DETROIT -- Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. dominate the list of most reliable 2011 models based on an annual survey by Consumer Reports magazine, with Ford Motor Co. tops among domestic automakers and General Motors Co. posting notable gains.
Chrysler and many European automakers lag the overall industry as many of their models scored below average in reliability, the magazine said.
The magazine found 83 percent of Chevrolet models, GM's biggest division, now have average or better scores in predicted reliability. That is up from 50 percent last year.
“General Motors and Ford have taken different paths to improving reliability,” David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, told the Automotive Press Association today.
“Some of GM's redesigned vehicles have scored well. The company has also dropped many of its below-average models. Ford has put its emphasis on fine-tuning existing platforms and limiting the number of new-model introductions.”
GM, the magazine added, is “still a way from the top.”
The Porsche Boxster was rated the most reliable model, while the Audi A6 3.0T and Jaguar XF were rated the least reliable models in the magazine's 2010 Annual Auto Survey.
Consumer Reports polls 5 million magazine and online subscribers to track the reliability of vehicles up to 10 years old. The magazine receives replies from about 25 percent of subscribers, and this year's survey covered 1.3 million vehicles from the 2001 through 2010 model years.
The magazine uses the results to predict the reliability of 2011 models.
In the past, some GM models had been among the least reliable vehicles, but now they outrank some European competitors such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
The magazine said GM has been helped by the recent introduction of all-new models such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, the front-wheel-drive Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac SRX.
Also, GM discontinued many models with subpar reliability when it shut down Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer.
The magazine said older GM models such as the Chevrolet Avalanche, Corvette and Suburban have improved to average.
A total of 69 percent of GM models had average or better reliability. Cadillac improved the most, rising seven places from last year's ranking.
Consumer Reports said 90 percent of Ford's lineup, including Lincoln, has at least average reliability.
The Ford brand now tops Mazda and Nissan and ranks just below Lexus. Champion said Ford's results reflect steady annual improvement across all brands, as well as the performance of its large SUVs such as the Flex and the Fusion, now the most reliable mid-size sedan tracked by the magazine.
Champion said the Chrysler Group is saddled with dated vehicles, with 12 of the 20 models that the magazine was able to track scoring below average in reliability. None of Chrysler's models scored above average.
The Ram 1500 pickup is the only Chrysler model recommended by the magazine.
Champion said Chrysler's new ties with Fiat should help the automaker improve in future surveys. And he added if the automaker applies the same attention used to develop the new Jeep Grand Cherokee to the rest of its lineup, the automaker's prospects should brighten.
“The new Grand Cherokee is heads and shoulders above the old model,” Champion said, adding “the mindset has changed at Chrysler” under Fiat.
Asian brands still lead
Toyota models, including Scion and Lexus, remain among the most reliable and earned top scores in five segments: small cars (Yaris), mid-sized SUVs (FJ Cruiser), luxury SUVs (Lexus LX), minivans (the front-wheel drive Sienna), and full-size pickups (Tundra V6). The magazine said only the all-wheel-drive Lexus GS and the new Lexus IS 250 convertible ranked below average.
The redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid, hurt by antilock brake problems on early vehicles, scored only average -- a major drop from previous years.
Honda and Acura topped five vehicle segments -- upscale sedans (Acura TL), luxury cars (Acura RL), small SUVs (CR-V), upscale compact SUVs (Acura RDX) and compact pickups (Ridgeline).
Consumer Reports said problems with rear brake pads pushed the 4-cylinder Honda Accord and Acura TSX sedans down to average.
At Hyundai and Kia, all six models new or redesigned for 2010 – the Hyundai Genesis coupe, Sonata, and Tucson; and the Kia Forte, Sorento, and Soul -- had average or better reliability. Champion called it an impressive showing.
In addition, only one model, the Kia Sedona minivan, rated below average.
Nissan continued to fare well in the study, though it slipped one notch in the rankings. The Nissan Altima and Maxima sedans; and the Murano and Pathfinder SUVs, all rated average or better in predicted reliability. The Titan pickup had shown improvement “in the last year or two,” the magazine said, but both 2WD and 4WD versions have once again dropped to below average reliability, the magazine found.
The small Nissan Cube had a below average score in its first appearance in Consumer Reports survey. All Infiniti models were all average or better.
Among major European automakers, reliability seems to have stalled after several years of improvements, the magazine said.
All Porsche and Volvo models are rated average or better, but Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are among the worst automakers overall in terms of reliability.
BMW had five of 11 models scoring below average. While the BMW M3 topped the sporty car segment, the magazine said 1-Series, 3-Series and 5-Series models with the 3.0-liter turbocharged engine had high problem rates related to the fuel system, among other issues.
Six of Mercedes-Benz's 13 models ranked below average, and the GLK SUV was far below average. However, the redesigned E350 sedan was above average, a promising start. The new E-Class coupe, a wholly different car from the E-Class sedan, languished in the bottom ranks.
Nearly three-quarters of the Audi models Consumer Reports analyzed were below average.