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Industry News: Consumer Reports Announces Their Latest Automotive Report Card


William Maley

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It's that time of year when Consumer Reports announces the results of their brand report cards and for the most part, the results aren't surprising. The top ten were mostly dominated by Japanese automakers with Lexus being on top, followed by Mazda and Toyota. But if you look a little further down the list, you'll find a domestic automaker making the ten.

Buick took the number seven spot on their annual reliability survey with the publication giving it an overall score of 69 and recommending 83 percent of their lineup.

Buick has a reputation for large, cushy cars, and they’ve really invented themselves pretty quickly. They’re making reliable vehicles, and they’re making cars that score very well. In many ways, they’re like the new Lexus, but also sporty to drive,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing to Automotive News.

Alongside Buick, two other automakers cracked the top ten. Porsche took sixth, while Kia was ninth.

However for some automakers, the report cards weren't pretty. Most of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles lineup were towards the bottom with Fiat having the lowest score of 32. Mercedes-Benz dropped 12 places to 21st thanks mostly in part to the CLA, while Acura dropped 9 places to 11th due to the RLX.

Consumer Reports didn't rank Ram, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Smart, and Tesla because it had driven too few vehicles from these brands recently.

Along with their report card announcement, Consumer Reports announced their top picks. The Tesla Model S kept the best overall title for the second year running. Here are other picks.

  • Large car: Chevrolet Impala ($39,110)
  • Midsize sedan: Subaru Legacy ($24,837)
  • Compact car: Subaru Impreza (sedan, $21,345)
  • Sports sedan: Buick Regal ($34,485)
  • Green car: Toyota Prius ($29,230)
  • Luxury car: Audi A6 ($56,295)
  • Small SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814)
  • Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander ($38,941)
  • Minivan: Honda Odyssey ($38,055)

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Consumer Reports

Press Release is on Page 2


Buick Is First Domestic to Earn A Top 10 Spot In Consumer Reports Annual Car Brand Report Cards

  • Rankings find Kia rising, while Acura, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz plummet

YONKERS, NY—With improved reliability scores for its lineup, Buick has become the first domestic brand to earn a place among the top 10 in Consumer Reports Annual Car Brand Report Cards since its inception three years ago. The findings were presented today before the Washington Automotive Press Association at the National Press Club.

Sitting firmly at seventh on a list that has historically been dominated by the likes of Lexus and other Japanese brands, Buick takes top honors among all domestics for the second year in a row, and leapfrogs over Honda and BMW in the rankings for the first time. Currently, 83 percent of Buick vehicles are Consumer Reports’ Recommended.

“For years domestic automakers built lower-priced and lower-quality alternatives to imports, but those

days are behind us,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing. “Today many domestic models can go toe-to-toe with the best imports.”

To take a full measure of how the brands stack up, Consumer Reports calculates each report card score using an equally weighted composite of its road-test scores and reliability scores for each model that the organization has tested, and for which its subscribers have provided reliability data in its Annual Auto Reliability Survey. To be included in the Brand Report Card, Consumer Reports must have test and reliability data for at least two models.

For the third consecutive year, Lexus is still king of all brands—earning the highest score overall (78) by a clear margin. Next up was Mazda, which improved from sixth place the year before—with a solid lineup of cars that are reliable, fun-to-drive, and deliver impressive fuel economy. The other brands rounding out the top five were Toyota, Audi and Subaru.

Scores for all 28 brands included in Consumer Reports 2015 Car Brand Report Cards are available in the Annual Auto issue of Consumer Reports or by visiting Consumer Reports 2015 Autos Spotlight on ConsumerReports.org/AutosSpotlight.

With 78 percent of its vehicles CR Recommended, Kia further distanced itself in the rankings from its Korean counterpart Hyundai by breaking into the top 10 at number nine just a head of BMW.

Consumer Reports Reliability Survey has shown redesigned models can often come with a number of teething pains. As was reflected in this year’s Brand Report Card scores for Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and Infiniti.

Mercedes-Benz was the biggest loser this year, dropping from the top 10 to 21st, due to a decline in reliability from several of its models and the low-scoring, unreliable new CLA. Acura’s once-stellar reliability had dropped in recent years and the unimpressive RLX fell short in Consumer Reports’ tests. The brand fell from its high perch at number two last year, landing outside the top 10 for the first time.

Infiniti’s score was an example of how one low-scoring and unreliable new model can hurt a carmaker with a small lineup. Largely based on the poorly performing new Q50, Infiniti also falls out of the top 10 and lands at 17, just above Nissan. Currently Consumer Reports only recommends 29 percent of Infiniti models—significantly less than it did two years ago when it recommended 75 percent.

Despite Buick’s leap and the slight improvements seen in Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC. The bottom of the rankings included a number of domestic brands. Ford showed some incremental improvement and its infotainment systems have shown to have fewer reliability problems, but only 19 percent of its models are CR Recommended.

Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Fiat brands all scored near the bottom rankings, the result of poor reliability and a variety of new or redesigned models with low road-test scores. Historically, reliability issues have plagued most models from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). And though Consumer Reports road-test ratings of FCA products have improved in the past two years, much of the competition continues to raise the bar. Only two models, both from Dodge, are currently CR Recommended.

This year, Consumer Reports doesn’t have Brand Report Cards for RAM, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Smart, and Tesla because either the organization has too few currently tested models from those makes or it lacked sufficient reliability data. Ratings on individual models from those makers are available at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The complete report and scores for all 28 brands in Consumer Reports Car Brand Report Cards for 2015 is available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports and at the 2015 Autos Spotlight on www.ConsumerReports.org starting February 24, 2015. 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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