Although Asian makers dominated a consumer magazine's latest reliability ratings, it said that US car makers are making gains in initial quality scores.

Ford's new Fusion model earned high marks from both Consumer Reports testers and consumers who rated its reliability, the magazine said in its 2007 new car preview, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Asian automakers once again dominated the closely watched reliability ratings, but US automakers are steadily improving, David Champion, senior director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, told the news agency, adding: "The quality of cars has improved dramatically."

AP said the Fusion and the Mercury Milan were among the top-ranked family cars for predicted reliability, on par with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The magazine bases its reliability forecasts on information provided by consumers for the past three model years, the report noted, adding that, forthe Fusion and the Milan, the rating is based on only one model year because the vehicles were new for 2006.

Overall, Japanese automakers had 39 of the 47 vehicles with the best predicted reliability, AP said.

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