Monday, May 21, 2018
Business

In Consumer Reports reliability study, Toyota brands earn top three spots

DETROIT — Toyota's three brands — Scion, Toyota and Lexus — swept the three top spots in Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey, which analyzes subscribers' experiences with 1.2 million new vehicles to predict future reliability.

Ford's reliability took its biggest hit yet as complaints about its MyFord Touch infotainment system and a new transmission continued to hurt the automaker, causing its ranking to fall to 27th out of 28 brands, down from 20th in last year's study.

Cadillac, at 11th, was judged the most reliable domestic brand, improving from 25th last year.

Asian brands took nine of the top 10 spots. Audi, at No. 8, was the only German automaker to rank in the top 10. This year, Mazda was ranked fourth, followed by Subaru, Honda, Acura, Audi, Infiniti and Kia.

The drop for Ford comes three years after Consumer Reports praised Ford as the only domestic automaker with "world-class reliability." Two years ago, the Ford brand also cracked the top 10. Now, only Jaguar is ranked lower.

Despite efforts to improve MyFord Touch — the smartphone-style screen on which drivers can control everything from their phones to temperature settings to entertainment options — the system continues to confuse some customers, said Jake Fisher, director of testing for the magazine.

Fisher said customers say that at times the touch screens go blank, settings disappear or the system needs to be rebooted. Customers also continue to complain about rough shifting with Ford's six-speed, dual-clutch PowerShift transmission, Fisher said.

"They've put out some updates to try to address some of those problems for both the transmissions and the infotainment controls, but it doesn't seem to be enough," Fisher said.

Chrysler also had a disappointing showing. Three of its four brands ranked near the bottom. Jeep, the automaker's top-ranked brand, finished 19th, six spots lower than last year.

Inconsistent reliability for Chrysler was caused by problems with optional power trains and issues with features found in higher-priced versions, the magazine said.

Fisher said Chrysler's problems stem from overhauling so many vehicles so quickly. Those changes included new engines and other new technology.

"Chrysler seems to be a victim of its own improvements," Fisher said. "They have actually improved a lot of their vehicles quite a bit, but when you make so many changes, it is hard to maintain your reliability."

In addition to Cadillac's much-improved showing, Buick, Chevrolet and GMC all climbed several spots.

The Cadillac brand was the first to receive substantial changes and upgrades from GM after it came out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has been steadily improving in recent years, Fisher said.

Consumer Reports is often accused of favoring Asian automakers over domestic automakers, but Fisher said, "We are basically just taking data that the consumers and subscribers are providing to us. We often have people tell us they really love their domestic cars."

Comments
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. In a recent survey by GasBuddy.com, just 58 percent of motorists surveyed said they would take a road trip this summer, down 24 percent from last year. Just u...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. Whatís more telling is what I didnít do.I didnít hose down a muddy tent, I didnít soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA ó Like his father, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

Global Tampa Bay initiative seeks to grow direct foreign investment through expanded regional teamwork

TAMPA ó A decade ago, the Great Recession put Hillsborough and Pinellas countiesí efforts to grow their foreign exports on hold.But since then those efforts have returned, gained support and momentum, expanded the range of their ambition and are now ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Florida unemployment holds at 3.9 percent, state adds 9,600 jobs

Floridaís economy appears to have plateaued with its unemployment rate holding at 3.9 percent for the seventh straight month, according to the April report released Friday.But some economists say it may be a good thing if the rate doesnít fall much m...
Published: 05/18/18
Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

Lawsuit over Riverwalk Place tower in downtown Tampa settled

TAMPA ó A lawsuit over the mix of residences and offices in the planned $350 million Riverwalk Place tower has been dropped.Last August, Riverwalk Tower Investment-Intown LLC, which had been expected to be one of the developers in the project, filed ...
Published: 05/18/18
Orlandoís new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

Orlandoís new attractions power jump in theme park attendance

By MIKE SCHNEIDERORLANDO ó The arms race to build new theme park attractions in Orlando is paying dividends. A new report released this week shows theme park attendance at the largest parks in North America last year was up 2.3 percent, powered by ne...
Published: 05/18/18
How Mosaicís relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

How Mosaicís relocation could help Tampa International Airport land a flight to Brazil

Tampa International covets a nonstop flight to S„o Paulo, Brazil. Mosaic Co, which is moving its headquarters to Hillsborough County, has huge holdings in the country, including several mines. Could Mosaicís relocation help TIA realize its dream? It ...
Published: 05/18/18