Consumer Reports recommends only the AWD Lambda crossovers–why?
Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Consumer Reports released their latest results today, based on a survey that went out last April. TrueDelta’s results are currently two months ahead of CR’s latest, and will soon be five months ahead.
Looking through the latest results, I see largely confirmation of some results we first released over a year ago, such as that for the Jaguar XF.
But I also see a couple of puzzling results. I thought CR had stopped reporting on models that were introduced around the time the survey went out, because owners haven’t had the cars long enough to provide reliable data. But they have a result for the 2010 Honda Insight. It’s much better than average–as expected for cars that were at best a few weeks old. This result appears to be correct based on our data, but this is largely dumb luck on their part.
CR also announced that the all-wheel-drive Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buck Enclave “Lambda” crossovers have improved to “average,” and so can now be recommended. But not the front-wheel-drive versions–they remain “worse than average” so they are not recommended.
Now, it doesn’t make sense for one car with all the parts of another, but a few more, to be more reliable. My first thought: just another sign that their data are messy.
Then I dug deep into their results, and found a nice addition: they now state the percent difference from average. Still not an absolute repair frequency, but a step in the right direction.
FWD Lambdas: 21% worse than average
AWD Lambdas: 19% worse than average
“Average” runs from 19% below the average to 19% above the average, so the AWD crossovers just barely make the cut, while the FWDs just barely miss it.
In reality, there’s no meaningful difference between the two. But the way CR hides the facts behind its dots and recommendations will lead some people to spend the extra money for all-wheel-drive.