World and Nation

Japanese autos lose ground in consumer reliability ratings

After results of Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability ratings were released Monday, there appeared to be a crack in the dominance of Japanese brands over automotive reliability. Two of America’s most popular cars, the V-6-equipped Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima, no longer have the consumer advocacy publication’s coveted “Recommended” rating, according to the report.

The 2014 Subaru Forester was the highest-scoring vehicle overall in predicted reliability. Worst-rated was the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The Dodge Dart 2-liter was the top domestic model. After performing poorly in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new, more stringent small overlap front crash test, the Audi A4, the Toyota Camry, the Toyota RAV4 and the Toyota Prius V were also absent from the list.

The results of Consumer Reports’ annual survey, which tries to highlight the most reliable 2014 vehicles by evaluating past years’ models, were released in Detroit during a news conference before members of the Automotive Press Association. The report is based on data from 1.1 million 2004-13 model-year vehicles leased or owned by Consumer Reports subscribers. Subscribers were asked whether, in the past year, they had a serious problem with their vehicle that required a visit to the dealer.

To determine predicted reliability, the publication’s staff averages the overall reliability scores for the most recent three model years, assuming that a given model has not changed during that period and was not redesigned for 2013. If it were, Consumer Reports may use one or two years of data to calculate a rating.

At first glance, the slipping reliability stances of Japanese vehicles do not seem significant. After all, seven of the top 10 spots in the brand rankings are still held by Japanese brands, with Lexus in first place, followed by Toyota, Acura, Mazda, Infiniti, Honda and Subaru. That is only one less than last year.