Consumer Reports Rates Ford, Toyota and Honda as Most Reliable Brands

Consumer Reports has come out with its annual survey of the most reliable foreign and domestic models for 2011. Ford Motor Company is ranked as the most reliable domestic brand while General Motors Company showed improvement.

Honda Motor Company and Toyota Motor Corporation were dominant among import brands. Chrysler Motor Corporation and a number of European brands scored below the industry average.

General Motors’ reliability rating increased 50 percent over last year with Consumer Reports ranking 83 of its Chevrolet models average or better than average.

The magazine’s Auto Test Center senior director David Champion said, “General Motors and Ford have taken different paths to improving reliability. Some of GM’s redesigned vehicles have scored well. The company has also dropped many of its below-average models. Ford has put its emphasis on fine-tuning existing platforms and limiting the number of new-model introductions.”

Topping the list of most reliable 2011 models was the Porsche Boxster. Volkswagen’s Audi A6 3.0T and Tata’s Jaguar XF were rated as the least reliable models.

The report is not an actual evaluation of the reliability of vehicles but rather an assessment of predicted reliability based on survey responses gathered from the magazines 5 million subscribers.

This year’s reliability report was based on responses from approximately 25% of the magazines total subscriber base, including online subscribers, and included 1.3 million foreign and domestic vehicles purchased over the last 10 years. Based on subscriber’s responses, Consumer Reports predicts the reliability of the new 2011 models.

The survey reported 90 percent of Ford’s model lineup as having at least average reliability. Ford ranked just below Toyota’s Lexus brand and above Asian automakers Nissan and Mazda. Champion attributed Ford’s improved rankings to the increased reliability of a number of models across all its brands. Consumer Reports rated the Ford Fusion as the most reliable mid-size sedan.

The report rated 12 of Chrysler’s 20 models as below average. Of the remaining eight models, the only Chrysler vehicle to be recommended by the magazine was the Ram 1500 pickup.

Champion said he expects Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat S.p.A. to result in improved reliability ratings in the future.

Despite the systemic recall problems earlier this year, Toyota was rated as one of the most reliable brands, taking top honors in five vehicle segments. The Toyota Yaris was rated as the most reliable small car while the front-wheel Toyota Sienna took top honors in the minivan segment. The Tundra V-6 was also rated as the most reliable full-size pickup. Of all Toyota’s models, only the Lexus IS 250 and all-wheel-drive Lexus GS were rated as below average in reliability.

Honda and Acura also took top honors in five vehicle segments. The Acura TL was rated as the most reliable upscale sedan, and the Honda CR-V was chosen as the most reliable small SUV.

Champion was impressed with how well Hyundai and Kia ranked in this year’s survey. The Kia Sorento, Soul and Forte were all rated as average or above average as were the Hyundai Sonata, Tucson and Genesis coupe. The Kia Sedona minivan was rated as below average in reliability.

Nissan also received high marks for predicted reliability with its Murano and Pathfinder SUVs and Altima and Maxima sedans all rated as average or better than average. All of Nissan’s Infinity luxury models were rated as average or better than average.

While domestic and Asian automakers generally made gains in this year’s survey, a number of European automakers saw their ratings slip.

Luxury automakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz were rated as among the worst for reliability. Although BMW’s M3 was rated as the most reliable vehicle in the sporty car segment, its 1-Series, 3-Series and 5-Series models scored low due to problems with their fuel systems.

Mercedes-Benz had six models rated as below average. The redesigned E350 sedan was rated as above average in predicted reliability, however the E-Class coupe received low marks.

Audi fared poorly in this year’s survey with nearly three-quarters of its models being rated as below average in predicted reliability.

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