Japanese brands claimed the top seven spots in Consumer Repots 2012 Reliability Survey, with Toyota's three nameplates – Scion, Toyota, and Lexus – ranking 1-2-3 respectively.
They were followed by four other Japanese brands, Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and Acura, in that order. Of the 90 Japanese models included in Consumer Reports’ brand comparison, 86 were rated average or better, with 35 earning the highest rating.
Audi made a huge leap in the rankings, up 18 spots to eighth place, making it the most reliable non-Japanese brand. Infiniti ranked ninth and Kia tenth.
Cadillac was the highest-ranked American brand, in 11th place, followed in 12th by GMC, with Chevrolet three notches down in 15th, just above the industry average.
At the other end of the scale, Ford and Lincoln dropped dramatically in the rankings, finishing second and third from last (27th and 26th), respectively. Jaguar ranked last.
Repeating Consumer Reports' complaints from the past, the Ford vehicles were criticized for their MyFord Touch infotainment systems. In addition, three historically reliable models – the Ford Escape and Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ were not included in the analysis as they were redesigned for 2013 and reliability data is not yet available.
Chrysler products didn't fare much better, with Chrysler ranking 23rd, Dodge 24th, and Ram 25th. Others ranked below average included Mini, Buick, Volvo, Jeep, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and BMW.
While Consumer Reports' rankings carry a lot of weight with both consumers and automakers, they have been criticized because they're based only in data from subscribers rather than the overall population of vehicle owners.
Vehicles up to three years old were included in the survey. In contrast, J.D. Power and Associates' annual Vehicle Dependability Study is based on vehicles that are three years old.