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I thought it was because they finally had enough data to support the reliabilty rating. There were never that many kinks, in spite of all the complainers. If I remember correctly, for the longest time there was an addendum to the RX-8 review on CR that basically said there was not enough data to predict the car's reliability yet, so it automatically got a low rating.
Elara is correct. They will not initially recommend a new model, unless it is heavily based on a previous design. Ours was not. However, after enough data is accumulated (generally after a year or so) they will examine it in more detail.
It is true also that the 2006 buyer's guide did not recommend the '04...
If you have rattles in the doors you (or the dealer) need to pull off the door panels and properly affix the electrical cables. They are usually what rattles. Also look for popped out plastic fasteners. Once all the fasteners are properly affixed the doors shouldn't rattle.
When installing "puddle lights" I found several fasteners loose.