Image: 2010 Camaro
Carlos Osorio  /  AP
The newly unveiled 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The Camaro is one of the models that has helped GM's relaibility improve considerably, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/26/2010 3:58:45 PM ET 2010-10-26T19:58:45

General Motors' wrenching restructuring seems to be paying off, at least in reliability. Consumer Reports said Tuesday that GM's reliability ratings have improved considerably, with 83 percent of Chevrolets, GM's major brand, now getting an average or better score in predicted reliability, up from 50 percent last year.

"While some GM nameplates had been among the least reliable brands in past years, they now rank above some major European competitors such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz," Consumer Reports said in its widely watched annual auto reliability survey.

It's a stark turnaround for a company that emerged from bankruptcy last July and required a government bailout to survive. Consumer Reports attributed GM's improvement to recent introductions, such as the Chevrolet Camaro and the Cadillac SRX, which have been reliable from the time they were launched and to GM's shedding of many brands with subpar models, such as Saturn, Pontiac and Hummer.

Consumer reports said GM made the most progress in the reliability race of the three domestic manufacturers. Ford still builds the most reliable vehicles of the U.S. makers, according to the survey, while Toyota and Honda continued to dominate overall.

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"As a brand, Ford now outranks Mazda and Nissan and ranks just below Lexus," Consumer Reports said. It said the survey showed that 90 percent of Fords, including Lincoln models, have at least average reliability.

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Consumer Reports is widely used by buyers to judge car and truck reliability. The magazine says it's the third-largest factor used by Americans to pick vehicles, topped only by brand loyalty and recommendations from friends and family.

The magazine's 2010 rankings also show gains for Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia and a strong performance from Japan's Suzuki. European automakers generally fared poorly, as did the Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler brands.

The magazine based its rankings on surveys returned by 960,000 of its subscribers.

Chrysler was the lowest-ranked auto brand in the survey, unchanged from 2009 and hurt by the decision of former owners Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management to slow or suspend vehicle development programs as sales began to drop in 2008.

Toyota's Scion brand with its limited line-up was the best performing brand overall, followed by Porsche SE and Honda's Acura luxury line.

European luxury auto brands with the exception of Porsche took a hammering in the Consumer Reports survey.

Nearly three quarters of models from Audi — Volkswagen AG's luxury brand — were ranked below average. A version of the A6 sedan with a supercharged V6 engine tied the Jaguar XF for the worst new car reliability score, Consumer Reports said.

In addition, six of 13 models from Daimler's Mercedes-Benz were below average, along with five of 11 models from BMW AG.

Consumer Reports is published by the nonprofit Consumers Union and does not accept advertising. The publication's "predicted reliability" study for new model vehicles is based on an average of consumer ratings of the same model in the recent years.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: GM’s reliability improves

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