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Average Product-Quality Ranks of Most Auto Brands Available in the U.S.
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

This page provides 4 tables of quality-rank averages for most of the automobile brands available in North America. Each table employs a different method for computing the quality rank of the brands.

The statistics used in the computations for ranking the car brands are those found within the April issues of Consumer Reports. The two sections providing the necessary statistics are CR's Used-Cars-To-Avoid lists 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 and third tables provide the average ranks of the car brands based on each manufacturer's infrequency of trouble-prone models. These average ranks provide a measure of how well each manufacturer's models successfully avoided the bottom end of the model-quality spectrum for the years 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010.

The second and fourth tables provide the average ranks of the car brandss based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each manufacturer's models. The average ranks provide a measure of how well a manufacturer's models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum in each of the years 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010.

Auto Brand Quality by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models

To form a car-brand quality measure from each of the annual lists 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 by a car brand 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 of a brand, as well as a variability in model data sufficiency, the number of a brand's entries in a 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.

Finally, the automobile brands with at least 5 overall reliability ratings are ordered from best to worst for each of the years 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010. The best brand in a given year has a quality rank of 1. The worst quality rank varies from year to year and ranges from 22 to 34.

Automobile brands with a rank in at least one year include Acura, AMC, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Datsun, Dodge, Eagle, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, International Harvester, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Peugeot, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

The first table provides the average quality ranks of the automobile brands by these computations, where the average is taken over the above 7 years. To be included in the table, the brand must have been ranked in at least 3 years.

The third table provides the average quality ranks of the automobile brands by these computations, where the average is taken over the 3 most-recent of the above 7 years. To be included in the table, the brand must have been ranked in at least 2 years.

Auto Brand Quality by the Average of Overall Reliability Ratings

To compute car-brand quality ratings and compute a quality rank using Consumer Reports' overall reliability ratings, a number is first associated with each of CR's overall ratings. 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. Lastly, the automobile brands with at least 5 overall reliability ratings are ordered from best to worst for each of the years 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010. The best brand in a given year has a quality rank of 1. The worst quality rank varies from year to year and ranges from 20 to 34.

Automobile brands with a rank in at least one year include Acura, AMC, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Datsun, Dodge, Eagle, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, International Harvester, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Peugeot, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

The second table provides the average quality ranks of the automobile brands by these computations, where the average is taken over the above 8 years. To be included in the table, the brand must have been ranked in at least 3 years.

The fourth table provides the average quality ranks of the automobile brands by these computations, where the average is taken over the 3 most-recent of the above 8 years. To be included in the table, the brand must have been ranked in at least 2 of the 3 most-recent years.

Note: As overall reliability ratings were not offered by Consumer Reports in 1995, Auto Reliability Percentrank averages were used for ranking the automobile brands.

The Tables of Average Auto-Brand-Quality Ranks from Best to Worst

Auto-Brand Average Product-Quality Rank by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models for Years 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010
Auto Brand Average Rank
Toyota 3.0
Toyota's Lexus 4.3
Nissan's Infiniti 5.3
Suzuki 6.3
Honda's Acura 6.4
Honda 7.6
Nissan 9.8
Volvo 10.6
BMW 10.7
Mercedes-Benz 10.7
Subaru 10.9
Mazda 11.0
Ford's Lincoln 12.4
Mitsubishi 13.5
Ford's Mercury 14.3
General Motors' Buick 15.0
Porsche 15.3
Volkswagen's Audi 15.6
General Motors' Saturn 17.3
General Motors' Cadillac 17.4
Ford 17.6
Hyundai 18.5
Isuzu 18.8
General Motors' Oldsmobile 19.0
Chrysler's Plymouth 19.0
Saab 19.3
Chrysler's Dodge 21.1
Volkswagen 21.3
General Motors' Chevrolet 23.4
General Motors' GMC 23.7
Chrysler 23.9
General Motors' Pontiac 24.0
Chrysler's Jeep 25.2

Auto-Brand Average Product-Quality Rank by Overall Reliability for Years 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010
Auto Brand Average Rank
Toyota's Lexus 2.3
Toyota 2.6
Honda's Acura 3.2
Honda 3.7
Nissan's Infiniti 4.0
Nissan's Datsun 4.3
Subaru 5.7
Mazda 7.5
Nissan 7.7
Mercedes-Benz 10.3
BMW 10.7
Mitsubishi 11.3
Suzuki 11.3
Ford's Lincoln 12.8
Volvo 13.5
Porsche 14.3
Ford's Mercury 15.1
Isuzu 15.3
General Motors' Saturn 16.3
General Motors' Buick 16.9
Ford 16.9
Saab 17.9
Volkswagen's Audi 18.0
General Motors' Oldsmobile 18.0
Volkswagen 18.4
Hyundai 18.8
General Motors' Cadillac 20.0
AMC 20.0
General Motors' Chevrolet 22.1
Chrysler's Dodge 22.4
Chrysler's Plymouth 22.4
General Motors' Pontiac 22.8
Chrysler 25.1
General Motors' GMC 25.5
Chrysler's Jeep 26.0
Jaguar 27.3

Auto-Brand Average Product-Quality Rank by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models for Years 2000, 2005, and 2010
Auto Brand Average Rank
Honda's Acura 2.3
Toyota 2.3
Toyota's Lexus 4.3
Nissan's Infiniti 5.0
Subaru 5.0
Suzuki 5.5
Honda 7.0
Hyundai 8.5
Nissan 9.3
Mazda 11.0
Mitsubishi 12.0
General Motors' Buick 13.7
Ford's Mercury 13.7
BMW 14.0
Ford 16.0
Porsche 17.0
Ford's Lincoln 18.0
Volvo 18.3
Mercedes-Benz 19.0
Saab 19.0
Volkswagen's Audi 19.3
General Motors' Saturn 20.7
Isuzu 21.5
Chrysler's Jeep 22.0
General Motors' Cadillac 23.3
General Motors' Pontiac 24.7
Volkswagen 25.0
General Motors' Oldsmobile 25.5
Chrysler's Dodge 25.7
General Motors' Chevrolet 26.3
Chrysler 26.7
Chrysler's Plymouth 29.5
General Motors' GMC 30.7

Auto-Brand Average Product-Quality Rank by Overall Reliability for Years 2000, 2005, and 2010
Auto Brand Average Rank
Toyota 2.3
Toyota's Lexus 2.7
Nissan's Infiniti 3.7
Honda's Acura 4.0
Honda 4.3
Subaru 6.0
Mazda 9.0
Hyundai 9.5
Nissan 9.7
Suzuki 10.5
Mitsubishi 12.0
BMW 13.3
Ford's Lincoln 13.7
Ford's Mercury 15.0
Ford 15.3
General Motors' Saturn 16.3
Volvo 16.7
General Motors' Buick 16.7
Porsche 19.0
Isuzu 19.5
Mercedes-Benz 21.0
Volkswagen's Audi 21.3
Saab 21.7
General Motors' Chevrolet 23.3
General Motors' Pontiac 23.7
General Motors' Oldsmobile 24.0
General Motors' Cadillac 24.7
Volkswagen 25.3
Chrysler 26.0
Chrysler's Dodge 26.7
Chrysler's Jeep 27.0
General Motors' GMC 29.0
Chrysler's Plymouth 30.0

Summary and Analysis

Some important points from the foregoing tables are:

1. By both quality rankings and for both time periods, Toyota Motor Corporation's Toyota and Lexus brands were in the top 3.

2. By both quality rankings and for both time periods, brands by Chrysler and General Motors account for 8 or more of the bottom 10.

Additional Resources

To view the quality ratings of all of the auto brands for a given year, click the applicable year.

2010  2005  2000  1995  1990  1985  1980  1975 

To view the quality ratings of the 10 best auto brands for a given year, click the applicable year.

2010  2005  2000  1995  1990  1985  1980  1975 

To view the quality ratings of the 10 worst auto brands for a given year, click the applicable year.

2010  2005  2000  1995  1990  1985  1980  1975 

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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