The Best Car Makers – 2009 Edition

Consumer Reports just published their Annual Auto Issue, and guess what?

“The best vehicles are built by Honda, Subaru, and Toyota. They make well-rounded cars that excel across the board…”

That’s not to say that every model made by these companies is highly recommended. In fact, the Honda Element, Toyota Yaris, and Toyota FJ Cruiser scored low enough that they weren’t recommended.

Amongst domestic automakers, Ford came out on top. However, they were only the 12th best carmaker out of the 15 under consideration. Suzuki, General Motors, and Chrysler brought up the rear (in that order).

This is what CR has to say about Chrysler:

“Overall reliability of Chrysler vehicles, which was average last year, dropped to below average this year. No Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicles are recommended.”

Yes, you read that right… Consumer Reports doesn’t recommend a single Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep model. Ouch.

What about GM’s claim that they build 19 cars that get at least 30 mpg on the highway? That’s technically true, but those cars are “a relatively low percentage of [their] fleet.” Moreover, CR has found that “even non-SUVs from Detroit tend to have among the worst fuel economy in their class.”

The good news for GM is that their newest models actually performed reasonably well in CR‘s testing, though their reliability still lags behind the competition. Similarly, Ford has some models that do quite well, but most fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. And Chrysler? Well…

“Most models… have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains; subpar interiors; and poor visibility.”

It’s hard to believe, but they’ve actually gotten worse since last year, when they tied for last place with Suzuki.

16 Responses to “The Best Car Makers – 2009 Edition”

  1. Anonymous

    Front wheel drives are cool and everything but are much harder to work on than an american made rear wheel drive vehicle such as Dodge, Ford or chevy :)and any vehicle will have a problem some time and will need work

  2. Anonymous

    You can buy any vehicle and it have problems it all depends on the driver and how well they take care of their vehicle

    If you pay attention to the road and check your mirrors regular and see something you dont like, kinda like if you dont like being in front of a big truck and your on the highway MOVE out of the way and for every 10mph stay atleast 1 mississippi behind them and you shouldnt rear end them and make sure your brakes are checked regularly so you dont have a stopping problem.

    Chyslers are awsome I have a 2001 dodge dakota with 130K miles on it and it runs awsome and a 2003 chysler PT Cruiser with 110K miles on it and it runs awsome and we are the second owner and we also have a 1993 Jeep wrangler full steel body with 164K miles and it runs awsome and Dodge motors are awsome they last a long time and also my dad has a 1997 Dakota with 240K miles and runs awsome! and my friend has a 2006 dodge ram with the 4.7L V8 and 40K miles and its awsome to

  3. Anonymous

    I trust Subaru 110%! Whatta engineering! Excellent quality, the car that last for ever. I have a Subaru Impreza 2002 and it’s incredible how this car with almost 200k miles runs smooth and strong like new, great grip, no matter if it’s raining or not. I won’t never switch to another make of car cause Subaru never give you problem at all.

    Subaru Boxer engine never die!

  4. Anonymous

    @Joe: “I drive a 10 year old Ford with 211K on it – no major problems, except for the timing belt that went at 165K miles, only 100K longer than the recommended replacement.”

    Joe, as they say “plural of anecdotes isn’t data”. Yes, someone may be lucky and have a really great domestic car just as somebody may be unlucky and get a bad Toyota.

    This doesn’t change the fact that statistically Hondas and Toyotas are more reliable. Statistically i.e. if you take 100 domestic cars and 100 Toyotas, more domestic cars will have problems earlier. It doesn’t mean that every Ford is worse than every Toyota Camry; only that your RISK of getting a bad Ford is higher than getting a bad Toyota.

    One doesn’t even need CR to see it. Just compare prices for new domestic models with 3 year old domestic models. Then do the same exercise for, for example, a Honda Civic. See which car loses more of its value. The difference is so striking, that a lot of people, even those who religiously believe in buying used changed their mind and bought new when they saw the numbers for some Honda and Toyota models.

    It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that anecdotal information is not evidence.

  5. Anonymous

    I drive a Hyundai.

    5 years and 3 months old… 80,000 miles… no problems yet. Just regular maintenance for the most part. Still have time left on the warranty, too.

    I would consider buying another Hyundai.

    I also would look at a Honda or Toyota, though.

  6. Anonymous

    I have a Ford and – knock on wood – I have not experienced any major problems with my car. The only thing I can say is that it’s a bit of a noisy ride. Other then that, it runs great. I’ll have it paid off this year and I’m hoping to get another few years out of it before I have to buy another. But, when I do, I’ll probably go with Honda or Toyota…unless I’ve got the cash for my BMW M3. Don’t supposed CR rated those, did they? Hehe.

  7. Anonymous

    If only people knew what they were talking about before they opened the mouths…

    I drive a 10 year old Ford with 211K on it – no major problems, except for the timing belt that went at 165K miles, only 100K longer than the recommended replacement.

    CR is SUBJECTIVE! My mother had an Accord for years that she loved. She “never had a problem with it.” Then I reminded her about the brake problems she had, front end problems, that piece of trim that started hanging off the rear door the fourth year she owned it and never fixed it, and on and on. It was in pretty good shape in any case when she sold it to a friend for her son to drive. In a year it was in the junk yard. The son didn’t take care of the car and it was just as susceptible to falling apart as any other car. My son has a 99 Grand Am with 90K+ miles, he takes great care of it, and it takes care of him.

    And Ford and GM both had plans to move forward with more cars, better fuel mileage, etc., before the credit crisis caused by banks and bad lending practices kicked in. Even Toyota is down 40% in sales. Do you know ANY business that can withstand a 40% drop in sales for any length of time? Don’t forget, GM alone provides health insurance to something like 500,000 (literally) retired people. All of them could be on Medicare, too, and we’d all be paying for it with our taxes.

    And this doesn’t even touch on the fact that the Japanese (and now the Chinese) have manipulated their currencies for a generation to make their vehicles artificially cheap here in the US. We are talking literally billions of dollars every year in currency exchange that go to Honda, Toyota, Nissan, etc., to fund their research and send profits to their companies. If their currency were forced to be allowed to float and trade equally against the dollar, the Japanese would have stopped importing cars long ago. The head of Honda just came out a month ago and said they could not produce cars in Japan and export them to the US at 85 yen to the dollar. Look it up – this is a fact. But still, they import tons of cars here and ship the cash home to Japan.

    Lastly, don’t forget those dollars to GM and Chrysler are loans. There is a plan to pay that money back. And, the total discussed has been around $50 billion – where’s you indignation at the trillions to banks and insurance companies? Who is going to benefit from that? The people getting the bonuses at AIG? Autoworkers make about $50K a year. The $70-75 a hour numbers thrown around in the media include the cost of all the health care to retirees. Since there are 5 retirees for every one worker at Gm, it is distorted. Guess how many at Toyota? Something like 2000 TOTAL. The paycheck those workers get is based on $25 an hour.

    But Toyota is really helping us out! Keeping buying them, the auto companies will go out of business, and soon, we’ll be the next Great Britain. Less than 100 years ago they were the strongest nation in the world, the center of finance, etc. Enjoy living in and contributing to the decline of an empire… Your children will thank you, I’m sure.

  8. Anonymous

    Well, maybe people will stop buying sub-par domestic cars, and the Big 3 will be forced to start making changes in order to increase sales and make more money…oh, wait, why should they? They have the Bank of Congress to rely on. Grrr.

  9. Anonymous

    It brings to mind a discussion I read recently where all the commenters were saying that domestic cars are equal to or better than the foreign manufacturers. Guess CR doesn’t agree. They also implied that anyone driving a foreign car was a traitor. Anyway, I’m happy with my subaru. They’re one of the few car manufacturers whose sales have climbed recently, defying the overall downturn.

  10. Anonymous

    GM –

    That behavior is not unique to the Malibu. That’s the way most modern cars are designed. The bumpers will crush into body at very low speeds.

  11. Anonymous

    I have a 12 year Jeep with 150K miles and it still runs well. But that being said, I probably won’t buy another Chrysler.
    A few months ago a Malibu rear ended my jeep at low speed. I literally had two small scratches on my metal bumper while the whole front end of the Malibu had extensive damage. While the collapsing of the front end probably was how it was designed (to protect the occupant), it certainly made me think twice of buying this vehicle.

    In this day and age, I ultimately want what is the best value for my money and so any new car purchases will be skewed towards this report’s reccomendations.

  12. Anonymous

    Eek. Are our domestic automakers doomed? I feel like I’m one of the few people who still wishes they can turn it around. I just feel like the trickle down affect if one of the big 3 closes will be a huge blow to the economy. That and I like my domestic car…

    I must say the domestic companies are making it hard to like them the more they seem to fall behind the other manufacturers.

  13. Anonymous

    Not that any of this is a surprise, but I think I’ll enjoy my drive to work in my Honda Accord a little bit more this morning. My Accord, unlike many domestic cars was also made in the US.

Leave a Reply