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Buick—yes Buick!—cracks top auto rankings

Buick, already in the midst of a renaissance, has cracked the rankings of leading auto brands in the annual listing of top auto picks by Consumer Reports.

"We're seeing a real resurgence by Buick," said Jake Fisher, the magazine's director of auto testing. "These Buicks drive nice, they are quiet and their reliability has really improved."

Buick became the first American brand to crack Consumer Reports' top 10 auto brands in the three years the CR Auto Team has been rating specific brands.

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Buick is number seven.

Leading the way for Buick was the Regal, the top pick for sports sedans.

2015 Buick Regal
Source: General Motors
2015 Buick Regal

Two other American cars also were honored: The Chevy Impala was named top large car and the Tesla Model S was best overall model.

"Having three American made models as top picks is significant," said Fisher. "We're seeing improved reliability from American automakers, and we can tell many of the vehicles are much better when we test them."

Consumer Reports determines its top picks and brand rankings after reviewing reliability reports from more than a million subscribers while also factoring in its reviews from testing the latest models.

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Mercedes falls from Top 10

One of the most notable departures from the list is Mercedes-Benz.

The world's best selling luxury brand fell from 10th in last year's ranking to 21st this year.

"The reliability of some Mercedes models, including the S-Class sedan and the CLA-Class, have been very disappointing," said Fisher. "In addition the CLA has poor performance."

The CLA was introduced by Mercedes in 2014 as an entry-level model priced just under $30,000. The low price point spurred strong sales, but Fisher said its performance has been lacking.

"It does not drive like a Mercedes," he said.

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Consumer Reports Top Auto Brands

1. Lexus

2. Mazda

3. Toyota

4. Audi

5. Subaru

6. Porsche

7. Buick

8. Honda

9. Kia

10. BMW

Overall Quality Improving

While the annual ranking of top picks is of high interest because it names specific models tabbed as the best by Consumer Reports, it's also a chance to gauge the overall quality of the cars, trucks and SUVs Americans are buying.

In that regard, Fisher and his team are impressed.

"Overall, the quality of what we are driving is getting better. The in-car connectivity, fuel economy and other areas have improved," he said.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.