People buy cars for all sorts of reasons—exciting styling, cutting-edge safety technology, a prestigious brand. But a reputation for reliability is important to just about every consumer.
That is why the latest Consumer Reports survey of new-car reliability, released Tuesday, should be a caution to the three Detroit auto giants and some of the big names among European luxury-car makers. Many of the most reliable brands continued to belong to Asian car makers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
Consumer Reports said it received data on 1.3 million vehicles from subscribers and through its website. Based in part on a vehicle's reliability history over the three most recent model years, the report predicted how well the 2011 model will hold up.
It's not all bad news for Detroit: Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have greatly improved the reliability of their vehicles from the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s, and in certain segments are equal to or superior to the Asian competition, the Consumer Reports survey said.
GM's newest models, such as the Chevrolet Equinox crossover wagon and Buick LaCrosse sedan are predicted to have good reliability for 2011, and some of GM's least reliable models that dragged down scores in the past have been sent to the big scrap yard in the sky.
Ford's mid-size, front-wheel-drive Fusion sedan is now the top-ranked model in Consumer Reports' "family cars" segment—better than the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Nissan Altima and the Hyundai Sonata. Overall, Ford is now No. 1 among the Detroit brands.