Consumer Reports Finds American-Made Vehicles Close Reliability Gap With European-Made Vehicles--as Japanese Continue to Set New Benchmarks for the IndustryYONKERS, NY--March 10, 2003--
Consumer Reports' annual 2002 auto reliability survey shows that domestic auto manufacturers continue to make solid gains in reliability and now build vehicles that are as reliable on average in the first year as those from European manufacturers. At the same time, the Japanese car companies continue to push the envelope by building more reliable cars than before and setting new benchmarks for the industry.
CR's reliability survey also shows that Korea's Hyundai has made a striking turnaround during the past decade and--for the 2002 model year--ranks with the best Japanese manufacturers. In CR's latest survey, Hyundai tied Honda for second-place in reliability ratings for 2002s behind Toyota.
In a special analysis, Consumer Reports also examines long-term reliability of domestic, European and Asian vehicles from the model years 2000 and 1998. Knowing how such models are holding up is vital if you're deciding whether to keep an older car or if you're thinking of buying a used one. On average, CR found that three-year-old models had three times as many problems as the 2002 models; the 1998 models had about four times as many problems as the 2002s.
CR's 50th Anniversary April Auto Issue includes extensive vehicle reliability findings. The 50th Anniversary April Auto Issue is on sale March 11 through June 11. The magazine is generally available where magazines are sold and may also be ordered online at www.ConsumerReports.org.
Consumer Reports surveys its readers annually to obtain detailed information on hundreds of different makes and models. The 2002 survey yielded responses on nearly 480,000 vehicles spanning eight model years--1995 to 2002. Owners told CR about problems they had during the preceding 12 months in 14 areas, ranging from the electrical system to the engine, transmission, and more. Using that data, Consumer Reports predicts reliability for new models and gives detailed problem rates for older models. CR's statistical analysis for each manufacturer are based upon the number of problems per 100 vehicles.
For the 2002 model year, the average for the industry was 18 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 21 problems per 100 vehicles in the 2001 survey. American and European-branded vehicles both averaged 21 problems per 100 vehicles. Asian manufacturers--which include both Japanese brands and Korea's Hyundai--averaged just 12 problems per 100 vehicles.
Toyota topped CR's reliability ranking, with just 10 problems per 100, down from 12 per 100 last year. Honda and Hyundai tied for second place, with 11 problems per 100 vehicles. Subaru had 13 problems per 100, and Nissan had 15 problems per 100. Mazda had 20 problems per 100 vehicles.
Among domestic manufacturers, Chrysler ranked best, with 20 problems per 100 followed by GM with 21 and Ford with 23. The 2002 models from all three domestic car companies showed improvements over last year's levels.
Among European brands, BMWs and Volkswagens had 20 problems per 100 vehicles while Mercedes-Benz had 22 problems per 100 vehicles.
In a similar analysis of foreign and domestic brands published in the April 2002 auto issue, Consumer Reports found that the average for all 2001 models was 21 problems per 100 vehicles. Models made by Japanese car companies averaged only 15 problems per 100. European- and American-branded vehicles averaged 23 and 24 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively.
Long-term Durability: How 3- and 5- Year-Old Vehicles Fared
CR's special analysis of model years 2000 and 1998 found that those vehicles are far more likely to have problems than new vehicles--and the consumer will have to foot the bill if the warranty has expired.
On average, model-year 2000 cars had three times as many problems as the 2002 cars: 55 problems per 100 vehicles. By the time the average car approached three years old, problems that were apparent when the cars were new--such as those in the electrical system and power equipment, or squeaks and rattles--were two or three times more common. Systems that were fine at the outset, such as brakes and cooling, started having some problems.
The best three-year-old models were the Acura RL, Honda CR-V, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Lexus ES300, Honda Civic, and Toyota Camry--all with fewer than 18 problems per 100. Worst: the Chevrolet Corvette; Ford Focus; Mercedes-Benz M-Class; Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, and New Beetle; and Chevrolet Astro/GMC Safari--all with more than 90 problems per 100 vehicles.
The average five-year-old model had 78 problems per 100 vehicles, about four times as many as the 2002s. Their Achilles heel: electrical problems, which were seen five times as often as in new cars. The best 1998 vehicles were the Honda CR-V, Toyota Tacoma (4WD), Acura RL, Lexus ES300, and Honda Odyssey/Isuzu Oasis, all with fewer than 25 problems per 100 vehicles. Worst: the Cadillac Catera, VW New Beetle, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and Dodge/Plymouth Neon, all with more than 140 problems per 100.
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