March 5, 2007

European cars excel in performance but fall short on reliability, says Consumer Reports

Yonkers, New York – Volkswagen and Audi perform best on average when tested, but Honda, Subaru and Toyota offer better reliability, according to Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Car Reliability Survey.

The magazine examined its internal data to find the highs and lows for 17 major carmakers, taking into account how vehicles performed in more than 50 road tests, coupled with reliability histories based on more than 1.3 million vehicles. The magazine concluded that no carmaker does everything right; for example, it says that Volkswagen vehicles perform well in tests, with an average score of 81, but vary in reliability, while Toyota has a “less-than-stellar” average test score of 70, but 85 per cent of its vehicles are recommended, due in part to the company’s consistently high reliability.

The magazine says that just because a car is Japanese, “doesn’t mean that it’s a great car”; while Honda and Toyota are lauded for their reliability and have seven of Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2007, “other Japanese makers, such as Nissan, Mazda, and Mitsubishi have struggled to build high-quality cars consistently.” While Nissan’s line-up, on average, scores above Toyota’s in tests, the Armada, Titan and Infiniti QX56 were among the models with the most reliability problems in the survey. “Ford vehicles, in comparison, have slightly better reliability in the CR survey than cars from Nissan,” the magazine says.

The analysis also showed that U.S. automakers built some good models, “but many vehicles are mediocre, and even the best seldom rise to the top of their categories against stiff competition,” the magazine says. Among domestics, Chrysler posted the lowest average test score, at 51, and only 21 per cent of Chrysler’s tested vehicles are recommended, “largely due to sub-par reliability,” the magazine says. “The areas where many U.S. cars fall down are many of the same ones that Consumer Reports considers most important, such as reliability, fuel economy, braking and handling.”

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