Lexus, Mazda get highest marks in Consumer Reports auto brand study

By Reuters

Feb 24, 2015 11:43 PM EST

Toyota Motor Corp's (7201.T) Lexus brand finished on top of the Consumer Reports annual "brand report card" for the third straight year, the influential U.S. magazine said on Tuesday.

Japanese brands took four of the top five places. Mazda Motor Corp (7261.T) was second and the best finisher among non-luxury brands. Toyota (7203.T) came in third, followed by Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi from Germany and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd's (7270.T) Subaru from Japan.

For the first time, a U.S. brand made the top 10. General Motor Co's (GM.N) Buick came in seventh, just behind VW's Porsche.

Ranking eighth through 10th were namesake brands from Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Kia Motors Corp (000270.KS) and BMW (BMWG.DE).

The Buick Regal was named best sports sedan model, displacing last year's champion, the BMW 328i.

"Today, many domestic models can go toe-to-toe with the best imports," said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports.

Falling the most in the brand ratings was Daimler AG's (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz, to 21st from 10th last year. Consumer Reports said several models, including the CLA, were unreliable.

For the second year in a row, Tesla Motors Inc's (TSLA.O) Model S was named the best model overall.

The Audi A6 was named the best luxury car for the third straight year.

The Subaru Forester was named the top small SUV, and the Toyota Highlander the top mid-sized SUV.

The Chevrolet Impala from GM was named best large sedan.

Consumer Reports subscribers rated 1.1 million vehicles in the annual auto survey. The results come from those ratings, along with U.S. government and insurance industry safety tests and road tests by the magazine's staff.

No pickup truck was named as best. Last year's winner, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU.N) (FCHA.MI) Ram 1500, was not reliable enough, Consumer Reports said, and the best-selling model in the United States, Ford Motor Co's (F.N) F-150, is too new to have a testing record. Consumer Reports also judged the GM Chevrolet Silverado as unreliable and the Chevrolet Colorado as too new for testing results.

Of all the brands in the survey, Buick had the greatest percentage of its models "recommended" for purchase, at 83 percent. No other U.S. brand had even half of its models recommended.

Lexus got "recommended" ratings for 78 percent of its models tested, compared with Mazda, 67 percent; Toyota, 68 percent; Audi, 56 percent; and Subaru, 80 percent.

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