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Product Quality Ranking of the Automobile Brands of Europe-Based and Japan-Based Manufacturers
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

This page provides two charts. The first plots the quality ranks of the brands of Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota and Lexus, those of Honda Motor Company, Honda and Acura, those of Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen and Audi, and the brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, and Saab. The second plots the quality ranks of the Infiniti, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, and Suzuki brands, in addition to all of those of the first chart.

The statistics used in the computations for ranking the car brands are those found within the April issues of Consumer Reports. The section providing the necessary statistics is that containing CR's reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.

The charts below provide the ranks of the above car brands based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each brand's models. This ranking provides a measure of how well a brand's models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum in each of the years 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010.

Computations: 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, 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, Kia, 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 quality ranks of the above car lines by this set of computations are given in the graphs below.

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

The Graphs of the Quality Ranks of the Auto Brands Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Saab, Audi, and Volkswagen and the Auto Brands of Japan-Based Manufacturers

Quality Ranks of Auto Brands of Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Saab, Toyota Motor, and Honda Motor by Overall Reliability

Quality Ranks of Auto Brands of Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Saab, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor, Fuji Heavy Industries, Mazda Motor, and Suzuki Motor by Overall Reliability

In the graphs above, the 8-year average of each brand's ranks appears in parentheses after the brand's name.

Summary and Analysis

Important points from the foregoing graphs are:

1. The Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Saab, Audi, and Volkswagen brands have generally moved down in rank over time, and in 2010 the ranks of all 6 were below those of Toyota, Lexus, Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Subaru, and Mazda. Part of the decline may be attributed to the increased offerings and presence of East Asian auto manufacturers.

2. The quality standing of Mercedes-Benz has taken quite a tumble, from 1st place in 1975 and 1980 to 19th place in 2010. Nonetheless, 19th place is much better than its 29th place in 2005.

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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