Just the facts, Ma’am: CR’s Reliability Survey

Consumer Reports magazine is out with its latest survey of new car reliability, and the inflated reputations of a couple of manufacturers get badly punctured.

Mercedes-Benz, which has made a poor showing lately, gets a mixed report card.  The reliability of six models, including the redesigned C-class, have moved up in the standings but only as far as average. And none of its models made it into the “most-reliable” category, while several land in the least-reliable group, including the trouble-prone M-class SUV ( with a V-8), the V-8 powered GL-class, and the R-class.  You can’t blame their deficiencies entirely on fussy German engineering; all three happen to be built in Mercedes’ Alabama plant.

But nobody gets smacked around quite like General Motors. GM’ers love to brag about the quality of the vehicles they have launched in the last several years.  But only one GM model ranks among the 47 rated as the most reliable, and that one, the Pontiac Vibe, is built in cooperation with Toyota, the quality champ.

By contrast, 13 GM models populate the least-reliable list , including such highly touted models as the Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia, Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice, and Cadillac Escalade. In fact, nearly one-third of the least-reliable models identified by CR are made by GM.

GM does manage to edge out poor Chrysler, almost two-thirds of whose vehicles rate below average, including its redesigned minivans. The Chrysler Sebring Convertible, a nice-driving car that sells at a reasonable price for a drop-top, recorded the worst score among all the new cars in the survey.

But to demonstrate that it harbors no anti-American bias, CR gives a shout out to Ford, declaring that its brands “continue to pull away from the rest of the Detroit automakers.”  Excluding some older truck-based vehicles like the Explorer, the magazine writes,  “Ford’s reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers.”

But not the best.  Toyota and Honda continue to dominate the list. Almost all Honda and Acuras got above average ratings, while each of the 42 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models in the survey scored average or better.  At the top of the heap: the Scion xD, an odd-looking sedan aimed at younger buyers:  According to CR, its owners reported 80% few problems than the average new car in the survey.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.