After years of sterling reliability, Toyota is showing cracks in its armor, according to data from Consumer Reports' 2007 Annual Car Reliability Survey. By contrast, Ford's domestic brands have made considerable improvements.
The V6 version of the company's top-selling Camry, and the four-wheel-drive V8 version of the Tundra pickup, both redesigned for 2007, now rate below average in Consumer Reports' predicted reliability rating. (This rating does not apply to previous model years.) In addition, the all-wheel-drive version of the Lexus GS sedan also received a below average rating. Because Consumer Reports does not recommend models with below-average reliability, these models no longer make CR's "Recommended" list.
The four-cylinder and hybrid versions of the Camry and hybrid, rear-drive version of the GS scored above average in reliability and will continue to be Recommended. Despite these problems, Toyota (including Lexus and Scion) still ranks third in reliability among all automakers, behind only Honda and Subaru. Still, because of these findings, CR will no longer recommend any new or redesigned Toyota-built models without reliability data on a specific design. Previously, new and redesigned Toyota models were recommended because of the automaker's excellent track record, even if CR didn't have sufficient reliability data on the new model. If Toyota returns to its previous record of outstanding overall reliability, CR may resume this practice. Typically, CR will only recommend a vehicle if the magazine has at least one year of reliability data for that specific model.
CR's 2007 survey also shows that the odds of getting a reliable new vehicle from Ford are the best CR has seen in years. Forty-one of 44 Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models (93%) in CR's survey scored average or better in predicted reliability. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are among the most reliable cars. They and the two-wheel-drive Ford F-150 V6 make up three of the only four domestic models on Consumer Reports' "Most Reliable" list. In addition, new-for-2007 SUVs such as the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, as well as the freshened Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, were all average or above.
Despite Ford's improvement, U.S. brands account for almost half the models--20 of 44--on CR's list of "Least Reliable" models. Thirteen are from General Motors, 6 from Chrysler, and 1 from Ford. European makes account for 17 models, including six each from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen/Audi. Not all models carrying Asian nameplates are reliable, either. The Hyundai Entourage, Infiniti QX56, Mazda CX-7, Nissan Armada (4WD), Quest, and Titan (4WD), and Toyota Tundra (V8, 4WD) are all on the "Least Reliable" list.
Besides the three Toyota-built models, other notable models with declining reliability include the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Volkswagen Passat (V6).
As for European brands, signs are pointing to an overall improvement. The Audi A3, A4, and A6 are now all above average or better, as are some or all versions of the BMW 3, 5, and 7 Series. The Volvo S60 is also above average. The Porsche 911 is above average and is now recommended.
For the first time in recent years, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (V6 RWD) is no longer below average, although an all-new C-Class has been introduced for 2008. Despite this, Mercedes-Benz still hovers near the bottom in Consumer Reports' predicted reliability scores comparison.
Findings are based on responses on almost 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or ConsumerReports.org. The survey was conducted in the spring of 2007 by Consumer Reports' National Survey Research Center and covered model years 1998 to 2007.
For more information, visit the Reliability section of ConsumerReports.org.
The results will also be available in the latest Consumer Reports Cars publication "Best & Worst for 2008" on sale November 6, 2007.
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