This article provides two methods for selecting the 7 best car brands sold in North America from late 1984 to 1989. The statistics used in the computations for selecting the seven best vehicle brands are those found within the April 1990 issue of Consumer Reports, likely the most respected and followed source of automobile quality information in North America. The two sections used for ranking brand quality are Consumer Reports’ list of trouble-prone cars and its reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.
The first ranking of the Top 7 car brands is based on each brand’s infrequency of trouble-prone models. This ranking provides a measure of how well each brand’s models successfully avoided the bottom end of the model-quality spectrum.
The second ranking of the Top 7 car brands is based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each brand’s models. The second ranking provides a measure of well a brand’s models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum.
Brand Quality by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models
In each of its April issues, Consumer Reports has listed the most trouble-prone models by model year since 1976. To form a brand quality measure from the 1990 list of Used Cars To Avoid, the first step is to count each brand’s entries on the list. Each model year of each model is treated as a separate entry.
Next, as the number of automobile models sold under a brand name varies greatly from brand to brand, it is necessary to take account of the fact that a brand with more models has a greater opportunity to have more model years of low quality. To compensate for a possibly inflated, or deflated, frequency of trouble-prone model years within a brand, as well as variability in model data sufficiency, the number of a brand’s entries in CR’s Used-Cars-To-Avoid list is divided by the total number of overall reliability ratings for the brand found in the reliability charts of the same issue of Consumer Reports. The overall reliability ratings are found in the Trouble-Index row of the 1990 reliability charts.
By the method of computation, this quality measure begins with 0 and may run to a value some greater than 1. The value of 0 is the highest quality rating attainable by a brand and is achieved only when a brand has no entry on the Used-Cars-To-Avoid list.
The Top 7 car brands by the foregoing computations, together with their quality ratings, are ranked below in descending order, with best first. Only those brands with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included in the list below.
The 7 Best Car Brands by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models
Honda’s Acura, with a Worst-Car rating of 0
Honda’s Honda, with a rating of 0
BMW’s BMW, with a rating of 0.05
Toyota’s Toyota, with a rating of 0.09
Ford’s Lincoln, with a rating of 0.11
Volkswagen’s Audi, with a rating of …