANY repair AFTER the warranty expires, you're in for quite a shock to your wallet. Even if you can do the work yourself. Parts cost big these days.

If something breaks while it is still covered under warranty, it is inconvenient but the repair should be free.

So, how many people keep an extra $1000 or $2000 around for when their car needs to fixed after the warranty expires?

I don't.

Jay

The more telling story is that JDP ranked Toyota AND Scion higher than Toyota's own flagship luxury brand Lexus. No relentless pursuit of perfection for Lexus anymore...

the original skinner

Just because somebody does not like a touchscreen interface does not mean the car is unreliable. Unreliable means you are stuck at the side of the road in the middle of the night, not that it takes a half second too long to pull up your favorite song.

sheth

The more you learn about their methods the worse it gets. Their methods are not sound by any stretch if the imagination. Their data is presented in a very specific way to convey a specific agenda.

Agent Mike

Reliability is more than just stuck at the side of the road. It means taking the car back to have anything tweeked on it. It takes just as much time out of my workweek and vacation hours to take my Ford to the dealership to clear a stupid "idiot Light" as it does to take it there for a transmission failure. Point being. I don't want to be at the dealership anymore than I have to, and preferably just to have the car serviced. This is where Toyota excels.

carma

My six year old Toyota has been flawless since new. My 2012 Toyota gets 22 percent better highway mpg than the EPA rating. No wonder their customer loyalty is excellent and they have their sales crown back. This survey should seal the deal for anyone considering a new vehicle purchase.

Highdesertcat

Actually I think it is nice that Toyota is finally getting some positive recognition after all the trumped up bad PR they got from the DOT.

Turns out, all those complaints were just a bunch of hooey tailored to sell more GM cars.

That didn't work, but the natural disasters sure took their toll on Toyota.

As a recent convert to Toyota products it makes me feel good that I bought the right vehicles and am spared the dreaded trips to the dealership for warranty work.

sheth

@agentmike:

They are not saying Fords need to be repaired under warranty, they are saying the glitches in MFT are annoying owners and its being reflected in the surveys. MFT isn't a reliability issue, its a design issue and the system is optional on most fords, not standard. They are calling Fords in general totally unreliable based on the fact that many people either don't like or don't understand how MFT works. CR is conflating design annoyances with reliability and its not right. There are other surveys designed to gauge how cars are actually designed as opposed to how often they break.

sheth

"My six year old Toyota has been flawless since new. My 2012 Toyota gets 22 percent better highway mpg than the EPA rating. No wonder their customer loyalty is excellent and they have their sales crown back."

Toyota uses the same procedures as everyone else to rate their vehicles per EPA rules. If you can exceed EPA figures in a Toyota you can do it in any car. Its ridiculous to infer that Toyota has engineered their products specifically to beat the EPA test.

Agent Mike

TO SHETH, If you sell me a car, and the infotainment system is diifficult to use, or as in My Ford Touch is known to "Lock Up" and I have to take it back to the dealer to get one on one help on getting it sorted, then there is an inherent design flaw in the program. Maybe you point your fingers at the owner for not being for electronically literate, but I tend to think the owner is always right...

J

"a very specific way to convey a specific agenda"

Which is exactly what Sheth is doing over here every day, patrolling.

James

Jack B. Nimble,
My apologies as I meant to say Pilot (Passport is the name of software at my co). I bought a Lexus ES350 and really like it. Our Traverse turned out to be a real piece of junk. The CTS was better but after having five electrical problems on top of the drivers seat leather wearing prematurely we decided it was time for an upgrade. The Honda and Lexus are our first Japanese cars and we're very impressed.

kalyan

And they just posted a $1.6 billion dollar profit.

carma

sheth, stop putting words in my mouth. All I said is that Toyota has exceeded my expectations on two vehicles. If GM could make a habit of doing that you wouldn't need to rip other brands so much and you'd probably be in a better mood.

Harry C. Risher

Hey Anti-American CR Geeks---come out to Indiana and I'll show you how great the MYFordtouch system works in my new Ford F-150---Your stupid ratings have NOTHING to do with vehicle "Reliability"---your ratings are a total joke that no one takes seriously and only for narrow-minded Geeks like yourselves! Drive an American Owned/built Ford Motor Co. vehicle like the millions of satisfied owners of the BEST SELLING,MOST POPULAR,and TOUGHEST Truck on the planet---the FORD F-SERIES!

Bowrider

If you want reliability, based on this survey, Toyota is what you should buy. Toyota is also what you should buy if you like boring vehicles.

JoBlow

Always the same story Japanese are better than American. I only hope the ones who buy Japanese will loose their jobs because a company is doing better in an anothe country.

I Laugh a good deal when I read someone is doing better than the EPA with a corolla is he driving at 40 mph on the highway oh no it`s a Japanese even tires don`t loose air and brake do not wear its a perfect car it`s Japanese.

Next time they drop a bomb on your country you will kiss someone a...

C White

I have to disagree with this "reliability" rating. I have a 2012 Boss 302, and have had several Fords in the last few years. I have had zero issues with any of my cars. My Boss has done 23,000 miles in one year including several days on a race track driven very hard lap after lap. It never fails to do what a car is supposed to do, get me where I want to go.

If you have an issue with a touch screen, that is NOT a reliability issue. It may be a satisfaction issue, or possibly a "quality" issue. Reliability is getting point A to point B on a regular basis with little to no issues to delay you in the mechanical operation of your vehicle.

As for Toyota, if you walk in and ask for a Corolla, you should be given a bus pass. In my experience, Toyota DRIVERS are the most unreliable and unpredictable group of passengers behind the wheel of an automobile. Toyota, the official car of the Anti-Destination League.

Watchingtheweasels

http://www.examiner.com/article/is-consumer-reports-an-advocate-for-liberal-policies

This might explain why Ford scores so low. A previous poster had mentioned the DOT's attack on Toyota as a way to sell more GMs. Perhaps this is as well.

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