Japan still ranks highly, but German automakers are making leaps and bounds in overall quality.
Fresh off the heels of having its parent organization, Consumer's Union, attempt to convince Trump to keep the EPA's fuel economy regulations in place, Consumer Reports has issued its list of top auto brands for 2017. At the top of the list are three German brands with Audi, Porsche, and BMW snagging spots 1,2, and 3 respectively. Tesla led American brands holding the number 8 spot above Buick, the 10th place contender, making this the third year in a row that GM's upscale brand has secured a top ten spot.
A total of three automakers, BMW, Porsche, and Mazda, had all of their cars receive Consumer Reports' top seal of approval by earning Recommended ratings. All of the cars from each of the 31 brands tested are ranked by taking into account owner satisfaction, predicted reliability, safety results, and results from road tests conducted by the publication, an attempt at prioritizing the most well-rounded brands and not rewarding, say, a company that builds reliable cars but ones that leave customers unsatisfied. Aside from the three German automakers and the two American brands, Japanese and Korean marquees earned top ten spots with Lexus, Subaru, Kia, and Mazda taking spots 4, 5, and 6 respectively.
Honda still managed to slide into the top ten list with a 9th place spot. While BMW did well, its subsidiary Mini earned 24th palace and had none if its models recommended. Following Mini were GMC, Jaguar, Dodge, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Jeep, and Fiat taking places 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31 respectively. All but GMC had no models recommended. These results are consistent with JD Power's latest dependability survey, which found Porsche at the top and saw Fiat Chrysler's brands residing at the bottom. While improvements could be made at Fiat Chrysler, Consumer Reports' director of automotive testing Jake Fisher said, "Chrysler is on the right track with the capable and sophisticated new Pacifica minivan, which is a real standout."
He went on to add, "If the company can spread that quality throughout its fleet, and improve its uneven reliability, its ranking in our annual analysis could continue to rise." Consumer Reports rounded off its release with a warning to automakers about automatic shifters. It claims that automakers are experimenting with new shifter designs to individualize their cars but that many times, they add danger by confusing drivers as to whether or not the cars are in gear or in park. This confusion is what allegedly led to the death of Star Trek star Anton Yelchin, but Consumer Reports claims that mitigating these sorts of accidents is possible by adding features that automatically shift the car into park if the engine is shut off or if a door is opened.
With any luck, this news will spur FCA to commit to a reinvention of its products so that our Alfa Romeos and Maseratis can enjoy more longevity.