Consumer Reports, a leading consumer magazine, has released their annual car reliability study for 2011. The study is based on the responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leases by subscribers to Consumer Reports or ConsumerReports.org. The survey covers vehicles with model years 2002 to 2011 to determine their reliability of 2012 models. Thus, historical performance is a big factor in the outcome of the study.
The Japanese brands were found to make the most reliable cars of 2012 in the study. They have dominated this study for decades and took the top 9 spots. This study uses predictive reliability, which is Consumer Reports’ forecast of how well 2012 models are likely to hold up based on the average reliability score for the most recent three model years.
Most Reliable Cars
According to Consumer Reports, the top 5 most reliable cars of 2012 cars are made by:
Toyota finished sixth in the study, giving the automaker 3 of the top 6 spots. This is impressive for a company that faced so much negative publicity last year for recalls due to unexpected acceleration in its models.
While Scion finished first, Consumer Reports only had sufficient data to evaluate two models – the xB and xD. Mazda made the biggest improvement, moving up 8 spots this year. Lexus rebounded gaining 7 spots after a down year in the 2010 study.
Hybrid models Make Impressive Showing
Among vehicle types, hybrids were the winners. Many hybrid models are showing to be very models. The top two models in the survey were the Lexus CT 200h (built on the same as the Toyota Prius) and the Honda CR-Z. The Prius was also among the top models.
The gas/electric Chevrolet Volt scored better than average predicted reliability and was GM’s most reliable car. However, as it is a new model with limited supply, the sample size was just over the minimum threshold of 100 cars and most owners had had their Volts for a short time.
Least Reliable Cars
European models brought up the rear in the survey with Jaguar, Porsche, and Audi. Among vehicle types, pickups did not fare well. All heavy-duty and three-quarter ton pickups scored below average, except the Ford F-250 turbo diesel. On the positive side for pickups, the Ford F-150 EcoBoost received an above average rating.
Ford Takes a Big Dip
There were 28 major car makes in the study. The biggest drop this year was by Ford, which dropped from 10th in 2010 to 20th in 2011. The new Explorer, Focus, and Fiesta each had below average reliability in their first year since major makeovers. As a result, this hit Ford’s overall reliability ranking hard.
The increasing amount of technology being put into car s can be a detriment to some automakers. Ford has received negative feedback on its MyFord Touch infotainment system. Similarly, Lincoln dropped in the study in part due to their MyLincoln Touch system. On the positive side, the Ford Fusion Hybrid received an outstanding rating.
Chrysler had the most improvement among American automakers. Its Jeep division, moved up 7 spots to 13th overall, making it the most reliable American car brand. All of its models scored average in predicted reliability. Chrysler and Jeep also showed improvements. GM took a dip in the study after making improvements in 2010.
European Models Average or Worse
Volvo made the most reliable European cars finishing 10th in the study. Europe’s largest automaker, Volkswagen, finished 16th, the same as last year. BMW and Mercedes-Benz both made improvements in the survey.
Save on Auto Insurance
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