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2012 Annual Auto Issue: The grades are in, Consumer Reports releases its automaker report cards

Consumer Reports News: February 28, 2012 02:08 PM

Riding a wave of impressive redesigned models in the last few years, Subaru for the first time has earned the top score in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012. Meanwhile, Honda, which had been the perennial winner for the past four years, slipped two points to fourth place among 13 major automakers, behind Mazda and Toyota.

Subaru’s score of 75—two points higher than last year—reflects better test scores for such redesigned models as the Impreza, Legacy, and Outback over the last few years. The 2012 Impreza, which Consumer Reports just tested, now tops the small-sedan class and is the Consumer Reports Top Pick in that category. Subaru’s average road-test score of 82 is the highest in Consumer Reports analysis.

Honda has been hurt by several redesigned models—including the Civic and Odyssey—that didn’t measure up to their predecessors. Honda models, however, are still among the most reliable on the road overall.

Toyota remains among the top three automakers for the fifth straight year, buoyed by consistently above-average reliability and most vehicles have high test scores.
“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, Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.

Among all automakers, Ford dropped the farthest, from fifth place last year to 10th. Ford’s road-test score improved by two points over last year’s, but subpar reliability of some new vehicles, due largely to the troublesome MyFord Touch infotainment system and Power-Shift automatic transmission, hurt its report-card grade.

“GM and Chrysler are building nicer cars with each redesign. Still, their scores are dragged down by several older designs that score low in Consumer Reports testing or have reliability issues,” Champion said, “As more new products are introduced, their fortunes could change if they can improve their overall reliability.”

Although Chrysler remains in last place, its overall score jumped eight points, making it the second most improved automaker.

Consumer Reports automaker report cards reflect the performance, comfort, utility, and reliability of more than 275 vehicles that CR recently rated, providing a perspective on which manufacturers are building the best all-around models. Each automaker’s overall score is based on the average road test scores and reliability ratings for all of its models that CR has tested.

Read the full report on “Who makes the best cars?” with the complete automaker report cards.

Visit the annual auto issue special section for quick access to the latest Ratings, articles, and videos.

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