See how popular car brands fared in new Consumer Reports survey

Consumer Reports has just released its annual report card that rates which car brands make the best vehicles — and it contains a few surprises.

Mazda, for example, tops the list for the very first time, moving up three places from last year. The Japanese automaker has enjoyed success with its subcompact Mazda CX-30 SUV, as well as its midsize CX-9 SUV, which received plenty of praise in Digital Trends’ hands-on review.

BMW ranked second, climbing an impressive six places, while Subaru held on to its number three spot.

Consumer Reports arrives at its rankings by looking at individual scores for each model that factor in road-test performance, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. It then works out the average to come up with a brand’s overall score.

“Brands that rise to the top tend to have the most consistent performance across their lineup,” CR said in an article about the results, adding, “however, it is important to research the individual models when shopping because every brand has a range of product performance.”

Consumer Reports

The rankings show Honda making a big leap, moving up 10 places from last year to number five on the chart, which Consumer Reports said was partly attributable to improved reliability, adding that all but two Hondas now have average reliability or better, according to its research.

At the other end of the the rankings is Italian automaker Alpha Romeo, at the very bottom after dropping five spots from last year to 32. Land Rover sits just above it at 31, with Mitsubishi at 30.

Chrysler and Buick ranked highest among U.S. brands, both climbing an impressive 10 places to take eighth and ninth spots, respectively.

Relative newcomer to the auto industry, Tesla, placed 16th, down five. The luxury brands Genesis (15th, down 13) and Lincoln (28th, down 15) registered the biggest drops. The nonprofit consumer organization noted that big moves can usually be attributed to “changes in predicted reliability for individual models within a brand’s lineup.”

Consumer Reports’ recently published owner satisfaction survey reveals a rather different set of rankings. Check out which came out on top and ranked at the bottom.

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Cars | Digital Trends