What’s the Best Car Company?

By Martin Jansen, Owner of Jansen-PCINFO

These days new automobiles are like computers on four wheels.  So much of a vehicle is controlled by computers that, if we ever had a wide spread electromechanic pulse (EMP), modern vehicles would be rendered useless.  This is especially true of Electric Vehicles.

I drive a Prius now, but before that I drove a Pontiac Vibe.  It was quite an adjustment going from the Vibe which had only an electronic display for mileage to the Prius which had an all electronic display providing all kinds of information on the hybrid system.  It is like driving a computer on wheels.  Heck, at first I had trouble even starting the Prius.

Consumer Reports

I have this tattered old copy of Consumer Reports 2022 Auto Edition that I have read over and over again.  CR is very much on board with the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution that is taking over auto manufacturers.  EVs are much more expensive than regular gas engine vehicles and have limited range.  EVs also require charging stations taking 8 to 10 hours to recharge a depleted battery pack.  It also appears that CR values larger and more expensive vehicles in general.  On a rating scale of zero to 100, smaller and less expensive cars rarely get rated above 70.  I have also noticed that sedans are less available today and most manufacturers have gone to SUVs.

The Ratings

The first graphic shows that CR rates Toyota as the 9th best with Subaru being the best.  I dispute this conclusion by CR.  First, I look at the fact that Subaru has only 8 models tested, whereas Toyota has 16 models tested.  Toyota also has vehicles in every segment, cars (large and small), trucks and SUVs.  For luxury vehicles, Lexus is Toyota’s brand of high end vehicles which is rated 5th in CR rankings.  Toyota has 12 models recommended and 11 of those are green choices which are economical to drive.  According to CRs own chart Toyota is the only brand that predicted reliability and owner satisfaction are in the green.

If you are wondering about domestic brands, Buick is rated 11, Chrysler 13, Dodge 16, Ford 22, Tesla 23, Chevrolet 24, Lincoln 26, GMC 31 and Jeep is last at 32. 

For the middle class buyer, Toyota offers the most types of vehicles and, most important to me, their used cars stand the test of time.

My Car Buying Philosophy

I don’t buy new cars.  New cars lose a good chunk of value immediately after being driven off the lot.  I mostly like vehicles for their ability to get me from point A to point B reliably.  Now if the vehicle is good looking and a joy to drive, all the better.  I tend to drive my used cars as long as possible, and I make sure to maintain them.  Before buying a car I do check with Consumer Reports to make sure the model is trouble free in the year I want to buy and at the right price.

I pay attention to the Used Cars ratings and avoid the Worst Used Cars.  It is interesting to note that Toyota has only one model in one year in the worst list.  Subaru has two models while Mazda (with 6 vehicles tested) has the Mazda 3 in 2019.  Honda has several models listed as does BMW, Audi and Mini.

It is no surprise that I chose a Prius for my vehicle as it has great ratings, averages above 40 miles per gallon and it is trouble free.  My particular model has a moonroof and solar panels to keep the car cooler in hot weather.

Generally speaking, we can get an idea of the quality of a car manufacturer by looking at the consumer ratings.  CR surveys customers to see what has gone wrong with vehicles through the years.

When we look at a cross section of Subaru vehicles we see mostly a sea of green (which is good) in all categories:

There are, however, bad marks (in red) for the Ascent and the climate system for the early Foresters.

To be fair, all vehicles are nice and problem free when new, but the real test is overtime.

Mazda, with 6 vehicles tested and CRs second best choice, does have some very good used cars. Much of their production today is focused on SUVs of various sizes.

 BMWs (rated 3rd), if anyone can afford them, don’t have a good repair history:

I see a lot of red, but BMW is rated better than Toyota.  I won’t consider buying a used luxury brand as the parts are usually more expensive if repairs are needed.

Honda (rated 4th best) has a only a fair repair history:

But most models, except the Insight, have repair records in amber.  Check out a cross-section of Toyota models:

I see a lot of green with only minor problems.  The Prius and Highlander have outstanding records of reliability.


Maybe Consumer Reports is so focused on new vehicles that they are ignoring the history of used vehicles in their ratings.  For me, it is obvious that Toyota is the best brand.  Over the years I have purchased used vehicles that are rebranded Toyota.  We owned a Chevrolet Nova, which was actually a Toyota Corolla hatchback.  We also owned the aforementioned Vibe which is actually a Toyota Matrix.  We also owned a Toyota Corolla wagon.  Each of these cars was reliable and economical to drive.  The Prius has over 100,000 miles of only oil and tire changes, I hope to reach 200,000 miles.

What is your favorite brand of vehicle and why did you buy it?