Ford Motor Co.’s reliability ranking in the Consumer Reports annual auto survey tumbled as its namesake brand slid to 20th from 10th last year among 28 brands while Japanese automakers captured nine of the top 10 spots.
Ford’s ranking suffered because the new Explorer SUV, Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact all scored below average for reliability, the Yonkers, New York-based consumer publication said in a statement. Buyers reported problems with dashboard touch-screens in some Ford vehicles. General Motors Co.’s four brands finished in the bottom half of the rankings, the study said.
Ford and GM have shown profit and market-share gains, built in part on the perception of improved quality. Today’s results may damage that reputation, said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Automotive Test Center.
“Ford took a big drop with their new cars,” Champion said in a telephone interview before the study was released. “They have been on a roll over the past five years. They need to get a handle on some of their new technologies.”
This year’s results are similar to last year’s when Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. tied with the most models with top scores and Ford was the only U.S. automakers receiving top marks. Toyota’s Scion brand was No. 1, Lexus placed second and the Toyota brand ranked sixth.
Consumer Reports surveyed 5 million of its subscribers and received feedback on 1.3 million vehicles for the study.
For Ford, the chief complaints were related to the company’s MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch infotainment systems and a new fuel-saving transmission, Champion said.
The Consumer Reports survey is “a lagging indicator,” Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesman, said in an interview. “We’ve been working through these issues and we’re seeing improvement.”
Owners reported similar problems in J.D. Power & Associates annual new-car quality survey released in June.
Problems with the dashboard touch-screens caused the Ford brand to fall to 23rd from fifth in that study, while Toyota’s namesake brand jumped to the Top 10.
Toyota ranked seventh in Power’s study after its lowest- ever 21st ranking last year. Honda’s top-selling line finished second overall, replacing Ford as the top mainstream brand in the Westlake Village, California-based market-research firm’s study, which measures consumer complaints in the first 90 days of vehicle ownership.
In the Consumer Reports study results released today, GM’s top-selling Chevrolet brand held its ranking at 17th. Buick and Cadillac each fell six places to 24th and 25th, respectively. GMC finished 22nd.
Toyota, which was plagued by recalls of millions of U.S. autos in 2009 and 2010 related to unintended acceleration claims, had good results in the Consumer Reports survey, Champion said. Rounding out the top five were Honda’s Acura brand in third, Mazda Motor Corp.’s Mazda fourth and the Honda brand fifth.
Next in the top 10 were Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti brand in seventh, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru eighth and the Nissan brand ninth. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.’s Volvo ranked 10th. The namesake brands of Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. were 11th and 12th.
Fiat SpA-controlled Chrysler Group LLC made improvements. Its Jeep brand placed 13th and was the highest-ranking U.S. brand. The Chrysler brand moved up 12 spots to 15th and Dodge ranked 21st.
Chrysler’s newest models were ranked average or above average for reliability, Champion said. That bodes well for future model years because automakers typically make improvements after a new model goes on sale, he said.
“This is good news for Chrysler,” Champion said. “It shows that they are starting with a good basis for improvement.”
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