Guess which brands are the worst?
Consumer Reports (CR) has released its annual Best Cars of the Year results, and we have the usual mix of surprising wins and expected fails in the Brand Rankings. CR establishes their rankings based on a combination of road evaluations of each brand's vehicles, standard safety equipment like forward-collision warning or automatic emergency braking, and owner feedback from an annual auto survey that informs their predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings.
At the top of the brand rankings with its two-car lineup is Hyundai's just-launched Genesis brand, which not only had the highest overall score at 81, but also the highest average road-test score in its first year. Genesis was followed closely by Audi and BMW, just one and two points back, respectively. Consumer Reports noted the fact that Audi's incredibly high road-test score was "especially impressive" considering it makes ten vehicle lines for the US market and CR tested eight of them. The top 10 was filled out by Lexus, Porsche, Kia, Subaru, Tesla, Honda, and Toyota, which dominated some segments with four of the ten Top Picks in the segment awards going to Corolla, Camry, Sienna and Highlander.
Although Chevrolet had a couple Top Picks in individual segments, its brand ranking was a desultory 23rd – stay away from anything except the Bolt and Impala, I guess. Other segment Top Picks included the Audi A4, Subaru Forester, BMW X3, and Ford F-150. Best brands is all well and good, but which brands suck the most? Poor Fiat… After finishing dead last in this year's JD Power's Dependability Study for 2015 vehicles, Consumer Reports has them dead last, and it's not even close, with an overall score of 39 well back of the next worst brand, Jeep with 48.
If it's any consolation to Fiat fans, Mitsubishi, the 5th worst brand in overall score, actually has the worst road-test score, but again Fiat's unreliability clearly hurt it. The last two brands in the bottom five are Land Rover and Alfa Romeo in a tie for third worst overall score (but both with respectable road test scores). However, in one small bit of good news for Fiat-Chrysler Group, Chrysler made the biggest leap in the standings, gaining four points in their overall score to help them climb from 17th to 11th and just two points away from cracking the top 10 and tying Toyota.
Then again, Toyota had 20 (yes, TWENTY!) models tested to Chrysler's two, but the well-received Pacifica minivan helped Chrysler become the top-ranked American brand in the list. Going the other way are Buick, dropping from the last spot in the top 10 last year to 19th, and Acura, also falling nine positions to land in 22nd.