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Asian vehicles top Consumer Reports auto ranking -- again

Honda is top carmaker for the third year in a row. Toyota's Lexus LS 460 is best overall vehicle. Only one American-made vehicle, the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup, leads a category.

February 27, 2009|Martin Zimmerman

Asian vehicles once again dominated Consumer Reports' annual ranking of new cars and light trucks, and Honda Motor Co. was named top automaker for the third year in a row.

The company rankings are based on the performance and reliability of the vehicles, as determined by the magazine's staff in testing and customer surveys.

Among individual vehicle categories, Toyota Motor Corp.'s namesake brand led the pack with top picks in four categories -- mid-size SUV, small SUV, minivan and green car. In addition, the Lexus LS 460, made by Toyota's Lexus luxury division, was named best overall vehicle.

The only top-ranked vehicle made by a U.S. manufacturer was General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Avalanche, which was named best pickup truck. It replaced last year's top-ranked pickup, the Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab.

The only other category to see a change at the top was the mid-size SUV segment, where the Toyota Highlander supplanted Hyundai Motor Co.'s Santa Fe.

Honda was one of three Japanese companies at the top of the rankings for best overall automaker in the U.S. market. Subaru came in second and Toyota was third.

"Honda tends to build well-rounded vehicles that do well in both Consumer Reports' tests and reliability surveys," said CR Automotive Editor Rik Paul.

"They have been able to maintain a higher level of consistency across their lineup than any other automaker."

Another Japanese automaker, Mazda Motor Corp., came in fourth while German automakers Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW tied for fifth with another Japanese company, Nissan Motor Co.

U.S. automaker Chrysler came in last.

Consumer Reports, which is published by the nonprofit Consumers Union, noted that less than a quarter of the vehicles that receive its "recommended" rating are from U.S. companies, a result, it said, "of inconsistent reliability and performance." About half of Consumer Reports' recommended vehicles are made by Japanese companies.

Chrysler, which is attempting to restructure with the help of government loans, said it expected to see the reliability scores of its vehicles improve, based on declines in warranty claims.

In Consumer Reports' first-ever ranking of "best new-car value," the magazine's top pick was the Toyota Prius hybrid, which was cited for comparatively low cost of ownership, high fuel economy and relatively high road-test scores.

Full results can be found at www.consumerreports.org and in the magazine's annual auto issue, which goes on sale Tuesday.

--

martin.zimmerman @latimes.com

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