Consumer Reports’ (liked-by-some, loathed-by-many) Annual Auto Reliability study for 2013 has placed Ford in 26th out of a possible 28 places. The predicted reliability survey puts The Blue Oval brand ahead of its own luxury division, Lincoln (27th) and BMW subsidiary Mini (28th). The ratings fly in the face of progress made by America’s best-selling mainstream car brand.
In the results for the 2013 study, CR continued to criticize Ford and Lincoln MyTouch infotainment systems, as has been the case since their introduction in 2011. But Ford wasn’t the only automaker that suffered from infotainment woes, as CR dropped the Honda Accord V6 from its list of recommended vehicles due to issues with its new infotainment setup, while Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system hurt its brand’s ranking (ranking 25th overall). In that regard, CR feels that electronic systems continue to pose the biggest problems for brands, a circumstance that left two thirds of the 34 Ford and Lincoln vehicles in the reliability survey with scores that were much worse than average, while seven achieved an average score. The F-150 pickup with the 3.7-liter V6 was the only one above average.
But CR’s issues with Ford weren’t limited to infotainment systems, as several models powered by the frequently-lauded turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, the automaker’s solution to achieving V8-like power with the fuel economy of a V6, were rated poorly. According to the publication, there are problems with components associated with the boosted six, rather with the engine itself.
On an individual model level, CR gave the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid the worst overall score, while the non-plug-in C-MAX Hybrid model “wasn’t much better”, according to the publication. But the publication didn’t discriminate against all electrified vehicles, which were actually rated highly so long as they didn’t wear a Ford or Lincoln badge. The Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Prius C, and Honda CR-Z hybrids, plus the the Nissan Leaf electric car were among the top-rated models. Notably, the top-ranking individual model was the overhauled 2014 Subaru Forester.
Ford fared worse than domestic rivals General Motors and Chrysler; the former performed the best of the three in the study, with GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac brands all ranking higher than Ford and Lincoln. Chrysler Group’s Chrysler brand finished 18th, and its Dodge marquee was 24th.
The Motrolix Take
The notion that CR is biased in favor or against certain automakers, perhaps by country of origin, is nice but ultimately flawed — as this study proves (Honda Accord is no longer recommended). However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are simply the results of one study by one publication that attempts to predict the future reliability of vehicles, rather than report on actual experiences of a statistically-proper sample of vehicle owners.
As a reminder, CR surveys its readers and their experiences with 1.1 million vehicles to come up with the rankings. It then uses the data to predict how reliable 2014 models will be.
So while the publication’s readership seems to be at odds with The Blue Oval’s vehicles, the general car- and truck-buying public continues to buy them by the boatload, making Ford the most popular mainstream brand in America.