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Woes blamed on less than stellar DCT shifting and MyFord touch

After years of being ranked as one of the most reliable automakers in the industry, Ford’s recent use of in-car infotainment systems have caused it to plummet in quality rankings. Consumer Reports indicates that only a couple years ago Ford was in the top 10 among brands in its predicted reliability scores with over 90% of its models being average or better. However, in the most recent Consumer Reports reliability scores, Ford has dropped to number 27 out of 28 in the survey. Studies from JD Power have also noted a drop in Ford’s ranking.

Japanese automakers are taking advantage of Ford's decline with Scion, Toyota, and Lexus sweeping the top three spots. Those three Toyota brands were followed by Mazda, Subaru, Honda, and Acura with all models produced by the top seven brands offering average or better reliability.

Multiple factors contributed to Ford's significant decline in Consumer Reports rankings. Consumer Reports has shown no love for Ford's MyFord Touch technology and its survey participants obviously agree. Several of Ford's new vehicles -- including the Explorer, Fiesta, and Focus -- had more problems than normal according to Consumer Reports. Another significant contributing factor to Ford's decline in the rankings is three of its historically reliable models, the Escape, Fusion, and Lincoln MKZ are not included in the current analysis because they were all redesigned for 2013.

MyFord Touch

Consumer Reports director of testing Jake Fisher notes that despite attempts to improve MyFord Touch, the system, which is featured in many Ford vehicles, continues to confuse customers. Fisher also says that customers continue to complain about rough shifting on Ford six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift transmissions.

“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.

Despite Ford plummeting in the Consumer Reports reliability rankings, the company posted a massive profit for Q3 2012. Ford racked up $1.63 billion in profit during the quarter, marking a slight decline from $1.65 billion earned the same quarter of 2011. Ford had a pre-tax operating profit $2.2 billion amounting to $.40 per share. Analysts had anticipated a gain of $.30 per share.

"The Ford team delivered a best-ever third quarter, driven by record results in North America and the continued strength of Ford Credit," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. "While we are facing near-term challenges in Europe, we are fully committed to transforming our business in Europe by moving decisively to match production to demand, improve revenue through new products and grow a stronger brand, improve our cost efficiencies and take advantage of opportunities to profitably grow our business."

However, things don't look is rosy for Ford in Europe with the company reporting a loss of $460 million during the quarter marking a loss of about $1 billion in Europe this year alone. Ford has previously announced that it expects to lose about $1.5 billion in Europe during 2012 and 2013. The automaker plans to restructure its European operations and shed workers.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Free Press, Detroit News, Detroit News

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RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill on 10/30/2012 12:56:25 PM , Rating: 1
You make it seem as though CR is some new kid on the block ;)

Consumer Reports has been around for decades and their testing methodology is still pretty much the same. It's a well respected publication that reviews everything from toasters to washing machine detergent.

When Ford was near the top of quality ratings, no one batted an eye. Now that they are near the bottom, people call CR into question.

RE: Define "reliability"
By SPOOFE on 10/30/2012 1:13:29 PM , Rating: 3
You make it seem as though CR is some new kid on the block

CR is old hat reviewing new tech; that is reason enough to maintain a certain slight suspicion about their opinion. A hundred years ago the prevailing "review" entities (such as they were) were still expecting the automobile to go away and everyone to stick with the horse and buggy... should their opinion have been revered because they had been around for a while, too?

RE: Define "reliability"
By Brandon Hill on 10/30/2012 1:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that they BUY everything they test on their own and don't take money/handouts from companies, I'd say that they are pretty much one of the few you can actually trust.

Car Mags like Motor Trend, Automobile, Road and Track are hardly impartial on these matters.

RE: Define "reliability"
By SPOOFE on 10/30/2012 1:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say they can't be trusted, I'm just saying that "being old" is not necessarily synonymous with "knows what's going on". I think it's absolutely a valid observation that we may be witnessing an effect of Consumer Report's - and CR's readership's - bias on the issue.

Car Mags like Motor Trend, Automobile, Road and Track are hardly impartial on these matters.

I'm hardly holding them up as examples of impartiality.

RE: Define "reliability"
By Performance Fanboi on 10/31/2012 3:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
CR's subscriber method is no longer valid as a way to rate things like infotainment systems. I don't want a bunch of stodgy old farts that still don't know how to set the clock in their cars or add a radio preset judging modern tech.

RE: Define "reliability"
By wallijonn on 11/2/2012 10:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
I don't want a bunch of stodgy old farts that still don't know how to set the clock in their cars or add a radio preset judging modern tech.

Says the driver who textes and drives at the same time? Or who takes their eyes off the road while punching in phone numbers?

Just because it's modern tech doesn't make it safer to use while driving. The more complex the tech the more likelyhood that the driver will be distracted.

RE: Define "reliability"
By Performance Fanboi on 11/4/2012 4:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Are you retarded? Not wanting a group of people who fail to understand modern tech review it means I text while driving? This has to be the dumbest comment ever made on this site.

RE: Define "reliability"
By Richard875yh5 on 10/31/2012 9:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
The way Consumer Reports rates cars is very flawed. Having subscribers rate cars is not like having auto experts rating cars. All in all, CR sucks and many auto enthusiast like myself will tell you that.

RE: Define "reliability"
By rdhood on 11/1/2012 11:45:23 AM , Rating: 2
After MANY years of using CR to find good used cars, and comparing cars I know vs. CR ratings, I'd say they are pretty darned accurate. Every car I know that had particular failings all showed up in CR ratings of used cars. All used cars that I bought on CR recommendations of used cars have been great. If I were buying a television, or camera, I give them a pass as there are much better places to look for accurate evaluations and review. But they, evidently, have enough members/users with those cars so as to present a big enough sample to be accurate. As long as members/users accurately evaluate the systems of the cars that they own, and as long as the sample is big enough, then their ratings hold up well.

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