Consumer Reports gives Lexus, Subaru and Mazda top honors in annual car brands report

Consumer Reports releases 2013 car brand report cards.


Mercedes-Benz wasn’t far behind Audi and was tied with Acura for having the highest average road-test score. Volkswagen lost ground with some redesigned sedans that didn’t score as well as their peers. Several of its niche models, such as the Touareg SUV and the New Beetle, have well-below-average reliability.

Mini had the worst overall score of any European brand, placing 20th among the 26 brands. Only nonturbocharged Minis deliver average or better reliability. Recent Volvos, such as the S60 and XC60, are competitive and reliable, but the brand is saddled with older models.

General Motors is revamping its lineup and building several promising models, but some of its brands still anchor the bottom of Consumer Reports Brand Report Cards. Cadillac scored three places ahead of Chevrolet and GMC, based largely on the strength of the CTS. Cadillac’s small and midsized models perform well and their reliability is average. Some of its newer designs are hurt by complicated CUE controls. Buick, with subpar reliability, lagged farther behind, just ahead of Ford and Chrysler.

Ford’s and Lincoln’s overall scores have been dragged down by various issues. The MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch control interfaces are very difficult to use, and electronic problems in those systems have affected Ford’s reliability scores. Ford vehicles’ road-test scores have also been handicapped by some models’ unrefined dual-clutch automated manual transmissions and a new lineup of EcoBoost turbocharged engines that don’t deliver the performance and fuel economy of some competitors’ larger engines.

“That’s unfortunate because many of Ford’s new models ride and handle as well as European luxury cars costing much more. And Ford’s latest hybrids, the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max, are impressive,” Fisher said.

None of Chrysler’s brands fared well. The only Dodge Consumer Reports recommends is the Durango SUV. Although the new Dart is an improvement over the car it replaced, it still lags behind the best compact sedans. Jeep doesn’t fare much better; the only model that is CR Recommended is the V6 Grand Cherokee. The unreliable Wrangler joins the clumsy Compass and Patriot in weighing down the brand. The Chrysler brand is saddled with many older, uncompetitive models. Only the V6 Chrysler 300 scored well and is reliable. Overall, Consumer Reports Recommends fewer than half of the domestic models the organization has tested, and most of them come from Chevrolet and GMC.

Consumer Reports calculates each brand’s overall score using an equally weighted composite of the road-test and reliability scores for each of its tested models. Reliability scores are based on information that CR’s subscribers provided during the organization’s Annual Auto Survey. For a brand to be included, Consumer Reports must have test results and reliability data for at least three models. That’s why CR’s 2013 rankings do not include Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ram, or Smart: Each had too few models for which CR had adequate reliability data. Several sell fewer than three models. Ratings on individual models from those makers are available at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The complete report and scores for all 13 automakers in Consumer Reports Car Brand Report Cards for 2013 is available in the April issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org starting February 26, 2013. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR’s ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

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