Motoring|

Survey finds Toyota vehicles most reliable

Toyota logoAccording to a survey by Consumer Reports, Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles are the most reliable a motorist can buy, as the automaker took the top three spots. On the other hand, the survey didn’t turn out so well for Ford Motor Company, which dropped to nearly the bottom of the reliability ratings because of issues with their touchscreen entertainment and navigation system.

The Consumer Reports survey was published on Monday. It’s used to predict the reliability of 2013 model vehicles based on the views of its readers. This year, 800,000 readers responded to the survey of 1.2 million 2010-12 model vehicles. Because Americans often cite Consumer Reports for a main source of advice for buying a car, these rankings are important to automakers.

To say that the Toyota group did well on this reliability test is an understatement. Sixteen of its 27 models were given top marks, with the Scion ranking number one, Toyota ranking second and Lexus ranking third overall.

General Motors was another automaker that jumped in the rankings. Its Cadillac brand jumped to 11th, making it the highest-ranking US brand. The group also saw improvements in its Chevrolet, GMC and Buick brands. The survey said that the Chevrolet Volt has above-average reliability, while the Chevrolet Cruze has improved to average after a rough first year. Aside from that, Audi rose 18 spots in the rankings to 8th – the biggest gain of all the brands.

However, the Ford brand fell seven spots from 20th to 27th – there are 28 places. The group’s upscale Lincoln name fell from 14th to 26th. This follows the company being ranked in the top ten just two years ago, with over 90% of its models coming out of the survey at average or better. However, this year, 60% of Ford vehicles and 50% of Lincoln models were rated less than average – while none were rated above average.

The carmaker, which is the second largest in the US, has been hit by glitches in its MyFord Touch, MyLincoln Touch and small vehicle transmission systems. Touchscreen entertainment and navigation systems are playing a big role in appealing to potential car buyers. However, automakers have had a hard time creating systems that are safe and intuitive. MyFord Touch was introduced in 2010, but complaints about the ease of use and speed forced the company to upgrade the system in March. However, the upgrade is still deemed too complex.

Consumer Reports magazine said that Ford was the poster child of reliability for Detroit just two years ago. But a perfect storm of reliability problems since then has pushed the company to next to last among the 28 brands in their survey. Director of automotive testing Jake Fisher said that 16% of Ford Explorer customers, which was their worst performing model, complained about the control systems. Three of its most reliable vehicles were redesigned for 2013, which hurt the company’s rankings. These are the Fusion, Escape and Lincoln MKZ.

When Ford failed to meet expectations for the MyFord Touch, the company’s top executives took smaller cash bonuses for last year, including chief executive Alan Mulally. On Monday, the company said that they listen close to their consumers and value feedback about their vehicles – whether its from third parties or customers. It added that 25% more customers are satisfied with the new MyFord Touch upgrade.

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