Toyota stays on top of list with ‘reliability over excitement’

28 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Consumer Reports ranks Toyota at top on reliability.

The company’s Toyota and Lexus brands top the survey, while its Scion brand is in the top 10. Staying connected in your car through elaborate infotainment systems is increasingly coming at the cost of quality, Consumer Reports magazine found in its latest annual survey of automotive reliability.”Infotainment system problems generally don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, “A close look at the results suggests that cars with a lot of in-car electronic issues usually have plenty of other troubles, too.” The findings, announced today, are part of the widely consulted publication’s 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey. Defective in-car electronics, such as balky dashboard touch-screens, generated the most complaints among the 17 categories that Consumer Reports polled car owners about for its reliability survey released Monday. “Toyota has a strategy that emphasizes reliability over excitement,” said Fisher. “They take a conservative approach to redesign and roll out new features slowly.

The risk is they may not have the latest bells and whistles, but the reward is world class reliability.’’ Also on Monday, Toyota released sales numbers that showed it is on track to be the world’s top-selling automaker this year. If you’re looking for an SUV to get you through the Alberta winter, Consumer Reports says the most reliable are the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the Subaru Forester, the Toyota Highlander and Lexus.

First-year models from Infiniti, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, Cadillac, Ford, and Honda all have seen significant problem rates from infotainment bugs and glitches. Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than any other category did . The smartphones have a better track record and the automakers are really stumbling.” Drivers are demanding their cars keep them constantly connected to their smartphones and the Internet.

Japanese brands generally fared well in the Consumer Reports’ survey, which predicts the reliability of 2015 model-year cars and trucks based on a survey of subscribers who own 1.1 million vehicles from current or prior model years. The number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow more than sixfold to 152 million in 2020 from 23 million now, according to researcher IHS Automotive. Consumer Reports praised both Toyota and its luxury arm Lexus for introducing new technology slowly and on proven models, which it said helped the two brands maintain a comfortable reliability lead in nearly every category they compete in. Those continue, CR said, and this year’s results show growing problems with other infotainment systems —including multi-use controllers that don’t function properly.

Power & Associates 2014 new-car quality study, which found almost one-in-five complaints were for audio, entertainment and navigation systems. “It’s not going away because people absolutely want this,” Fisher said. “To many consumers, whether a vehicle goes from zero to 60 in 9.1 second or 9.7 seconds is far less important than, ‘Can I stream Pandora and see the album art?’” Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Lexus luxury brand remains atop the Consumer Reports reliability study, while the company’s namesake brand again ranks second. More than 1 in 5 owners reported a problem with it, a trend that was foreshadowed by our own flawed experience with the system in two Q50 models we tested last year. The word in a general description for electronic arrays that typically include links to the users cellphone, a way to connect an iPod or other music device, built-in navigation and applications that provide other features, such as apps that remind you where you parked or let you see if from afar whether you locked the doors. The magazine isn’t recommending the 2015 Honda Fit subcompact, for example, since it will be produced in Mexico and its quality may not match those previously made in Japan.

Other trouble areas owners reported were noises and leaks inside the cabin, problems with body hardware like door locks or trunk latches, power equipment like lighting and keyless entry, and paint and trim issues. In recent models, the system seems to work better, and Ford has hinted that it will replace the Micorsoft system with other, unnamed software that it expects to be better.

Mercedes-Benz fell the hardest, by 11 spots, because of quality issues with its new lower-priced CLA sedan and complaints about the electronics in the higher-end S Class. Consumer Reports noted that all six of Buick’s vehicles scored average or better for reliability, and the magazine issued a coveted “Recommended” rating for the LaCrosse large sedan. Getting some of the bugs out of MyFordTouch helped the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker move up from the bottom of Consumer Reports rankings last year to 23rd out of 28 brands.

Chevy’s Silverado and its GMC Sierra twin were particularly poor performers, which Consumer Reports largely attributed to teething problems for the all-new generation. Buick ranked sixth, up 6 spots from last year, while GM’s Cadillac luxury line moved up seven spots to rank 18, its GMC brand fell 11 spots to 19 and its Chevrolet slipped four spots to 21. Chrysler Group as a whole had a very bad day, with four of the bottom five brands on Consumer Reports’ rankings: Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat taking the 25th through 28th spots, respectively.

The deficiencies haven’t held back Chrysler’s U.S. sales, which have risen for 54 consecutive months, because consumers still find the design and performance of its models appealing, Fisher said. The best fix for problems with infotainment systems may come from the smartphone makers at Apple Inc. and Google Inc., which are each introducing dashboard versions of their technology.

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