So, do I believe the results are a good indicator for what car to buy. Not really.
Tucked away in the Consumer Reports data, and not part of the headlines about the Japanese sweep of the Top Picks list is the "Most Satisfying To Own" list. The Prius and the Corvette where at the top of that list, with over 90% of the people owning them saying they would buy them again. Is that as important as "reliability"? You bet. Consumer Reports doesn't trumpet this list all over the way the do their Top Picks. Too bad. I would rather own a car where 90% of people say they would buy it again.
Did the Japanese sweep the Top Picks list? Yes.
But, have a look at the "Most Satisfying To Own". Mustang, Corvette, Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum.
There has to be a way to combine the reliability and satisfaction ratings. And, this is the Achilles heel of the Consumer Reports method. It is not the way the data is gathered. It is the way it is integrated and presented.
Other rankings, like the Car and Driver 10 Best at least try to factors these issues in. Consumer Reports just lets it slide.