WASHINGTON -- Japanese brands, led by Lexus, Subaru and Mazda, continue to dominate Consumer Reports' rankings of the best light vehicles on the market, claiming "top pick" honors in seven out of 10 product segments and capturing the top seven spots for overall brand reliability and performance.
Japanese brands continue to dominate Consumer Reports' rankings
Lexus, Subaru, Mazda score highest; Detroit 3 brands still lag
The brands that scored best on the magazine's report cards for 2013 were Lexus, with a score of 79 out of 100, followed by Subaru and Mazda, which both scored a 76. Toyota, Acura, Honda and Scion rounded out the top seven.
Toyota Motor Corp. landed 3 of the 7 top spots with its Lexus, Toyota and Scion brands.
For the first time in several years, Detroit automakers did not claim the top spot in any vehicle segment, continuing their longstanding struggles in the magazine's rankings.
Consumer Reports, an influential shopping guide with 8 million magazine subscribers, said the six lowest-rated brands were Buick, Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, Jeep and Dodge.
Dodge, the last-place brand, received a score of 46.
"Overall, we recommend fewer than half of the domestic models we've tested, and most of the [recommended models] come from Chevy and GMC," the magazine says in its April 2013 auto issue.
U.S. brands are also hurt by older models, subpar reliability and new technology such as Ford's MyTouch infotainment system, the magazine said.
Consumer Reports released the results of its 2013 auto study today during an event in Washington.
For 2013, the magazine ranked individual brands rather than calculating a single score for each automaker, based on brands, as it has done in the past. Last year, the magazine's top picks among automakers were Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volvo, Hyundai, BMW, Volkswagen and Ford.
Cadillac highest Detroit brand
Cadillac -- ranked 14th with a score of 62 -- was the top-scoring domestic brand in the 2013 study. Buick earned a higher test score than Cadillac but suffered from weak reliability, notably with the Verano and LaCrosse, the magazine said.
Among Japanese brands, Honda staged a comeback in the rankings for 2013 models. Three of Honda's vehicles took top honors, up from zero last year. Honda's winners were the redesigned Accord, which unseated the Toyota Camry Hybrid in the mid-sized sedan category; the CR-V, which replaced the Toyota RAV4 as Consumer Reports' top pick among small SUVs; and the Odyssey minivan, which ranked first in its segment.
"For the last several years, Honda has let themselves go a little bit, resting on their laurels," Jake Fisher, head of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, said during an interview with Automotive News on Tuesday. Cabin quietness, steering feel and interior quality had gotten worse, he said, but Honda "turned" itself "around with the Accord, which was much better than the outgoing model."
Consumer Reports has not tested the redesigned Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester to compare with the CR-V, Fisher noted.
The magazine said Honda continues to be dragged down by the low-scoring Insight and CR-Z hybrids.
Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ram and Smart are not included in the 2013 study because the magazine lacked sufficient reliability and test data for at least three models from each brand.
European brands -- ranked mostly in the middle of the study -- are differentiated more by reliability than test scores, with Audi and Mercedes-Benz cracking the top 10, the magazine said.
Consumer Reports ranks cars and light trucks on two measures: performance, which is scored during road testing at the magazine's proving grounds in Connecticut, and reliability, which is scored based on feedback from subscribers who own the cars.
The magazine starts by driving a car for about 2,000 miles to wear it in. It then conducts about 50 tests, covering performance in areas such as handling and braking. The entire testing process requires about 5,000 miles of driving over several weeks, the magazine says.
|Overall score||Average road-test score||Recommended vehicles|
Pickup trucks, a segment in which American cars have historically dominated the Consumer Reports rankings as well as the marketplace, were not rated this year because the magazine has not yet tested the updated Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, three chief competitors in the segment.
Toyota topped the Family SUV category with the Highlander, while its Prius won the green-car title for the 10th consecutive year. The Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z, co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, shared sports-car honors, replacing the Ford Mustang, last year's top pick.
In the sports-sedan segment, the redesigned BMW 328i claimed top honors, unseating the Infiniti G37, which Consumer Reports had previously named its top pick six years running.
This year's list of top picks included the first appearance in a decade by German rivals Audi and BMW. Audi won top honors in the luxury-car category with the A6 sedan.
Mid-sized sedan: Honda Accord
Sports car: Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z
Budget car: Hyundai Elantra
Green car: Toyota Prius
Compact car: Subaru Impreza
Luxury car: Audi A6
Family SUV: Toyota Highlander
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Small SUV: Honda CR-V
Sports sedan: BMW 328i
The magazine did not select a best overall vehicle or a top pick among family haulers or pickup trucks for 2013.
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