Consumer Reports’ 2014 Car Brand Report Card has been published and not surprisingly luxury automakers dominate the top of this list.
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There’s cloudy news on the horizon if you’re thinking about buying a new car.
The American car consumer might be stereotyped as loving brutishly powerful V8 machines, but according to a new survey they actually prefer fuel efficiency over performance.
The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) is an annual report that’s closely followed by both automakers and consumers. It measures problems reported by vehicle buyers during the first 90 days of ownership. The research firm released its 2013 findings today at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit and the report was full of surprises.
Six of the Top 10 Least Reliable Cars and Trucks on the road are Ford products. At least, that’s according to data provided by Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization that tests everything from toasters to homeowner’s insurance. This lopsided result has raised a lot of questions, like: Are Blue-Oval vehicles really that troublesome or is Consumer Reports’ survey methodology flawed?
Since its founding in 1936, Consumer Reports has become the go-to source for shoppers. From new refrigerators to bottles of wine, Blue-ray players to homeowner’s insurance, if it’s on the market it’s likely the non-profit organization has scientifically tested it. Of course the consumer watchdog is probably most famous for its vehicle reliability ratings.
Bottom 10 Vehicles with the Largest Declines Dependability
Quality is an ever-moving target; it’s something automakers have to constantly monitor. And like the Mongol hordes conquering vast swaths of Asia in the 13th century, problems can easily overwhelm an unsuspecting company’s defenses. Like arrows toppling a mighty war elephant, just a few small issues can devastate even the most reliable vehicle on the road. To keep these nomadic defects at bay, engineers and product planners must remain vigilant.
Along with Consumer Reports, J.D. Power is one of the major firms that tracks automotive quality. Its annual Vehicle Dependability Study is highly anticipated by OEMs and media alike. Think of it as a report card for automakers.
For nearly a quarter-century the study has kept a careful eye on quality by tracking problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). It measures things that have gone wrong with 3-year-old cars and trucks as reported by their original owners.
Like America’s Most Wanted, J.D. power has just released a list of 10 vehicles that have suffered the largest declines in quality. These vehicles have had the greatest year-over-year increase in PP100. Some of the cars and trucks on the list may really surprise you.
10. Toyota Avalon
Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to determine what makes a vehicle reliable. But one sound way is to look back and see how much the average repair cost was for a vehicle over three to five years, and seeing which ones suffered the least breakdowns.
Data was studied using 100,000 auto warranty policies linked to family cars by Direct Buy Warranty in order to determine this top 10 list of most reliable family cars, listed in no particular order. It’s worth noting that not a single American vehicle made it onto the list.
The first on the list is the Toyota Avalon, the Japanese automaker’s flagship sedan in the United States. According to the data, the Avalon was one of the cheapest vehicles to maintain over the past five years with typical Toyota dependability and safety ratings. Larger than the Camry, the Avalon is a perfect fit for those looking for size and dependability.
Don’t head to the optometrist just yet. If the parking lot outside the California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s seems particularly crowded with Mercedes-Benz SUVs, you’re probably seeing just fine.
The company had some good news to release with the new year, they managed to surpass the 2 million SUVs sales mark. According to a press release, the company enjoyed significant growth in SUV sales in 2011 thanks to the U.S. and China. SUV sales were up 24.3 percent compared to 2010 and additionally the company saw a 23.5 percent sales spike in November.
“With the launch of our first sport utility vehicle – the G‑Class – more than 30 years ago, we entered a segment in which we are now very successful with a total of five models. The SUVs today are an important pillar of Mercedes-Benz’s growth and have regularly posted a new sales record in every month since July 2010,” Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes’ head of sales and marketing, said.
While it may have taken the company 30 years to reach that number, luxury SUVs have really only been making a splash since the late 90′s with the introduction of the ML-Class. It may be easy to forget the rocky debut they had, but had some serous struggles making them a success. Questionable assembly and poor reliability in the not-so-distant past might still have some buyers feeling wary.
Nevertheless, it seems that suburban soccer moms and the expanding Chinese hunger for luxury cars is fuelling growth even with a shaky world economy. The R-Class boasted the biggest spurt with 50.3 percent sales growth this year, while the M-Class squeaked out 15.8 percent despite a model change.
Mercedes-Benz is still proud despite the M-Class taking last place in growth, calling it the latest star in their family. That pride comes part in parcel with the SUV having best fuel efficiency in its segment and receiving a five-star rating by the European New Car Assessment Programme for its safety.
Despite the accolades, we weren’t particularly impressed with the 2012 M-Class. It’s not to say we hated it, but the new model isn’t much to write home about either. Mild improvements thanks to direct injection and a scrapped hydraulic steering system were nice, but less than revolutionary. Mercedes-Benz isn’t falling short, but they didn’t jump ahead of the pack with this one either.
The actual numbers behind the layoffs are, however, in dispute. Tom Zimmerman, the plant’s unit chairman for UAW Local 723, said in an interview with Automotive News that more than 25 percent of the plant’s 400 hourly workers were laid off.
Jodi Tinson, a Chrysler spokesperson, said that only 30 people had actually been laid off, and that another 35 were assigned different jobs in the plant.
Regardless of which figure is accurate, there is no denying that Fiat sales failed to meet expectations in the U.S. The company originally projected 50,000 units annually, but had sold less than 32 percent of that by October 31.
Chrysler will unveil the North American version of the Fiat 500 Abarth at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, featuring a 160-hp turbocharged version of the 1.4-liter engine.
Gallery: 2012 Fiat 500
[Source: Automotive News]