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Consumer Reports Releases Its List

Compilations and lists purporting to tout the ‘best and worst’ of any consumer product – from cars to computers to toasters – are always given side glances in this office, if for no other reason than our own skeptical nature. Still, the crew at Consumer Reports have been releasing exactly this type of list for longer than some of us have been alive, so there’s reason to mention their findings.

In this year’s brand ranking on reliability, there were the usual suspects at the fore – and only one ‘domestic’ brand in the top ten.

To set expectations, Consumer Reports says their list is based on data collected from over a quarter-million surveys, with CR members detailing their experiences on everything from mechanical troubles to issues with infotainment hardware. Fit and finish apparently gets a nod as well since CR specifically points to misaligned tailgates and doors as a metric. Good job they didn’t measure the panel gaps on my father’s Dodge Dynasty 30 years ago.

CR’s reliability predictions are based on overall reliability for the past three model years, provided the vehicle has not been redesigned. Serious problem areas that can lead to expensive repairs are more heavily weighted.

Anyway, to the winners. Note that CR continues to use terms like foreign and domestic, drawing lines in the sand along traditional definitions. While there are plenty of Toyota models built right here, for example, its Asian HQ does not permit it to be labeled as domestic in the eyes of CR. Lexus, Mazda, and Toyota have taken the top three spots in this survey, respectively. These standings are predicated on an entire brand’s lineup of vehicles performing well in the surveys, making Toyota’s performance even more notable since they had 13 nameplates in the mix, the most of any brand according to CR.

Here’s their list of top overall brands, in order:

  • Lexus
  • Mazda
  • Toyota
  • Infiniti
  • Buick
  • Honda

Buick is said to be the most reliable ‘domestic’ brand, shown in fifth place overall. The Encore and redesigned Envision are both ranked well-above average with the Encore GX as above average. Its fourth model, the Enclave dropped to below average with reported transmission, drive system, and blank in-car electronics screen issues.

It’s the latter that skewed the results of this survey in past years since ease of use seemed to be a factor. CR’s explanation of the 17 areas of study now includes verbiage around those systems suffering a tech failure (freezing or rebooting, for example) though notes about phone pairing and voice control commands remain. Those are two areas in which user error could definitely play a role. Other notables? Ford is said to have ranked 18th, Kia 19th, VW 24th, and Jeep 26th. The full list is here.

One more thing: according to the study, the Lexus GX SUV is the most reliable new vehicle overall this year, with owners apparently reporting no problems for the three model years that CR analyzed in the brand rankings. That’s a large statement, one which gives your author pause.

You can read more about the CR ranking, and their methodology, on their site.

[Image: Lexus]

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