U.S. consumer watchdog magazine, Consumer Reports recently published in its website its Annual Auto Survey for 2010.
The study, as pointed out in their site “is based on an annual survey of subscribers to Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org and are not derived from road tests.”
The general findings: Asian cars are still the most reliable, American cars are improving steadily, while European cars remain in the lower rungs.
In the findings, BMW and Mercedes Benz, two brands which we usually think of as “high-quality” given the premium price of their cars, didn’t have much to brag about.
Of the 11 BMW models appearing in the surveys, five scored below average with their 1, 3, and 5 Series models having “high problem rates related to the fuel system, among other issues.”
Likewise, Mercedes Benz had some of the least reliable vehicles as well, with six of its 13 models scoring below average.
Of note were the GLK SUV, which scored “far below average” and the new E-Class coupe which the magazine described as “a disappointment.” Of the 27 brands in the survey, Mercedes ranked 22nd overall, while BMW was a spot below. Now we know these two brands are rivals, but this is just ridiculous, especially knowing that these aren’t exactly cheapo brands.
It was the same story for Audi as well, which ranked 26th amongst the 27 brands in the survey, with almost 75% of their models scoring below average. On a more positive note for the European contingent though, Porsche and Volvo were able to crack the top 10, being ranked 2nd and 8th respectively.
While Europe struggles, American cars seem to be on the uptick. And they very well should be. With the U.S. Congress giving them billions of dollars of bailout money, anything other than what we can perceive as an improvement in the overall quality of their products would have been an epic fail.
The survey notes that General Motors and Ford have taken different paths to improving reliability, with the former axing its below-average models and the latter, improving upon their existing platforms.
Overall, half of the GM models across their brands (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC) in the survey scored an average rating. All were improvements in their previous rankings except for Buick which dropped three steps down.
Things are even brighter on Ford’s side, as the brand was ranked tenth this year, thanks to the solid performance of the Fusion (the Fiesta’s bigger brother) and many of their other models. And on the opposite end of the spectrum lies Chrysler which was the worst overall brand this year. To wit: “Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep are saddled with dated vehicles that rate below average in reliability.” Now, where could they be taking all that money? We don’t know for sure but we know it’s definitely not on the “power steering pressure hose assembly,”
Doing much better than their Western peers are Toyota, Honda and the rest of the Asian gang. The highest rated brand is in fact, Scion, a division of Toyota. Following Scion, Acura ranked 3rd, Honda 4th , Infiniti 5th, Toyota 6th, Subaru 7th, Lexus 9th, and Hyundai, Mazda, Kia, Nissan occupying the 11th to 14th spots. Nearly all their cars were able to maintain an average or above average rating save for a few ones such as the Kia Sedona minivan, the all-wheel-drive Lexus GS, the new Lexus IS 250 convertible, and the Subaru WRX.
So does this mean that we should just stick to Asian cars? Not necessarily, because a survey like this is still just one part of a bigger picture. While the knowledge the survey does impart to consumers is indeed valuable, it’s important for any car buyer to look at other resources as well, and of course, his personal tastes. What use is an ultra-reliable car if it doesn’t get you the women, right?
WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES