By on October 27, 2011

Consumer Reports announced the results of their 2011 Annual Auto Survey yesterday. Among the heroes: the oft-maligned Chrysler 200, the Chevrolet Volt, and the island nation of Japan. In the doghouse: Regal, Cruze, LaCrosse, and pretty much the entire “new lineup” of General Motors.

The biggest loser this year, however, was Ford.

The Blue Oval tumbled down CR’s charts from 10th of 28 last year to 20th of 28. Although the Fusion Hybrid and many carry-over vehicles continue to be recommended, the new Explorer, Fiesta and Focus are all rated below average, as are the Edge/MKX twins. What’s going on here? According to CR, it’s the PowerShift double-clutch transmission and MyFordTouch/MyLincolnTouch that are causing the problems.

The most reliable domestic brand, coming in at 13 of 28, was Jeep. Volvo was the top-ranked Chinese European entry in 10th place, and the top dog among Japanese brands was Scion, ranking first. My friends at Porsche fell from 2nd place to 27th, based on the “terrible debut year” of the new Cayenne. Speaking as someone who used to drive a Cayenne S and a six-speed Cayenne GTS as company cars, I cannot imagine how bad the new one is if it’s worse than the old model. I’m thinking about springing for the $7.99 special issue of Consumer Reports just to find out what the new Cayenne does to its owners. With any luck, phrases like “prolonged and severe rectal trauma” will find their way into the magazine’s normally quite clinical prose.

Last and least, the two Indian British super-sedans, the Jaguar XF and XJ, were “the two least reliable new cars in the survey.”

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125 Comments on “Consumer Reports Doesn’t Fancy The New Fords...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I’m surprised the Mustang and its Chinese made gearbox and clutch assembly didn’t get a mention.

    Not that surprised the basically Sebring 200 got a good wrap since it’s close to a decade old?

    The Daewoo Cruze surprises no one by making it there.

    • 0 avatar
      fatnate

      The Cruze is made in the USA……..

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      The current Sebring platform was introduced in 2007 and heavily modified this year (as the 200). 5 years is half a decade last time looked.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Proves once again that if they work on them long enough, eventually they’ll make them better, the more things change , the more…………………………. I’m thinking of the Regal, Mustangs, Crown Vics and the lest goes on and on

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The Mustang V6 scored 16% above average, while the GT was 15% above average.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I wasn’t surprised the Daewoo Cruze wound up below average in reliability and is not recommended. Nobody who knows about Daewoos would be surprised.

      The 200 is a bit of a surprise though, no matter how long it has been in production. I suppose Myth Busters polishing a turd gave them a sense of purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:

        The Civic got de-recommended too. Clearly, only the ignorant buy them.

        http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2011/08/2012-honda-civic-lx-scores-too-low-for-consumer-reports-to-recommend.html

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “The Civic has long ranked among CR’s top small sedans, having been a Top Pick as late as 2007. It’s also long been reliable, and we don’t expect that to change in the not-extensively-redesigned 2012 model.

        So what happened? The new Civic feels insubstantial with a cheap interior. You don’t get much feature content for the $19,405 that our Civic LX automatic costs, either. That’s a problem given the high bar set in this class by the new-to-market Chevrolet Cruze, the redesigned-for-2012 Ford Focus, and the redesigned-for-2011 Hyundai Elantra.”

        And now we have the reliability survey to show that the first two of the cushy toyboxes they chose over it are lemons. Hillarious. Can you figure out why it isn’t a coincidence? I bet you can’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        A lot of good it does to have a “nice” interior with soft touch materials and upgraded electronics if the darn things are unreliable and have rattles and squeaks. I thing CR blew it when they stopped recommending the Civic, based on such lame-ass reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The Civic got de-recommended too.

        So, you want to point out that CR removed the Civic from its recommended list. Yet you think that CR continues to recommend the Odyssey because it lacks the intestinal fortitude not to remove it? Sorry, but you’re really reaching with that argument.

        Here’s the problem with minivans — none of them are particularly known for their reliability. For Toyota, Honda and Chrysler, some of the least reliable vehicles in their fleets are their minivans. The Sienna and Odyssey generally dominate these reliability surveys, but both of those are quite poor compared to passenger cars in general.

        In other words, if you want to own a minivan, then you have to accept that stuff is going to break, probably more than they would on the best CUVs and SUVs. If you recommend minivans to anyone, you have to do so with the caveat that even the best ones are far from bulletproof.

        Anecdotally, when I have been asked by friends about minivans, I share this with them and suggest CUVs as superior alternatives in the reliability department. A couple of people have responded to that information by removing minivans from their shopping list. Given how poorly minivans are faring, I have to wonder whether reliability may be one factor that is driving away buyers to other choices.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Looking at Truedelta data :

        2011 Cruze (30 cars) – 51 trips per 100
        2012 Civic (16 cars) – 51 trips per 100 (previous years have been between 8 and 36)
        No data for 2012 Focus.

        So I wouldn`t jump to the conclusion that the Cruze (or Focus) is unreliable. As some others have said everything is relative and I would expect the Civic to be relatively more reliable than the Cruze but that the difference is not major or equate to very many extra trips over say a 5 year life span. So to say the Cruze is a lemon is hyperbole, which is expected from CJ when his favored Civic is “attacked”.
        As for those who keep saying Daewoo for the Cruze I expect, in the interests of consistency, that when you speak about the Acura TSX you say Honda TSX since it is a European Honda Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        mike978,

        Where is your truedelta data coming from? As a member, I have the results and have been told not to share them, but I will tell you that the 2012 Civic has been perfect and that there is data for the imperfecft 2012 Focus.

        Call the TSX a Honda. It is a Honda. The Cruze is a Daewoo. Why does me calling the Cruze a Daewoo hurt you but calling the TSX a Honda doesn’t trouble me a bit?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @PCH101:

        I think what this illustrates is the folly of living and dying by CR ratings, as our Limbaugh-lite fellow poster chooses to do. And maybe he should read the fine print on the ratings, which indicates that just because a car is “below average” on reliability doesn’t mean that it’s a “lemon.” All it means is that, as you say, they grade on a curve, and the curve is high. If the Cruze were truly a Vega/Yugo-style junkheap, we’d have heard about it by now. But there aren’t really any cars like that out anymore. I can’t think of a car on the market right now that is so unreliable that it would make a chump out of its buyer. I can think of LOT of them from years gone by, though.

        Personally, I think the Civic’s a fine car, even if it wouldn’t be my first choice if I were looking at a compact (that’d be a Focus SE hatchback with the sport package, no MyTouch, and a manual…make mine red). But then again, unlike some of my fellow posters, I wouldn’t call someone’s intelligence into question for not buying a Focus…or a Cruze or a Civic, for that matter.

      • 0 avatar
        fred schumacher

        Re: Pch101 “Here’s the problem with minivans — none of them are particularly known for their reliability.”

        We must live on different planets. I’ve found my Mopar minivans to be the most reliable, lowest cost to own and operate vehicles I’ve owned in 40 years. I buy them in the high 100,000s miles for a song and I drive them into the high 200,000s or 300,000 and the only repairs I need are wearing parts: tires, brakes, struts.

        I’ve done most of my driving on the frost-heaved roads of northern Minnesota and North Dakota, and when I was still farming, I used minivans instead of pickups because most of the time they were better than a pickup. I would regularly overload those minivans and I drove them right out into the field over the plowing. They were work vehicles and did not get babied.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        We must live on different planets.

        We probably do. I live on Earth, not Mopar Fanboyworld.

        On my planet, JD Power conducts surveys that place the Mopar twins with bottom rankings for dependability: http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/dependability-ratings-by-category/minivan/

        On my planet, Consumer Reports finds that the least reliable Chrysler is the Town and Country:
        http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/graphic/C41810011025.JPG

        Your mileage may vary. But it sounds as if the mileage is often not very good for many owners of these vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        @FreedMike:

        “it wouldn’t be my first choice if I were looking at a compact (that’d be a Focus SE hatchback with the sport package, no MyTouch, and a manual…make mine red)”

        Are we twins? That’s exactly the Focus I’d get, too. (though I’m also intrigued by Blue Candy, it costs extra)

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        CJ – the data comes from Truedelta and I was sharing the data that is freely available, not the embargoed data. As you saw the Civic has the same number of trips per 100 cars as the Cruze. So how do you say “2012 Civic has been perfect”. If nothing else that just confirms you are such a fanboi. I am surprised you are in Truedelta given your regular scathing comments about Mike Karesh. But then scathing seems to be your default position.

        As for the Daewoo comment, it doesn`t trouble me, it is just factually incorrect since Daewoo doesn`t exist anymore. I know you like hyperbole and sometimes get your facts wrong, I am just trying to minimise that – a thankless job! It would be accurate to say the GM subsidary/design center in Korea did some of the engineering work (not the engines etc) but given the rising reputation of Hyundai and Kia it doesn`t sound so bad to me. I am glad you accept that Acura have to borrow mainstream cars from Europe and then wonder why they cannot compete with Lexus, BMW, Audi, MB.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        2011 Cruze (30 cars) – 51 trips per 100
        2012 Civic (16 cars) – 51 trips per 100

        Those sample sizes are very, very small. You should expect the margin of error to be extremely high when the sample sizes are that small.

        Ideally, the data for each of those would be based upon at least 200-300+ cars. With sample sizes as low as those above, the margin of error for that data would be above 15%, with the margin of error higher for the Civic than for the Cruze due to the smaller sample size of the former.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I think what this illustrates is the folly of living and dying by CR ratings

        That’s a strawman, frankly.

        Domestic fanboys have spent years trying to convince the rest of us that Consumer Reports is some sort of scam. I can understand why they believe that — domestics generally don’t perform well in these surveys — but the conspiracy theories are based on hot air.

        Consumer Reports and JD Power aren’t perfect. All surveys will have their flaws, of course, but each of those firms survey enough owners to provide fairly credible data about cars.

        It would appear that GM’s reliability is still inferior to that of its competition. That has to make me wonder whether all of these Cruze retail sales will accomplish for GM what all of those Vega, Chevette and Cavalier sales accomplished previously — serving as a big bite in the ass for General Motors.

        How you wish to use the reliability data is up to you. Below-average reliability rates are a bother to some, not to others. CR won’t recommend a car with below-average reliability ratings, even if the car performs well in CR’s tests. If that bothers anyone, then they can choose to not follow CR’s advice, but the ridiculous accusations aren’t necessary.

        I drive a German car. As you probably know, they don’t exactly lead the parade when it comes to reliability. Despite this fact, I’m quite glad that CR exists, and I certainly considered it, even when buying my German car, as it’s good to have the facts.

        You won’t find me claiming that CR data is bogus or that the CR staff are a bunch of incompetent communists, as their data pool strikes me as being generally pretty good. You won’t find me arguing that CR blows it when it comes to German cars, even though my individual experience is better than their data would suggest.

        Facts don’t offend me, but reliability isn’t my only consideration when buying a car and I realize that my own personal experience may not be consistent with the statistical norm. My personal anecdotes should not be confused with data, and neither should any of yours.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        PCH – I agree they are small sample sizes and that is why I stated what they were so people could make an informed decision. I fully expect the Civic is more reliable (so less than 51) and the Cruze a little less reliable. It does though show that they are comparable and neither is perfect, no is either a lemon. Both terms have been used in this thread by others with no justification.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I agree they are small sample sizes and that is why I stated what they were so people could make an informed decision

        An informed decision would be to largely ignore that data, since the sample sizes are too small to be useful.

        A sample size of 16 shouldn’t be used for anything, particularly for comparisons to other much larger sample sizes. You were trying to use it to prove a point, but your point was flawed.

        The conclusion that I would reach is that there isn’t enough data about the 2012 Civic in that sample to reach any conclusions of any kind about it. It is not appropriate to compare it to anything else, given the lack of data. It will take several months before the samples are large enough to be useful. Until then, the information more closely resembles anecdotes than it does data.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        mike978,

        I’ve looked at the private and public data at TrueDelta, and the errors are all yours. You are using old 2011 Honda Civic results, as the 2012 numbers aren’t public yet, and the 2011 numbers haven’t been updated yet, as the number is improving with time this year, currently about half the figure you quote repeatedly as if it had anything to do with the 2012. In case you’re still missing it, 51 trips per 100 was an early result for the 2011 Two Thousand Eleven Civic. The number has since improved as the year passes without additional trips. The 2012 Honda Civic had 0 Zero trips per 100 when the last preliminaries were published and there is no entry for the 2012 Civic in the public stats.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        CJ – I realise I made one small typo, typing 2012 instead of 2011. Actually now the data is even more comparable since they are the same model year. The data I have is from the public view and is dated June 30th, so 2011 models would have been out 6-8 months. Comparable to the 2011 Cruze and both had the same figure. Don`t get me wrong the Civic is a reliable car and I, as stated before, expect it to be more reliable than the Cruze but the margin will not be “perfect vs lemon” as you seem to like to think.
        Actually upon further thought wasn`t 2011 the last year of the old Civic and usually the last year of the model is the most reliable. Conversely 2011 was the first year of the Cruze (in the US) and usually first years are less reliable.

        Not everything is binary (i.e. good or bad), it is possible to have several cars worthy of consideration with comparable levels of reliability.
        It would be nice if you could get through one thread without snarky comments.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Actually now the data is even more comparable since they are the same model year.

        No, it isn’t. There isn’t enough data for it to be useful.

        A typical acceptable margin of error is 5%. The margin of error for that Civic data is something closer to 25%. It’s basically next to useless. You shouldn’t be comparing it to anything.

        What you should be doing instead is getting a better source of data. A much larger sample size is required.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      The Mustang doesn’t get a mention for the same reason the Fiesta does – the Mustang’s problems are with the manual transmission, which makes up an insignificant portion of the total sales pie. The Fiesta’s problems are with the automatic.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I think Ford made a mistake putting so much emphasis on in-house electronic gadgets. Not only are they expensive, but they’re also fickle and become obsolete before you have time to learn how to use them. The wiser strategy might have been to make vehicles that are broadly adaptable so that people could easily modify, connect, re-connect and change the electronics as desired.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Ford are just trying too hard since they didn’t “take any govt. money”. The old saying that the one eyed man in the land of the blind is the king. That’s Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I completely agree. Ford decided to go the route of techie gadget maker and appeal to the 1% instead of the solid, dependable car maker and appeal to the 99%. It may be a more boring strategy, but Toyota proved that figuring out how to do something well and then do it over and over again works.

      I really like the idea of making the electronics simple, modular, and easily customizable. Not only would it appeal to more people, but it should be far more reliable than the fully integrated crap found in MFT. (And depsite Mulally’s claim, they still haven’t fixed that. It still has both software glitches & hardware problems.)

      I am particularly disturbed by the recent push by car makers to use touch screens everywhere. That’s tech that has no business in cars. They’re harder to use, don’t perform as well, become obsolete quicker, AND cost more.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Hey! I’m part of the techie 1%! I’m certainly in the 99% when it comes to economic equality, though….. Solid, dependable, and well-worn cars are what I need to get through my daily life.

        But, I have no interest in Ford MyTouch. First off, it’s a Microsoft product and Microsoft is a brand that has made my life as an IT guy more difficult than necessary for almost 20 years now. (Mac OS X does the interface better for normal users, Linux is far more flexible for a tech pro who’s doing anything more complicated than Exchange/Office.) Combine that with the lousy reviews, and I want *nothing* to do with it.

        Second, I’ve been through a lot of electronics and a number of cars. I keep cars a lot longer than the electronics. So, I agree with Philosophil that what I’d rather see from Ford is a standard CarPC interface that would allow my to physically and electronically connect the electronics of my choice to the car. At the moment, I like my Android phone, so I’d like to bolt an Android device with navigation, entertainment, and communication features in to my car — and super-awesome-mega-bonus-points if the steering-wheel buttons work with it. But, I like to tinker with different types of electronicss, so I’d like to be able to go to Crutchfield or Best Buy and order my pick of car inforainment systems that I can swap in a few minutes — as frequently as my budget and/or my wife’s patience allow.

        At the moment, though, I’m considering taking an Acer Aconia A100 7″ Android tablet out of its case, and seeing if I can fabricate a 7″x4″ faceplate and bracket that will hold the screen and innards into a double-DIN opening. Then, hopefully I’l be able to plug a small amplifier in to the car wiring, and solder up a simple pre-amp mixer so that I can take inputs from AUX devices and possibly a HAM radio. Other than the time, it will cost me under $450, which is cheaper (and far better) than a lot of car-specific navigation systems I’ve looked at in catalogs. But, you know what would be really cool? If I could just freaking buy a double-DIN Android device (or Double-DIN iPad, or Microsoft CarPC) with an AUX-in port on the back that was certified to be Ford Compatible. Then I can keep my cars for 5-10 years and keep my electronics for 1-2 years, and I can follow the natural update cycle for both. Perfect!

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        +1 luke42

        A well thought out set of open interfaces, available royalty free, would go a long way towards making your vision a reality.

        Automakers should focus on what they are good at (cars), and make it easy for us to integrate our semi disposable gadgets.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Philsophil: +1

      I think Ford stumbled on this one too. I drove a Focus with MyTouch, and if car had to come with this system, that would be an instant no-sale for me.

      Interesting to see how Cadillac does with their upcoming system on the XTS. Personally, I think it looks like another IDrive/MyTouch-style clusterf**k.

    • 0 avatar
      M.S. Smith

      The problem isn’t the gadgets. The problem is that Ford has completely failed to make good gadgets.

      In today’s world of iPhones and Androids, people expect their electronics to be quick, intuitive and work reliably. MyFord Touch is none of these things. It is a busy, nasty, crash-prone amateur attempt.

      If they did it right, it would be awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The thing is that both Android and the iPhone/iPad/iPod OS (IOS) already make GREAT car interfaces.

        I already use both to navigate and provide entertainment on road-trips, due to the outdated display in my wife’s Prius and the nonexistant display in my old Ranger. The only problem is that I have to string a bunch of wires across the dash and make sure that the suction cup / velcro stay in place. I’d much rather have such a device in the dashboard, and they’re BOTH better than any in-car system I’ve ever used. And I use them in the car.

        They also cost far less than the navigation-enabled aftermarket car stereos, and WAY less than an OEM stereo of any kind. So, why wouldn’t Ford just adopt these devices (with some automotive specific features) instead of synthesizing something new? Extra points if I can update the car version as frequently as I update my tablet. device. Extra points if it integrates with the steering wheel. Extra points if I get to choose between Android, IOS, and whatever else happens to be on the market at the time — based on my personal taste. (I’ll take mine with Android, my wife will take hers with IOS.)

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        Because Ford doesn’t want you to learn iPhone and Droid. They want you to learn their proprietary interface so come new car time again in 2016 you’ll be locked into their lineup.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Where can I get a job that gives me a company Porsche?

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    A clarification, maybe: this post makes no mention of the distinction that begets a lot of Interwebs criticism of CR: the distinction between their reliability ratings and their performance ratings, which are two separate things.

    I can’t say I’m totally up to date on their reviews, but in terms of CR’s performance ratings–how they’ve found the cars to ride, handle, accelerate, accommodate, etc–I recall that CR quite fancies a lot of the new Fords (and several new GMs as well).

    The annual Auto Survey, on the other hand, is based entirely on reliability ratings calculated from subscriber-contributed data, which CR’s editorial like or dislike of a car doesn’t (shouldn’t?) enter into at all.

    I mention this because CR often gets a bad rap for ‘recommending’ boring cars, when in fact they often give higher road-test ratings to the cars that most appeal to enthusiasts, but do not recommend them due to a below-average reliability survey result.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      Good points.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      PJ, thanks for mentioning that. It’s easy to become lazy writing for TTAC because the commentariat always fills in the gaps. The same is true for Autoblog, assuming that the writer meant to put

      “lol u ass hats dont no that corvet is best”

      in his article but forgot to do so.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        Cheers for the reply Jack–and hey, if CR marketed its double-methodology better on its own, we wouldn’t have to do it for them!

        Don’t get me started on the train wreck that is now Autoblog.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Good observation. For what it’s worth, CR likes the Focus and Fiesta, and rated them highly enough in their road tests. The Explorer…well, its rating is just high enough to be recommended (if it were reliable), but they didn’t seem to like it as much, calling it a disappointment if I remember correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      One thing to keep in mind about their “reliability” survey is that it is a survey and as such the owner is answering a question. Can’t say I’ve look at a survey in recent years but the old one it was a simple question. What of the following areas have you experienced something you consider as a problem. So not being able to figure out how to work Sync can show up as a problem even if that particular owner did not experience any actual operational problem. Yes I know there are reports of the system crashing and that certainly warrants listing as a problem. However the system not being intuitive to use does not constitute a reliability problem as much as it points to poor design.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    (scratching head) What? What, exactly, is CR basing their opinions on? If they go strictly by their readers, much like electronic gadgets mentioned above, people happen to be fickle, too. If I bought a car and didn’t like something about it, and if I were a subscriber to CR, you bet I’d torpedo that particular car as much as possible – same goes for the opposite.

    We were subscribers to CR in the past, and I filled out their forms quite meticulously, as I wanted an accurate report. Our CR-V and Impala? Yes, I’m sure the folks at CR were fuming when they saw the results for our two cars dead even! 100% good! So there.

    We are no longer subscribers, as I no longer believe their results accurately reflect reality, based on my experience. I get the feeling many of their readers are knucle-dragging do-gooders, full of themselves, haughty and think they are superior to everyone else, but maybe I’m wrong…I don’t know. I just don’t feel that 10% of cars available in this country are that much better than the other 90%, personal opinions notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Between posts like this and the mess over at the latest “New or Used” article, I have lost a lot of respect for the B&B. What a bunch of self righteous judgmental a$$ bags we have become.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      What, exactly, is CR basing their opinions on?

      They aren’t publishing their opinions. They are releasing the results of an owner’s survey which reports vehicle problems experienced by those owners.

      We were subscribers to CR in the past, and I filled out their forms quite meticulously

      If you are familiar with the survey, then you ought to know that the only way to “torpedo that particular car as much as possible” unfairly would be to lie about what failed on the car. And then, there would have to be enough other owners who told the same lies for those lies to inaccurately skew the reported figures.

      CR asks owners to report problems in a number of areas. CR then reports those results.

      Whether the owner loves or hates the car isn’t reflected in the red and black circles in the reliability survey. If the owner says that something broke, it contributes toward a circle going black. If the owner doesn’t report something breaking, then it increases the odds of the circle being red.

      I just don’t feel that 10% of cars available in this country are that much better than the other 90%, personal opinions notwithstanding.

      For the most part, CR grades on a curve. Do you know what that means?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        For what it’s worth, for a period of decades my ownership experience with various cars has conformed closely to the results of CR’s surveys. That is: a problem indicated by the survey was, in fact, a problem that I personally experienced.

        As previous TTAC articles have discussed, one can quarrel with some aspects of their methodology, but I think the survey is pretty reliable and is not, as you say, an opinion by CR.

        The CR survey is far more useful than, for example, the JD Power ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @PCH 101:
        “For the most part, CR grades on a curve. Do you know what that means?”

        Exactly, which means that if all the students in a class take a test, and the lowest score is a 90, using the curve grading, that becomes an F, when in reality that’s a good score. I wouldn’t say it’s misleading, but if you just look at the “recommend/not recommend” rating, you might not be seeing the whole story.

        Today, a car that they can’t recommend because of “reliability” might BE reliable by a reasonable standard, but because it’s not quite as reliable as the top performers, it gets no recommendation. Back in the day, when a large percentage of cars sold were junkheaps, the major violators and superstars were easy to spot. Now that there are basically NO truly bad cars sold – no Yugos, Vegas, or the like – the curve has tightened up. I’d like to see them go into more detail, and instead of just going with “recommend/not recommend,” put up scores that go into more quantitative detail.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Today, a car that they can’t recommend because of “reliability” might BE reliable by a reasonable standard, but because it’s not quite as reliable as the top performers, it gets no recommendation.

        If you read CR, you can see that they are quite clear that a black circle does not necessarily mean that a car is a lemon. But it certainly means that with respect to reliability in a given category, it is inferior to the competition.

        It’s up to the reader to decide what to do with that information. If having a less reliable model doesn’t bother you, then so be it. But some owners are quite sensitive to that, and CR does a good job of helping them to improve their odds of making what they would consider to be satisfactory purchases.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @PCH101:
        “If you read CR, you can see that they are quite clear that a black circle does not necessarily mean that a car is a lemon. But it certainly means that with respect to reliability in a given category, it is inferior to the competition.”

        Correct, but the problem is that too many people see the “not recommended” rating and that’s game over. In academic terms, that’s like calling a student with an 85 average a failure because everyone else in the class has a 95 average and the teacher is grading on a curve.

        I think they should move to a more “tiered” rating system than just “recommend/not recommend.” That would give people a more nuanced look at the data. The fact that they don’t is the reason I don’t put a lot of stock in their findings.

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        When scoring a 90 instead of the class average of 96 means a statistical 2-3 more trips back from the dealer in a loaner – or post warranty, the mechanic in a rental – then NO that isn’t a good score.

        The reality is nearly every vehicle on the market is a commodity appliance with objectively interchangeable competition. That’s what they’re built as and that’s what people who read CR shop them as. The worst thing an appliance can do to you is break.

      • 0 avatar
        steeringwithmyknees

        Freed, this is probably nit-picking, but in the analogy of a student with an 85 in a class of 95’s that is graded on a curve, that student actually IS failing (depending on the mechanics of the curve and numbers from the rest of the class). Since curves are almost always found in higher learning, the right of the instructor to use them is well-protected and is usually found in the course syllabus.

        As far as CR grading on a curve, it seems somewhat questionable because they are actually comparing the “predicted reliability.” Right? If they would print more information about how they come up with their predictions (aside from “this model has been reliable in the past”) I think it’d be a bit more valid.

        Then again, i assume they are using data from previous years, and I am not sure how complete that data could even be until a particular model has been out for more than 3 years. I mean, for a lot of people who lease or buy for relatively short terms, wouldnt “reliability” really equate to how easy warranty service is?

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      It comes down to sample size and statistics, I suppose. A response of one or two people is virtually meaningless when it comes to trending. However, if CR gets several hundred (or even thousand) responses back for a certain make/model and similar issues pop up, then I tend to start taking notice that the issue is relevant. I doubt that your accuracy for both cars was taken in any other way but than your factual reporting of your experience with both cars…and as such, your scores were tallied in with the other owners of CR-Vs and Impalas.
      Cars today are far, far better than they were even 10 years ago. Witness Hyundai and KIA. That being said, not all cars are created equally, and I still like knowing (relatively speaking, that is) where the minefields are and what can be expected of a particular model. Not that I use CR as the end all, be all of my decision making, but it does become one of several sources I use to help in researching automotive purchases. And “better” can be measured in several ways…depends on where the buyer’s priority lies. For my next purchase, I’m likely to consider a 500 Abarth…fully aware that it most likely will not be as stone-cold reliable as the Toyota product that it will be parked next to in the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      “Yes, I’m sure the folks at CR were fuming when they saw the results for our two cars dead even! 100% good! So there.”

      Speaking from personal experience with CR’s staff, I can say fairly comfortably that you’re grossly over-estimating their emotional investment in your survey results.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Good grief! I can see my post was taken out of context! Some of what I said was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but it wasn’t taken that way, so I’ll clarify what I can.

      As for our CR-V and Impala, I was very honest when I filled out the surveys as long as were were subscribers to CR, and of course I was joking about the staff’s reaction when tallying the results. C’mon, now!

      Yes I do give CR’s ratings credibility, at least as far as I can, but I think some of the trouble spots reported are generalized and don’t pinpoint the exact issues, but that’s another argument that’s been covered previously.

      Automobiles are a major purchase, and human nature being what it is, I just can’t help being somewhat skeptical about how CR rates any given vehicle. Does the car start? Does it keep running after you start it? Does it stop? Do accessories work? Good. I don’t want a car not recommended because of the style of various control knobs or levers and how much toe room there is under the seat for rear seat passengers – all that is important, don’t get me wrong, but certain areas are quite subjective and shouldn’t condemn a given vehicle…call out those areas and let the potential buyer decide for themself, but don’t include those as to yea or nay.

      Does this make any more sense, now?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I just can’t help being somewhat skeptical about how CR rates any given vehicle.

        Argh. This is an reliability survey.

        These results aren’t the opinion of the magazine. They’re tallying up outcomes reported by the survey respondents who answered questions about problems with their cars. Do you understand the difference?

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Okay – I’m touching on CR car REVIEWS, not RELIABILITY on that statement, probably off-topic, so duly noted.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Your anecdote does not make a statistical argument about the whole population of cars. It only reflects your vehicles. You might have lucked out, or your cars could be representative. We just can’t even guess until we look at a representative sample of the population of cars.

      The top quality-spot is a moving target. My intuition is that, if we were still assigning those scores using the reliability standards that made sense in the 1980s, every car on the market would be tied for 1st place. But, we’re judging the cars by their contemporaries, so the competition gets stiffer every year.

      My guess is that, these days, a car with average reliability is plety good enough to get an average person through a year or three without any significant hassles. Compare that to the 1989 Ford Tempo I had that started having problems severe enough that I was calling the fire department at 140k miles, to my my dad’s 1991 Honda Accord which went to 200,000 miles with just oil changes and a timing belt. The difference in reliability was a big deal. But, I’d put both the the Civic and the Focus (the modern equivalents of the 90s accord and Tempo) into the “reliable enough that you’ll be fine” category, even if there is a statistically discernible difference between the two.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Partly it may be Ford’s programing of the transmission’s shift points, but the average consumer is probably not ready for the abrupt shift action of a DSG transaxle.

    With regards to a proprietary infotainment control center, knobs and hard buttons probably cost more to build and install – but they are a menu-free interface.

    I prefer to keep HVAC controls totally independent of my stereo head unit.

    I’ll miss the passing of the interchangeability of a single DIN and double DIN stereo unit with an aftermarket unit.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      I just installed an aftermarket system in my car and it will be the last time. Today all cars have weird radio layouts and you have to live with what it has.

      If the system is really good, no problem. But problems can’t be replaced with aftermarket, the radio and AC are intertwined with the engine and nav system so the package better be perfect.
      That being said, if Ford had problems with the radio or transmission, what did they do about it. Does CR strive to find products that never have problems forsaking anything that needs attention? If Ford told people to pound sand I’d agree the should be avoided, but the followup story should be how the problems were dealt with.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Having driven Ford’s “powershift” in a Focus for several days and several hundred miles, I can say that the shift action is far from abrupt. In fact, reviewers have complained that the powershift doesn’t bang off shifts like, apparently, similar trannies in VWs and Porsches.

      That said, the transmission’s action at parking lot speeds or slower is kind of weird. It’s like it’s nibbling at moving the car . . . an admittedly strange description. Maneuvering the car parallel parking was definitely not pleasant, as the car would rollback a bit before the transmission engaged and then it would generate perhaps excessive forward motion. Much inferior to a slushbox automatic or a manual tranny with a competent driver. The rest of the behavior I could get used to.

      Regarding the shift programming (and not running in “sport” mode, which I didn’t try), with modest throttle application, the transmission is programmed to upshift very quickly, leaving the engine trying to accelerate the car at 1500 rpm, which is not good for an engine of this small displacement and a car of this weight. Using more throttle raised the shift points substantially . . . but there seemed to be no almost middle ground between “granma mode” and “boy racer” mode. That certainly could be fixed with a software change.

      The weird low speed behavior . . . I’m not so sure is so easily fixed.

      One of the problems with these results for this particular issue is that one can’t distinguish between those instances where the transmission is truly broken and one where its normal behavior characteristics lead the car’s owner to think that it is broken.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Much of the ‘quality’ problems with the DCT was with the Fiesta where a grounding wire wasn’t properly designed/connected, resulting in a real problem, not just a shift feel or timing issue. It seems Ford has honestly fixed that problem, and I don’t expect it to be a recurring note on future reliability surveys.

        As to the feel & behavior of the transmission, I expect the low speed strangeness to be eventually eliminated as Ford better understands this type of transmission & refines it. Similarly, I expect Ford to let the pendulum swing back a bit on the shift points if they can improve other areas of efficiency losses. (They have to hit the magic 40 mpg, so long as they can do that, they can tweak the settings & features of the car toward performance & ease of use.)

        Overall, I genuinely like the new Focus; it has tons of great features and performs very well. But it has some bone-headed quirks as well (MFT being one), and I actually would like it more if Ford had toned down the tech.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    Perception gap, haha…

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    All survey data can bed skewed to reflect the answer you want. Ford’s problems are minor considering it’s the technology that that perplexes some owners. The Volt is sold in much lower numbers so naturally it would rate higher. Just don’t put much into these surveys of any kind. I haven’t trusted Consumer Reports for many years.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      Agreed on the Volt. Not only is it a niche product but all the owners combined could stand in their parking lot. The Volt shouldn’t even be in the ranking system until it’s sold a lot more vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        CR has slightly over 100 responses from Volt owners. While that isn’t a huge number of people, there are competing sources for reliability information which don’t stand a chance in hell of getting 100 responses for a single make/model/year combination.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Jack – do you mean True Delta?

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        So if 100 out of 4000 owners commented on the Volt then 2.5% represents enough of a statistical sampling to place the Volt where it is.
        Interesting. By that measure they should get 2.5% or even 1% of the owners of cars on the survey if they want to really analyze the vehicles.

        CR did a lot of damage to sales of domestic cars over the years, and domestics deserved a lot of that abuse. Hyundai took it too, while Japan could do very little wrong. I appreciate what they are trying to do but in the end if a skewed image results then nobody is properly served.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        So if 100 out of 4000 owners commented on the Volt then 2.5% represents enough of a statistical sampling to place the Volt where it is.

        The one flaw with all of these surveys — and I mean all of them — is that they allow for significant margins of error.

        It simply isn’t practical for any of these survey companies to get such a substantial number of respondents that the resulting sample sizes would provide a minimal margin of error. Even 100 isn’t that many, relatively speaking. It would take too long and cost too much to get sample sizes large enough to avoid such issues.

        The margin of error is probably going to be higher for a low-volume car than for a high-volume car, given how statistics work. So I would expect the data for the Volt to have more room for mistakes than I would for the Camry, Accord, Fusion, etc.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Volt shouldn’t even be in the ranking system until it’s sold a lot more vehicles.

    That doesn’t matter. What matters is whether the sample size of the respondent pool is large enough to merit publication.

    CR requires a minimum of 100 responses per car before it will publish results. As of the end of September, almost 3,900 Volts had been sold, so it sounds as if CR got lucky enough to capture a sufficient sample.

    My question would be one of how they were able to accomplish that. I don’t think that CR is often able to get enough responses for cars that sell in such low volumes.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Strong corelation between volt buyers and cr subscribers?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Robert.Walter:
        Exactly. I know I’m speaking anecdotally, but I knew a couple from our Lamaze class who were so into CR that they could actually tell you which diapers and baby foods the magazine recommended. They had a picture of a first-gen Prius and Honda Odyssey on their fridge as their “goal” for their Amway business.

        (No, I am not making that up)

        I can see Volt buyers going for CR like a 15-year-old boy goes for Internet porn.

      • 0 avatar
        A Caving Ape

        Strong correlation between early adopters and the desire to tell people about the thing they’ve adopted.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Strong correlation between early adopters and the desire to tell people about the thing they’ve adopted.

        Those early adopters won’t get picked up in the CR survey unless they subscribe to CR. And CR won’t publish results without at least 100 respondents for a given make and model year.

        As I noted in another post, I think that CR often has a tough time getting enough responses for cars that sell in such low volumes. I’m wondering whether they pulled off some kind of miracle here, or whether this was to be expected.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      It does give pause. I don’t think anyone would “suggest” the Volt be included in this years survey to hype or generate buzz about it,

      But it’s nice that GM was so fortunate to have debuted so high on the survey.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    The Sync situation is typical Microsoft: put out a buggy product and fix it eventually with future updates. I’m sure that Sync will end up being a decent bit of software, but it certainly is a major cause for Ford’s drop in the CR ratings.

    Dual clutch transmissions are different. People used to slushbox operation are often surprised at how jerky a DCT can be at low speeds and therefore report it as a problem. Again, software updates can minimize some of this. But any car that has introduced a DCT has shown similar initial customer complaints. I’ve had one in a GTI for the past four years and it certainly takes some getting used to. VW arguably now has the best implementation across the board of any manufacturer , but it was a painful process for them with failed Mechatronic units, harsh shifting, extended warranties, and a lot of customer grumbling.

    I don’t think Ford’s overall quality has changed all that much in the past year. Two newer technology introductions are experiencing teething pains, as they inevitably do.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think the problem is with MyTouch, not Sync…I haven’t heard a lot of gripes about Sync, and when I tried it, the system was pretty simple. MyTouch, though, is right out of the IDrive playbook.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Yes, Sync works as well as one could expect (it has some serious problems, but nothing compared to MFT).

        What I find interesting is how so few point out the obvious nonsense of using voice commands in a car with other people in it. If others are talking while you try to use the system, it gets confused/fails; so that means everyone must be quiet. Good luck with that. Also, it’s odd if not uncomfortable to be with someone else who starts talking to their car. Just because you see this behavior in Star Trek doesn’t mean it is natural human interaction. (It’s the same phenomenon of how people are uncomfortable when others are on their cell phones.)

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I would agree with this. Sync is/was pretty good, for what it did. MyTouch seems as if Ford let the success of Sync go to it’s head.

        Sync made it easier to perform esoteric functions. MyTouch retains that, but also makes it considerably harder to perform basic ones.

  • avatar

    I get the impression that consumer reports does not fancy common sense! I knew there was something up when a group of them cheered when a certain small suv tipped during a road test a decade ago.

    Side Note:
    Despite a few odd styling traits, maybe the 200 is the best domestic mid-sized family sedan. From the front at least it looks likes Genesis and Chrysler would take that as a compliment. As for the interior it puts the Malibu to shame. I just wish they get rid of that ION like grove going across the side.

    Strange…, I stopped at a Chrysler dealer in Flemington the other week after work to kill time, and the salesman practically forced me to test drive the 200, even after I said my 2005 Malibu was running fine. My first impression was they got the front right. The interior was what surprised me most, and it drove better than my Malibu. As for the Fusion I like the exterior, but the interior is cheap. Apparently, Fiat understands interior design.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Volt owners are an enthusiastic bunch that really love their cars, so is it any wonder CR recieved higher than normal feedback on the vehicle. The real beauty is most Volt owners haven’t stepped foot in a GM dealership in years. They screwed up the launch but the car they got right, congrats GM!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      is it any wonder CR recieved higher than normal feedback on the vehicle.

      It might be. As Robert Walter noted above, CR gets it survey results only from subscribers to the magazine.

      CR claims over seven million paid subscribers. There are about 112 million households in the US. Assuming that most of those subscribers are individuals, then that means about 6-7% of the US population has access to some sort of CR subscription and therefore would receive a survey.

      If Volt buyers subscribe to CR at the same rate as does the general population, then there should have been enough respondents. But since many people ignore surveys, they may have had to respond at an above-average rate in order to hit the 100 minimum.

      Things may have just worked out. But again, I don’t think that CR is often able to get a result with that few sales. When they report “insufficient data”, it’s usually for low volume cars but that have nonetheless sold in greater numbers than has the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      GM has put a LOT of work into the Volt, as an example each buyer gets their own personal customer service advisor.. that and the slow roll out helps keep bugs out. They are very responsive to any complaints.

  • avatar
    david42

    CR is the best resource out there for reliability (except maybe for TrueDelta). I just wish they would distinguish between things-gone-wrong (e.g., broken transmission) and things-people-don’t-like (e.g., it’s supposed to shift harshly).

    Also, it would be much more confidence-inspiring if they gave sample sizes, like TrueDelta. (In fact, I’d love to compare the sample sizes of the two!)

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Consumer Reports is still recommending the 2nd generation Honda Odyssey despite its tendency to sh*t its $4000 transmission with alarming (for a Honda) regularity. I have personal experience with this vehicle. I also have experience with one of CR’s “worst” cars, the Jeep Liberty. Nearing 100K miles now, that vehicle has been nearly flawless, something I could not say about either of the two Hondas I’ve owned. CR is useful, but it has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      +1!

      My sister just paid $5K at a Honda dealer to replace the transmission (for the 2nd time) in her ’99 Odyssey. I bought a 2001 Odyssey used (on its third transmission already at 107K miles), immediately after the transmission was replaced by the previous owner.

      The ’99-04 Odyssey transmission debacle (also affecting V6-powered Accords & Acuras) shows how much Honda is actually more alike GM than different. I continue to be amazed by people who think that there is any car company that can do no wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        jeoff

        Yeah, CR accurately shows that the 2nd generation Honda has major transmission problems, and yet gives it an “above average” overall score. It seems to me that major problems with either the engine or transmission should disqualify a car from being recommneded. My “much-worse-than-average” 2004 Nissan Quest interior dome lights keep popping out, and trim falls off, paint peels off the bumper,etc. but I would not trade it for a car that pisses through transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Honda doesn’t have anywhere near the track record of GM over the past two decades when it comes to releasing faulty vehicles. Comparing Honda to GM in this regard is like comparing someone who shoplifted once to a member of the Manson Family.

        Consumer Reports gave the Odyssey a “recommended” rating because the rest of the vehicle is apparently pretty reliable. I agree that the failure of something as serious as a transmission should automatically disqualify a vehicle from receiving a “recommended” rating, regardless of how reliable the rest of the vehicle is.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @geeber:

        But if they “de-recommended” the Odyssey, what would all those super-rational, super-informed, hyper-consumerist families who bought the things based on the CR rating do? They’d stop reading CR.

        Any questions?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        FreedMike,

        Consumer Reports gave the 2012 Civic LX a harsh review earlier this year, and removed it from the “recommended” list based on its test results (but not its reliability – the magazine didn’t have results for the new one yet).

        So I doubt that Consumer Reports is afraid that Honda loyalists will stop reading the magazine because it removed the Odyssey from the “recommended” list due to its faulty transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      Recommended , as long as you bank 4000 for the transmission. I doubt the 90’s Ford Sable was treated the same way and it’s transmission was 2500 to replace (on average).

      Honda V6 cars have tanked automatic transmissions for a few years. I know 3 victims myself, one who bought an Accord because her GM tranny blew apart.

      Now she’s in a Hyundai with a warranty on such foolishness out to 100k.

  • avatar

    I’ve always understood CR’s user generated “reliability ratings” to be based on problems, not necessarily actual malfunctions, breakdowns, etc. It’s a very subjective system. Say someone has trouble accessing the climate controls or doesn’t understand how they work, or can’t get their iPhone to sync via bluetooth, or what have you, then that is a ding against “reliability”. I mean, a certain relative of mine wrote endless complaints regarding their new Taurus because a feature the car didn’t have didn’t work (because it didn’t have it). The dealer told them it had it… a ding against the dealer to be sure, but unfair to lambast the car.
    Anyway…

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Then you don’t understand their reliability ratings. If you have ever taken a CR survey you would know that they only ask you to report a problem if you had or would have had to pay to have it fixed either yourself or by the dealer. Not understanding how a feature works doesn’t come into play unless someone doesn’t understand what CR is asking them to report.

      For example, I brought my Subaru to the dealer to have them look at the AC which doesn’t seem work very well. They tested it and determined it was within spec and I didn’t pay a dime(warranty). After research I determined that the AC system in my model is just crappy by design. Nothing was “broken” so I never reported it to CR, which is the correct thing to do.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I’ve always understood CR’s user generated “reliability ratings” to be based on problems, not necessarily actual malfunctions, breakdowns, etc.

      You seem to be confusing CR with JD Power’s Initial Quality Survey, which defines “quality” as a combination of reliability and user-friendly design.

      In the JD Power IQS, an awkward NAV system and other such annoyances can result in a low star rating. The reliability scores are reported in separate sub-categories from the design scores, but the overall results are a 50-50 weighting of reliability and more subjective design factors.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The results for the Cruze and Focus show why the new Civic will not necessarily be a flop, even though I, as a long-time Honda owner, agree that it looks significantly cheaper inside and out than the previous generation.

  • avatar
    ajla

    How did the Equus do?

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    So Ford dropped so much in one year. Wow!

    Consumer Reports purports to be objective and ‘non-profit’, but it really is not.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like CR. But they are not as ‘objective’ and wholesome as they appear.

    Like many other organizations, even like GM once and Toyota recently, they are still living off a reputation acquired in the past. During the 70s and 80s, as far as autos go, they were pretty objective. Then they became popular with the upper middle-class. When they did, they dispensed with logical advice such as “power accessories add cost and weight and repairs” and “4-door sedans are the best value” and embraced SUVs and overpriced cars under the guise of ‘evaluating’ them. They didn’t want to turn off their conspicious consumers.

    For the longest time, they gave Toyota a pass–probably because Toyota does well with their core demographic–the upper middle class. It would be insulting to inform them that their prized Toyotas are mediocre.

    While CR buys all their cars, their staff has access to the auto industry–just like TTAC. And you can watch Mr. Champion pronounce what is good or ill on TV. He’s very careful–“Chrysler has come a long way”–which validates past judgement on their inferior cars, sounds positive (politically correct), but stops short of saying “still not good enough”.

    I’ve been a CR subscriber for two years. Perhaps because I live in Michigan, I have yet to fill out a survey. I suspect they cherry pick survey responses, or favor certain geographic areas, like the coasts. No need for us rubes from ‘flyover country’ to mess up their preordained assessment of things.

    CR gives us fuel consumption figures, but doesn’t explain them. Until the 80s, they used to provide steady state 50mph and 60mph mpg figures. Also, they never come out and say if the fuel consumption figures of, say a 86 VW Golf 5 spd (I think it was 21 city, 40 highway) is directly comparable to their present testing methods.

    Lots of questions for, and about, the self-proclaimed sages of what is good and right in autodom.

    During the 1970s and 80s, CR was a ‘leader’–they reported, you decided. Now they slant their reports to fit their customers. The paid subscriptions, the $20 for “dealer cost” of a new car–we are talking lots of money here, no need to rock the boat.

    Yes, I like CR, but it aint what it used to be, and needs to stop being treated as such.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Do you have any evidence to support your conspiracy theory of CR bias?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      So last year CR liked Fords and you like Fords, so CR was great. This year Ford shat on its customers with a bunch of hastily ill-conceived garbage and CR is corrupt. Got it.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Then they became popular with the upper middle-class. When they did, they dispensed with logical advice…”

      I’m not sure I agree with that reason, but I agree they are not what they once were, but what is? Still, 30 years ago, on CR’s review of the K-Car, they made hash of how far you had to raise your knee to depress the parking brake pedal! That was a carefully-staged photo that showed the front seat moved forward beyond comfort for the guy posing! Yes, one point, but I’ll never forget it. Sure, that was in CR’s review of that car, but it shows how lasting impressions are formed. We bought a K-Car anyway and loved it for 7 years, so there! My foot reached the parking brake with no problem at all!

      If any publication has to go to that length to demean something, well, that’s looking for imagined problems and the reviewer’s likes/dislikes creeping in, thus damaging his or her credibility in my opinion, regardless of whether I happen to be in the market or whether I like that particular product or not.

      I do consider their opinions/reviews when we do subscribe or buy a particular issue, but it’s not the final word to me.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Do you remember when the 1978 Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon were reviewed by Consumer Reports and they went full expose on how if you bought the power steering and sawed the wheel back and forth repeatedly then eventually it wouldn’t self center quickly enough to be safe in the situation where you saw back and forth at the wheel repeatedly and then let go of it at full lock? It painted an interesting picture of the lengths they would go to in order to find fault with Mopars. OTOH, our automotive life has been much less painful since we stopped buying them.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        I’ve read a lot about Omnis/Horizons back in the day, but no, I don’t recall that one, but it’s interesting, to say the least. At that time, as newly-weds, I wasn’t in the market for anything except looking for a house. We bought nothing we didn’t need and new cars were off the radar then. After all, I drove a Gremlin and life was good!

        EDIT: Here’s what I dug up on Wikipedia, FWIW;

        “Early on, the cars had a shaky period after Consumer Reports magazine tested one and reported that it easily went out of control in hard maneuvering. This allegation received extensive mainstream coverage, including a heading in Time Magazine: Storm over the Horizon. Other auto magazines reported no problems and opined that the test did not approximate real-world driving conditions. The car was modified to include a steering damper and lighter weight steering wheel, and went on to success.” True or false? Does it matter?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m pretty sure the test CR used was very close to what I described. Does it matter? I just thought it was another example that supported your conclusions about CR blowing the parking brake action of the K car out of proportion.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    CR is like a church. They have their own way of doing things, and you either subscribe to it and believe in their teachings, or you don’t.

    I don’t. One reason I don’t is that through its publications CR continues to espouse the notion that the American automotive market is still as hazardous place as it was decades ago.

    That it’s a jungle where if you make the wrong move – buy the wrong car – you could lose more than your cash and your pride. So you have to know which is the best and which is the worst, when the difference between them has never been smaller.

    I don’t believe it’s a jungle anymore. Slap all the pictures of new cars for sale in the US on a wall. Blindfold yourself and throw a dart at the wall. Wherever that dart lands, you’ll get a decent car.

    Scions are decent cars. So are Ford Fiestas. And Jaguar XFs are fantastic machines. They’re not jungle cats waiting in the night to open your throat. They won’t bite, unless you take a corner too hard.

    It’s a great time for new car buyers, but a very tricky time for CR and others like them…though there aren’t any other publications with the same level of mainstream clout and influence.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    So once the software bugs with MyFord Touch have been worked out, and all vehicles have been updated, what is Consumer Reports going to do? Revise their rating? I remember similiar complaints about I-Drive, but look at it now. Not only that look at how it’s been copied over and over again.

    As far as the Ford DSG is concerned I think a lot of the hate stems from the fact that it is understood. I’ve driven VW DSGs back-to-back with Ford versions, and while the units in the VW seem more responsive the shift action is relatively similiar in nature.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve never had an opportunity to read CR, so I don’t feel comfortable commenting on where they rank as a rating tool for purchasing cars or other consumer products.

    Do CR break down their reliability results into honest-to-goodness “this car isn’t going anywhere without a tow-truck” and less serious – but still annoying – moments where various bits and bobs fail (i.e. phone won’t sync up via bluetooth, radio won’t work properly, annoying squeaks/rattles) and the customer has to take it to be repaired?

    Can a car be considered less reliable because annoyances, which some can deal with – but others absolutely cannot handle, appear?

    I hope that my comment makes sense because I’m curious about what others think. I know that some of these questions were alluded to earlier in the discussion, but I wanted to just come out and ask.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      That’s what I was trying to communicate above, but some didn’t take it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      They break down engine and transmission problems into major and minor categories. The failures aren’t weighted beyond that so it is up to the customer to determine what warrants consideration. If you subscribe to CR+ you can get more data on specific issues related to a reliability category. So you could discover that the black mark on fuel system category for BMWs was tied to a common HPFP failure.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    All of these comments and none yet on the fabulous results of GM’s turnaround under Whitacre and Akerson. When Cadillac and Buick are barely above Audi and Jaguar, there is a problem.

    Ford took a tumble, but its results seem to focus (sorry) on a couple of widespread gripes.

    Chrysler seems to be paying attention to its operational basics and has made amazing strides on the reliability front. When all three Chrysler brands are ahead of Buick, Cadillac and GMC (and 2 of the 3 outrank Chevrolet), this seems to me to be news.

    The minivan point is interesting. The minivan is the worst rated Kia, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota. I look forward to borrowing a friend’s CR auto issue to read all about it.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point; I just read mine over lunch.
      Buick and Cadillac’s drops are not good indeed. But has Audi’s low ranking hurt their sales increases in recent years?

      The Sedona has about a -40% (from average) rating, about the same as the AWD Sienna. Can AWD alone make that much a difference from the 2WD Sienna, which got a +15 score?

      Still better than the Chrysler minivan twins!

      Interesting note: The Titan and Tundra were solidly 1-2 at the top of the full-sized PU category, ahead of the F150.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    WOW! I drive a 2003 BMW 530i with navigation and a 2006 VW Passat with DynAudio but no nav, love them both.

    I often rent cars for family road trips and in the last 2 years have driven a 2011 Taurus with Sync (no nav) a 2010 Flex with Sync and nav, a 2011 Edge with MyTouch no nav and a 2012 Explorer with MyTouch no nav.

    At 52 and driving since 16 I no longer look at cars as mere transportation or appliances. I commute 68 miles per day and my car needs to be fun to drive, comfortable and reliable enough to get me to work and back, repeatedly. With proper maintenance (I am very anal about it.) my BMW and VW have been reliable and tons of fun. How many new cars do you see sitting on the side of the road? They are all pretty reliable. CR is always a goto for me but I realize that they are not always speaking to the needs of the enthusiast.

    As far as the Fords, I like their new products except for the Explorer. The Edge I drove had the up level SONY stereo with MyTouch and it was flawless, the Explorer had the standard stereo with MyTouch and it sounded like crap and locked up all the time, (reseat fuse 29 to correct), the Taurus and Flex were great and great to drive. The Flex Limited has a great interior and so did the Edge Limited. The Taurus really surprised me, felt very German and is much better than the Impala. Again the Explorer XLT did not impress, very lowest common denominator SUV, albeit dressed up.

    I supposed there is a great market for what I call “dull” cars but folks like me are NOT that market!

    I am looking for a compact car for my son and the Focus ST is at the top of the list, why, because, like me, he wants Grace, Space and Pace. Nothing wrong with that.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I would love to take that edsel and repaint it the same color, install my 392 hemi under the hood and slap on a set of lakes pipes and baby moons.

  • avatar
    Joss

    What is with the 5K aging minivan transmission kaputzen? Yet we hear so many CVT denouncers.. yet is not the CVT simpler – the belt being the harbinger of failure? I did not say CVT was fun-to-be-with or suitable to hitch.

  • avatar
    SV

    For what it’s worth, Ford are about to release a major software update for the Powershifts in both the Fiesta and the Focus:

    http://www.leftlanenews.com/fixes-to-fiesta-focus-transmission-already-underway.html

    Though this may have more on an impact on drivability than reliability, it’s still nice that Ford seems to be taking active steps to address complaints.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can trust CR after the whole Suzuki Samurai debacle.

    CR destroyed the reputation of a good vehicle (and really, an entire class of vehicles) simply because one of their editors didn’t like it. It was so bad, that Suzuki sued and won, but by the time the case was settled, the damage was already done and the Samurai was gone from the market due to CR hitjob induced low sales.

    I mean, that’s a level of bias and vitriol that not even BMW and Driver has ever displayed.

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