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Consumer Reports brand rating: Lexus best, Fiat worst

Consumer Reports brand rating: Lexus best, Fiat worst

Lexus is the best overall brand; Fiat is worst. That’s what Consumer Reports concludes after combining road-test and reliability scores for 28 brands for which the pubicaton had enough data. In its annual April auto issue — which has CR’s biggest-circulation of the year at about 4 million — says reliability and road test performance go together in what should be thought of “as a dating couple: often seen together, but not always.” In fact, CR notes, “A top score in our tests doesn’t mean a car will be reliable; conversely, reliable cars can — and do — score poorly in our road tests.”635603196596590440-2014-Lexus-IS-250-F-SPORT-001

That can land car owners in a kind of purgatory. They buy reliable cars they eventually realize they don’t like very much, because they aren’t satisfying to drive. But they can find no excuse to dump them for something else because the cars are so reliable and trouble-free. The brand report card is a way to boost your odds of avoiding that, because the rankings are a blend of testing results and reliability data.

CR requires data on at least two models to be included. Thus, the otherwise well-regarded Tesla is absent because it only sells the Model S. And some brands that sell multiple models are excluded because CR has tested only one model, or has too little reliability data available. This year that included Jaguar and Ram.

The list has some apparent ties but CR says scores include rounding and there are no actual ties. Eight of the top nine have better-than-average, or much-better-than-average, reliability. Nine of the bottom 10 have reliability scores worse, or much worse, than average.