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Histograms and Pie Charts: A Historical Summary of Changes in the Automobile Quality Spectrum and Car Maker Shares of the Best Autos and the Worst Autos
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

For each of the model years 1975, 1980, 1985, 2000, and 2005, this web page provides:

1. A histogram depicting the relative frequencies of Consumer Reports' of five ratings - Much Worse Than Average, Worse Than Average, Average, Better Than Average, and Much Better Than Average - for the overall reliability of models of automobiles between the ages of 5 and 6 years,

2. A pie chart depicting manufacturer shares of CR's Much-Better-Than-Average reliability rating, and

3. A pie chart depicting manufacturer shares of CR's Much-Worse-Than-Average reliability rating.

The overall reliability ratings of models of cars (and trucks) at age range 5-to-6 years are used in the histograms and pie charts in order (1) to provide a graphic depiction of the differences in how well cars hold up over a longer period and (2) to help identify which car manufacturers have made and currently make vehicles with greatest durability and least durability. The model years 1975, 1980, 1985, 2000, and 2005 are selected to give good historical perspective on these differences and to offer insight on changes over time. Model years 1990 and 1995 are omitted as Consumer Reports did not offer overall reliability ratings for these model years for the age range 5-to-6 years.

The histograms and pie charts are grouped by model year.

Model Year 1975

Histogram depicting distribution of 1975 5-to-6-year-old autos over CR's overall reliability ratings.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of worst 1975 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of best 1975 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.

Model Year 1980

Histogram depicting distribution of 1980 5-to-6-year-old autos over CR's overall reliability ratings.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of worst 1980 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of best 1980 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.

Model Year 1985

Histogram depicting distribution of 1985 5-to-6-year-old autos over CR's overall reliability ratings.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of worst 1985 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of best 1985 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.

Model Year 2000

Histogram depicting distribution of 2000 5-to-6-year-old autos over CR's overall reliability ratings.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of worst 2000 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of best 2000 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.

Model Year 2005

Histogram depicting distribution of 2005 5-to-6-year-old autos over CR's overall reliability ratings.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of worst 2000 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.Pie chart depicting auto manufacturer shares of best 2005 cars at age range 5-to-6 years.

Changes from Model Year 1975 to Model Year 2005

The share of Average autos (middle bar) shrunk dramatically from 1975 to 2005, and in 2000 and 2005 the relative frequencies of CR's overall reliability ratings had dual nodes. This suggests that careful selection of a motor vehicle may be even more important today than in times past.

In 1975, General Motors Corporation had no model among the worst, but by 1980 it dominated the worst and maintained that dominance to 2005.

From 1975 to 2005, Toyota Motor Corporation's share of the best automobiles increased from 50% to 59.4%.

In 1975 and 1980, Honda Motor Company had no model among the best, but from 1985 to 2005 it accounted for more than 20% of the best automobiles.

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