Honda, Subaru, Toyota Still Top The Charts

Honda, Subaru, Toyota Still Top The Charts

While looking over the MSN car website we were struck by something that just continues a trend that began 30 years ago and that continues today. Quite simply, Honda, Subaru and Toyota are the best cars on the road, bar none.

While some of their specific models may move up and down the automotive food chain, it always seems that these three – at least for the last few years, anyway – are the best of the best in the car business.

Ford reportedly showed the biggest improvement last year, while General Motors remained mired in the middle with some models improving and others having lackluster showings. MSN noted that Consumer Reports indicates that “newer GM models have performed well” in testing but, given the large numbers of lackluster vehicles the General fields, their ratings haven’t moved.

Chrysler scored a dead last in the competition, however, the folks who conducted the study indicated that now that Chrysler is owned by Fiat they expect the poor showing by Chrysler products to be reversed. Indeed, they now that newer models – the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram which have already been started on the overhaul path by Fiat – are already better but still Chrysler is a dead last.

Here’s an interesting finding that has us questioning who did the testing and what they sprinkled on their breakfast cereal. They noted that while Volvo made improvements and that most European models were middle of the pack that these models still had confusing instruments and controls, so wouldn’t you think that might knock them down a few pegs and bring GM, whose Chevy Traverse and Buick LaCrosse, have improved, up a few notches.

To our thinking, anyway, this study, based on the work of the supposedly bias-free consumer publication Consumer Reports, is flawed because it says one thing and then contradicts itself as in GM’s better but lackluster and even though GM has models that have improved as well as new models such as the reborn Buick Regal, based on a European platform and which can perform with the best of Europe and Japan and even the Cobalt-replacing Chevy Cruze, which is essentially a Cobalt with a new body and other tweaks was given short shrift. The older Cobalt was a reliable vehicle and if the Cruze is as good – people we know in the service side of a couple of Chevy dealerships indicate the Cruze is a nice little car.

And, as has been pointed out many times in the past, the CR study always has Toyota and Honda as its top vehicles, even when some of their vehicles have shifted downward. The study begs the question: if GM has improved models, but others that are lackluster and dragging it down, why isn’t the same weight or consideration being given to those vehicles from Toyota and Honda? It does seem to suggest that the testing isn’t as neutral as some would like you to think it is.

Indeed, it leads you to think that the testing could be very much skewed against the domestic industry and toward the imports. Even Ford’s improvements that we think should have pulled it into the top three or so, aren’t enough to change the results, though Ford is mentioned as improved.

This is a good reason for all of us to remember that all studies are subject to the biases of the groups studying the issue and writing the report. In this case, it is just a continuation of something that has been apparent for over 20 years, CR’s reporting while comprehensive is not without its own bias.

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