By Nat Shirley
Tuesday, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 1:43 pm
 
Continuing a theme from this year's J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, Ford saw a sharp decline in this year's Consumer Reports reliability survey as Chrysler gained ground and imports continued to dominate.

Ford dropped from 10th to 20th place in the 2011 survey due to problems with the company's controversial MyFord Touch infotainment system as well as the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic gearbox fitted to Focus and Fiesta models.

"Especially at lower speeds in parking-lot areas, it's a very jerky transmission," said David Champion, the senior director of Consumer Reports' auto test center. "It was very difficult to get a smooth drive-away."

Meanwhile, Chrysler Group saw significant gains thanks to a "new determination on reliability," according to Champion. Jeep shot up 7 spots to 13th place, the best showing of any domestic manufacturer. Chrysler also moved up 12 spots, though its performance should be taken with a grain of salt as it is based on data from only the 200 sedan and Town & Country minivan. Dodge also rose three spots.

General Motors didn't fare particularly well in the survey, with the company's Buick and Cadillac brands falling to 24th and 25th place, respectively, out of 28 automakers.

Fun fact: the Chevy Volt was ranked GM's most reliable car (though the sample size was barely above 100 vehicles).

As in years past, Japanese automakers dominated the survey, this time taking nine of the top ten spots; 96 percent of the Japanese vehicles were rated as having average or better reliability, compared with 64 percent of domestic cars. Toyota's Scion brand ranked first overall, while the most notable improvement by a Japanese company came from Mazda, which rose eight spots to finish fourth.

European brands fell overall, with Porsche having a particularly dismal year: the new Volkswagen subsidiary fell from from the 2nd best spot to the 2nd worst, putting it in 27th place. VW itself held steady in the number 16 spot.

CR's yearly survey uses data from 1.3 million 2002-11 model-year vehicles leased or owned by the publication's subscribers. The accumulated survey data is utilized by the publication to track the reliability of vehicles up to 10 years old and to predict the reliability of 2012 models.

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2.'Japanese brands dominate...' view