Scion is most reliable car - Consumer Reports

Asian brands are tops in reliability, but Ford is coming close, magazine says.

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By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com Senior Writer

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The Scion xD is the most reliable 2009 model-year car, according to Consumer Reports.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Japanese and Korean automakers produce the most reliable cars, according to a new survey of car owners by Consumer Reports. At least one Detroit carmaker, Ford, is moving up the ranks quickly, but it has yet to crack the top tier according to the magazine.

Toyota's (TM) low-priced Scion brand had the highest average reliability overall. Even its least-reliable model, the sporty tC coupe, still had "much better than average" reliability.

The Scion xD small wagon has the best predicted reliability of any car in the survey. It had 80% fewer problems than the average car in the survey.

No U.S.-based car brand finished in the top ten. The closest were Ford's (F, Fortune 500) three domestic brands - Ford, Lincoln and Mercury - which all had average reliability. Lincoln ranked 11th, just behind Kia.

Ford's trucks and truck-based SUVs, such as the Ford F-250 pick-up and Mercury Mountaineer, dragged down the company's overall performance ratings.

"Excluding those, Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers," the magazine said in an announcement.

Also tops

The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans finished just behind the Toyota Prius as "Most Reliable Family Sedan," said David Champion, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports.

Ford was not surprised by these results, said Bennie Fowler, Ford's global vice-president for quality, since the company's own research has been showing improvement.

"We knew that would eventually be validated by third-party reports," he said.

Fowler also defended the quality of Ford's large trucks and SUVs, calling them "on par with any truck-based vehicles in the world."

Honda's luxury Acura brand ranked second, followed by Honda's mainstream Honda brand. Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus ranked fourth and fifth in survey.

Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia also did well, ranking eighth and 10th in the survey, respectively. Kia moved up 12 places in the rankings from last year. (Hyundai and Kia are owned by the same parent company, and share some common engineering.)

For General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), the best ranking overall brand was Buick, which was 18th with average overall reliability. A quarter of GM's products still rank below average in reliability, though, according to the magazine.

All three of Chrysler's brands - Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler - had worse than average overall reliability, according to the magazine. Two-thirds of Chrysler products are below-average in reliability, the magazine said.

The Chrysler Sebring Convertible has the worst reliability of any model in the survey. Sebring owners, on average, had 283% more problems with their car than the average vehicle in the survey.

"At time, we are not satisfied with our performance," said Chrysler spokeswoman Beverly Thacker, who added that the company is working aggressively to improve customer satisfaction, she said.

Toyota bounced back from last year, when Consumer Reports announced it would no longer recommend V6 versions of the popular Camry sedan or four-wheel-drive V8 versions of its Tundra pick-up because of poor reliability. This year, all 42 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models in the survey scored "better than average" for reliability.

"When [a quality problem] like that comes to light, we jump on it," said Toyota spokesman Curt McAllister.

Consumer Reports surveys its subscribers about vehicles from all three of the most recent model years, unless the vehicle has changed significantly.

If the vehicle has changed in that time, only vehicles built since the change are included.

Consumer Reports' rankings are based on survey responses from subscribers to the magazine and its Web site. Responses included information on almost 1.4 million vehicles, the magazine said. To top of page

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