By Ted Mitchell
Published March 01, 2010
I've been amused by the newsmedia's recent attempted dismantling of Toyota's reputation. Has Tiger Woods traded his dented Cadillac for a Toyota?
Toyota has had an awful lot of recalls lately, and has done a poor job of post-marketing quality control. But recalls are generally relegated to the fine print on page 17 of the automotive section. Would all the media attention then mean that Toyota has lost its edge on quality or is it unwarranted criticism?
Reliability is one of the most important factors people cite for buying a car. I argue brand reputation should be based on something more solid than marketing hype or media spin.
Consumer Reports tracks problem data from millions of owners in 17 categories over the previous six model years. From this they come up with a single metric of predicted reliability for the new model year, not including discontinued and completely new models.
There are five categories, which I've assigned a number so we can analyze them.
|CR Reliability Description||Numeric Score|
|Much worse than average||1|
|Worse than average||2|
|Better than average||4|
|Much better than average||5|
Every model has a unique score, and these have been grouped according to manufacturer. Let's look at the results, ranked by mean reliability score:
|Manufacturer||1||2||3||4||5||Total models||Mean Reliability Score|
|<< Av||< Av||Av||> Av||>> Av|
Toyota products are shown in green, along with Honda nearly sweeping the top of the chart. Also mentionable is the lone 'much better than average' score for Pontiac might be because it belongs to the sister model of a Toyota.
These data are based on the 2003-2008 model years, and therefore don't account for recent recalls. I will revisit this in a year or two to see if Toyota has a precipitous fall from the top. Don't hold your breath.