New York: Japan’s automakers shut out the competition in an influential list of the 10 best new vehicles for 2007, with models from Toyota Motor Corp.and Honda Motor Co. Ltd in the lead.
Consumer Reports magazine on 28 February released its top picks for new cars based on its own testing, reported reliability by a survey of car owners and government safety rankings.
For the second time in the 10-year history of the list, all of the magazine’s top picks were Japanese. In addition, 55 of the 59 used car models recommended by the magazine were Japanese, again dominated by Toyota and Honda.
The snub by the closely watched consumer publication comes at a time of crisis for the Detroit-based automakers — General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group.
All three US automakers are shedding jobs and closing plants in an attempt to cope with a devastating loss of market share. Analysts expect all three to post lower monthly sales for February when results are announced this week.
Against that grim background, Toyota has become the auto industry’s fast-growing star and is on track this year to surpass Chrysler and Ford in US sales and possibly claim the industry’s top spot in global sales from GM.
Toyota also led the Consumer Reports top picks for 2007, published in the annual edition of the nonprofit magazine, with four vehicles, followed by three from smaller rival Honda.
Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand scored with two sedans, the M35 and G35. Mazda Motor Co.’s sporty MX-5 Miata convertible won a mention as most fun to drive.
Toyota’s RAV4 and Highlander Hybrid were named best small and mid-sized sport utility vehicles. Consumer Reports also honoured the Toyota Sienna as best minivan and Toyota’s hybrid Prius as best “green” car for the fourth consecutive year.
Honda’s Civic and Accord won mention as the best sedans, while Honda’s subcompact Fit was named best budget car.
“Today, vehicles have to do everything. The consumer is not willing to put up with crap anymore,” said David Champion, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. “They want to have blistering performance, great fuel economy, they want it all,” the reports added.
Among the used cars recommended by Consumer Reports, only four models came from Detroit including three by GM viz. the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Prizm and Pontiac Vibe.
Ford was represented only by the Lincoln Town Car on the list of recommended used cars.
Even so, the struggling No. 2 US automaker won praise for the “nimble handling” and “comfortable ride” of its redesigned Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, which made the list of the magazine’s most impressive new models.
Chrysler Group, the No. 4 US automaker, was shut out entirely of the top honours, and Consumer Reports put four of its new vehicles — the Jeep Compass, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Nitro and Chrysler Sebring — on its list of most disappointing debuts.
Chrysler also had the lowest average test score of any of the major auto manufacturers based on the evaluation of Consumer Reports editors.
Its parent company, Daimler, was also shut out of the recommendations for its luxury Mercedes-Benz brand, the only major nameplate excluded from the recommendations.
“Most Mercedes vehicles have good ride and handling, and the company is a safety leader. But all have poor reliability,” the magazine said.
Honda had the highest average test score and was the only manufacturer other than Subaru to have its entire vehicle line-up endorsed by Consumer Reports.