Toyota tops, Fiat Chrysler last in Consumer Reports quality survey

Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:51pm EDT
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp's namesake brand and its Lexus luxury brand finished one-and-two for the second year in a row in Consumer Reports' annual quality survey of the U.S. new-vehicle market, the influential magazine said on Monday.

The four lowest-scoring brands were all from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chrysler Group, as were five of the bottom seven. Fiat scored the lowest of the 28 brands and the Fiat 500L was named the least reliable among 265 models included in the survey.

The survey is seen as a key factor in influencing American car shoppers.

Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, said it seems Chrysler has been "picking less reliable partners" as times goes on, from Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp to German's Daimler AG to Italy's Fiat.

However, poor results do not always translate into weaker sales. For instance, Chrysler's brands have been at or near the bottom of the survey since at least 2009, while the group's share of the U.S. market has risen to 12.2 percent this year through September from less than 9 percent in 2009.

The biggest complaint about new cars and trucks is that infotainment systems do not work well.

Infotainment systems include safety features, as well as satellite radio and hands-free telephone and internet capabilities, usually displayed on video screens on dashboards.

Fisher said the complaints about infotainment systems are about how they perform after a driver understands them, not about them not being intuitive.   Continued...

A Toyota logo is seen on a car displayed on media day at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile, October 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier