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Consumer Reports: Mazda Rises To Number 3 Overall Among Best Brands For Quality, Beating Audi, BMW and Acura

Mazda's products draw rave reviews and now the company's quality does as well. From owners.


Mazda's quality has risen rapidly in recent years and is now only matched by Toyota and Lexus according to Consumer Reports. Rather, as reported by vehicle owners themselves, since it is owner reports that determine the ranking of brands by quality at Consumer Reports, not the opinions of its staff members.

In its most recent rankings, Mazda is third behind Toyota and Lexus. Based on owner reported data, Mazda has climbed up nine spots in the rankings of brands by overall quality, while BMW and Audi both declined by three each. BMW's X3 dragged down the brand according to Consumer Reports data. The pricey crossover had problems with both its cooling system and also its seats. Consumer Reports credits Mazda's jump in quality to improvements made to the CX-9 and Miata.

This latest news jives well with our sample size of one owner and Torque News contributor who ditched her 2014 BMW for a new 2018 Mazda CX-5 recently. You can read her report titled, European vs. Japanese Cars: Why I switched From BMW X3 to 2018 Mazda CX-5 here. In her overview of the issues that drove her away from BMW and towards a more reliable brand, Dr. Tuncer specifically mentioned the coolant leak issue and how the dealer dealt with that problem. Tuncer said that the way her BMW dealer poured tap water into the coolant reservoir in direct violation of the instructions in the BMW manual "left me not trusting the car."

According to Consumer Reports' new rankings, Mazda moved up the most among all brands and Buick moved down the most. Another brand that did well in the new rankings is Subaru, who moved to the fourth position overall. The top half-dozen brands are all manufacturers headquartered in Asia.

The new data that revealed this quality ranking was the result of over 500,000 owner surveys. Consumer Reports is a subscription-only publication, but its press releases are often made public to non-members. You can see the full report at this link.


Paul Cahill (not verified)    November 13, 2018 - 3:18PM

I have no clue how Subaru ranks so high. I own a 2015 WRX and while it has held up mechanically, the quality of materials, paint, and the piss-poor leather quality is a joke. So is the crappy head unit, but at least I can upgrade that.
As for Mazda, I 100% believe it. I also have a 2010 CX-9 GT that I think is a pretty amazing vehicle. We've owned it for 4 or 5 years and I've only done the basics (brakes, oil, tires etc) for the last 50k miles. The interior has held up very well for 115k miles too.

Mark Day (not verified)    November 13, 2018 - 4:59PM

I agree with poster Cahill regarding lack of Subaru quality. Three or four class action lawsuits, fraudulent fuel mileage reporting, and a number of recalls, does not confer confidence in the product. I'm not trusting anything coming out of Consumer Reports concerning Subaru.

John Goreham    November 13, 2018 - 5:48PM

As a Subaru owner, this is also a mystery to me. As Mark points out, every Subaru engine except the new one in the 3-row SUV is presently involved in some sort of campaign following a class action settlement. The CVT in the popular models including the top-selling Forester is also covered under a class-action settlement. I do get that the WRX issues don't tip the balance much, since the WRX sells at a rate of about 3,000 units per month and the Forester, Crosstrek, and Outback combined account for around 40,000 per month. Still, how Subaru is climbing in this ranking is a mystery to the author as well.

Paul Cahill (not verified)    November 13, 2018 - 11:04PM

In reply to by John Goreham

I remember going in for a standard service and they had to keep my car longer to test a bunch of stuff and reprogram the ECU because of a recall or something I was not aware of. They replaced all my plugs and did pressure tests or something. My guess is too much boost as my digital turbo gauge has never hit the 22lbs peak i saw prior to that.

Samuel Chan (not verified)    November 15, 2018 - 11:28AM

In reply to by John Goreham

Subaru' s are almost fanatically popular in the Pacific NW, However, like many who have posted, I no longer own a Subaru Forester because of defective engine parts leading to head gasket problems, alternator replacement. Poor build/ design that leading to wind and road noise and very average interior durability . Fuel economy is very average . The odd thing is that the demand is very high for used Subarus.

Mark Day (not verified)    November 13, 2018 - 9:39PM

In 2012, when I purchased my Toyota RAV4 V6 Limited, Consumer Reports rated the Subaru Forester 2.5XT higher by four points. Reading CR's own description of each, made me wonder how they could rate the Subaru higher. Their description of the RAV was precise and correct. My choice of the RAV4, ignoring the Consumer Reports Subaru rating, has made for a continuing, enjoyable, trouble-free experience. There is something rotten someplace.

Paul Cahill (not verified)    November 13, 2018 - 11:02PM

In reply to by Mark Day (not verified)

my 2010 Rav4 was a step above base and I hated every day of owning it. That being said, they introduced so many updates in 2012 that made it such a better vehicle. I still think your 2012 RAV is probably better than the 2012-2015 Forester.

Mark Day (not verified)    November 14, 2018 - 2:59PM

In reply to by Paul Cahill (not verified)

For me, what made the 2012 RAV4 a superior vehicle was the V6 engine (no longer available) and its 5-speed transmission. The 4-cylinder RAV had the less desirable 4-speed transmission. Amazingly, the V6 achieved the same fuel mileage as the 2012 Honda CRV, with its 4-cylinder engine. Also, with the V6 in the RAV the towing capacity increased from 2000 to 3500lbs.

Patrick Roberts (not verified)    November 14, 2018 - 8:40PM

Everyone is in someone's pocket, even consumer reports...But Mazda is a great brand and older Subarus are spot-on, usually.

Christine (not verified)    November 15, 2018 - 6:01AM

I can definitely support this sentiment about Mazda’s quality! I am on my third Mazda and loving it. I got a great deal too 1000.000 bumper to bumper and free routine maintenance for life of car. I also got the 24 hours road side assistance and gap insurance. I’m in love with my Mazda 3. My other 2 Mazda’s were the 6. Just wanted smaller car this time. What luxury at a budget price full of standard upgrades.

Cory Balliet (not verified)    November 15, 2018 - 8:33AM

I've owned 2 first generation Mazda 3's. I had rust problems with the first one, but you drive any car in upstate NY in the winter without washing the salt off that's going to happen. Super fun to drive, never had major issues, pretty quick if you ask them nice enough. If electric vehicles haven't adopted solid state batteries or super capacitor power packs by the time I look for my next car you bet I'm getting another Mazda 3.

Ron (not verified)    November 16, 2018 - 8:11AM

We own a 2016.5 CX-9 Signature with the turbo 2.5 with all the bells and whistles. What a fabulous car! The torque is amazing, mileage almost 25% better than the 2013 CX-9. Zero problems. Love it. My wife has a 2017 CX-5 GT. The running average mileage is 31.4 with no freeway driving in Tucson. Also awesome. Why spend 25% more for Lexus?