Foreign Autos Shut Out the Big 3 in New Report

In a report that will trouble fans of the Big 3, the annual selection of top automobiles and top brands by Consumer Reports shows Detroit falling behind its foreign competitors.

In fact, for the first time since 2007 the top ten vehicles picked by Consumer Reports does not include a model built by General Motors, Ford or Chrysler.

"When you look at the Big 3 they are just really having a hard time with reliability," said Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports automotive division. "A lot of their new models are performing better, getting the reliability, though it is going to take a couple of years for the Big 3 to really get their act together."

Fisher said a primary reason the quality of Detroit automakers is slipping is because GM, Ford and Chrysler are rapidly increasing the roll-out of new models and the surge in launches means it is tougher to limit glitches and problems.

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Honda, Audi Jump in Rankings

Consumer Reports said almost all of the foreign automakers have improved their quality and performance with auto buyers, but two brands in particular stand out: Honda and Audi.

Honda place three models in the CR top ten, a big rebound after poor showings in recent years when the previous Civic fell uncharacteristically short of expectations.

2012 Honda Accord
2012 Honda Accord

"[Civic] went from one of the best small cars to one of the worst small cars and we couldn't even recommend it," Fisher said. "So they did an 18 month refresh, they improved that car, but what really blew us away was the Accord. This was the first time in many years where Honda just got it right out of the park and this car is just better than the old model in so many ways."

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Meanwhile, Consumer Reports picked the Audi A6 as the top luxury car in this year's annual auto issue. Fisher said Audi has finally turned the corner with improving reliability to match its well established reputation for top-notch styling.

"Audi is actually making reliable vehicles—[we] couldn't say that just a few years ago," Fisher said. "So now you have a manufacturer producing these cars that are great to drive, comfortable, fun, do many things well and now they are reliable too. It is a great choice."

Consumer Reports picks the top ten models based on test drives at its test track and by calculating complaints from subscribers who own a particular model.

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—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews