Consumer Reports auto survey: U.S. models slide, Japanese on top

2011 Scion xD

The 2011 Scion xD was a top-rated vehicle in Consumer Reports annual auto survey.

YONKERS, NY –Domestic brands showed some slippage in Consumer Reports 2011 Annual Auto Survey, while Japanese brands continued to dominate the ratings  and nailed down the top nine spots.

The results were gleaned from information on 1.3 million vehicles supplied by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its Web site, www.ConsumerReports.org.

Ford, which had been receiving good ratings for the past few years, fell from 10th to 20th spot in overall reliability among 28 major car brands. It was the biggest drop in this year’s survey.

Responsible primarily for the slippage were the new Explorer, Fiesta and Focus, all scoring below average in reliability.

This was blamed in part on the teething problems new cars often experience in their first year of production. Also cited were problems with the MyFord Touch information and entertainment system, and the new automated manual transmission used in the Focus and Fiesta.

On the plus side, the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan was rated outstanding and other Fusion models ranked above average. In addition, Lincoln was rated higher than Ford.

The news was somewhat better for Chrysler Corp. Jeep rose 7 spots to 13th, making it the most reliable American brand. All Chrysler Corp. models for which the  magazine had sufficient data scored average. Chrysler moved up 12 spots and Dodge moved up 3.

General Motors brands, particularly Buick and Cadillac, fell back, while Chevrolet held steady and GMC dropped one spot. The new Buick Regal and Chevrolet Cruze were found to be below par in reliability. The all-wheel-drive Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac SRX crossover vehicle dropped from reliable to below average.

On the positive side, the Chevrolet Avalanche was rated above average, and the Cadillac CTS improved to average.

The Japanese brands, which captured the top nine spots, were led by Scion, followed by Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda and Toyota. Lexus moved up seven places, with 11 models included. Scion’s No. 1 ranking was based on surveys of its xB and xD models.

Mazda showed the biggest improvement, climbing up eight spots. Honda had one below-average vehicle, the Odyssey minivan. Among South Korean models, Hyundai had one below-average model, the V-6 powered Santa Fe, and its Kia cousin, the Sorento, also finished below average.

Overall, European models came in behind American brands. Of 58 European models examined, 37 scored average or better in predicted reliability.

Volvo was best with a 10th place rating. Volkswagen held onto 16th place, with seven models scoring average or better.

Porsche skidded from second-best brand last year to the second worst. That was largely because of the redesigned Cayenne sport-utility vehicle, which the magazine said had a terrible debut year.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed mixed results but improved overall.

Finally, Jaguar came in last. Its XF and XJ sedans were judged to be the least reliable new cars in the survey.

Complete reports on all models rated can be found in the December issue of Consumer Reports, on-line to subscribers of ConsumerReports.org and in the publication, Best & Worst New Cars for 2012, which will go on sale at newsstands Nov. 15.