February 26, 2009
Yonkers, New York – Honda has earned class leader status for building the best all-around vehicles for American drivers, according to Consumer Reports. It is the third consecutive year that Honda has been so named.
At the opposite end of the annual ranking is Chrysler, which fared worse than last year. The magazine said that the company’s poor-performing products and sinking reliability reports have kept all Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep vehicles off its “Recommended” list.
With an overall score of 78 out of 100 points, Honda was followed closely by Subaru at 75, and Toyota at 74, in the overall score. Subaru is the only automaker with every one of its tested vehicles as recommended, although it has a relatively small model lineup.
Fourth place went to Mazda at 73, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen and BMW, all tied at 72 points.
The editors said that while the top four overall scores belong to Japanese automakers, a Japanese nameplate is no guarantee that every car in a model range will be a reliable and good performer, citing that the Honda Element and Toyota Yaris scored too low in testing to be recommended. Conversely, despite overall scores of 63 points for Ford and 57 for General Motors, new models such as the Ford Flex, Ford F-150, Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS have done well in testing, and rank near the top of their classes in ratings.
The overall score for each automaker is based on the average of its vehicles’ overall scores in Consumer Reports’ road tests, and their average predicted reliability ratings from its annual auto survey. Manufacturers received a report card only if five or more of its vehicles were tested.
Of the three class leaders, Toyota regained lost ground after last year’s report, when the Camry V6, Tundra V8 4WD and Lexus GS AWD fell below average in reliability. All three have improved to “average” this year. Of the Asian automakers, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda and Hyundai improved their overall scores, and Nissan and Hyundai also improved their reliability rating. Of the four, Hyundai showed the most improvement, increasing its overall score from 66 to 70; the new Genesis also topped the upscale sedan ratings.
European automakers have lagged in reliability, but with notable improvements with several models from Audi, BMW, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes showed the most significant improvement, and reliability was greatly improved across most of its lineup, with 67 per cent of tested vehicles now recommended, compared with none in the prior year.
All three Detroit automakers continued to be at the back of the class, although General Motors and Ford improved their overall scores. Chrysler had the lowest overall test score, with no vehicles recommended.
The magazine said there was some positive news for the domestic automakers, with latest models from GM now ranking among the best in testing, and the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Malibu all scoring well. Some Ford models now rival competition from Honda and Toyota in reliability, and the Dodge Ram is now very competitive with other full-size trucks. Less than a quarter of recommended vehicles are from U.S. companies, a result of inconsistent reliability and performance, while about half are Japanese.
“While Japanese automakers continue to set the standard for the industry in terms of real-world performance and reliability, many domestic, European and Korean manufacturers are narrowing the gap by building better and more reliable cars,” said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing. “While some automakers are still dragged down by old product investments, we expect the race for the front of the class to become even more competitive, which may lead to some excellent values for consumers in the near future.”