Ford drops to near-bottom of Consumer Reports' reliability study
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. plunged for the second straight year in Consumer Reports' survey of auto reliability and now ranks near the bottom of the annual scorecard.
The Ford brand finished 27th out of the 28 brands rated in the latest report, after dropping to 20th from No. 10 last year. Lincoln fell to 26th from 14th. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion, Toyota and Lexus brands ranked first, second and third in a list that continues to be dominated by Asian brands.
"Ford's bumpy road can be seen in the numbers," Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' new director of automotive testing, said in a statement released today. "Sixty percent of Ford-branded models and half of Lincolns were below average in predicted reliability, and none placed above average."
It's another blow for Ford, which just two years ago had been touted by the magazine for achieving a "quality renaissance."
In June, the Ford brand placed 27th in the annual Initial Quality Study by J.D. Power and Associates, as it was downgraded by consumers who found the MyFord Touch electronic infotainment system hard to use. In 2010, the Ford brand ranked No. 5 in the same study.
Consumer Reports uses reported experiences for the most-recent three years of each model to predict future reliability. The data in the 2012 Auto Reliability Survey released today are drawn from subscribers' experiences with 1.2 million vehicles.
Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer said the findings echo Ford's own research.
"We know we have areas to address, and we have been working on them and we have been making progress," he said. "Our internal data ... show that we are improving in these areas, and we expect that will be reflected in next year's Consumer Reports survey."
The magazine said Ford suffered for three main reasons:
The expansion of the MyFord/MyLincoln Touch system into a wider range of vehicles. Fisher said the technology has been "problematic so far."
Some newly redesigned models -- including the Ford Explorer, Fiesta and Focus -- "came out of the gate with more problems than normal."
Three normally reliable models -- the Ford Escape and Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ -- were redesigned for 2013 and were too new to be counted in this year's results.
Fisher also cited ongoing consumer concerns with Ford's six-speed, dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission.
Four other Japanese brands ranked just behind Scion, Toyota, and Lexus at the top: Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Acura. Last year, Scion, Lexus and Acura took the top three spots.
All models from the top seven brands had rankings of average or better in the 2012 study. And of the 90 Japanese models that had the magazine's minimum 100 subscriber responses, 86 finished above average.
Two luxury brands moved up substantially from a year earlier.
No. 8 Audi rose 18 places from the 2011 survey and was this year's top-rated European brand. Infiniti and Kia rounded out the top 10.
No. 11 Cadillac was the highest-rated domestic brand, gaining 14 places. General Motors' other brands -- GMC (13th), Chevrolet (15th) and Buick (21st) -- all improved as well.
Chrysler Group brands Jeep (19th), Chrysler (23rd) and Dodge (24th) all fell.
Jaguar, now owned by India's Tata Motors, was ranked last.
Fisher attributed GM's rise to its "working out the bugs."
"Chrysler has taken a step backward," he said at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit today. "Ford has taken several steps backward."
You can reach Jesse Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org.