I agree that these ratings can be useful, but it takes some thought to decipher some of these.
I'm also looking at the Consumer Reports issue for best and worst 2011 cars. There are a couple of things to note.
First, don't confuse the "road test" rating with which car is actually best. For instance, those who actually want a real 4x4 to go off road would be sorely disappointed in following the "midsized SUV" recommendation, which would have them in a Toyota RAV4 instead of a Toyota FJ Cruiser or Jeep Wrangler. In fact, the "road test" puts Jeep Vehicles dead last in every category, but for people who are looking for true utility, the Consumer Reports "road test" rankings should be reversed.
The same goes for the "compact pickup" category. The Honda Ridgeline is #1 and the Ford Ranger is dead last. Good luck to you if you actually needed a real 4x4 pickup. I would look only a reliability ratings, and ignore the more subjective ratings such as "controls." Looking at low-points like engine noise and acceleration can be interesting, but really "fit and finish" is in the eye of the beholder. The "hard plastic" is panned by the reviewers, but on the other hand, it's a lot easier to clean up than some kind of felt or velour.
As an example, consider the Dodge Caliber, which is rated lowest in its category. However, on p. 88 when you see the breakdown, CR gives the Caliber the highest marks for engine, transmission, drive system, and shows improvement to better than average for electrical, paint, power equipment, and audio system. That, to me, makes it sound like a decent car that would do everything that a car ought to do. So why don't they like it? Because it doesn't handle and brake like a sports car, apparently. Somebody who just wants a good car to drive to work and haul a few things like in a station wagon would be perfectly happy with this car, and yet just looking at the rankings overview would dissuade them from buying it. Does that really make sense?
You can use these ratings as a guide, but they are not a substitute for choosing the vehicle that works best for you.
Again with the same old "facts" and J.D. Powers quotes. Please stop writing the same thing over and over, and base your posts on ACTUAL experience with the brands you talk about. Do you read anyone else's posts? Your comments do absolutely nothing in helping anyone, other than let them know you've read the news and scour ratings sites. You have no real experience with brands like Toyota, so why do you continue to go on about how bad they are? Please stop!!
How much more "factual" or "experienced" can a survey be than when it is based directly on the car owner's own personal experiences with their own cars??
Both the initial Quality Survey and the Long-Term Reliability Surveys are based directly on problems the ACTUAL OWNERS have with the cars. It's not opinion, it's problems directly reported by the owners and drivers of these vehicles themselves.
Both surveys show clearly and unquestionably that Ford outranks both Toyota and Honda in initial build quality, and that Ford's Lincoln brand from 2007 on has proven the world's most reliable cars, beating out Lexus. This comes straight from the owner's themselves, so I'd have to regard that as both "factual" and from "personal experience".
And yes, my family has had several imports. The best, in all honesty, was a Toyota. The worst was a Honda. The Toyota was traded out of sheer boredom at 100,000 miles. It had had a few minor problems. No domestic we have ever owned has ever had any problems in 100,000 miles, and we have kept three (a Dodge, a Buick and a Ford) in excess of 200,000 miles without any problems. The Ford made over 300,000 before being traded for (naturally) another Ford.
What seems so strange about import owners is the statements that keep appearing that say "I'll buy an import NO MATTER WHAT THE SURVEYS SHOW SO DON'T BOTHER ME WITH FACTS!!" Why any American citizen wants to buy an inferior product to the detriment of U.S. industry and U.S. workers is very hard to understand. If I lived in Japan, I would buy a Japanese car to help my own citizens. Since I live in the U.S. I prefer to help the 90% of my fellow citizens who are employed in the auto industry rather than the 10% who work for all foreign manufacturers combined. We have lost millions of jobs in this country because people prefer to support foreign industry. That makes no sense at all.
First of all, Toyotas and Hondas are not "inferior" products. Saying so doesn't detract from reality.
Secondly, if everyone only bought whatever was produced entirely from domestic sources, that would be the equivalent of a closed economy, which isn't economically feasible, especially given the hodge-podge mixed international component content of the typical car out there. I feel happy in knowing that the Toyotas I buy help American workers that manufactured them.
"Happy" in helping less than 10 people out of a hundred?? An odd sense of "helping".
First of all, I OWN A FORD, so don't confuse me with an import owner. Secondly, you list all "facts" based on nothing but what you've read. Please stop wasting valuable posting space and people's time if you have no experience with the cars! Why is that so hard for you to do? I DO NOT care about surveys. I go by what I personally have experienced PERIOD, end of story!!
The posts on this site are only worthy to me if they tell me actual experiences from owners perspective. Someone coming onto every other thread and listing out the same "21st out of 33 car makers" and "J.D. Powers says this or that" tells me NOTHING about actual experience. I don't care if those sources quote from actual experience. If I want to hear from J.D. Powers or Consumer Reports, I will go to their sites!
So for the last time... please quit bashing car brands you haven't owned. It is doing nothing but starting more useless arguments on here that are a waste of everyone's time and really unproductive! THANK YOU!!
I agree that car production is mostly global, today. My Toyota is NOT inferior to anything Chrysler, Ford, or GM has produced in the year that I bought. I can't help but get irritated at those who can't understand that from a small car buyer's perspective, the 'big three,' stunk when compared to Toyota and Honda. GM kept the same platform for the Cavalier/Sunfire for 25 years. Ford's Focus set a record for recalls long before Toyota. The Neon ate head gaskets for breakfast.
I drive an 05 Echo, and the only subcompact offered from ANY domestic producer in that year was the Chevrolet Aveo, which was actually made in South Korea. If I had bought that, which I wisely didn't, would I be helping or hurting the U.S? After all, it is South Korean, and built there, despite its Chevrolet badge. Car production is now global, so don't guilt people who buy Toyota and Honda. They've been building cars in North America for years.
My little car has been flawlessly reliable, and very fuel efficient, the opposite of the Aveo. Compare that to Chrysler and Ford, who didn't offer anything in the subcompact field. I researched this car inside and outside of this site, and I knew it was a good bet for a good small car. Consumer reports clearly stated this in their used car guide, and didn't recommend any small car from GM, Ford, or Chrysler, who by the way is mostly Fiat now. Should a person feel guilty about buying from them? They are foreign, and Chrysler has no future without them. The Fusion is built in Mexico, and so is the Fiesta. I guess you have to cross them off your list too.