Audi (XETRA:NSU-DE), which for years has struggled to improve the dependability of its cars and SUVs, is rated among the most reliable brands in a new survey by Consumer Reports.
Ford (NYSE:F) continued to struggle, ranking 26th out of 28 brands. The survey also raised questions about Nissan (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 7201.T-JP), which fell nine spots to 22nd. Other perennially strong Japanese brands were named seven of the 10 most reliable.
Meanwhile, the Tesla (TSLA) Model S electric car's first review painted a mixed picture. The model received an above average reliability rating with very few complaints about the battery system; however, as production has increased, so have the number of issues.
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"The very first models from Tesla, it is almost as if they took one of the vehicles and went over it with a fine-tooth comb and made sure each one of those vehicles were right," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' director of auto testing. "Now that they are ramping up in terms of their volumes, they are really going to have to figure out how to make these cars continue to be reliable."
The survey showed Ford, which last year ranked 27th, continues to have problems with its MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch infotainment systems. In addition, "Several EcoBoost turbocharged V6 models have poor reliability as well. Almost two-thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got scores that were much worse than average," the report said.
The brand's C-Max Energi was rated its worst model; at Nissan, the Pathfinder earned that designation.
"Nissan has not been one of the top manufacturers in terms of reliability, so they actually have multiple problems," Fisher said.
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Fisher noted the interesting thing about Audi's improved rating was that they have high-content vehicles with high-end pieces, electronics and power equipment, and they are "still getting it right."
The 2013 Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey is based on the answers of 1.1 million subscribers to the magazine.
Overall, the survey showed people think the reliability of their cars hasn't changed much in the last year. Glitches in the electronics and telematics in new models continue to frustrate their owners.
"When it comes to major mechanical problems engine, transmission, etc. they actually are doing better, but the new electronic problems are actually bringing them down," Fisher said.
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com .
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