The 10 Best Automobile Brands in 1985
by James Bleeker
This page provides a ranking of the Top 10 brands of automobiles sold in North America from model year 1979 to 1984.
The statistics used in the computations for rating and ranking the brands are those found within the April 1985 issue of Consumer Reports. The section providing the necessary statistics is CR's reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.
This ranking of the car brands is based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each brand's models. It provides a measure of how well a brand's models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum.
Auto Brand Quality by the Average of Overall Reliability Ratings:
The Top 10 of 1985
To compute brand-quality ratings and assemble a brand-quality ranking using Consumer Reports' overall reliability ratings, a number is associated with each rating. A +1.0 is ascribed to a rating of Much Better Than Average, a +0.5 to a rating of Better Than Average, a 0 to a rating of Average, a -0.5 to a rating of Worse Than Average, and a -1.0 to a rating of Much Worse Than Average. Then an average is taken over all of the brand's model years and models offering an overall reliability rating. CR's 1985 overall reliability ratings are found in the Trouble-Index row of its reliability charts.
For this measure of quality, the range is from -1.0 (the worst possible) to +1.0 (the best possible).
The 10 best car brands by this set of computations, together with their quality ratings, are given in the bar graph below. Only those brands with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.
Summary and Analysis
From this graph, it may be seen that the Top 10 brands in 1985 by overall reliability
were Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Honda, Nissan's Nissan, Subaru, Nissan's Datsun, BMW, Volvo, and Ford's Lincoln.
Important Point: If the Mitsubishi-built models are removed from Chrysler's Plymouth brand and their reliability ratings are included in the computations of the Mitsubishi average, Ford's Lincoln drops from the Top 10 and Mitsubishi places 7th following Subaru.
Possibly the most interesting point displayed by the graph is that the
fabled Mercedes-Benz brand, bearer of the automotive-engineering excellence
mantle for all of the 1960s, had fallen to the Toyota brand by 1985, by CR's
infrequency of serious problems.
To view the 10 Worst brands of 1985, click
To view the graphs showing the 1985 ratings and rankings of all brands, click
For a Google Knol that summarizes the changes in auto-brand and auto-manufacturer ranking by these quality measures from 1990 to 2010, click
AutoOnInfo.net: The auto-quality website with the
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