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Consumer Reports: Ford's new sedans shine in results, but Japanese still most reliable by far.



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NEW YORK ( -- The Ford Fusion midsized car and its Mercury Milan sibling scored big in Consumer Reports' annual new car reliability survey, just beating out the industry's quality standard-bearers, the Honda Accord V6 and Toyota Camry V6.

But, overall, Japanese brands are still the ones to beat. Of the 47 vehicles with the highest predicted reliability, 39 are Japanese. Of those, all but seven are made by Toyota or Honda.

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American cars are continuing to improve in reliability, however, according to Consumer Reports' surveys.

The "predicted reliability" rankings appear in the 2007 New Car Preview issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Six of the "Most Reliable" are from General Motors or Ford. Those are Ford's front-wheel-drive midsize sedans (Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr), GM's new large non-luxury SUVs (Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon) and GM's Pontiac Vibe wagon. The Vibe is shares its basic shape and engineering with the Toyota Matrix, a nearly identical vehicle which also made the list.

No vehicles from DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group made the "Most Reliable" list.

Only one European car, the Mini Cooper, made the "Most Reliable" list. Of the "Least Reliable" cars, 19 of the 45 are European models.

Twenty of the "Least Reliable" vehicles are domestic models and just five, all from Nissan, are Japanese.

The difference between the "Most Reliable" and "Least Reliable" is striking, the magazine said, citing a comparison of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz M-class SUVs.

The owner of the M-class is likely to experience 10 times as many problems as the owner the Highlander Hybrid, the magazine said.

Hybrid vehicles have shown particularly good reliability, Consumer Reports said, although the Ford Escape dropped from "above average" to "average" predicted reliability for the 2007 model year. Other hybrid models, made by Toyota and Honda, have had excellent reliability, the magazine said.

Consumer Reports bases its reliability predictions in survey data from approximately 1.3 million vehicles owned by subscribers to its magazine and website.

Overall reliability scores for the most recent three years are averaged for each model. If the model has been redesigned or was newly introduced within that time, predictions are based on available data.

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