Less than a decade after the government bailed out the country’s largest carmakers, U.S. auto sales hit a 15-year high in 2015. Driven by an increasingly robust economy, low unemployment, and extremely low gas prices, many manufacturers are reaping the benefits of this surge.
There are many reasons Americans will choose to purchase one car over another. Brand loyalty, cost, and customer service all can have an impact on which cars Americans decide to purchase. Of course, the quality of the vehicle itself — its reliability, handling, and safety — is likely an important consideration for most buyers. In the latest edition of it annual Car Brands Report Card, Consumer Reports ranked 30 major car makes based on these factors. According to the report, Audi produces the best overall vehicles of any major brand, while Fiat rates as the worst among the 30 brands.
While buyers may not consider it a priority in their purchases, quality and safety do appear to have a meaningful impact on sales. Among the top-rated makes, nearly all were among the 10 top-selling brands in the United States in 2015 or had among the largest increases in sales compared to 2014. Sales of only one of the better-rated brands on the list — Volkswagen, which had to deal with its emissions scandal last year — declined over that time. Meanwhile, annual vehicle sales at Fiat, Dodge, and Cadillac, all among the worst-rated brands, declined.
J.D. Power, one of the standards for consumer product reviews, also produces a Customer Service Index Study each year. The 2016 edition of the report has similar results to Consumer Reports’ findings on reliability. The majority of the top 10 makes for overall quality are also among the top 10 in J.D. Power’s ranking as well. All five of the worst car brands, according to Consumer Reports, are among the least dependable makes according to J.D. Power.
The Consumer Reports data cover 30 brands based on road-test performance, reliability, safety performance and active safety aids, and owner satisfaction. We also reviewed the results of JD Power’s 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which rates car makes based on the number of problems per 100 vehicles. We also considered 2015 U.S> sales, as well as the change in sales from the previous year, as listed in manufacturer press releases.
These are America’s best and worst car brands.