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Consumer Reports: Vehicle reliability no longer improving

Japanese brands still do best in most recent reliability surveys. Mercury makes top ten.

March 1, 2006; Posted: 6:11 p.m. EST (2311 GMT)

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - In Consumer Reports' most recent survey of vehicle reliability, the top of the list is, once again, dominated by Japanese manufacturers.

Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, is ranked as the most reliable nameplate, followed by Honda and Toyota's Toyota brand. Of the top ten brands ranked by predicted reliability, according to Consumer Reports, nine are Japanese.

Only one U.S.-based brand, Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury, made the top 10. Mercury ranked eighth. In last year's survey, Mercury had ranked 16th.

Not all Japanese manufacturers did so well, however. Infiniti, Nissan's luxury division, dropped from eighth place last year down to 28th place in Consumer Reports' reliability rankings this year. The Infiniti QX45 was the most unreliable vehicle among all new cars.

Among overall brands, Porsche ranked as the least reliable based entirely on problems with the Cayenne SUV.

Consumer Reports' reliability predictions are based on an annual survey the magazine conducts of subscribers to its magazine and Web site, ConsumerReports.org. This year, Consumer Reports said, the magazine collected survey data on more than one million vehicles. Each survey respondent can supply data on one or two vehicles.

The survey asks owners to report major problems -- meaning problems that cost a significant amount to repair or that took the vehicle out of service or caused a safety risk -- within the past 12 months. The survey covered 1998 to 2005 model-year vehicles.

In recent surveys, reliability has not been improving as quickly as it had in the past, Consumer Reports said. While Japanese brands still do best and U.S. brands are improving, all have seen the rate of problems per 100 vehicles stay relatively flat since 2003.

Reliability: Top-ten ranked brands

1. Lexus

2. Honda

3. Toyota

4. Mitsubishi

5. Subaru

6. Acura

8. Mercury

9. Mazda

10. Suzuki

Related: Consumer Reports' Top Pick vehicles

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