Ford reliability slips

FRESNO, Calif.

Buying a car with a reliable track record can keep you out of the repair shop.

Consumer Reports National Research Center's annual predicted-reliability ratings can steer you to a good choice. The big news this year? Ford, which did well last year, dropped 10 places in Consumer Reports' rankings!

The recently redesigned Ford Fiesta, Focus, and Explorer all rated below average in the survey. Most GM brands were also down a bit; Chrysler was up. The most reliable American brand? Jeep, at number 13 on the list.

Hybrids also did very well, accounting for about 20 percent of the models with the highest reliability ratings, even though they make up only a small fraction of the market.

In fact, two hybrids topped the list as the most reliable vehicles: the Lexus CT 200h and Honda CR-Z.

The Chevy Volt also earned an excellent rating, a step toward dispelling fears that the new electric technology will pose problems. And once again the Japanese carmakers proved their mettle, with nine of the top 10 reliable cars.

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