Toyota Tops Consumer Reports’ Reliability Survey

Although Detroit’s Big Three automakers have narrowed the reliability gap that has existed between them and Japanese automakers in recent years, the latest Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey shows that there is still room for improvement.

The 2013 Survey was based on subscribers’ experiences with 1.1 million new vehicles, and manufacturers were scored according to how many of their new models were included in the survey.

Eight Japanese automakers were ranked among the 11 top-rated brands.  Lexus, Toyota and Acura made up the top-3 brands.  Nissan was the only Japan-based automaker not to make the top-11.  Volvo, which ranked No. 20 last year, moved up to the No. 7 position in this year’s survey, displacing General Motors’ GMC brand which dropped to No. 9. The GMC Sierra 2500 diesel pickup received Consumer Reports’ coveted “recommended” rating.

The Buick Verano and LaCross performed better in this year’s survey than they did a year ago, as did the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 diesel pickup, the Chrysler 300C, Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes M-Class and Ford Mustang; all of which were “recommended.”

Of the 31 Ford models included in the survey, only seven received an average reliability rating.  Ford was rated 26th overall. Three other domestic makes, Dodge, Cadillac, and Lincoln joined Ford at the bottom of this year’s rankings as did BMW’s Mini brand.

Toyota took the top two positions in this year’s survey.  The company’s Lexus brand topped the list for reliability, with eight models scoring 52 percent higher than survey average. The flagship Toyota brand ranked second in the survey and scored 37 percent above average.  Honda’s Acura brand ranked No. 3 for reliability.

Although GM barely made the survey’s top 10, the company outsold all other brands in the U.S. last month.

Even more surprising is the fact that Ford, which ranked at the bottom of the list, was the second-best selling brand in the U.S. – just ahead of Toyota.  One possible explanation could be that the Japanese automaker’s image has not yet fully recovered from the high-profile safety recalls the company was forced to make in late 2008 and 2009.

Toyota is still embroiled in lawsuits arising from alleged sudden acceleration incidents. Just last year the automaker agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a class-action suit brought by Toyota owners who claimed the problems had diminished the resale value of their vehicles.

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