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Japanese Cars Most Reliable: Consumer Reports

March 12, 2002

Consumer Reports(R) has released its "Top Picks for 2002" in its Annual April Auto Issue, selecting the BMW 530i as its top-rated car overall, and the new Subaru Impreza WRX as the top-rated fun-to-drive vehicle.The Toyota Highlander out-scored its more costly relative, the Lexus RX300, to become CR's Top Pick for midsized sport utility vehicles.Japanese-built vehicles led every category of the annual reliability survey. But the gap between U.S. automakers and their European rivals is the narrowest ever, according to the survey released March 12.The most reliable passenger car, according to the survey, was the Infiniti I30, with six problems per 100 vehicles and the worst passenger car was the Audi A6 2.7T with 42.The two-wheel-drive Ford Explorer Sport Trac was the worst vehicle in the survey, with 44 problems per 100 vehicles.Overall, vehicles from Japanese automakers had the least problems per 100 vehicles with 15, while European and American brands had 23 and 24 problems per 100, respectively. Among domestic brands for 2001 models, Chrysler was best with 22 problems per 100, followed by GM (23) and Ford (26). Some Chrysler cars had few problems when new but became troublesome over time. The 2001 300M, for instance, was the most reliable American vehicle, but the 1999 version is on the organization’s "used cars to avoid" list.Among the 2001 models, the most complaints were for items that Consumer Reports classifieds as body integrity: rattles, squeaks, and leaks. Among middle-aged and older (1998 and earlier) models, electrical components -- the battery, charging system, wiring, and lights -- prompted the most complaints.Among Japanese manufacturers, the best were Toyota and Subaru, with 12 problems per 100, followed by Honda and Nissan, with 14.Among European makers, Saab had the fewest complaints, 14 problems per 100, but on the strength of only one model, the 9-5.The most reliable vehicle in the survey was the Nissan-made Infiniti QX4 sport utility vehicle, with a rate of only 4 problems per 100 vehicles. Another SUV, the Toyota-made Lexus RX300, was second, with 5 problems per 100.The survey recorded readers' experiences with 512,000 vehicles from model years 1994-2001.
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