Some Cars Run Right

The latest annual reliability survey from Consumer Reports applauds some Asian automakers while again lobbing lemons at US makers and, this time, tossing a few at European automakers too.

The "Top 31 most reliable" scorecard:
Japanese: 29
US: 2
European: 0

The "Worst 48 least reliable" scorecard:
US: 22
European: 20
Japan: 4 (all Nissan)
South Korea: 2 (the Hundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage)

On the Worst list, Audi A8, BMW 5 and 7 Series, Mercedes S and E Class, Jaguar S Type, Saab 9-3, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chrysler 300 V-8, and Lincoln LS.

Toyota and Lexus make up more than half of the vehicles on the highest reliability rating from Consumer Reports, but Honda Accord, Civic Hybrids, Infiniti M35-45, nonturbo Subaru Impreza, Toyota Prius and the Lexus RX400h hybrid also got top scores.

When it comes to SUV's, the Asian manufacturers still score most reliable overall, but among the worst reliability were the Infiniti QX56 and Nissan Armada, proving that sometimes even the Asians get it wrong.

It's not unusual to see Asian manufacturers ranking high on reliability again ... that seems to be their record in the Consumer Reports surveys. What is a surprise is to see European makers dropping so far into the pits. Engineering and design and safety excellence have long been touted by the likes of Mercedes, Saab, Volvo and even VW, but survey results just don't show it.

Of course, with GM's recent plant closing announcements, and previous announcements from Ford, it doesn't bode well for US makers. Question is, which came first: lousy economics or poor quality? Or maybe it was just bad customer appreciation that started the fall from grace with US consumers.

Either way, US makers will not be first place until they realize that they have to build cars right in the first place, treat customers right in the first place, and fix problems right in the first place (the first time in the shop).

That new car smell is still great, but it's that repair shop odor that sours consumers every time.