Autos

This Car Brand Was Ranked Best in America

On the whole, cars have become more reliable over the past several decades. The average age of an automobile on the road in America is almost 12 years. That rises almost every year. The gulf between the quality problem of cars made in Detroit and the better workmanship of Japanese and German cars has closed. Cars made in South Korea were hardly available two decades ago. Now, two are among the largest companies in the United States, and each has a strong reputation for quality products.

When consumers are asked why they pick one car above another, several factors are almost always present. Often at the top of the list is price. Gas mileage is often another. The conversation quickly moves to what features people want. Overarching all of this, however, is whether a car is considered well made. Research firms probe that differently, but usually the terms come down to “reliability” and “quality.”

The Consumer Reports Brand Report Car Rankings, among the most carefully followed car research, have just been issued for the current year. Because of Consumer Reports’ decades-long reputation as a nonprofit consumer testing company and the sample size of over 500,000 drivers, the rankings are highly regarded and widely used by car shoppers. Consumer Reports conducted 50 tests on each car it evaluated. The score, it says, is based on “a combination of predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction based on member surveys, and CR’s hands-on analysis that includes road performance, key safety features, and crash-test results.”

Mazda was rated in first place among all brands rated, with Consumer Reports noting: “Mazda rose three spots from last year to claim the top position in this year’s rankings for the first time.”

Mazda is a midsized car company based in Japan. It produces about 1.5 million cars a year. Its sales in the United States fall well below Japanese manufacturers Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru. On the spectrum of car brands sold in America, Mazda falls into the “economy” price range, which makes its success in the Consumer Reports ranking all the more impressive. Mazda sells four sport utility vehicles, three sedans and two coupes. Its lowest-priced model, the Mazda3 sedan, has a base price of $20,650.

Mazda’s sales may be modest at this point. The Consumer Reports rating gives it visibility unprecedented for a car company of its size.

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