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Consumer Reports survey extols Toyota

Japanese brands claim top 7 spots in yearly ranking

The 2013 Toyota Prius C, a subcompact hybrid, received the top overall score in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The 2013 Toyota Prius C, a subcompact hybrid, received the top overall score in Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings.

DETROIT — Japanese brands took the top seven spots in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability rankings, pushing aside their US and European rivals. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion, Lexus, and Toyota brands took the top three spots and the Toyota Prius C, a subcompact hybrid, got the best overall score. Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and Acura were close behind.

The rankings, released Monday, predict the reliability of 2013 model-year vehicles based on surveys of Consumer Reports’ readers. This year, 800,000 people submitted information on 1.2 million vehicles from the 2010 to 2012 model years.

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Ford and Lincoln, once top performers, plummeted to the bottom of this year’s rankings because of persistent problems with glitchy touchscreens and bumpy transmissions. Ford was also hurt because three normally reliable models — Escape, Fusion, and Lincoln MKZ — are all new for 2013, so Consumer Reports couldn’t predict their reliability.

Also near the bottom were Chrysler Group’s Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram brands, which have been getting a fast makeover since partnering with Italy’s Fiat three years ago. Consumer Reports says models with more features and more powerful engines, like the V-8 versions of the Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee — had the most issues.

The best-performing US brand was Cadillac, from General Motors Co.

Volkswagen AG’s luxury Audi brand made the biggest strides in this year’s survey, climbing 18 spots to number 8. It was the best-performing European brand. Glitch-free new models like the A7 sedan got high marks from Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing.

Electric cars also got impressive results. The all-electric Nissan Leaf was Nissan’s best performer, partly because its electric motor has fewer parts than a gasoline engine, Fisher said. But the Chevrolet Volt — an extended-range electric car that has both an electric system and a conventional engine and transmission — also got the highest score of any GM vehicle.

The Volt was recalled earlier this year because vehicles crash-tested by the government showed a risk of fire when coolant leaked from the battery. But Consumer Reports’ rankings don’t reflect that, since the magazine only asks respondents to note issues that have happened on their own vehicles.

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