Lexus slips, Toyota rises, in reliability rankings
In Consumer Reports rankings, some domestics improve, but others sink.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Toyota luxury brand, Lexus, saw it's rank in Consumer Reports' annual "predicted reliability" survey from first to fifth. Replacing Lexus in the top spot was Toyota's own Toyota brand.
Toyota had ranked second to Lexus last year.
Honda ranked as the second-most reliable brand and Toyota's low-cost Scion brand ranked third.
The most-improved brand was Infiniti, Nissan's luxury brand. rising to 8th place from 20th place last year.
The top-ranked American brand was Ford's entry-luxury Mercury which ranked 10th.
Ford's Lincoln brand and General Motors' GMC brand both improved considerably over last year. Lincoln ranked 13th this year, with its Zephyr sedan - recently renamed the MkZ - among the most reliable cars in the survey.
GMC ranked 14th among a total of 36 brands in the survey, up 11 places from last year.
Overall, domestic brands are seeing much better reliability with their newer offerings, however, said David Champion, head of Consumer Reports' auto testing programs.
General Motors and Ford vehicles that were engineered many years ago or that are based on older designs are still hurting relaibility ratings for those companies, he said.
"Reliability has to be designed in," he said.
Manufacturers say they pay attention to Consumer Reports rankings because they know buyers pay attention to it.
"We do use the feeback in the magazine to drive product improvement but that is not the only source of feedback that we use," said Janine Fruehan, a spokeswoman for General Motors.
The company also looks at its own warranty repair data and customer surveys, she said, which have been showing improvement.
DaimlerChrysler's brands continued to do poorly in Consumer Reports' "predicted reliability" survey.
Mercedes-Benz was the bottom-ranked brand in the survey with its V8-powered M-class SUV showing the poorest predicted reliability of any vehicle. The most reliable Mercedes, according to the survey, was the V6-powered C-class, but even that car is predicted to have "worse than average" reliability.
"The cars that are out there today are some of the best we've ever built," said Mercedes-Benz spokewoman Donna Boland.
According to the company's own survey and warranty data, the brand's reliability has improved considerably in the last several years.
"Overall, we had some issues, but that's behind us," Boland said.
DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands also finished in the bottom half of Consumer Reports' rankings. The best was Chrysler, which ranked 22nd, followed by Dodge at 23. Jeep ranked 32nd, having dropped from 19th place last year.
The Chrysler PT Cruiser GT is the only DaimlerChrysler vehicle to offer "better than average" reliabiltiy, according to Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports' "predicted reliability" rankings are based surveys responses from subsribers to the magazine and its Website. The survey had over 1 million respondents overall, according to Consumer Reports.