Ford Falters, Chrysler Climbs In Consumer Reports' Annual Reliability Survey

Our corporate kin at Consumer Reports have released their Annual Auto Survey. And after years of solid showings by Ford on the reliability study, a trio of new models have weighed the automaker down, while Chrysler manages to inch up the ladder.

According to the massive survey, the new Ford Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus all had below-average reliability in their first year, leading Ford’s overall reliability rank to sink a whopping 10 spots to #20 on the list of 28 brands.

One bright spot for the automaker — its Fusion Hybrid sedan remained outstanding, and other Fusion versions were above average.

Meanwhile, Chrysler’s star is on the rise. The flagship brand and its Dodge counterpart both made marked improvements in their rankings, while Chrysler’s Jeep brand jumped up seven spots to #13. Unfortunately for U.S. automakers, that was the highest-ranked domestic brand in the survey.

And whereas Ford is being held back by its new models, Chrysler’s recent changes — including the freshened Chrysler 200 (formerly Sebring) sedan and the redesigned Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs — have only helped to improve its reliability ranking.

Meanwhile, Japanese automakers continued to dominate the survey, with brands like Scion, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Honda, and Toyota taking the top spots. Of the 91 Japanese models for which Consumer Reports has sufficient data, 87 were rated average or better in predicted reliability; 24 Japanese models earned the highest rating.

Scion remains the top brand in Consumer Reports’ survey, but only two models of its three, the xB and xD, had sufficient data to be included. Lexus, with 11 models included, rebounded seven places from last year.

The only European brand to crack the top 10 was Volvo, which was helped by the above-average first year results of its redesigned S60. Volkswagen was able to hold on to 16th place in the ranking; seven of its 11 models scored average or better.

Consumer Reports’ findings are based on responses on 1.3 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports or ConsumerReports.org.

Full reliability history charts and predicted-reliability ratings on hundreds of 2012 models, plus a list of what’s up and what’s down, best and worst models, and a comparison chart of brands can be found online in CR’s Reliability special section, in the December issue of the magazine, and in the upcoming Consumer Reports Cars publication, Best & Worst New Cars for 2012, on sale November 15, 2011.