Lexus tops Consumer Reports rankings

A couple walk by Lexus models displayed at A couple walk by Lexus models displayed at a Toyota Motor Corp. showroom in Tokyo. (Nov. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Japanese car brands, led by Toyota Motor Corp.s Lexus, took the top seven spots in

Consumer Reports magazines annual quality rankings, as the top U.S. brand placed 14th out of 26 in the ratings.

Lexus received the most points based on the scores of its eight models, all of which the magazine recommendsbuying. Parent-company Toyotas namesake line tied for fourth place with Honda Motor Co.s Acura brand.
Subaru, a unit of Fuji HeavyIndustries Ltd. that placed first among automakers last year, was second and Mazda Motor Corp.s Mazda was

Consumer Reports changed its ranking system this year, breaking out brands instead of ranking automakersaccording to collective scores for all their lines.

We feel this is more in line with how people shop, Rik Paul, the magazines automotive editor, said in aninterview before the rankings were released yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington.

Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, tests and evaluates cars for how well they drive,interior-finish quality, fuel economy and reliability. The rankings influence car buyers and are published in the
magazines annual auto issue.

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Japanese brands combined to account for 36.9 percent of vehicles sold last year in the U.S., according toAutodata Corp., a researcher based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

General Motors Co.s Cadillac, boosted by the CTS, was the top U.S. brand, ranking 14th. The CTS was ratedabove-average for reliability and called as capable as its German rivals.

Reliability Issues

The bottom six brands in the rankings were U.S.-based Chrysler Group LLCs Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep;Ford Motor Co.s Ford and Lincoln; and GMs Buick.

The American automakers are getting better, Paul said. As much as companies are improving, companieslike Toyota and Honda are still raising the bar.

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Chrysler accepted the criticism and said its working to improve its vehicles.

Although we are moving in the right direction, well be the first to acknowledge that we need to improvefaster, Doug Betts, senior vice president for quality, said in an e-mail. Were aggressively upgrading our productlineup. For example, werealready making significant investments to vehicles already recommended by Consumer Reports Jeep GrandCherokee and Dodge Durango.

MyFord Touch

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Ford said its working on improvements to infotainment and transmissions.

In North America at the moment, J.D. Power and other third-party results validate our own internal metricsshowing isolated areas for improvement primarily with MyFord Touch and PowerShift automatictransmissions, Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesman,said in an e-mail. The good news is customers already are benefiting from the updates we made to both

Ford has had problems with reliability, Paul said, because the companys infotainment system is difficult touse and repair-prone. That fault hits them twice in rankings on the road test and reliability, he said.

Cadillacs in-vehicle infotainment system is following down the path of Ford and Lincoln, Jake Fisher, directorof auto testing, told reporters yesterday. It takes a long time to do simple things.

GM is making progress, Mike Hardie, the automakers director of global quality strategy, said in an interview.

Theres certainly a lot of work to do, but I do believe were on a good track and we really want to scorebetter, Hardie said.

Glorious Things

About 70 percent of GMs product portfolio is turning over in the next 12 months, Hardie said.

We anticipate grand and glorious things in the future, he said.

Lexus earned praise for vehicles that are generally quiet, plush and very reliable, though theyre rarely sporty,
the Yonkers, New York-based magazine said.

When Consumer Reports recommends 100 percent of Lexus line-up, it speaks volumes about our dedicationto building high-quality luxury vehicles, Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager, said inan e-mailed statement.

Toyota sold 2.08 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year, trailing only GM and Ford, as it expanded itsPrius hybrid lineup and its Camry midsize sedan remained the nations best-selling car model.

Audi, Volkswagen

Because redesigns of Chryslers Dodge Ram and GMs Chevrolet Silverado havent been tested, the magazineelected not to make a best pick among all types of pickups this year. In its place, Consumer Reports brought
back the budget car category,choosing Hyundai Motor Co.s Elantra as the best car for less than $20,000.

Hondas Accord won the best pick for the midsized sedan category, the top-selling vehicle class in the U.S.Volkswagen AGs Audi A6 was the best pick for luxury cars and Bayerische Motoren Werke AGs 328i was thebest pick for sports sedans, bringingGerman automakers back into the best picks list for the first time in a decade.

Audi has come a long way, Fisher said. Five years ago, I never thought I would be talking about Audi andreliability in the same sentence or even the same paragraph.

Volkswagen, Europes largest carmaker, placed 16th in brand rankings. The manufacturer has a target ofovertaking Toyota and GM to become the worlds biggest carmaker by 2018. Its U.S. sales have been undeterred
by poor reviews by Consumer Reports ofits Jetta SE sedan, which placed last in its category of compact sedans.

Deliveries of Volkswagen brand cars and SUVs surged 35 percent in the U.S. last year to 438,133, the bestsince 1973. The division has more than doubled its market share since 2007, to 3 percent from 1.4 percent.

Consumer Reports Magazines Best, Worst Car by Category

Electric Cars, Limited Range:
Best: Ford Focus Electric. Worst: Mitsubishi i SE

Sedans, Subcompact:
Best: Kia Rio EX. Worst: Nissan Versa SV

Hatchbacks, Subcompact:
Best: Honda Fit Sport. Worst: Smart for Two Passion

Sedans, Compact:
Best: Subaru Impreza Premium. Worst: Volkswagen Jetta SE

Hatchbacks/Wagons, Compact:
Best: Volkswagen Golf TDI. Worst: Mini Cooper Clubman

Sedans, Midsized:
Best: Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE. Worst: Dodge Avenger SXT

Sedans, Large:
Best: Chrysler 300 Limited. Worst: Ford Taurus Limited

Luxury Sedans, Compact:
Best: Infiniti G37 Journey. Worst: Lexus CT 200h Premium

Luxury Sedans, Midsized:
Best: Audi A6 3.0 Premium Plus Quattro. Worst: Lincoln MKS

Luxury Sedans, Large:
Best: Lexus LS 460L. Worst: Fisker Karma EcoSport

Sports Cars, High-Performance:
Best: BMW 135i. Worst: Chevrolet Camaro 2LT

Sporty Cars:
Best: Volkswagen GTI. Worst: Honda CR-Z EX

Sports Cars, Roadsters:
Best: Porsche Boxster 2.7. Worst: BMW Z4 sDrive28i

Sports Cars, Convertibles, Four-Seat:
Best: Volkswagen Eos Lux. Worst: Fiat 500C Pop

Best: Honda Odyssey EX-L. Worst: Dodge Grand Caravan R/T

SUVs, Small:
Best: Ford Escape Titanium. Worst: Jeep Compass Latitude

SUVs, Midsized:
Best: Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited. Worst: Jeep Wrangler
Unlimited Sahara

SUVs, Large:
Best: Chevrolet Traverse LT. Worst: GMC Yukon Hybrid

Luxury SUVs, Compact:
Best: BMW X3 xDrive28i. Worst: Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Luxury SUVs, Midsized:
Best: Lexus RX 450h. Worst: Volvo XC90 3.2

Luxury SUVs, Large:
Best: Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec. Worst: Cadillac Escalade

Pickups, Compact:
Best: Honda Ridgeline RTS. Worst: Toyota Tacoma

Pickups, Full-Sized:
Best: Toyota Tundra SR5. Worst: Nissan Titan SV

Pickups, Heavy-Duty Diesel:
Best: Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ. Worst: Ram 2500

Source: Consumer Reports

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