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Ford Drops, Chrysler Rises in Consumer Reports Survey

New cars and new technology are causing more trouble for Ford Motor Co.

Ford took a tumble in Consumer Reports magazine’s 2011 Annual Auto Survey, released today. The magazine, which has long been an influential guide for consumer car purchases, said Ford fell to 20th place out of 28 makes ranked in this year’s survey of vehicle reliability, down from a 10th place finish last year.

The magazine’s editors said consumer complaints about three new Ford models — the Ford Explorer sport utility, the subcompact Fiesta and the compact Focus — dragged the company down. Customers didn’t like the “MyFord Touch” entertainment system and the company’s new clutchless manual transmissions, Consumer Reports said.

The CR survey tracks results in separate survey by automotive market research firm J.D. Power and Assoc. that slammed Ford earlier this year over MyFord Touch and the new transmissions.

Another Detroit auto maker, Chrysler Group LLC, fared better. Respondents to Consumer Reports’ surveys ranked Jeep as the 13th most reliable brand, the best among the Detroit Three brands. The Chrysler and Dodge brands also moved up.

But the big picture is that Asian brands still do better in the Consumer Reports survey than either Detroit or European makes. Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Corp. produce eight of the top 10 ranked brands on the 2011 survey. Rounding out the top ten are Subaru and Volvo, owned by Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.

Overall, says Consumer Reports, 96% of the 91 Japanese models rated scored average or better. For Detroit and European models, the percentages of models rated average or aboave was 64%.

The top-ranked brand: Scion, Toyota’s small-car brand. The lowest: Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar brand. “That’s not surprising,” CR deadpans in its press release. “given Jaguar’s history.”

The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey is based on responses about 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to the magazine, published by Consumers Union.


Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2011

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