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October 25, 2011 Autos Insider | Ford, GM drop, Chrysler up in Consumer Reports' reliability survey | The Detroit News

Ford, GM drop, Chrysler up in Consumer Reports’ reliability survey

Ford Motor Co., previously an up-and-comer in Consumer Reports' reliability rankings, has tumbled 10 notches this year due to first-year troubles with three key models: the Explorer, Focus and Fiesta.

General Motors Co. also slipped in the group's 2011 annual rankings released Tuesday at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. GM was dragged down by below-average reliability for some Buick and Cadillac models.

Chrysler Group LLC, however, fared better than last year. Jeep moved up seven notches to No. 13, making it the industry's most reliable domestic brand.

Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey is well regarded in the industry and among car buyers who often base purchase decisions on the organization's rankings.

Japanese brands, including Scion, Lexus and Mazda, continued to top the charts, while European carmakers like Volkswagen and BMW received mixed results.

Ford's stumble follows other downgrades this year, including one by J.D. Power and Associates in June. The Dearborn automaker slipped from fifth in 2010 — the highest ranking for any non-luxury vehicle — to 23rd this year in J.D. Power's annual report, which looks at initial quality for newly launched vehicles.

J.D. Power cited complaints about Ford's new onboard infotainment system — MyFord Touch — as a chief contributor to its rating decline.

Troubles with MyFord Touch, as well as the new automatic transmission used in the Fiesta and Focus, also pulled down Ford's standing in this year's Consumer Reports survey.

"We have often found that new or revamped models have more problems in their first year than in subsequent model years," said David Champion, senior director for Consumer Reports' automotive test center. "Ford's problems illustrate why we recommend to our subscribers to hold off on buying a first-year model," he said.

The redone Explorer was named Truck of the Year at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in January. "On the bright side," Consumer reports said, "the Ford Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average."

GM also took a step back after edging up last year, the survey found, due to below-average reliability for the Buick LaCrosse, the all-wheel-drive version of the Buick Enclave and the Cadillac SRX.

The new Buick Regal and popular Chevrolet Cruze compact also scored below-average on reliability, while the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac CTS were rated above average.

For Chrysler, the 200 — successor to the much-maligned Sebring — showed improvement, along with the all-new Dodge Durango and Jeep Cherokee SUVs.

Among the Japanese carmakers, Mazda showed the biggest improvement, moving up eight spots from last year, while Toyota Motor Corp. — a company dogged by a massive recall in 2010 — held steady at sixth overall.

Volvo ranked the highest of the European brands capturing the No. 10 spot. Volkswagen AG also held at No. 16 overall.

Findings are based on responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or its website. The survey was conducted in the spring and covered the 2002-2011 model years.

Consumer Reports' statisticians and automotive engineers used the survey data to predict how well 2012 models are likely to hold up.
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