Jeep Reputation Hurt Badly in New Study

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Among the brands that received “report cards” in a new Consumer Reports, Jeep posted a score that was the lowest among makers of cars and light trucks. Jeep received an average road-test score of 54, well below the industry average. Consumer Reports did not put one Jeep model on its recommended list of vehicles. The rating is a sharp blow to the Chrysler division that had hoped new models would allow it to compete in the SUV market.

Luxury brands dominated the top of the rankings, with Audi (road-test score 83), Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s (NYSE: HMC) Acura (79), Infiniti (80) and Mercedes (81) posted unusually well. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) (73) and General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Buick (74) were toward the middle of the pack.

The Jeep evaluation was devastating:

Average road-test score: 54

Reliability: Good

Recommended vehicles: None

Though the Grand Cherokee is a great performer, it’s unreliable. Older models are crude and outdated, and the new Cherokee isn’t that competitive.

And:

Jeep has a mix of spotty reliability and mediocre road-test results.

The Grand Cherokee, Jeep’s flagship, needs to do well to boost sales of the brand. Jeep promotes the Grand Cherokee as the “Most Awarded SUV Ever.” The Consumer Reports ranking undermines that claimed distinction considerably.

The new rating is the second blow to Jeep from Consumer Reports. In the research firm’s Car-Brand Perception Survey, Jeep ranked among the 10 worst.

If brand perception and data from major car research firms count for anything in the car buyer’s mind, the Jeep has received a setback from which it may be unable to recover for a very long time.

Methodology: Consumer Reports calculates each brand’s overall score using an equally weighted composite of its road-test scores and reliability scores for each model that the organization has tested and for which its subscribers have provided reliability data in its Annual Auto Survey. To be included, each brand needs at least three models for which Consumer Reports has test and reliability data.

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