DETROIT -- Japanese brands continue to dominate the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability rankings, while some European brands gained and Ford Motor Co. continued to rank near the bottom of the industry.
Lexus, Toyota and Acura swept the top three spots in the 2013 rankings and Japanese brands took seven of the top 10 places. But Germany's Audi took fourth, Volvo jumped 13 places to No. 7 and GMC finished ninth, Jake Fisher, director of auto tester for the magazine, said in presenting the report at an Automotive Press Association event here today.
Ford Motor Co. was rated 63 percent below industry average in the survey, with Ford brand No. 26 and Lincoln No. 27, better than only BMW's Mini brand of the 28 rated.
A year earlier the Ford brand fell to 27th out of the 28 brands rated and Lincoln dropped to 26th.
The magazine said complaints about Ford's electronic control system, MyFordTouch, were the main reason for the continued low results, although it also said a significant numbers of respondents also reported problems with the Ford EcoBoost engine.
"New models replaced order, reliable ones," Fisher said today of Ford's product line. "These are vehicles with no carryover engines, transmissions or platforms. And this is causing many problems."
Ford said it is working on the problems.
"We continue to improve the infotainment systems and we've reduced complaints by nearly 50 percent since launch," said Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer. More Ford and Lincoln vehicles, about 93 percent, are now being delivered with MyFord Touch or Sync, he said. "We still have improvements to make."
The only two Japanese brands not to finish in the top 10 this year were Scion, the top brand in 2012 but No. 11 this year, and Nissan, which fell nine spots to No. 22 this year.
Detroit 3 results were mixed, Consumer Reports said. General Motors' GMC and Buick had above-average reliability overall, while Chevrolet was just-below average and Cadillac finished No. 25.
Chrysler Group overall finished with reliability 18 percent below average, the magazine said.
Five brands not ranked
Because of insufficient data, Consumer Reports did not rank five brands: Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Tesla.
Audi and Volvo received the highest rankings of seven European brands with enough data to include. Mercedes-Benz came in 13th, about average in reliability. Porsche and BMW were immediately below Mercedes. Volkswagen brand was No. 20, down two places from 2012. No. 28 Mini was dead last and six places lower than a year ago, Consumer Reports said.
The two Korean brands also tumbled in the magazine's rankings. Kia fell six places to No. 16. Hyundai finished No. 21, down four spots.
No model with fewer than 100 consumer responses were counted in the survey, and only brands with at least two rated models were ranked. Consumer Reports said it was able to rate 260 models in this survey, although that count includes many -- such as the Honda Accord with four-cylinder, six-cylinder and hybrid drives -- that are listed as three separate entries.
Consumer Reports distributed questionnaires in late April to 4 million print and 3.2 million digital subscribers. About 900,000 respondents submitted reports on 1.1 million vehicles that are up to 10 years old.
Reports on 400,000 of those vehicles were used to determine this year’s reliability rankings, Fisher said. The reliability ratings are for only the most recent generation of the vehicle and are limited to a maximum of the three most recent years, he added.
Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation on three of Toyota's vehicles, including its popular flagship Camry sedan, due to poor crash test results.
While Toyota and Lexus enjoyed high overall reliability rankings, the magazine said it will no longer recommend the Camry, Prius v model or RAV4 SUV because they received "poor" ratings in a crash test started last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
"We're a year into it, we've got over 50 vehicles tested and there's enough that are doing adequately on this test that now we're making the shift and pulling recommendations from any car that gets a poor" rating, Fisher said.
"Honestly, we don't take this lightly, but virtually every vehicle now in the family sedan category has been tested and the only one that has gotten a 'poor' is the Camry," he added. "At this point, we don't feel we can continue to recommend people buy a Camry when there's other good choices out there that do better on the test."
Consumer Reports is one of the most widely trusted names for consumers shopping for cars, and companies try to ensure their vehicles earn the magazine's coveted "recommended" rating.
Last year, the IIHS, a non-profit group funded by the insurance industry, increased the rigor of its tests to include crashes that involve only a front corner of a vehicle. Consumer Reports waited to adjust its buyer recommendations until it saw how the entire industry was affected by the test.
The magazine does not recommend consumers buy a car that fares poorly in any crash tests.
In the first nine months of the year, the Camry was the third-most-sold vehicle in the United States, behind two full-size pickup trucks. Its sales were up 1.3 percent from the year-ago period to 318,990 cars, compared with an increase of almost 14 percent by rival Honda Motor Co's Accord sedan.
Toyota has made changes to the Camry to improve its performance in the crash tests and IIHS is planning to retest the car in December, IIHS spokesman Russ Rader said. Companies that have modified a vehicle design sometimes seek a retest.
Last December, when IIHS gave the Camry its "poor" rating, it said the company's engineers had "a lot of work to do to match the performance of their competitors." Toyota officials said today they "are looking at a range of solutions" to address the car's performance in the crash test.
In addition to the three Toyota vehicles, Consumer Reports also dropped Volkswagen's Audi A4 car from its recommended list due to a "poor" rating on the IIHS test, Fisher said.
Ten other vehicles also lost their recommended status, but that was due to the overall quality of vehicles in their segments and not related to their crash test performances, he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.