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Why Ford Is Winning With Reliability

The latest Consumer Reportssurvey of people who have bought more than 1.4 million vehicles, is further proof of the gulf between Ford and its fellow Big 3 auto makers, GM and Chrysler. While Consumer Reports now lists Ford as being on par with Asian automakers, GM and Chrysler continue to struggle.

Just compare the Consumer Reports numbers:

Ford: 46 of 51 models (90%) have average or better then average quality.

GM: 21 of 48 models (44%) have average or better than average quality

Chrysler: 1 of 26 models (4%) has average or better than average quality.

Need further proof of the split in quality in Detroit?

Consumer Reports says only the Toyota Prius beat out the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan for reliability among family sedans. By comparison, 1/3 of the Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models have much worse than average quality.

So how do you explain why Ford is building better cars with fewer complaints than GM and Chrysler?

* Stability

Ford
Ford

The stability at Ford played a huge part.

The workers at Ford clearly went through a trying year, but nothing compared to the folks at GM and Chrysler who pretty much knew they were headed for bankruptcy or worse.

That's not to say the folks at GM and Chrysler threw in the towel and stopped caring, but it doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out quality slips at companies in duress.

* Tweaking established platforms, not starting new

When you look at the Ford platforms and vehicle lines, they tend to be older ones the company has steadily improved in recent years. Take the Fusion. Not a lot has changed with the model line in terms of how the car is built, etc. So Ford has been able to concentrate on refining the process, not starting from scratch. When you look at GM and Chrysler, it's a different story. And there will be even more change as the companies transition into their new lives.

* Ford fit and finishes improving

It's taken some time, but Ford finally has a family of cars with the fit and finish to compete with the Asians. For years, Ford interiors looked cheap and felt cheap. Not anymore. Sit in the Lincoln MKS or Ford Flex and you'll see how much Ford has improved its interiors. There's still room for improvement, but it's clear Ford builds a better car and truck.

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Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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