Honda and Subaru still make the best vehicles overall, but Ford posted the largest gain in the past year, improving in its road-test and reliability scores, Consumer Reports said. Newer models such as the Flex SUV pumped up Ford's overall road-test score.
General Motors and Volvo also improved in both areas, while Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer whose scores dropped in both measures, according to the report.
Here are other highlights from this year's analysis by Consumer Reports:
* Honda, Subaru, and Toyota are the top three automakers for the third year in a row. Most of their vehicles do well in our tests and are relatively trouble-free.
* Newer GM models have performed well in our tests, but the company still fields a few lackluster cars that drag down its overall score. Reliability has improved, but it's still not stellar.
* Chrysler came in last, with the lowest average test score by far. But the company, now run by Italian automaker Fiat, is currently overhauling its lineup. Newer models, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram, have done better in our tests than older models, and we're encouraged by our early looks at upcoming redesigns. Chrysler's reliability needs to improve for the automaker to be competitive.
* European cars perform well in our tests, but many have confusing controls and inconsistent reliability. Volvo is the only European make with an above-average reliability score.
Consumer Reports said each automaker's overall score is based on a composite of road-test and predicted-reliability scores for all of its models that it tested.
The road tests comprise more than 50 tests we perform, covering performance, safety, fuel economy, comfort, and convenience.
Separately, Honda Fit has been named as the small car with the best overall value in eight different categories of vehicles evaluated by Consumer Reports magazine.
Here's a look at the best, and worst, value in each of the eight vehicle segments analyzed by Consumer Reports:
Best Value Small Car: Honda Fit
Worst Value Small Car: Chevrolet Aveo5 1LT
Best Value Family Car: Toyota Prius IV
Worst Value Family Car: Chevrolet Impala LT (3.5)
Best Value Upscale Sedan: Acura TSX (4-cyl.)
Worst Value Upscale Sedan: Buick Lucerne (V8)
Best Value Luxury Sedan: Hyundai Genesis 4.6
Worst Value Luxury Sedan: BMW 750Li
Best Value Sporty Car: Mini Cooper (base)
Worst Value Sporty Car: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Best Value Wagons/Minivans: Mazda5 Grand Touring
Worst Value Wagons/Minivans: Kia Sedona EX
Best Value Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4 (base, 4-cyl.)
Worst Value Small SUVs: Jeep Liberty Sport
Best Value Midsized SUVs: Hyundai Santa Fe GLS (4-cyl.)
Worst Value Midsized SUVs: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara