Japanese brands tops in Consumer Reports' 2012 Car Reliability Survey

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Japanese brands dominate the latest Consumer Reports' Car Reliability Survey, claiming the top seven spots in new-car reliability. At the other end of the spectrum, Ford now ranks second from the bottom, followed closely its luxury line Lincoln.

Perhaps proving its recall woes are behind it, Toyota brands claimed the top three spots with Scion, Toyota and Lexus going one, two, three respectively.

The subcompact Toyota Prius C earned Consumer Reports top reliability rating overall, although it did not score well enough in our testing to be recommended.

This year’s dismal ranking for Ford comes just two years after it placed highest among Detroit's brands on this same list. At that time, it cracked the top 10 among brands in predicted-reliability scores with more than 90 per cent of its models being average or better.

Now, 60 per cent of its models are below average with the worst being off the chart at 226-per cent worse than the average car.

“Several factors contributed to Ford's decline in Consumer Reports reliability rankings,” the magazine said. “A few new or redesigned models, including the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus, came out of the gate with more problems than normal. Further, the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch electronic infotainment system has been problematic so far, and it has been added to many vehicles, impacting reliability across several models.”

Adding to the Blue Oval’s woes, three historically reliable models – Escape and Fusion and Lincoln MKZ – were redesigned for 2013 and not included in the analysis.

Cadillac is the top domestic brand, having moved up 14 spots this year. All General Motors nameplates – Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC – rose in the ranking.

The Volt extended-range electric car continues to have above-average reliability and the compact Chevrolet Cruze, dismal in its first year, improved to average.

Chrysler brands had a few setbacks. This year, Consumer Reports has enough data to report that problems with some of the recently revamped Chrysler and Dodge models have dragged the nameplates' rankings down. Last year Jeep was the top-ranked domestic brand, but it has since slid down six positions. Separating its trucks into a new nameplate, Ram, didn't help Dodge's standing.

The story from Europe is decidedly upbeat, with all of the German luxury brands showing improvement. Six of the seven Audis in CR's survey rated average or better, as did 10 of the 12 BMWs. Mercedes-Benz made a good showing, with the turbocharged, four-cylinder C250 sedan doing well in its first year and the V6 E-Class sedan moving from average to above average. But the redesigned M-Class came in below average in its first year. Volkswagen had mixed results due to troubles with the Beetle, GTI, Jetta, and Touareg.

The findings from Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Survey are based on subscribers' experiences with 1.2 million vehicles. The organization uses that extensive data to predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will likely hold up.

Best

Worst

Scion

Jaguar

Toyota

Ford

Lexus

Lincoln

Mazda

Ram

Subaru

Dodge

Honda

Chrysler

Acura

Mini

Audi

Buick

Infiniti

Volvo

Kia

Jeep

- courtesy Consumer Reports