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Consumer Reports: Government Motors beats Ford in reliability

4579 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Steverino
Ford falls to second to last place while GM’s Chevy Volt had above-average reliability for the second-consecutive year, Consumer Reports said.

I don't have a subscription (dropped it after the early CR Volt bashing), so I don't have the detailed list.
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Shows just how biased CR is - Toyota has recalled over 20 million cars in the last 3-4 years and they are still #2 in the reliability ranking? I find that very counter intuitive......
Recalls have little to do with overall reliability. You can have the most reliable car in the world but if the 1 defect it does have has something to do with safety, then it will be a recall.
I don't have a subscription (dropped it after the early CR Volt bashing), so I don't have the detailed list.

I just checked online. I can't find a complete list, but CR lists the best and worst for each brand. The Volt is the most reliable Chevy. The Volt is listed as 37% Better than average, while the Corvette is 43% worse than average.

Another interesting comparison: Nissan Armada: 101% worse than average, while the Leaf is 54% better than average. Since Consumer Report's reliability is self-reported by owners I suppose the Leaf would be actually be higher if it weren't for the battery degradation in etremely hot areas. (Or maybe Nissan intercepted the Consumer Reports surveys destined for households in near the Mexican border...heh heh)
The CR surveys have become meaningless. The differences between the car makers are too small for accurate measurement and the respondents seem to just parrot what CR has told them in the first place, making it something of an echo chamber. What they ding you for is also open to debate. Ford has gotten killed because of MyTouch, but MyTouch is just an interface that people will adapt to. Once they do that it will be "intuitive".

Just to expand on the first point, magazines and journalists always want to report with levels of certainty that the data simply doesn't support. It's like the political polls. Twenty polls show one candidate with a 2% or 3% lead, and then there is one poll that shows a tie with an error band of +/- 3%. That's pretty much what you'd expect if one candidate had a lead of a few points, which means all the poll is doing is mapping a dead fish. However, you don't get people's attention with that, so what gets reported is that the race is moving in some direction or another. Same thing here. Honest reporting would say: "90% of the companies have similar products within our margin of error" but what you hear is "X company has fallen from #3 to #9 in reliability". Please.
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The October, 2012 CR Reliability chart is attached as a PDF.

Meaningful? Meaningless? That's up to you.

They mention the Volt several times:
The General Motors nameplates—Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC—moved up in ranking. Cadillac climbed the farthest, but the best news might be from Chevrolet. The Volt extended-range electric car continues to have above-average reliability, and the compact Chevrolet Cruze, dismal in its first year, improved to average.
When the Prius came to market 12 years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about how well hybrid powertrains would hold up. But those fears were unfounded: Reliability is a high point for most hybrids. All but the relatively new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid proved reliable in this year’s survey.

So far, electric vehicles have also been reliable. The Nissan Leaf had an excellent showing and was the most reliable Nissan in the lineup. The Chevrolet Volt has been above average in our past two surveys. And Toyota’s new Prius Plug-in earned a top reliability score in this year’s survey.
But despite the quotes above and the fact that the Volt has the highest rating of ANY vehicle in the CR survey of "Would you definitely buy this car again?"- 92% - it is still only middling on the CR Overall Ratings of small cars (behind the Leaf, Prius and VW Golf TDI).
-101% worse than average ? That's some fancy math :)
Yeah- VERY fancy math. We may have to publish reliability ratings for CR's math.

Here is the fine print for the chart:

This graph shows how the brands rank on the average of their models' predicted reliability scores. The score is calculated as a percentage better or worse than the average of all cars. Each bar shows the range between a brand's best and worst models. The rank change shows how many spots a brand rose or fell in the standings compared with last year's survey. We needed sufficient data on at least two models to include a brand. Ram (formerly Dodge trucks) was not separated out from Dodge last year. "-" indicates no change from last year. *Based on one model year only.
Meaningful? Meaningless? That's up to you.
OK. Meaningless if you know about statistics. The differences between the top and bottom performers are so small that CR resorts to the cheap trick of shortening the Y-axis so you can see a difference in their numbers, a trick that rests on the fact that if you make the measuring tool small enough then tiny differences start looking significant. If it ever used a funnel of the uncertainty this would be obvious, but it won't do that for the obvious reason that everyone would be able to easily see how meaningless the surveys are.

And that assumes that the data is reliable. Which of course they're not. The proof of this occurred when insurance companies saw a surge of claims related to Toyota vehicles malfunctioning and causing serious injury and even death, a surge so large that they contacted the NHTSA, and CR ratings didn't reflect anything. That should have been a giant wake-up call for those who previously believed that the CR ratings were measuring anything real.
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Being in the survey research business, I have to say that all of these surveys of consumer satisfaction with cars are trash and not reliable. Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, manufacturer surveys -- all garbage. I could write an essay on what's wrong -- poor sampling, faulty methodology, etc, etc -- but suffice to say, good or bad results and ratings, they are not trustworthy. Garbage in, garbage out.
I am reminded of an interview or article where the Volt got bashed by CR or a staff member because CR paid MSRP + $5,000 for their test Volt. They attributed that as a problem with the Volt instead of with their buyer.
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