The auto industry finds itself in one of the most difficult periods of the past several decades, with dealers nearly running out of cars in many parts of the country and popular car models out of stock. Consumers are similarly facing a far more difficult process when buying a car, now considering car ratings along with availability. One such rating from Consumer Reports ranks Jeep as America’s worst car brand.
The primary trigger of the supply squeeze in the car market is a shortage of microchips used in vehicle electronics and infotainment systems. The shortage may run through this year into the next.
Prices for both new and used cars have risen. Used cars had among the largest increases in the consumer price index in January. Car price discounts may be a thing of the past, at least until inventories have been rebuilt for a while.
Despite the difficulty that consumers have as they look for cars, the methods by which they decide which brand to buy have not changed much. Several car media and research firms supply highly followed evaluations of brands and models. These include J.D. Power, Motor Trend, Edmunds, and Car and Driver. (Here is another ranking: This is the least dependable car in America.)
One of the annual studies most carefully followed by car buyers is by Consumer Reports. For its recently released “Which Car Brands Make the Best Vehicles?” report, 32 brands were evaluated. Each received an overall score, out of 100, based on four factors: reliability, road tests, safety, and customer satisfaction. The road test portion involved 50 tests. Reliability ratings were based on reports in troubled areas. Owner satisfaction data was gathered from questionnaires sent to Consumer Reports subscribers. Safety scores were based on independent research.
In the introduction to the new survey, the authors wrote: “Each year our brand rankings reflect the changes that inevitably come as automakers introduce new cars and fix problems in vehicles already on the market.”
The brand that did most poorly was Jeep, part of Italian auto manufacturer Stellantis. The company also owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Ram, Opel, and Peugeot brands. Currently, it is the sixth-largest car company in the world.
Jeep received the lowest score at 45. This put it just ahead of GMC, which was second worst at 48, and Mitsubishi and Land Rover, which each scored 49.
Jeeps began as army vehicles in World War II. The brand has had several owners since then. Jeep is one of several popular commercial products you never knew were invented by the military.
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