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Fiat Tops List of Most Unreliable Auto Brands

Fiat 500L rates least reliable new car by Consumer Reports.

by on Nov.09, 2015

The Fiat 500L was rated the most unreliable car by Consumer Reports based on reader feedback.

Consumer Reports often offers up plenty of controversial insights about new cars and its most recent list of the 20 least reliable vehicles for 2015 has at least one surprise on the list.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class made the list due to problems with electronics, steering and drive systems. The normally rock-solid reliability of the German brand was not as it normally is with the new entry-level Benz.

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Mercedes actually had two entries – the GL Class too – on the list, but it wasn’t alone in the luxury segment as the Infiniti QX60 and Cadillac ATS also founds spots. (more…)

Infotainment Systems are the Plague of the Auto Industry, Says Consumer Reports

Japanese makers retain lead in quality, reliability.

by on Oct.27, 2014

CR gives thumbs up to the Toyota Camry, the magazine predicting good reliability for the 2015 update.

The quality of the cars sold on the U.S. market has hit a plateau, and motorists can put the blame on new technologies – especially the infotainment systems that have become increasingly common on today’s models, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The influential non-profit publication likened the issue to a “reliability plague,” chief auto tester Jake Fisher noting that, if anything, the latest annual Consumer Reports Automotive Reliability study might be downplaying the problem because it reports only actual defects.

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The situation would be even worse if the study included complaints about just how difficult many infotainment systems are to operate.

“The big problem is infotainment. Take that out and (the quality of) cars would be improving,” said Fisher, during an appearance before the Detroit Automotive Press Association.


Luxury, Japanese Brands Top Consumer Reports’ Top Vehicles List

Lexus named top brand but Tesla Model S is called Best Overall vehicle.

by on Feb.25, 2014

CR puts Chrysler on its Top Pick list for the first time in 16 years with the Ram 1500 pickup.

Luxury and Japanese brands dominate as Consumer Reports lists its top vehicle list for 2014 – but there were a few models among the influential magazine’s picks, including the first Chrysler to make the grade in 16 years.

But domestic brands Ford and Chrysler took some hits in the annual list of top picks, Ford and Cadillac hammered for problems with their glitch-plagued infotainment systems. Caddy dropped six spots in the 2014 rankings, landing in the bottom five, the worst of any General Motors brand.

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On the other hand, Toyota’s high-line Lexus brand was the top pick this year – repeating its performance in 2013.  It was followed by Honda’s upscale Acura and German luxury maker Audi.  But a relative newcomer to the industry showed up its more established rivals, the Tesla Model S being named Best Overall vehicle.  Consumer Reports editors cited the battery-electric sedan’s “exceptional performance,” as well as its “many impressive technological innovations.”


Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.


GM, Audi, Volvo Make Gains, Ford Stumbles in Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Lexus, Acura, Toyota Still Lead – but Toyota Camry loses “Recommended” rating.

by on Oct.28, 2013

Ford's C-Max Energi was the lowest-rated vehicle in the new CR reliability survey.

While Japanese makers continue to dominate the influential Consumer Reports annual vehicle reliability survey, General Motors, Audi and Volvo made significant gains, each cracking into the Top 10 this year.

While Detroit makers, on the whole, have been gaining ground, Ford Motor Co. dipped well below average. The second-largest of the domestic auto manufacturers has been hammered by complaints about its digital infotainment systems – an issue that has been causing grief for many of its competitors, as well, according to the CR survey of 1.1 million vehicle owners.

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The annual survey contained a number of surprises, including some unexpected problems plaguing traditionally Japanese manufacturers. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports announced that some of the most popular Asian products, including Toyota’s Camry, RAV4 and Prius V models, have lost their coveted “Recommended Buy” rating because of their poor performance in new crash tests.


Detroit Makers Dominate New Quality Survey

But “the challenge” will be getting import buyers to notice.

by on May.15, 2013

The new Dodge Dart drives off with a win in the latest Total Quality Index.

After long lagging their import rivals in terms of quality and reliability, Detroit makers have begun closing the gap in recent years – and a new study suggests that domestic models may even be taking the lead in many key market segments.

Motown manufacturers led or at least tied for the lead in 12 of 21 categories in Strategic Vision’s closely watched Total Quality Index, products like the Ford Fusion and Dodge Dart besting traditional import stalwarts such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic.

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“There’s no questioning domestic car makers want to lead,” said Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. “For the first time in over a decade our comprehensive and complete study of Quality resulted in more domestic winners than imports.”


GM Gains Ground on Imports

Maker posts major gains in reliability study; still lags Toyota.

by on Oct.30, 2012

Cadillac has been gaining ground with new models like the ATS.

Can General Motors close the quality gap?  The maker has long lagged key Asian rivals like Toyota and Honda, but a new study suggests it is rapidly gaining on the imports.  GM was the only member of the Detroit Big Three to improve its standing in the latest annual Consumer Reports automotive reliability study, a survey of 1.2 million of the non-profit magazine’s reader.  Rival Ford, by contrast, suffered a significant decline in the annual study.

Only German luxury maker Audi did better at improving its reliability, compared to GM’s own flagship Cadillac brand.

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The strong performance in the influential Automotive Reliability Study comes as vindication for the long and laborious effort GM has made to get a handle on endemic quality problems.  Industry analysts contend that years of poor quality resulted in significant market share losses for the giant U.S. maker – and contributed to the steady decline that plunged GM into bankruptcy in 2009.


Japanese Makers Dominate Consumer Reports Reliability Study

Audi, General Motors make gains – but Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Nissan all slide.

by on Oct.29, 2012

Audi's -- its S4 shown here -- pops into the Top 10 for the first time in the CR reliability study.

Japanese makers – led by Toyota – dominated the 2012 automotive reliability study by influential Consumer Reports magazine.

But the study showed that European makers, notably the Audi brand, made significant gains. So did General Motors, though the other two Detroit makers didn’t fare nearly as well in the annual report by the non-profit magazine.

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“Ford had a pretty bad year,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing, noting that the Ford brand fell to 27th among the brands covered by the study while its sibling Lincoln marque dipped to 26th.

Toyota Motor Co.’s three U.S. brands led the annual reliability study, Scion in first place, followed by Toyota and then the Lexus luxury line.  Mazda, meanwhile, landed in fourth position.  Japanese makers have traditionally led the Consumer Reports study.


Subaru Tops Honda in New Consumer Reports Study

Japan still tops "Automotive Report Card," but lead shrinking.

by on Feb.28, 2012

The 2012 Impreza helped position as the new leader in the Consumer Reports Automotive Report Card.

In another setback for longtime Japanese quality leader Honda, it has been knocked out of the top spot according to the annual Consumer Reports Automotive Report Card by up-start Subaru.  Honda had topped the study for the last four years but has taken sharp criticism, of late, for a variety of problems, notably with the latest version of its long-popular Civic model.

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Subaru, the maker of all-wheel-drive products like the Outback and Forester also topped industry giant Toyota in the yearly measure of performance, comfort, utility and reliability.

Japanese makers retained their lead, overall, in the annual automotive study.  But, “While Japanese automakers still hold the top five spots, their lead is shrinking. In some of Honda’s and Toyota’s recently redesigned models, cost-cutting has become more noticeable,” said David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.


Growing Number of Buyers Steer Clear of Imports

“Conventional wisdom,” rather than latest quality data, often a factor in brand selection, says new J.D. Power study.

by on Jan.26, 2012

Makers like Ford -- its new 2013 Fusion shown here -- and Hyundai have to overcome negative quality perceptions that lag reality, according to a new study.

Word-of-mouth is typically a critical factor in the choice a car buyer makes, yet “conventional wisdom” about which brands have the best quality may be sorely out of date, notes a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. Nonetheless, 40% of buyers say they steered clear of one brand or another because of what they’ve heard about quality, rather than actually checking for the latest data.

Meanwhile, though Detroit automakers have long abandoned their “Buy American” campaigns, the public’s interest in bringing more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. seems to be paying off.  Power’s latest annual “Avoider Study” finds that that nearly one in seven buyers has steered clear of a foreign-badged product precisely because of where it was made.

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The 2012 Avoider Study also found that fuel economy is now the most influential factor in choosing – or avoiding – a product, though factors like price and styling are also strongly influential.

“The fact that so many new-vehicle buyers may be basing their opinions about quality and reliability on pre-conceived notions, rather than concrete information or data, demonstrates how important it is for automakers to promote the quality and reliability of their models,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates.