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MSN Money: Toyota is slipping, Consumer Reports says


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Toyota is slipping, Consumer Reports says

Magazine won't automatically recommend redesigned Toyotas, citing below-average quality in new models. Ford improves dramatically.

Consumer Reports magazine reported today that the quality of cars made by Toyota, long the benchmark for reliability among automotive brands, had slipped so much that the organization no longer will automatically recommend them.

Releasing the results of its 2007 annual Car Reliability Survey today in Detroit, the magazine said two high-profile models, the top-selling Camry V-6 and the four-wheel-drive Tundra pickup, both redesigned this year, scored below average. Consumer Reports won't recommend any model scoring below average to its readers.

Typically, Consumer Reports will recommend a vehicle only if it has at least one year of reliability data. New and redesigned Toyota models had been exempted from that standard because of the company's record. The magazine said today it no longer will recommend any new or redesigned Toyota-built models without reliability data on a specific design.

Talk back: Do you still think Toyota is No. 1?

Now, only Honda and Subaru have that distinction. Despite its emerging problems, Toyota, which also makes Lexus and Scion brand cars, still ranks third in reliability among all automakers, behind Honda, which also makes Acuras, and Subaru. The top-ranked domestic brand is General Motors' Buick.

Ford scores big

For Ford, the news was positive. The magazine said 93% of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models scored average or better, allowing a "Recommended" designation.

"Ford continues to improve," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center. "The reliability of their cars has steadily improved over the years and is showing consistency." He added, "We believe Toyota is aware of its issues and is trying to fix problems quickly."

Forty-one of 44 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models scored average or better in predicted reliability. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are among the most reliable cars. They and the two-wheel-drive Ford F-150 V6 pickup make up three of the only four domestic models on Consumer Reports' "Most Reliable" list. In addition, the magazine scored new-for-2007 SUVs such as the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, as well as the freshened Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, average or above.

Source: MSN Money

Full Article Click Here (Includes some ratings):

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/Advice/ToyotaIsSlippingConsumerReportsSays.aspx

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I think auto quality is cyclical to be honest. Auto makers who want to increase market share focus on quality (Toyota). When they meet their goals they slack and drop, while other makers refocus on quality to regain lost market share (Ford).

Rinse Repeat...

I try to calculate that into my decision when buying a new car. I own a Toyota Tacoma now and I'm very impressed with it. Especially the engineering of the vehicle itself and plan on buying another Toyota when my wife's car goes tits up, but if I think they are slacking on quality and dependability I'll just buy something else.

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