Lexus, Subaru and Mazda had the highest scores for their cars on the 2013 Annual Car Brand Report Card from Consumer Reports, which was released last week.
This year, the nonprofit, independent product-testing organization took a different approach to its annual report card ratings, assessing each car brand individually versus combining brands into one score for the parent auto manufacturer. For example, each of General Motors' brands were assessed individually this year as were the other automakers that own multiple brands, including Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Lexus performed the best, with a report card score of 79 out of 100, followed by Mazda and Subaru, which tied with a score of 76. Japanese brands overall scored the highest, with eight of the top 10 brands. European automakers were generally in the middle of the pack, though Audi and Mercedes-Benz were both in the top 10, and Mini was ranked dead last among all European brands.
Consumer Reports said that domestic brands struggled in the scores. Even though Ford and General Motors have many promising new models, these automakers have been plagued by low scores because of technology issues or new engines that don’t perform as well as competitors. Chrysler continues to struggle because of reliability issues and many older models that are not as strong as its competitors.
The nonprofit calculated its report card scores based on its road-test and reliability scores for each individual model, assessing both areas equally. Consumer Reports methodology requires data for at least three models for a brand. As a result, its 2013 Car Brand Report Card does not include Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Ram or smart.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.