Honda, Subaru and Toyota still make the best cars, according to Consumer Reports annual Automakers Report Card for 2011.
The manufacturers scored in the top three positions for the third year in the row. Most of their vehicles did well in road tests and are fairly trouble-free, the publication said.
Automakers who improved scores in 2011
Ford showed the most improvement of any automaker, raising its average score for all tested models to 70 from 66. Consumer Reports recommends 71 percent of the Ford vehicles it tested, versus 76 percent of top-ranked Honda.
General Motors also improved; its average test score rose to 67 from 65 last year, with newer models, such as the Buick Enclave and LaCrosse, as well as the Chevrolet Equinox and Traverse, performing well.
Other automakers' scores decline
Consumer Reports said Volkswagen's reliability has improved recently, but Audi's "spotty reliability" brought the combined automaker's score down.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW scored below average for reliability and are near the bottom of the rankings, and Chrysler came in last in class.
The annual report covers the performance, comfort, utility and reliability of more than 270 vehicles tested by Consumer Reports. Each automaker's score is based on a composite of road-test and predicted-reliability scores. The road test score is based on more than 50 tests and evaluations, and reliability scores come from the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey, which includes histories of 1.3 million vehicles.
Such scores do not directly affect car insurance rates, although insurers do consider the type of vehicle as one factor in setting insurance premiums. Insurers take into account a vehicle's value, cost of repairing it and claims history for that make and model.