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Ford falls further in reliability survey; Toyota gains

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co tumbled to nearly the bottom of an annual survey of vehicle reliability due to flaws in its touch-screen navigation and entertainment system, while Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp swept the top three spots.

In a Consumer Reports survey released Monday, Ford fell seven spots to 27th of 28 brands surveyed overall, while its upscale Lincoln brand fell 12 spots to 26th place.

The results represent a dramatic drop for Ford, which placed in the top 10 two years ago, with more than 90 percent of its models being average or better.

But problems with Ford's small car transmission system and glitches in its MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch touch screen systems have hurt Ford's rankings. This year, 60 percent of Ford's models and half of the Lincoln models were rated below average and none placed above average.

Ford's worst performing model was the Explorer sport-utility vehicle. Sixteen percent of consumers who purchased an Explorer complained about the control systems, said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing.

The top seven spots were occupied by Japanese brands this year, the survey showed. Scion, Toyota's youth-oriented brand, kept its place as the most reliable brand. The Toyota brand gained four spots to the No. 2 spot, while its luxury Lexus nameplate dropped one spot to third place.

General Motors Co's Cadillac was the highest-ranking U.S. brand. Audi, Volkswagen AG's luxury brand, shot up 18 spots, the largest gain of any brand.

Ford was also hurt in the rankings because three of the No. 2 U.S. automaker' s most reliable models, the Escape crossover and Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, were redesigned for the 2013 model year.

Consumer Reports tracks consumer responses on vehicle reliability for the last three years, except those models that were redesigned for the 2013 model year.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Phil Berlowitzand Andre Grenon)

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