In recent years, Detroit’s Big Three automakers have begun making more reliable, more fuel-efficient vehicles to compete with their European and Asian counterparts. According to Heels and Wheels director and automotive consultant Christine Overstreet, “This change is not even a gradual thing. It’s like they’ve said, ‘OK, we really want to step it up, we really want to compete, we’re ready.’ After past years of being so bad, they’ve really stepped up their game.”
Despite the dramatic turnaround, however, Chrysler and General Motors models accounted for all but three of the vehicles on Forbes.com’s latest list of the Worst Cars on the Road which was published on April 18. Ford Motor Company had no vehicles on the list.
The only foreign vehicles to make the list were the Mercedes-Benz S550 luxury sedan, Nissan Titan pickup truck and Smart Fortwo small car. Despite the name, Forbes’ list included trucks and SUVs in addition to cars.
According to Forbes.com, the list was determined by compiling the results of six reliability and performance studies conducted by Consumer Reports earlier this year. Any vehicle to be ranked at the bottom of at least two of the six studies was selected for Forbes’ list.
Forbes pointed out that the Mercedes S550 made the list, not because of any defect or reliability issue, but because of its low fuel economy, high cost of ownership and overall low value rating. The online publication stated that the S550 and Cadillac Escalade (which also made the list) are at a distinct disadvantage because “their luxurious interior upgrades, high-quality trim and powerful engines work against them.”
Forbes was especially harsh in its review of Chrysler Group’s Jeep Liberty and Wrangler models which were included in Consumer Reports’ list of Least Reliable vehicles for 2011. The Jeep Wrangler also made Consumer Reports’ Worst Value and Worst Cars lists. It was also included in the 2010 list of Worst Cars. The Dodge Nitro SLT SUV, Dodge Dakota pickup truck and Chrysler Town and Country minivan also made the list.
In a statement concerning the Consumer Reports lists, Chrysler senior vice president of quality Doug Betts said they don’t accurately reflect the quality of the vehicles the automaker is currently producing.
Betts said, “Customers will see 16 all-new or significantly updated vehicles at Ram, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat dealers this year. These vehicles represent a new level of interior refinement, world-class fit and finish and significantly enhanced driving dynamics.”
Four General Motors vehicles made the Forbes list: The Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Colorado, Tahoe and Aveo/Aveo5. The Escalade, Colorado and Aveo/Aveo5 also made it onto Forbes’ 2010 list of Worst Cars on the Road.
General Motors’ vice president for quality and global launches Terry Woychowski said, “As our new vehicles come in, as we continue to launch vehicles, as we continue to do exceedingly better, I think the perception that we’ve noticed is already turning.”
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