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Lexus tops Consumer Reports car rankings; Detroit fares poorly

February 26, 2013|By Jerry Hirsch | This post has been corrected. See below for details.
  • Lexus was the top-ranked brand in Consumer Reports' annual ranking of vehicles and automakers.
Lexus was the top-ranked brand in Consumer Reports' annual ranking… (Lexus )

Lexus earned the top score in Consumer Reports' 2013 annual ranking of car brands and vehicles. The American car companies were near the bottom of the rankings. 

Japanese nameplates dominated the ratings with Subaru and Mazda tying for second.  Overall, eight of the top 10 scores were earned by Japanese brands.  

None of the domestic automakers made the top 10.  At No. 14, Cadillac did the best, helped by good marks for its sedans. Other General Motors nameplates and almost everything from Chrysler suffered from inconsistent reliability. Dodge ranked the lowest of any brand, followed by Jeep and Lincoln.

Not a single American vehicle made any Consumer Reports list of top cars by vehicle segment.

Ford was tripped up by problems with its MyFord Touch control interfaces and turbocharged engines that the consumer magazine judged did not achieve the performance and fuel economy that was expected.

“That’s unfortunate, because many of Ford’s new models ride and handle as well as European luxury cars costing much more. And Ford’s latest hybrids, the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max, are impressive,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports automotive test director.

European brands had mixed results, hurt by sagging reliability compared to the Japanese leaders. Audi and Mercedes-Benz were the only non-Japanese nameplates to make the top 10 and were ranked 8th and 10th, respectively.        

Volkswagen and Mini were especially poor performers, Consumer Reports said.

Lexus climbed its way to the top "on a foundation of plush and very reliable vehicles," but lacked much sportiness, the magazine said.

When it came to individual picks, Honda did well.  Its 2013 redesign of the Honda Accord landed the sedan as the top mid-sized car.  Improved reliability helped Honda’s Odyssey win the minivan category. The automaker’s CR-V was the top small sport-utility.

For the 10th consecutive year, Consumer Reports named the Toyota Prius hybrid its top “Green Car.”

“The Prius continues to offer the best fuel economy, at 44 mpg overall, of any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle,” the magazine said.

When it comes to luxury cars, Consumer Reports liked two European nameplates.  Its top pick for sports sedan was the BMW 328i.  The magazine praised its combination of handling and fuel economy. The Audi A6 was top choice in the luxury car category. Neither carmaker has had a Top Pick in the past 10 years.

Consumer Reports picked out the Hyundai Elantra as its best “budget” car and the Subaru Impreza as the top compact car.

Toyota’s Highlander was the top midsized sport-utility.

Consumer Reports did not name a top pickup truck.

[For the Record, 11:37 a.m. PST Feb. 26: An earlier version of this online post incorrectly said that Chrysler ranked third-worst among brands in the Consumer Reports survey, just ahead of Jeep and Dodge. Actually, Lincoln holds that spot on the list.]

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