A perfect storm of reliability problems has dropped Ford to next to last among the 28 car brands ranked in Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, while its luxury brand, Lincoln, placed just a notch higher.
Only two years ago, Ford was Detroit's poster child for reliability. It cracked the top 10 among brands in Consumer Reports predicted-reliability scores, with more than 90 percent of its models being average or better. This year the top seven spots are all held by Japanese brands.
Several factors contributed to Ford's decline in Consumer Reports reliability rankings. A few new or redesigned models, including the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus, came out of the gate with more problems than normal. Ford has also added the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch electronic infotainment system, which has been problematic so far, to many vehicles. In addition, three historically reliable models — the Ford Escape, Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ — are not included in the analysis; the three were redesigned for 2013 and CR doesn't yet have reliability data on them.
Toyota, on the other hand, has excelled in Consumer Reports latest ratings. Its three brands — Scion, Toyota, and Lexus — swept the top spots. Toyota is clearly setting the pace in reliability. Of the 27 models in the brand's lineup, 16 earned the highest rating. The subcompact Prius C earned Consumer Reports top score overall. The hatchback Prius, the larger Prius V, and the new Prius plug-in were also above average.
The Toyota trio was followed by four other Japanese makes: Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and Acura, in that order. All of the models produced by the top seven brands had average or better reliability. And of the 90 Japanese models reflected in Consumer Reports brand comparison, 86 were average or better, with 35 earning the highest rating.
Leading the Europeans, Audi had its best showing ever, moving up 18 spots to eighth place, making it easily the most reliable European make and the top non-Japanese brand.
The findings from Consumer Reports 2012 Annual Auto Survey are based on subscribers' experiences with 1.2 million vehicles. The organization uses that extensive data to predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will hold up. For full reliability charts and predicted reliability on hundreds of 2012 models, plus a list of what's up and what's down, visit ConsumerReports.org.
Mixed bag for domestics
Cadillac is the top U.S. brand, having moved up 14 spots this year. Its CTS coupe was the most reliable domestic car. A number of other General Motors nameplates — Buick, Chevrolet, GMC — also moved up in the ranking. The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car continues to have above-average reliability, and the compact Chevrolet Cruze, dismal in its first year, improved to average.
Chrysler brands had a few setbacks. This year, Consumer Reports has enough data to report on some of the recently revamped Chrysler and Dodge models, and their problems have dragged the nameplates' rankings down. The Dodge Charger, for example, returns with well-below-average reliability. Other models had ups and downs. The V6 version of the Chrysler 300 sedan, with an average rating, is now the brand's most reliable model, and the V8 300 is its worst. Likewise, the V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee scores average and the V8 is now below par. The differences stem from the alternative powertrains and the extra features found in higher-priced versions. Separating its trucks into a new nameplate, Ram, didn't help Dodge's standing. And the Fiat 500 debuted with average reliability in its first year in the U.S.
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The Cadillac is too expensive to maintain... not worth the efffort and cost involved to keep an older cadillac running. The car has such a drop in real sale and trade in value. Average shop time $65.00 an hour makes for value lagging behind and cost making it a non-plus. Too many sensers, too many little things going wrong, I bought a new Buick and got rid of the problems of a four year old Cadillac with just 64000 miles on it.
The BMW dealership let me take a Cadillac CTS-V as a loaner, and that was a big mistake. For only 65k the Caddy outperformed both the German cars, and with nearly 50k miles on it was in far better condition then either of my German cars ( both of which have less then 10k on them).
I've owned a lot of vehicles over the past twenty years. I found out quickly that most everything coming from Japan is over rated garbage. Test drove a Rav4 that my daughter wanted six months ago, we were both totally amazed at how expensive it was, and how cheap it felt, test drove a Ford Escape which was $ 1,200 more in cost, but was not only a better performing vehicle, but was way above the Toyota in terms of quality and materials. A friend of mine pointed out that you here all this hype about foreign cars as opposed to American vehicles, but it's always people comparing the 1970's Oldsmobile their father had, to a new Japanese vehicle.
My secretary is a real "tree hugger", total environmentalist. She has been getting a new Prious every year for as long as shes been with me. This year she traded her Prious in on a Chevy Volt, and she can't stop talking about how great a car the Volt is. The Prious isn't even in the same class !
Given my experiences, and the fact that the auto industry plays such an important role in the U.S. economy, I don't understand the anti - American slant of these articles, nor can I understand why any American would support a foreign countries economy, while at the same time doing themselves the disservice of purchasing an inferior product ?