Focusing on Reliability

American made cars are getting much more reliable. That's what Consumer Reports found in its largest-ever survey, covering 675,000 cars. GM's Buick Regal is now the most reliable family car — the first time in years an American car has been in the top spot. And several Fords have gotten much more reliable, particularly one that had a lot of problems when it first came out.

Jim Jarvis uses his Ford Focus to deliver oxygen to homebound patients. He bought the car in 2000, the year it was introduced. Jim can remember several of the nine recalls that were issued for his car.

"There was the rear wheel bearing, there was the seat adjustment, there was air conditioner controls."

Every time Consumer Reports has tested the Ford Focus, it's performed very well. But reliability of the early vehicles has proven dismal.

"Every year we send out a questionnaire to our over four million subscribers. And they tell us how reliable their car has been in everyday life. And this survey is probably the biggest in the U.S. in terms of looking at car reliability. And from that the Focus came pretty much at the bottom of the chart."

But there's been a turnaround. Consumer Reports says the Focus's reliability has improved dramatically.

"In our latest survey, we've seen that Ford has made tremendous progress in improving the reliability of the Focus and it's now up to average reliability so we can recommend it."

The 2004 Focus now at Ford dealerships is Consumer Reports' "Best in Class" for small cars.

And Consumer Reports says the reliability for three other Fords, has improved — the Lincoln LS, the Explorer and the Escape.

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