Japanese car brands, led by Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, took the top seven spots in Consumer Reports magazine’s annual quality rankings, as the top U.S. brand placed 14th out of 26 in the ratings.
Lexus received the most points based on the scores of its eight models, all of which the magazine recommends buying. Parent-company Toyota’s namesake line tied for fourth place with Honda Motor Co.’s Acura brand. Subaru, a unit of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. that placed first among automakers last year, was second and Mazda Motor Corp.’s Mazda was third.
Consumer Reports changed its ranking system this year, breaking out brands instead of ranking automakers according to collective scores for all their lines.
“We feel this is more in line with how people shop,” Rik Paul, the magazine’s automotive editor, said in an interview before the rankings were released yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, tests and evaluates cars for how well they drive, interior-finish quality, fuel economy and reliability. The rankings influence car buyers and are published in the magazine’s annual auto issue.
Japanese brands combined to account for 36.9 per cent of vehicles sold last year in the U.S., according to Autodata Corp., a researcher based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
General Motors Co.’s Cadillac, boosted by the CTS, was the top U.S. brand, ranking 14th. The CTS was rated above-average for reliability and called “as capable as its German rivals.”
The bottom six brands in the rankings were U.S.-based—Chrysler Group LLC’s Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep; Ford Motor Co.’s Ford and Lincoln; and GM’s Buick.
“The American automakers are getting better,” Paul said. “As much as companies are improving, companies like Toyota and Honda are still raising the bar.”
Chrysler accepted the criticism and said it’s working to improve its vehicles.
“Although we are moving in the right direction, we’ll be the first to acknowledge that we need to improve faster,” Doug Betts, senior vice president for quality, said in an email. “We’re aggressively upgrading our product lineup. For example, we’re already making significant investments to vehicles already recommended by Consumer Reports—Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.”
Ford said it’s working on improvements to infotainment and transmissions.
“In North America at the moment, J.D. Power and other third-party results validate our own internal metrics showing isolated areas for improvement—primarily with MyFord Touch and PowerShift automatic transmissions,” Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesman, said in an email. “The good news is customers already are benefiting from the updates we made to both technologies.”
“Ford has had problems with reliability,” Paul said, because the company’s infotainment system is difficult to use and repair-prone. That fault “hits them twice” in rankings on the road test and reliability, he said.
Cadillac’s in-vehicle infotainment system is “following down the path of Ford and Lincoln,” Jake Fisher, director of auto testing, told reporters yesterday. “It takes a long time to do simple things.”
GM is making progress, Mike Hardie, the automaker’s director of global quality strategy, said in an interview.
“There’s certainly a lot of work to do, but I do believe we’re on a good track and we really want to score better,” Hardie said.
About 70 per cent of GM’s product portfolio is turning over in the next 12 months, Hardie said.
“We anticipate grand and glorious things in the future,” he said.
Lexus earned praise for vehicles that are “generally quiet, plush and very reliable, though they’re rarely sporty,” the Yonkers, New York-based magazine said.
“When Consumer Reports recommends 100 per cent of Lexus’ lineup, it speaks volumes about our dedication to building high-quality luxury vehicles,” Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager, said in an emailed statement.
Toyota sold 2.08 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year, trailing only GM and Ford, as it expanded its Prius hybrid lineup and its Camry mid-size sedan remained the nation’s bestselling car model.
Because redesigns of Chrysler’s Dodge Ram and GM’s Chevrolet Silverado haven’t been tested, the magazine elected not to make a “best pick” among all types of pickups this year. In its place, Consumer Reports brought back the “budget car” category, choosing Hyundai Motor Co.’s Elantra as the best car for less than $20,000.
Honda’s Accord won the best pick for the mid-sized sedan category, the top-selling vehicle class in the U.S. Volkswagen AG’s Audi A6 was the best pick for luxury cars and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s 328i was the best pick for sports sedans, bringing German automakers back into the best picks list for the first time in a decade.
“Audi has come a long way,” Fisher said. “Five years ago, I never thought I would be talking about Audi and reliability in the same sentence or even the same paragraph.”
Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, placed 16th in brand rankings. The manufacturer has a target of overtaking Toyota and GM to become the world’s biggest carmaker by 2018. Its U.S. sales have been undeterred by poor reviews by Consumer Reports of its Jetta SE sedan, which placed last in its category of compact sedans.
Deliveries of Volkswagen brand cars and SUVs surged 35 per cent in the U.S. last year to 438,133, the best since 1973. The division has more than doubled its market share since 2007, to 3 per cent from 1.4 per cent.
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND â€œAS AVAILABLEâ€ BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STARâ€™S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X