Earlier tonight (Saturday night), I eclipsed the 25,000-mile barrier on Devoted Dan on my way to Walnut High School. It’s amazing how many miles I’ve put on him since taking delivery of him on January 3, 2004. We’ve had some great times together!
For those who may not have heard already, Subaru was highly heralded in the latest Consumer Reports annual auto issue. The marque took honors in having the best reliability for the model year 2004 vehicles, the number 4 spot for projected reliability of new vehicles, the best small SUV (Forester), and the most fun to drive (Impreza WRX/WRX STi) categories. Read below for more information.
SUBARU TOPS CONSUMER REPORTS RELIABILITY TEST
YONKERS, NY – Consumer Reports’ annual auto reliability survey shows that the reliability of domestic cars and trucks continued to improve last year, while those from European automakers declined. Japanese and Korean automakers once again produced the most trouble-free vehicles overall.
The 2004 Hyundai Sonata had only 2 problems per 100 vehicles, further establishing Hyundai’s remarkable turnaround from one of the least reliable brands to one of the best. The previous-generation 2004 Ford Mustang emerged as the most reliable car made by a U.S. manufacturer with just five problems per 100. The most reliable European model for 2004 was the last-generation Volvo S40/V40.
Among 2004 models, the most reliable brand overall is now Subaru, which averaged 8 problems per 100 vehicles. Honda, long a reliability leader, averaged 9 problems per 100.
Consumer Reports’ survey is the largest of its kind to gauge automotive reliability. CR surveyed subscribers to its magazine and web site, http://www.ConsumerReports.org, in 2004 and received reliability data on a record 810,000 privately owned or leased cars, trucks, minivans, and sport-utility vehicles. Survey findings are published in CR’s Annual April Auto Issue, which is on sale beginning March 8. The Auto Issue is available wherever magazines are sold and may also be ordered online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. Free highlights from the April Auto Issue will be available at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/autos2005.
In the reliability survey, subscribers were asked to report serious problems they have experienced with their cars, vans, SUVs, or trucks during the previous 12 months. The survey covers 17 different trouble areas, ranging from the engine and transmission to body hardware and electrical systems for vehicles up to eight years old. The responses allow CR to calculate problem rates for 1997 through 2004 vehicles and to predict reliability for 2005 models. CR also uses the reliability data in determining which vehicles to recommend to its subscribers.
Consumer Reports’ analysis for each manufacturer is based upon the number of problems per 100 vehicles. The average problem rate for all 2004 vehicles covered in the survey (including domestic, European, and Asian brands) was 16 problems per 100, down from the 2003 rate of 17 problems per 100.
DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors inched a little closer to Asian automakers with an overall problem rate of 17 per 100. Last year, U.S. automakers had a combined problem rate of 18 per 100.
The problem rate for European automakers rose slightly, to 21 per 100 from 20 per 100 last year. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen had more than their share of problems. Only Audi came out better than the industry-wide average, with a problem rate of 12 per 100 for the two Audi models covered in CR’s survey.
The Asian manufacturers (Japanese and Korean) once again produced the most trouble-free vehicles, with an overall problem rate of 12 per 100 for the 2004 model year. That rate has not changed in the past three surveys.
The survey also showed that hybrid cars are proving to be very reliable. The second-generation Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid were among the most trouble-free 2004 models, both with 5 problems per 100 vehicles.
The worst makes continued to be luxury nameplates such as Lincoln (with an average of 26 problems per 100 vehicles), Mercedes-Benz (25 problems per 100), and BMW (21 problems per 100). Also in this bottom group were Volkswagen (23 problems per 100), and Saturn and Nissan—both with 19 problems per 100 vehicles.
How Automakers Fared for 2004 Models
Here’s a look at how manufacturers fared in CR’s reliability survey:
- Ford’s reliability varied substantially between models. Some Ford vehicles have proven to be very reliable while others have been extremely trouble-prone. The previous-generation, 2004 Ford Mustang, for example, was the most reliable domestic car in CR’s survey with a problem rate of 5 per 100—putting that vehicle on a par with the best from Toyota and Honda. The Ford Focus and Escape continue to improve and are now among the more reliable domestic products. But the Lincoln Navigator, with 49 problems per 100, was tied with the redesigned Nissan Quest as the least reliable vehicle.
- DaimlerChrysler’s overall reliability has been close to the overall industry average, albeit with some highs and lows. The PT Cruiser continued to shine as Chrysler’s most reliable vehicle, with only 8 problems per 100. The four-wheel-drive Dodge Ram pickup was a close second with 9. But the four-wheel-drive Dodge Dakota—in its last year before a redesign— had 33 problems per 100.
- General Motors has made overall improvements, although the results haven’t been uniformly good. Cadillac and Buick illustrate the company’s showing. The Cadillac CTS sedan, which was one of the least reliable GM products in CR’s 2003 survey, is now one of the best—at 10 problems per 100. But the new Cadillac SRX SUV, with 19 problems per 100, has been subpar. Buick, the most reliable domestic brand in Consumer Reports’ 2003 survey, is now worse than average at 18 problems per 100. One reason for the poor showing from Buick stems from the fact that CR did not have enough survey responses to properly assess the quality of the now-discontinued Buick Regal; the Regal had been very reliable in previous surveys.
- European automakers didn’t fare well in CR’s survey. Volkswagen’s Touareg SUV turned in one of the worst records in the 2004 survey, with 48 problems per 100; the Porsche Cayenne, built on the same platform, was little better at 41 problems per 100. European SUVs in general have had a lot of problems. The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz M-Class were also worse than average. The Mercedes-Benz E Class and the turbo version of the VW New Beetle were worse than average too, with 30 or more problems per 100. Among the few bright spots are the V6-powered Audi A4 and the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Jetta, with only 11 problems per 100, and the all-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series and Volvo XC70 with 13.
- Asian automakers had a generally positive showing in the survey, although there were some exceptions. Subaru showed considerable improvement across its product line. This year, with just 8 problems per 100 cars, it had the best reliability record of any manufacturer in 2004. It suffered last year, largely because of the poor showing of its new Baja truck. Honda, with 9 problems per 100, and Toyota, and Acura, both with an average of 10 problems per 100, were close behind Subaru this year. Lexus finished fourth, tied with Infiniti and Hyundai with a problem rate of just 11 per 100. Nissan’s 2004 showing was disappointing because its new or redesigned models have had high problem rates. The redesigned 2004 Quest minivan and the full-size Armada SUV were among the worst this year. But the Titan pickup was better. Although Hyundai makes the single most reliable vehicle in CR’s survey, other Hyundais trailed. Worst was the XG350, with 19 problems per 100.
Brand Problems per 100 vehicles
Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. CR has the most comprehensive auto-test program and reliability survey data of any U.S. publication; its auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars.
In closing, I will make a small public service announcement. Subarus are not Australian vehicles. Years of seeing Paul Hogan, a.k.a. Mick Dundee, in Subaru’s TV commercials may have led you to believe that. Subaru is a Japanese automobile manufacturer under the company Fuji Heavy Industries (of which GM owns 19 percent of if I remember correctly).
THE ORIGIN OF SUBARU
“SUBARU” is a Japanese word meaning “unite,” as well as a term identifying a cluster of six stars which the Greeks called the Pleiades – part of the Taurus constellation. According to Greek mythology, Atlas’ daughters turned into this group of stars.
In 1953, five Japanese companies merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. The new corporation adopted the “Subaru” cluster of stars as its official logo for its line of automobiles. Today, Fuji Heavy Industries is a global transportation conglomerate.
With that said, let’s come together…right now…over me!