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Japanese brands dominate top-10
If there’s an eternal optimist still floating around the offices of Detroit’s automakers, it might be wise to keep them away from Consumer Reports’ latest overview of the best and worst cars and trucks.

Sure, the bible of consumer reviews had some positive words in its annual auto issue released Wednesday for Ford Motor Co.’s midsize sedans, and noted some improvement in the fit and finish on General Motors Corp.’s newest models. But as with last year, no Detroit vehicle ranked in the magazine’s top 10 Top Picks, where Toyota Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. had seven models.

Of the 54 models given a top recommendation, Detroit built eight. Of the 137 vehicles that were simply recommended, 38 came from an arm of GM, Ford or Chrysler. Meanwhile, all of Honda’s vehicles earned a recommendation, as did most Toyotas.

The magazine has not had an American car on its top picks list since April 2005, when it booted the Ford Focus for failing a crash test. To win a top pick, a model has to stand out in Consumer Reports’ testing, have at least average reliability and get adequate scores in crash tests.

“I still think Detroit is trailing,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ auto test center. “While there are some good models in the wings, it’s like a cake recipe. You can look at the recipe and you can look at the picture on the box, and it looks really nice. It’s only when you taste the cake when you can see if it’s any good.”

Part of the shortfall for Detroit comes from the magazine deciding not to make top picks in two categories where U.S. automakers usually do well – large sport utility vehicles and full-size pickups. Champion said the magazine avoided choosing best vehicles in those categories because it was testing several new models in both.  Detroit Free Press

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