While Honda and Toyota still dominate in reliability, european momentum has stalled, according to the latest US Consumer Report whose findings are based on predicted ratings. Its Annual Auto Survey is derived from subscribers' experiences with 1.3 million vehicles, but is not based on road tests.
The 2010 report found that while European reliability had been improving, momentum seems to have stalled. All Porsche and Volvo models are rated average or better. But Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are among the worst automakers overall.
The Porsche Boxster has the best predicted reliability in the survey, while the Audi A6 3.0T and Jaguar XF have the worst.
BMW had a bad year, with five of 11 models now scoring below average. Although the BMW M3 topped the sporty cars category, the 1, 3, and 5 Series models with the 3.0-litre, turbocharged engine had high problem rates related to the fuel system, among other issues.
Mercedes-Benz had the least reliable vehicles in three categories. Six of its 13 models were below average, and the GLK SUV was far below average this year. The redesigned E350 sedan was above average, but the new E-Class coupe, a wholly different car, was a disappointment.
Almost three-quarters of the Audi models analyzed were below average. Volkswagen did better, with its Golf (formerly Rabbit) doing very well and the various Jetta models doing average or better.
Despite recent safety recalls, Toyota models, including those from Scion and Lexus, remained among the most reliable and earned top scores in five vehicle categories. Only the all-wheel-drive Lexus GS and the new Lexus IS 250 convertible are below average. The redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius, hurt by antilock brake problems on early vehicles, scored only average. That is quite a drop from previous years..
Honda and Acura are among the top four brands, with their models topping five vehicle categories. Hyundai and Kia continued to do well, with only one model, the Kia Sedona minivan, rated below average. All six new models for 2010 had average or better reliability, an impressive first-year showing.
Nissan's mainstream models did well. But the small Nissan Cube had a below average score in its first appearance in our survey. The Infiniti models were all average or better.
Subaru had a good record overall, with a top rating going to the four-cylinder Legacy sedan and the non-turbo version of the Forester SUV. The WRX was the only model that rated below average.
The survey found that while some GM nameplates had been among the least reliable brands in past years, they now rank above some major European competitors. But as a company, GM is still far from tops in reliability.
Ford continues to be the most reliable American automaker. Ninety percent of Fords, including Lincoln models, have at least average reliability.
Chrysler remains the lowest-ranked manufacturer in the independent survey - with only one vehicle recommended, the four wheel-drive Dodge Ram 1500.