Wow, MSN Money actually has a decent piece about Money... Oh look, it's sponsored by Consumer Reports.org. That helps with the explanation:
What That Car Really Costs to Own - MSN Autos
I can't really argue with many of their points. Consumer Reports seems to know what they're doing. I am annoyed with one thing, though it's purely philosophical. It's the concept of factoring in the resale value of the car.
Yes we have historical data, but who wants to be the one trying to sell a Honda on the year they start making lemons? Plus the resale value is only good if you plan on selling the car. Otherwise, you just drive all cars until they're worth some irrelevant amount of money and you call it a day. At that point you want the car that cost you th least to get to the end of the line. Of course, the cars that require the least repair also tend to be the cars the highest resale value.
So you're kind of "double-dinging" certain cars. Especially when they all become basically worthless after a certain time.