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WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - German automakers dominated Consumer Reports' annual ranking of automotive brands released on Tuesday, with Volkswagen AG's Audi leading the pack, while U.S. brands continued to lag despite gains for many.
Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at the magazine, said German automakers rose largely due to improvements in reliability. "Building one or two great vehicles is achievable, but making a whole lineup of excellent ones is much more difficult,” Fisher said.
Volkswagen's Porsche unit and rival BMW AG came in second and third. General Motors Co's Buick brand was the highest-ranked U.S. brand in 10th, down from seventh in 2016, while Ford Motor Co's Lincoln brand was 15th, up from 17th. The Ford brand fell from 16th to 21th.
GM's Chevrolet brand moved up to 17th from 20th and its Cadillac brand moved up to 18th from 24th.
Toyota Motor Corp's flagship brand fell from eighth to 11th place, falling out of the top 10 for the first time in recent years, after the magazine said its Tacoma pickup had reliability issues. Toyota's luxury Lexus unit fell from third to fourth.
Fuji Heavy Industries' Subaru unit fell from second to fifth, while Korean auto brand Kia jumped to sixth, up five spots, followed by Mazda Motor Corp in seventh.
Tesla Inc was ranked eighth among auto brands after previously not having enough models to be ranked. The California automaker was followed by Honda Motor Co's namesake brand in ninth.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Chrysler brand jumped from 26th to 19th.
GM's Chevrolet Cruze was named best compact car, while its Impala won best large sedan.
Other top picks included the Honda Ridgeline as best compact pickup, Kia Optima best midsized sedan and Audi Q7 best luxury SUV.
Nissan Motor Co's luxury Infiniti brand moved up six spots to 16, while its Nissan brand fell one spot to 22.
Some German automakers struggled. The Volkswagen brand fell eight spots to 23rd and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz fell six spots to 20th.
The Fiat brand remained last again among all brands rated, and FCA's Jeep brand remained second-lowest overall. Consumer Reports does not recommend any Fiat Chrysler vehicles, while it recommends all Porsche, Mazda and BMW vehicles.
Fisher said Fiat Chrysler models suffered from serious reliability problems and are "not competitive" in most segments. The non-profit magazine has more than 8 million subscribers and surveys hundreds of thousands of car owners. Many shoppers consult the ratings, and automakers routinely tout favorable ratings in advertising.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman