Friday, April 25, 2014 · 12:35 a.m.
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The locally produced Volkswagen Passat ranked well in a new Consumer Reports survey. (Photo: Staff)

Consumer Reports released its 2012 annual auto survey, which took opinions from its subscribers who experienced 1.2 million vehicles, and the locally produced Passat made the “newly recommended” list.

Other Volkswagen vehicles landed on the “not recommended” list, but whether the reviews are positive or negative, one expert said consumers should take this survey with a proverbial grain of salt.

“I think this is a very complex metric,” Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com senior analyst, said. “My own personal take on surveys like this is—the responses could be just as wrong about the positive ones as they could about the negative ones.”

The report is based on consumer response, which can be subjective. And there isn’t much distinction between problems, Visnic said. For example, a problem with a radio could be weighted the same way as a problem that led to safety issues.

Top 10 rankings

1. Scion

2. Toyota 

3. Lexus

4. Mazda

5. Subaru 

6. Honda

7. Acura

8. Audi

9. Infiniti 

10. Kia 

Source: Consumer Reports 

Additionally, some of the results are based only on one year of data.

Although Visnic said that it isn’t advisable to make decisions or draw concrete conclusions based solely on these reports, there is a broader takeaway.

“The one big one is how [the survey] is still dominated by the Japanese brands,” he said. “That’s something everybody has to work on—the domestic brands, the Europeans. Why do [Japanese automakers] dominate this list? Because, by and large, they still, apparently, make the most reliable cars on the whole.”

Volkswagen
Overall, VW fell two points to 18 in ranking, which Visnic said isn’t very significant. 

The report ranked the Volkswagen GTI and Volkswagen Touareg as models with declining reliability.

It listed the Volkswagen Jetta Sedan (four cylinder) and Volkswagen Beetle as the least reliable.

But several Volkswagen vehicles made the newly recommended cars list, which is comprised of the Volkswagen CC, Volkswagen Eos, Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Volkswagen Passat (five cylinder) and Volkswagen Passat TDI.

Marc Trahan, executive vice president, group quality, said through his spokesman that the report doesn’t change the way company leaders do things.

“The Beetle and Jetta results are a direct reflection of what we are seeing in the field, and we have already put countermeasures in place for these vehicles, so would expect the results next year to reflect this,” he said.

As for the Passat, it’s the same story of a strong launch for a new car and new plant, he said.

Visnic echoed that sentiment, and a local Volkswagen spokesman said leaders will continue to keep up their work.

“For the Volkswagen Chattanooga team, it is a reward for its quality-driven passion for detail,” spokesman Guenther Scherelis said via email.

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