Detroit’s top two makers have scored significant gains in reliability and customer satisfaction, according to the latest annual automotive reliability survey by the influential Consumer Reports magazine.
But while Ford and General Motors are starting to reach world-class levels, the annual study found that Honda is still the benchmark to beat in the American market. And while it has suffered some hits from the last year’s quality and safety problems, Toyota still ranks near the top, stressed CR’s director of auto testing, David Champion.
“The big news out of the survey, this year, is how well GM has done,” said Champion, during a presentation to the Detroit Automotive Press Association.
In recent years, he noted, the number of GM vehicles scoring Average or better on Consumer Reports’ widely-quoted study has surged from 43% to 69%, and among the models sold by the maker’s big Chevrolet division, the figure has grown from 50% to 83%.
Champion noted that some of GM’s weaker products were eliminated when the company emerged from bankruptcy, in July 2010, and dropped four of its eight North American brands. Meanwhile, its newer models, such as the Buick LaCross sedan and Chevrolet Equinox crossover, have come in with unexpectedly solid scores on Consumer Reports’ various tests, as well as in the survey of 1.3 million American car buyers.
What’s particularly curious, Champion acknowledged, is the fact that while Equinox was one of the highest-ranked models in the 2010 auto reliability study, the nearly-identical GMC Terrain scored near the bottom of the charts. The CR director said he could not explain the discrepancy but said it is backed by the survey data.
“We’ve got clear focus, and we spend less time debating…and make decisions faster,” responded GM Vice President of Global Quality Dan Nicholson. But despite the good report card, he admitted, “we’re nowhere near done. Our goal is to be the leader in quality in every segment where we compete.”