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Domestics, Germans Fare Poorly In Latest CU Survey

Once again, using their most extensive survey methods to date, Consumer Reports have given most domestic makes and most German cars rather dismal reliability ratings.

The new report covers a number of areas (see April 2007 issue).

1. How Well Do Various Cars Age?

One survey claims to predict the RATE of INCREASE in problems as a car ages up to ten years (10). In that survey, VW cars fared the worst as they aged (175 problems per 100 vehicles), with GM and Chrysler close behind (160/100), then Hyundai, Ford and the least problems as cars aged going to Nissan, Honda and finally Toyota as the "best of the old cars".(60/100)

2. Predicted Reliability of 2003-2006 Makes and Models

Another survey covers reliability of makes and models using this criteria:

"based on the three most recent model years' data for models whose design hasn't changed since 2007"




Cadillac/Jeep/Jaguar/Hummer/Land Rover/ Mercedes Benz (Mercedes was the worst of the worst, with a predicted 35-200% below average reliability rate).

No American or German make scored above average IN TOTAL, with all their models averaged in, but a few American and German MODELS were individually above average.

3. Most and Least Reliable 2007 model cars

(a few examples posted here. There are actually TEN categories)

BEST SMALL CAR: Fit/Yaris/Corolla

WORST SMALL CAR: Cobalt/Jetta/Aveo

BEST LUXURY CAR: Infiniti M/Lexus LS

WORST LUXURY CAR: Cadillac STS/MB-CLS/MB E-class/ BMW 7 series/ Jaguar S type

Where did domestics do well for 2007 models?

The domestics scored well in only three of ten categories:

BEST LARGE CARS: Lincoln Zephyr (in same group as Lexus 350, Acura TSX

BEST FAMILY CARS Ford Fusion (in same group as Prius, Accord, etc.)

BEST LARGE SUVs: Chevy Tahoe/Yukon (in same group as Land Cruiser, Sequoia, etc


Looks like Japan ran away with it all across the board.

Most domestics fell in the middle to low-middle, and with the exception of Mercury, all domestics were in a negative mean percentile (that is, below average mean reliability).

German cars also fell into negative mean percentiles, with VW, Mini, Porsche and Mercedes in the bottom ten.

Worst domestic overall for 2003-2006?


Second worst: Jeep

Third Worst: Cadillac


Vehicle reports included: 1,302,575 samples (i.e., 1.3 million vehicles)

Models surveyed across ten years: 2,200

Most responses from any one model: 7,763 from Toyota Camry

Minimum responses required to include a model in the reliability survey: 100


Anything you are surprised to see, or does this survey more or less match your expectations?

Visiting Host


  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    Minimum responses required to include a model in the reliability survey: 100

    Whoa that stands out?

    Has CR always had 100 responses as the minimum? From what I remember of my stats classes in college you need a minimum of 300-500 responses on a truly random survey in order to get accurate results. I just don't think 100 responses is enough to get a truly accurate survey result and I doubt CRs survey methods are random enough that the bare minimum of 300-500 responses works. They probably need more then 500 responses for a truly accurate survey result.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    Edit the title to read "... Fare Poorly ..."

    fare - noun, verb

    7. to experience good or bad fortune, treatment, etc.: He fared well in his profession.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    No surprise to me. Just what I would expect from CR :sick:

    Too bad CR does not have a result that shows how the Japanese cars have taken the joy out of driving. Last Japanese car I drove that was fun. The Honda CRX :)
  • Are you suggesting CR manipulated the data for some agenda?

    You are right about one thing you said though---there is no room in CR for a "fun factor".

    But--they did title it a "reliability" survey, so I guess the best criticism would be on the limited nature of the survey.

    People buy cars IN SPITE OF the reliability ratings all the time.

    The survey does seem to imply that American manufacturers are still behind the curve, and that the Germans haven't solved their quality control issues.

    My impressions were...yeah, it's about what I expected from the Japanese and Americans (the "best" and "mediocre" respectively) but I really didn't expect to see Mercedes in the toilet.

    Kinda sad how the domestics couldn't even score in the Pickups category. You'd think......

    Visiting Host
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    How many MB owners do you think would bother with CR? I am surprised that they got 100 of any model MB except the cheapo models that compete with the cheapo Lexus.

    It also surprises me they got so few Camry surveys. 7000 over 4 years, with close to 2 million sold. Maybe CR is losing subscribers and or no one bothers with the survey.
  • I think 7000 surveys is a pretty good statistical base for trends on a particular model. Not sure 100 minimum surveys for a particular model is valid though.

    It does seem though that CR results roughly mirror what you see here in the Edmunds forums.

    The part I found intersting was the rate of decline as each car aged. This would be more useful to used car buyers rather than new car buyers I'd guess.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    CRX was fun, certainly, but you must not have driven an S2000 if you can't think of a single fun Japanese car.

    How 'bout a Miata? G35? 300ZX? :confuse:

    You gotta get out more and drive more Asian cars if you're gonna talk about 'em like that. ;)
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Pretty much results as expected. Nice to see a couple of the newer American products took best in their category.

    One little beef I have with CR's wording:
    "2. Predicted Reliability of 2003-2006 Makes and Models...
    ...TOP SIX: Toyota/Honda/Scion/Acura/Lexus/Subaru"

    Maybe it's just me, but I've always thought of a "make" as the manufacturer, not the brand. Scion, Acura & Lexus are brands. With CR's terminology, things get muddy. If you're in Canada, for example, buying an Acura that's really a re-badged US Honda, is your new vehicle rated #4 in reliability, or is it rated #2? CR's Top 6 really reads as a top 3 to me: Toyota, Honda, Subaru. Who cares which badge the manufacturer slaps on?

    Even defining it by manufacturer is getting harder now, for example having Camry built at the Subaru plant in Indiana... is it really #1 in reliability or #3 (or #6?) because it's not built in a Toyota factory?)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Valid points, I think it's fair to say Toyota, Honda, and Subaru are the top 3.

    The rest are just divisions.

    Scion isn't really even a stand-alone division, they are models within the Toyota franchise. Notice how the stores are contained within Toyota dealerships.
  • Well the American models didn't "take" best in certain categories...they shared it with other automakers. Sorry for the confusion. No one model was "best" as a stand-alone I don't think. I'll check that and correct it if necessary.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,159
    I'm glad to see the company near the top. Combined with their new "wildlife sanctuary" campaign and their commitment to the green movement, I am proud to support them. They've quickly become one of my favorite brands from a business as well as a product perspective.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    I have not driven the S2000. I would like to. I think it is the best looking sports car in that class. I liked the early Miata. The new ones just do not look right to me. The G35 looks ok, the 300ZX is just weird looking. So there are exceptions to to rule.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Dear geo9,

    FYI, Buick and Lexus tied for #1.
    Cadillac is #3.
    Mercury is #4 (but badge-engineered Ford is below average -- go figure).
    Honda is #5.
    Toyota is #6.
    Subaru is #9.

    All other GM brands -- Chevy, GMC, Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn, and Saab were below average (Saturn and Saab especially so, with Saab being 4th worst). So why do the old folks' GM cars of choice score so well, but those purchased by younger buyers fare much more poorly? Any ideas?

    Not that I put much stock in old JD anyway, but what GM product do you drive?
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    So why do the old folks' GM cars of choice score so well, but those purchased by younger buyers fare much more poorly? Any ideas?

    There is the old saw about GM's expensive cars with old-person appeal being better-designed, better-built, and better-cared-for than the less expensive cars aimed at a younger, poorer demographic less likely to sink cash into regular maintenance and upkeep.
  • Well somebody is right and somebody is wrong. We know that much anyway.
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    They can both be right based on their samples. Reality may be completely different. I think one thing to consider is that an old car (say 10 years) will have some problems, and the number of problems may depend on the care that it got in the first 9 years.
  • Well sure that makes sense.

    You'd think though that if it were based on the care given the older cars, that the cheapest cars would fare the wors in reliability, but apparently that isn't the case in all instances. VWs do poorly, as do Chrysler products, but not Toyota.

    As for the sampling, CR seems to have the edge here because they test cars and drive them, whereas JD Powers are desk people, not car people. They are more like statisticians. So I'd venture that CRs database is more historical and hands-on.

    But again, these are just speculations or impressions as I look at the data.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,730
    Never cared for CR test results. Any subscription based results are suspect to me. I picture CR as promoting someone from washing machine tester to car tester depending on who was sick at work that day. But I did see a blurb on the news last night that said Buick was the top rated car for dependability for the first time in 12 years. Yes it was tied with Lexus but sill it was ahead of Toyota and Honda and the rest of the japanese brands. Hardly a Japanese sweep. But it did put Porsche in its place for a change.
  • I dunno....somehow I have a hard time shirking off 1.3 million survey results. That's an impressive data base from CR. The researcher in me has a hard time dismissing them with a wave of the hand.

    Upon what basis might you conclude that the news story source is any less suspect than CR in your mind? The survey I *think* you saw states the following:

    "The 2007 survey is based on the responses of 53,000 owners of 2004 model year vehicles. The survey gives all problems equal weight."

    Soooo....given that CR does 1.3 million responses and weights the answers, I'm still leaning toward CR as more indicative.

    Why the results are so radically different, beats me! Maybe a statistician can explain for us how this happens?
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    this Consumer Reports website:

    is recommending Buicks, so is there really much discrepency?
This discussion has been closed.