@Caddyman You seem to be very suspicious of Consumer Reports data. This forum has discussed this in great detail, and an outfit like this has to be scientific in its data gathering and processing. They buy randomly each item they test, including cars. The dealer does not know it is CR that is buying the car, so no special preparation is done. They also do not accept any advertising or donations from companies that produce the items they test. If you buy one of their magazines there will be a description of how they operate. J.D. Powers gets their money from the manufacturers.
The raw input is the completed forms by 250,000 or so respondents; greater than a typical political survey input. If the sample received is statistically too small to be accurate, they will not compile a figure and put in an asterisk stating “insufficient data”.
The only argument you might have is that small items are reported as well as major ones, but the categories have “engine major” and “engine minor” and 7 other. So if you live in Arizona “body rust” may not be of interest to you. Items fixed under warranty are excluded, but there is a monthly article on recalls and defects for all products, including cars.
I have been using this source since 1964 to buy anything from cars to refrigerators and TVs, etc. As a result, we have Panasonic TVs, Whirlpool washer/dryer, LG microwave, Kitchen Aid and Braun small appliances, and so on. All reliable and long lived!
Others will chime in that you should not use CR alone when buying a car. I agree with that since cars are a very subjective purchase, and lack of seat comfort may not be an issue with everyone. They still rate the Yaris as a poor buy, but the reliability is outstanding. For years they rated the Elantra as unacceptable, although it was very reliable. The reason was poor crash resistance from a certain angle.
The proof of the pudding is the results arrived at by other impartial surveys. TruDelta has been in business a few years now and their feedback from users, including myself, is very similar.
In a prior post here, I recommended a book called “Lemon Aid”, a Dundurn publication, by Phil Edmondston, which goes into great detail on recalls, defects, premature failures, etc, and comes to similar conclusions on car reliability.
My only issue with Consumer Reports is they do not give annual actual out of pocket upkeep costs. A Lexus 400 is very reliable, but would likely cost more to keep running than a stripped Ford Focus, for instance. Years ago the AAA gave repair costs for various models. The other issue is very long term ownership. A VW Passat is a good car for a certain length of time, but the second half of its life tends to be expensive and troublesome. The CU reports do not reflect that.
Since the makeup of the readership is mostly middle class people who read, and few who would drive very old cars, they do not publish data older than 8 years. Every 5 years or so they have an old car survey, ususally called their “drive it forever” article. The results of that strongly favor Japanese cars, but include such US favorites as the Crown Victoria, and US pickup trucks.
My recommendation to you is to spend the measly $45 or so and get a year’s subscription; it comes with a free 300 page Annual Buying Guide listing all sorts of products. Your wife will be delighted reading it for the recommendations of household products.
In summary, CR is the most bias-free source available for a number of products, including cars and trucks.