A car that's more reliable is a direct result of design philosophy and may not necessarily be engineered better. That's the takeaway from the latest Consumer Reports used car reliability survey, which once again placed Toyota and Honda at the top, far ahead of carmakers based in North America and Europe.
"The engineering in American car companies is just as good or better than anywhere else in the world, as is the manufacturing," Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, told us. "It's just that there's a whole different design philosophy."
The reason American and European cars do so poorly in the magazine's annual owner reliability survey (appearing in the April issue) is that the automakers tend to incorporate more cutting-edge technology in their vehicles, Fisher said. Ford Motor Co., for example, plummeted in this year's reliability ratings, largely as a result of introducing new powertrains and chassis across much of its vehicle line. Similarly, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW received some poor marks after rolling out products that use eight-speed transmissions and turbocharged hybrid powertrains.
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