By Kirsten Korosec
March 1, 2017

All-electric automaker Tesla beat out U.S. giants GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler to become the highest ranked American brand in Consumer Reports’ annual report card of which companies make the best cars.

The designation is notable because of Tesla’s size compared to other U.S. automakers like Ford Motor and General Motors; and that it earned the position based on just two electric models, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV.

For instance, GM’s Chevrolet brand has 20 models. Chevrolet delivered 164,095 vehicles in the U.S. in February, according to sales results released Wednesday. Tesla delivered 76,230 vehicles globally in all of 2016.

This is the first year Tesla has made the list. Buick is the second highest ranked American brand on the list.

The future challenge for Tesla will be to maintain its ranking—which is based on reliability, safety, road tests and owner satisfaction—once it adds the Model 3 to its portfolio. The $35,000 Model 3 is meant to be a large volume production car. Production is expected to begin in the second half of the year.

However, Tesla, Buick, and the rest of the American brands such as GM’s Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, and Jeep all fell behind German automakers Audi, BMW, and Porsche, which took the top spots on the 2017 Brand Report Card from Consumer Reports.

Audi received the highest overall brand score in Consumer Reports’ annual indicator of the best cars for the second year in a row. Porsche, BMW, Lexus, and Subaru rounded out the top five.

Porsche and BMW each rose by two spots, while Lexus fell back one spot, and Subaru moved down by three, according to the CR scorecard.

The top 10 are:

  1. Audi—Germany
  2. Porsche—Germany
  3. BMW—Germany
  4. Lexus—Japan
  5. Subaru—Japan
  6. Kia—South Korea
  7. Mazda—Japan
  8. Tesla—USA
  9. Honda—Japan
  10. Buick—USA (a General Motors brand)

Consumer Reports ranks each brand by taking the overall score of each tested model of a brand—a figure based on a combination of the organization’s road tests, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. It then averages each overall score to determine total brand score. (Consumer Reports does not rate corporate behavior such as the diesel emissions scandal that has plagued Volkswagen Group and its other brands Audi and Porsche.)

Only vehicles that are on the market and that CR tested factor into the equation.

The lowest ranked brand is Fiat. Jeep, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, and Dodge were also at the tail end of the rankings.

Consumer Reports also indicates the percentage of tested models that earned at recommended (to buy) designation. This year, only Porsche, BMW, and Mazda earned a recommendation on every model Consumer Reports tested, showing consistency and quality across the entire vehicle line up.

Audi, Honda, and Hyundai lead the other brands, with 86 percent of their tested lines being recommended, Consumer Reports says.

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