SHOULD TOYOTA PANIC?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Freshly minted as the world’s number 1 automaker, Toyota hasn’t made a wrong turn. Besides, if you’re buying cars based solely on reliability, you’ve a good chance of driving some boring cars.

A boring car like the Toyota Camry 4-cylinder or Hybrid, which continue as Consumer Reports recommended buys. Reasons not to pay too much attention to CR include their recommendation of America’s best-selling car. Hey, I’ve nothing against the Camry; I recommended it to my parents-in-law and they took the advice. But, do you want to drive the same car as everybody else, a car that was designed but forgot to head to the style department, a car that fails to involve you in a twisty road? I don’t.

Bigger news involves the 268bhp Camry V6, which was taken off CR recommendations list. Toyota receives exactly the same news when it comes to the V8 Tundra and all-wheel drive Lexus GS. CR says that these cars have reliability ratings below average. Ouch.

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So, Toyota is #5, behind its own Scion sub-brand as well as Honda; Acura; and Subaru. Conversely, CR rates the 2007 Pontiac Solstice as the least reliable car you can buy in the ol’ USofA, with Land Rover being the most unreliable brand. You ought to read about my test drive in the Solstice’s twin, the Saturn Sky.

European brands like Audi, BMW, and Porsche are improving, according to CR. Add Ford to the improved list, too. The Fusion/Milan and V6 2WD F150 are all recommended. V6, rear-wheel drive Ford F150’s aren’t exactly the most obvious choice when buying any truck; certainly not an F150, but hey – Consumer Reports says it’s ok. GoodCarBadCar offered up the Lowdown on Ford’s Fusion very recently.

Should Toyota panic? That’s the question. The answer is no. However, careful consideration would be a terrific watchphrase. Toyota builds a lot of cars, pays a lot of people to build them, and builds them in many countries in many parts of the world. Better keep an eye out, then. No need to fret. Not yet. Not for a while.

Oh, by the way. Don’t avoid Camry’s, GCBC Nation. I didn’t mean to be so harsh. Consumer Reports and I agree on this fact: the Honda dealer is worth checking out, as well.