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U.S. Cars Reported to Gain in Reliability
Monday March 8, 6:36 pm ET
By John Porretto, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- For the first time in a quarter century, U.S. carmakers can say they make more reliable cars than their competitors in Europe. Asian manufacturers still hold top bragging rights, however.

The consumer survey in Consumer Reports' 2004 auto issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, showed imports still outscoring domestically built cars in owner satisfaction.

But on the issue of reliability, cars and trucks from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group topped those made in Europe -- something that hasn't happened in 25 years, the publication said.

"To our subscribers and to many people, reliability is what they're looking for," David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' auto test staff, said Monday in a conference call. "The domestics are making tremendous progress in putting to bed a lot of the problems they were stuck with."

Consumer Reports, known for its scrutiny of products, sent questionnaires to 4.1 million subscribers of its magazine and Web site, seeking insight on vehicles they own.

Reliability trends are based on 675,000 responses. Consumer Reports asked subscribers to report problems in any of 14 areas, such as engine or electrical trouble, for vehicles up to eight years old.

For the 2003 model year, the industry average was 17 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 18 in the 2002 survey.

The survey revealed that among cars and trucks less than a year old, the average problem rate for European brands was 20 per 100 vehicles -- two more than domestic brands.

Last year, U.S. and European automakers were tied at 21 problems per 100 vehicles less than a year old.

The problem rate for the newest models from Japanese and Korean automakers held steady year-over-year at 12 per 100 vehicles. The magazine said vehicles from Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda and Toyota have been the most reliable over the past five years.

Among European brands, all models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover were rated below average in the survey.

In owner satisfaction, Asian and European brands filled all but three of 33 slots in Consumer Reports' list of "most satisfying" vehicles. The list was based on responses from 226,000 subscribers.

Consumer Reports said it also gave an "excellent" overall safety rating in the new issue to 21 sedans, up from nine three years ago. The number of sport utility vehicles with an excellent rating rose to 11 from only two during the same period.

Full Story Here


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2,032 Posts
This is indeed encouraging news. GM has touted it's initial quality
ratings for several years, however consumers have now put
there attention to overall reliability. As GM puts more emphasis
into engineering, the reliability ratings will rise even further.
If they can achieve this, there will be a greater chance at eating
away the import share of the market. In the long run they must
do that, as rebates are not the answer to winning back the

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4 Posts
Well this is encouraging news. I have always tried to buy North American cars but depending upon the timing of my purchases, they weren't always the best decision at the time for my needs. Hence, for the past while, my immediate family has always had one 'import' brand and one 'Domestic' vehicle.

At the same time, I wouldn't have recommended many Domestic vehicles if someone asked my opinion. I would feel too terrible if they ended up with a lemon...

Now, some of you may react to that last comment, but I probably can justify my aprehension...

Within a small circle of acquaintences at least one of us has encountered...

Ford transmission failure -Taurus
Ford peeling paint problem -F-150
Ford head gasket problem -Windstar
Chrysler transmission failure -Caravan
Chrysler head gasket problem -Neon
GM piston slap damage -3.4L

All of the above are on-going known problems that the manufacturers have let continue. We hear of some people getting goodwill assistance, but that is subjective depending on your dealer and the local service representative.
Of course it is too late to do anything now as most of these cars have been traded in.

My point is that problems need to be addressed while they are a hot topic.

Most of my acquaintences have sworn off Domestic cars... FOREVER...
People don't forget... It is nice that quality today is showing improvements but that won't really reap any benefits for 10years. Then people will be able to say, "you know, I had a 2004 Malibu, and a 2006 Solstice, and they were great cars with no problems whatsoever!!!"

Me, I am a little more forgiving, depite being burned in the past...
I gave a 2002 Saturn L-100 a chance...
"GREAT CAR... NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER !" (just a little boring, but well built)

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229 Posts
Expect Car and Driver to try to denounce the findings as fraudulent. <_<

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Looking through the reliability ratings of all cars in the Consumer Reports that came out today, the american cars still don't look to be as good as they should be. Too many GM cars still have a black circle for reliability - much worse than average. Even some cars that I didn't expect had much worse than average reliability - the CTS for example. It is kinda sad because when you look at the toyotas, hondas, and nissans, their reliability is always above average. Detroit definately still has their work cut out for them!
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