Japan, Ford lead reliability rankings while Europe falters

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Indy Lifestyle Online

On October 27 Consumer Reports magazine issued their annual predicted reliability rankings for 2010 vehicles with East Asian automakers nabbing the top eight spots in a clear victory over US and European automakers.

The Scion brand finished first, a name begun in 2002 by Toyota which aims at younger consumers. Despite many reliability accolades, Scion car sales have been weak in the US until the recent "cash for clunkers" program this summer, which favored fuel-efficient vehicles.

Owners of vehicles from nearly all the major East Asian automakers -- Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai -- gave their cars the best reliability scores. The top ten was rounded out by German automaker Porsche at number nine, with Ford landing in the top 10 with its Mercury line.

Its dismal sales record in the US doesn't show it, but if reliability was the name of the game Honda's Insight would win the battle of the hybrids, as it was the vehicle with the highest predicted reliability across all categories.

For all the talk of European engineering, American consumers did not report much consistency from their imports, with the title for least predicted reliability going to the Volkswagen Touareg SUV. A major producer of relatively inexpensive but dependable autos, Volkswagen ranked just 22 overall, followed by manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz (23), Audi (24), BMW (26) and BMW's Mini (27), which have a reputation for well-made vehicles.

Swedish automaker Saab (11) and pricy Porsche made the biggest improvements since last year's rankings, while Mini fell the most, down 14 spots.

Although overall rankings favor East Asian automakers, the numbers for one important category reveal that one American automaker is actually doing better than its Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

In the hugely popular family sedan segment, Ford placed two in the top three spots, with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan ranking higher than all other entrants except the Toyota Prius hybrid. This is the first such victory for an American automaker over Honda's Camry and Accord models since 2004.

The biggest loser, again, is Detroit's Chrysler. All three of its lines -- Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep -- were among the four least reliable brands.

The ranking was compiled from the responses of 1.4 million subscribers to the nonprofit and independent Consumer Reports magazine and its companion website, ConsumerReports.org, regarding their ownership experiences with vehicles from model years 2000 to 2009.

The full survey will be available in the December issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale November 3, and can currently be viewed at their subscription-only website.

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