U.S. Automakers Improve Reliability
DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. automakers improved the reliability of their
products last year, but Hyundai Motor Co. and other Asian companies
still make the most trouble-free vehicles, according to a survey
released Monday by Consumer Reports magazine.
Customers reported an average of 17 problems per 100 vehicles for 2004
models from DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co. and
General Motors Corp., the magazine said. That was down from 18 problems
per 100 in 2003.
Japanese and Korean automakers had a rate of 12 problems per 100
vehicles -- unchanged in the magazine's last three surveys. European
automakers, some of whom have battled quality issues in recent years,
had 21 problems per 100 vehicles. That's up from 20 a year ago.
The survey is part of Consumer Reports' annual auto issue, scheduled to
hit newsstands Tuesday.
The 2004 Hyundai Sonata was the most reliable vehicle in 2004, with two
problems per 100 vehicles. Consumer Reports said the Sonata is "further
establishing Hyundai's remarkable turnaround from one of the least
reliable brands to one of the best."
As an overall brand, Hyundai recorded a reliability rating of 11
problems per 100 vehicles, tying it with Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus and
Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti nameplates. Subaru was the most reliable
brand in 2004, with an average of eight problems per 100 vehicles.
Reliability can vary widely within a company. The 2004 Ford Mustang was
the most reliable car made by a U.S. manufacturer, with five problems
per 100 vehicles, the magazine said. But Ford's Lincoln Navigator sport
utility vehicle tied with the Nissan Quest minivan as the least
reliable, with 49 problems per 100 vehicles.
Consumer Reports measures reliability by surveying its subscribers. The
magazine collected data on a record 810,000 privately owned or leased
vehicles, 20 percent more than the 675,000 vehicles included in last
The magazine asked subscribers to report serious problems such as faulty
air conditioning, wind noise, electrical difficulties and transmission
Also Monday, Consumer Reports announced it was no longer recommending
the Ford Focus as a top pick among small cars after the Focus got a poor
rating in side-impact crash tests performed by the insurance industry.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released new crash test
Ford responded that the Focus got better side-impact ratings from the
federal government, which also performs crash tests. The company said
the Focus also did well in the reliability survey.
"We recognize how important it is to make sustainable progress in
quality, and we won't be satisfied until we are the best," Ford said in
Consumer Reports also said it would no longer recommend six other
vehicles because of the insurance institute's side-impact crash tests.
Those vehicles are the Honda Element, Mitsubishi Outlander and Suzuki
Grand Vitara SUVs, the Nissan Altima sedan and two small cars, the
Hyundai Elantra and Mazda 3.
Consumer Reports buys all the vehicles it tests and doesn't accept
GM shares gained 8 cents to close at $34.92 in Monday trading on the New
York Stock Exchange, while Ford shares rose 12 cents to close at $12.52
and DaimlerChrysler's U.S. shares fell 17 cents to close at $46.04.
Consumer Reports, http://www.consumerreports.org
Yet another $.02 worth from a proud owner of a 1970 Mach 1 351C @
: Only 5 complaints out of 100 vehicles. A Nissan Quest is the worse
: with 49 per 100. The big surprise is the overall best is the Hyundai
: Sonata with only 2 per 100.
Unfortunately, the Mustang was last year's model, which the magazine called
outdated, I believe.
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