Consumer Reports' top sedan is Buick Regal

Reliability rating highlight for U.S. automakers

November 05, 2003|By CBS MARKET WATCH

SAN FRANCISCO - Consumer Reports rarely gives high marks to American cars, making its designation of the Buick Regal as the most reliable family sedan a milestone for U.S. automakers.

GM's Buick Regal edged out the Toyota Camry and the Nissan Maxima in proving to be slightly less in need of repairs, according to the annual reliability survey of 675,000 car owners.

Ford also came up with better-running models, with improvements at Focus, Escape and Explorer pushing those models into the coveted "recommended" category of the magazine's car-rating guide.

"We've always thought the Ford Focus was a really wonderful car but haven't been able to recommend it because of its poor reliability," said David Champion, director of automobile testing for Consumer Reports.

"This year, the Focus made it to average in reliability and became our new top pick in small sedans."

Domestic pickups and SUVs have scored well on reliability in the past, but this "is the first time we've had a top-pick domestic sedan" in at least six years, Champion said.

Ford's Lincoln LS also moved into the recommended category, as did GM's Buick Park Avenue, Buick Rendezvous and Saturn L300.

For domestic makers, it was improve reliability or continue to lose market share. "They've seen the Japanese manufacturers come in and build cars that were quite good, that had bullet-proof reliability, and really make a name for themselves in the marketplace," Champion said.

"If domestic makers are going to compete with them they have to make reliable cars."

European makers have not seen that light, apparently. All of Mercedes-Benz's models rated below average in reliability, as did all models of Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover. Among European brands, Saab and Volvo performed best.

It wasn't all roses for domestic makers, either. Among GM models, the Cadillac CTS sports sedan, Hummer H2, Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Oldsmobile Bravada fared poorly in terms of reliability, Consumer Reports said.

GM's Pontiac Aztek and the Saturn VUE dropped to below-average reliability. And Ford's redesigned Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator did not score well.

Among Chrysler models, the Dodge Ram pickup and the Dodge Neon sedan were rated average, but both scored too low in overall testing to attain "recommended" status.

Japanese and Korean makers also saw ups and downs. The redesigned Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima family sedans rose to above-average from average last year.

But the Nissan Sentra dropped to below average, and the Subaru Baja pickup received low marks. Hyundai models were mostly average, after receiving high marks last ear, while Kia's Sedona minivan dropped to below average and its 2003 Sorento SUV was average.

BMW's 3-series moved up to average, while the 7-series luxury sedan, X5 SUV and Mini Cooper were all below average.

Volkswagen's Golf, Jetta and new Beetle dropped to "much worse than average," and the 4-cylinder Passat fell to worse than average.

The V6 Passat, a Consumer Reports "top pick" among family sedans, stayed at average reliability.

The Saab 9-3 and 9-5, and all of Volvo's sedans and wagons, showed average reliability, except for the Volvo XC90 SUV, which was below average.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.