Japanese car brands, led by Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, took the top seven spots in Consumer Reports magazine’s annual quality rankings.
The top U.S. brand placed 14th out of 26 in the ratings.
Lexus received 79 out of 100 points based on the scores of its eight models, all of which the magazine recommends buying. Parent company Toyota’s namesake line tied for fourth place with Honda Motor Co.’s Acura brand. Subaru, which placed first among automakers last year, was second and Mazda Motor Corp.’s Mazda was third.
Consumer Reports changed its ranking system this year, breaking out brands instead of ranking automakers according to collective scores for all their lines.
“We feel this is more in line with how people shop,” Rik Paul, the magazine’s automotive editor, said in an interview before the rankings were released Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington.
Consumer Reports, published by Consumers Union, tests and evaluates cars for how well they drive, interior finish quality, fuel economy and reliability. The rankings are published in the magazine’s annual auto issue.
General Motors Co.’s Cadillac, boosted by the CTS, was the top U.S. brand, ranking 14th. The CTS was rated above average for reliability and called “as capable as its German rivals.”
The bottom six brands in the rankings were U.S.-based — Chrysler Group LLC’s Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep; Ford Motor Co.’s Ford and Lincoln; and GM’s Buick.
“The American automakers are getting better,” Paul said. “As much as companies are improving, companies like Toyota and Honda are still raising the bar.”
Lexus earned praise for vehicles that are “generally quiet, plush and very reliable, though they’re rarely sporty,” the magazine said.
Because redesigns of Chrysler’s Dodge Ram and GM’s Chevrolet Silverado haven’t been tested, the magazine elected not to make a “best pick” among all types of pickups this year. In its place, Consumer Reports brought back the “budget car” category, choosing Hyundai Motor Co.’s Elantra as the best car for less than $20,000.
Honda’s Accord won the best pick for the midsize sedan category, the top-selling vehicle class in the U.S.