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The 10 Best Automobile Brands in 2005
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

This page provides two rankings of the 10 best brands of automobiles sold in North America from model year 1997 to 2004. Each ranking employs a different method of computation.

The statistics used in the computations for rating and ranking the brands are those found within the April 2005 issue of Consumer Reports. The two sections providing the necessary statistics are CR's Used-Cars-To-Avoid list and its reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.

The first ranking of the car brands is based on each brand's infrequency of trouble-prone models. This ranking provides a measure of how successfully each brand's models avoided the bottom end of the model-quality spectrum.

The second ranking of the car brands is based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each brand's models. The second ranking provides a measure of how well a brand's models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum.

Auto Brand Quality by Frequency of Trouble-Prone Models: The Top 10 of 2005

To form a brand-quality measure from the 2005 list of Used Cars To Avoid, the first step is to count each brand's entries on the list. Each model year of each model is treated as a separate entry.

Next, as the number of automobile models sold under a brand name varies greatly from brand to brand, it is necessary to take account of the fact that a brand with more models has a greater opportunity to have more model years of low quality. To compensate for a possibly inflated, or deflated, frequency of trouble-prone model years within a brand, as well as a variability in model data sufficiency, the number of a brand's entries in CR's 2005 Used-Cars-To-Avoid list is divided by the total number of overall reliability ratings for the brand found in the reliability charts of the same issue of Consumer Reports. The overall reliability ratings are found in the Reliability-Verdict row of the 2005 reliability charts.

By the method of computation, this quality measure begins with 0 and may run to a value some greater than 1. The value of 0 is the highest quality rating attainable by a brand and is achieved only when a brand has no entry on the Used-Cars-To-Avoid list.

The 10 best car brands by the foregoing computations, together with their quality ratings, are given in the first bar graph below. Only those brands with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.

Auto Brand Quality by the Average of Overall Reliability Ratings: The Top 10 of 2005

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 Better Than Average, a 0 to a rating of Average, and a -1.0 to a rating of 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 2005 overall reliability ratings are found in the Reliability-Verdict row of its reliability charts and are limited to three grades - Better Than Average, Average, and Worse Than Average.

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 second bar graph below. Only those brands with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.

The Bar Graphs of the Top 10 of 2005

In both of the graphs that follow, the order of the car brands is with the best on top.

When two or more brands have no entry in CR's list of Used Cars To Avoid, the brands are listed in descending order of number of overall reliability ratings (a brand with a greater number of overall reliability ratings appears above a brand with fewer ratings), as those brands with a greater number of ratings would have a greater opportunity for a trouble-prone model year to be found.

The 10 Best Auto Brands in 2005 by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models The 10 Best Auto Brands in 2005 by the Average of CR's Overall Reliability Ratings

Summary and Analysis

By infrequency of trouble-prone models (first graph), the ten best brands in 2005 were, in descending order (best first), Toyota Motor Corporation's Toyota, Honda Motor Company's Acura, Fuji Heavy Industries' Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota's Lexus, Nissan Motor Company's Infiniti, Honda's Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan's Nissan, and Hyundai. All of the Top 10 automobile brands of 2005 were from East Asia - 9 from Japan and 1 from South Korea.

Hyundai's leap from the Bottom 10 in 1995 (in fact, the worst) to the Top 10 in 2005 is a notable achievement.

By overall unreliability (second graph), the ten best brands in 2005 were, in descending order (best first), Toyota's Toyota, Honda's Honda, Toyota's Lexus, Nissan's Infiniti, Honda's Acura, Fuji's Subaru, Mitsubishi, Nissan's Nissan, Mazda, and Hyundai. Here, too, all of the Top 10 automobile brands were from East Asia.

By this quality measure as well, Hyundai leaped to the Top 10 in 2005 from the worst in 1995.

There are 8 brands common to both best-10 lists; they are:

2 Toyota brands - Toyota and Lexus
2 Honda brands - Honda and Acura
2 Nissan brands - Nissan and Infiniti
Subaru
Hyundai

There is no Big Three brand in the Top Ten by either quality measure.

Additional Resources

To view the 10 Worst brands of 2005, click Go.

To view the graphs showing the 2005 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.

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