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2011 Annual Car Reliability Survey: Best and worst vehicles by brand

Consumer Reports News: October 25, 2011 01:38 PM

If you are looking for a reliable car, don’t assume that certain brands are always shoe-ins. Each manufacturer has models that have a range of reliability in Consumer Reports’ annual car reliability survey.

When shopping for a car, it’s best to look at individual models and not make assumptions based on brand perceptions. In addition, just because a vehicle scored well in our reliability survey doesn’t mean it's recommended by CR or a good vehicle to buy.

Some models are reliable, but don’t do well in our testing. One example is the Jeep Patriot, which had the best reliability for Jeep, but scores too low in our testing to be recommended. Alternatively, the Audi Q5 scores very high in our tests, but its reliability is well below average, so we cannot recommend it.

There are also disparities within brands. Some manufacturers have very good reliability within all its models across the board, but we’ve seen that list drop from seven consistent brands last year to only two this year. Only Scion, Acura, and Mazda do not have any models that have below-average reliability. Others like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have some that score very high and others that are well below average.

Below is a list of the best and worst vehicles by brand based on predicted reliability. Models with an asterisk (“*”) are based on data for one model year only.

Make Worst model Best model
Scion xB xD
Lexus IS Convertible* CT 200h*
Acura TSX TL (FWD)
Mazda CX-9 MX-5 Miata
Honda Odyssey* CR-Z*
Toyota Sienna (AWD)* Highlander (4-cyl.)
Infiniti G Convertible QX56*
Subaru Tribeca* Forester (non-turbo)
Nissan Z Titan*
Volvo XC90* C70*
Hyundai Santa Fe (V6) Elantra Wagon
Kia Sedona Optima*
Jeep Wrangler (4-door) Patriot
Lincoln MKX (FWD)* MKZ Hybrid*
Chrysler Town & Country 200*
Volkswagen Routan Golf TDI
Chevrolet Silverado 2500* Volt*
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class C-Class (RWD)
BMW 550i* X3*
Ford Edge (AWD)* Fusion Hybrid
Dodge Ram 2500 (turbodiesel) Caliber
GMC Sierra 2500* Sierra 1500 (V6, 2WD)
Mini Cooper Clubman S Cooper Hatchback
Buick LaCrosse (AWD)* Enclave (FWD)
Cadillac Escalade* CTS (V6, RWD)
Audi Q5 (V6) A4 (4-cyl.)
Porsche Cayenne* 911*
Jaguar XF XJ*
*Based on one model year; redesigned or introduced for 2011

As these results show, it is unwise to judge a book by its cover. Avoid assumptions based on past history or anecdotal experience. Instead, do your research before you buy your next vehicle. It takes just a few minutes to browse the model overview pages, or use the interactive new car selector tool, which sorts and filters by the parameters that matter most to you.

Either path will reveal Consumer Reports recommended models that did well in our road tests, score average or better in reliability, and perform at least adequately if included in government or insurance industry safety tests.

For more details on our 2011 Annual Car Survey, including the full list of most and least reliable new cars by vehicle type, see our new car reliability report. Also, check out our guide to car reliability for more details on new and used car reliability as well as owner satisfaction.

Liza Barth

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