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The 10 Best Automobile Brands in 1985
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

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.

10 Best Auto Brands of 1985: Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Datsun, BMW, Volvo, and Lincoln

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.

Additional Resources

To view the 10 Worst brands of 1985, click Go.

To view the graphs showing the 1985 ratings and rankings of all brands, click Go.

For a Google Knol that summarizes the changes in auto-brand and auto-manufacturer ranking by these quality measures from 1990 to 2010, click Go.

AutoOnInfo.net: The auto-quality website with the Open Directory Cool Site Award.

 

Additional Resources

Detailed information on auto reliability and car, truck, brand, and manufacturer quality, as well as changes in U.S. car and light vehicle market shares, are given in the car guides below. These are available as Kindle ebooks and may be purchased for a small fee on Amazon.com. Links to the Amazon pages offering the books are provided.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

Volume 3 of AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series offers quality ratings on car and truck models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With these measures of performance, this e-guide brings to the aid of auto consumers a convenient, anywhere, anytime source of automobile information on enduring reliability. As a further aid, this book provides graphs depicting both automobile brand and manufacturer spectral signatures and density functions.

Ratings and rankings of vehicle models, brands, and manufacturers are for North American model years 2002 to 2005 when the cars and trucks were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and Grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include small cars, family cars, upscale cars, luxury cars, sport cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. For each of these body styles, the best and the worst are listed in separate chapters.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

AutoOnInfo.net's Car Quality Series, Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

This volume of AutoOnInfo.net’s car guide series offers consumers and researchers an historical summary of the reliability and durability of car and truck brands and examines how these brands have fared in their U.S. market shares. It uses 6-year-old model entries in Consumer Reports’ Used Car to Avoid – also termed Vehicles to Avoid and Worst Cars, Year by Year – and CR’s reliability charts to ascribe quality grades to automobile brands for model-year groups 1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, 1995 to 1999, 2000 to 2004, 2005 to 2006, and 1985 to 2006. In addition to ascribing quality grades to each brand, it provides a chart that plots the number of the brand’s 6-year-old model entries in CR’s vehicles to avoid. To examine the effect that a brand’s reliability and durability has had on sales, two or more charts depicting the brand’s U.S. market shares for calendar years 1985 to 2009 are given. These grades and charts and the author’s comments impart an historical perspective that sheds light on the present condition of surviving vehicle lines and their future prospects, individual and institutional shortcomings, and what effect these may have on the U.S.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide offers quality ratings on car models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With this guide, GPAs and grades, familiar by common-place use in educational settings, are brought to the aid of car consumers seeking a convenient, any-where, any-time source of automobile information on enduring reliability. Car models rated are from North American model years 1999 to 2002 when the cars were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include convertibles, coupes, sedans, wagons, hatchbacks, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

Also visit www.CarsOnInfo.net and www.CarQualityInfo.net for more car and truck quality tables, charts, graphs, and information.