Another year, another predicted new-car reliability ranking from non-profit consumer products researchers at Consumer Reports. And this year, the domestic automakers aren’t looking so good, taking up 11 of the bottom 12 spots. Here’s a look at reliability rankings for all the brands.
Each year, Consumer Reports sends a questionnaire to its members to learn about issues that they’ve had with their cars over the past year, and the severity of those issues. In their latest survey, CR got info on over 500,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2018, gathering information about problems that owners have had in twelve key areas, including engine internals, accessory drive, cooling system, transmission internals, drivetrain, fuel system, electrical system, brakes, climate control, exhaust, in-car electronics, and others.
With typically 200 to 400 samples from each model, Consumer Reports’ latest data shows every American automaker in the bottom half of the predicted new-car reliability rankings.
At the top are Lexus and Toyota once again, with the GX as the most reliable Lexus and the Prius C as the most reliable Toyota. Subaru, Kia, and Infiniti have also stayed in the top six spots, though Mazda made a huge leap from 12 to number three. That leap, CR says, comes courtesy of Mazda “[working] out problems that plagued the CX-9 SUV and MX-5 Miata roadster.”
German brands are in the middle, with Audi, BMW, and Mini coming it at numbers seven through nine, Porsche at 11, VW at 16, and Mercedes at 17. Korean brands Hyundai and Genesis—as well as Japanese brands Acura, Nissan, and Honda—are also in the middle there, ranked at 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15, respectively.
Honda’s reliability ranking dropped the most of these brands—down by six thanks to an Odyssey that allegedly has infotainment and door lock issues, yielding “much-worse-than-average reliability.” In addition, the CR-V and Accord’s ratings are down to just “average” thanks in part to “infotainment system and interior rattles,” and the Clarity line of cars apparently has “electronic glitches” that bring it to “much-worse-than-average.”
But on the plus side for Honda, its luxury sister brand, Acura, is up six spots thanks to recently worked-out transmission and infotainment problem, CR says.
Left at the bottom are the Americans, with the exception of Swedish brand Volvo, which is literally at the very bottom, ranked 29, in part because of alleged infotainment issues with the XC60 and XC90, as well as “complaints about engine knocking or pinging” on the S90
Ford sits at number 18 and the once-mighty Buick brand dropped a whopping 11 spots to 19. Consumer Reports attributes the giant drop of GM’s mid-level luxury brand to the Enclave’s nine-speed transmission woes which contributed to its “much-worse-than-average rating.” Other Buicks like the LaCrosse, Encore, and Envision were rated average, CR says.
Lincoln, Dodge, Jeep, Chevy, and Chrysler are ranked between 20 and 24, while GMC, Ram, Tesla, and Cadillac are in positions 25 to 28. The American brands that dropped the most were Chrysler (down seven), Tesla (down six) and Chevrolet (down five).
CR says Chrysler’s Pacifica was one that contributed to the drop in rankings thanks to the minivan’s infotainment and transmission issues.
Update Oct. 24, 2018 8:25 P.M: A Fiat Chrysler spokesperson provided the following comment on the new rankings:
“The quality and reliability of our vehicles is of the greatest importance to all of us here at FCA US. We are in constant communication with our customers, addressing their feedback in an effort to continuously improve the quality of our vehicles. In addition, our teams are aggressively working toward solutions to any concerns to ensure complete customer satisfaction. We encourage people to experience our lineup for themselves, and we thank our loyal customers who continue to love their vehicles as they recommend them to their family and friends.”
As for why Tesla dropped six spots, CR notes the Model S’s reported suspension and door handle issues, as well as the Model X remaining at “much worse than average” thanks in part to the infotainment screen and the Falcon Doors.
We reached out to Tesla, and their spokesperson provided the following comment on about the Model S suspension complaints:
The suspension issues that some Model S customers experienced primarily in 2017 were due to a supplier-related issue that did not pose any threat to vehicle safety or drivability, and presented itself only when the car was parked. The issue has already been addressed for customer vehicles in the field and resolved at the source with fundamental design improvements. In addition, there was an unrelated false service alert that some customers received regarding their suspension in 2018, and it was fixed for all customers via an over-the-air software update within two weeks of being reported. Suspension issues for Model S have improved 65% since last year, and we continue to make further improvements.
As for the reported issues with the Model X, Tesla says it’s made changes to fix them:
While the earliest production Model X cars encountered some quality inconsistencies, this is simply not a concern for Model X cars being built today, and it hasn’t been one for quite a while. In fact, the quality of brand-new Model X vehicles today is 3.5 times better than the quality of brand new Model X cars from 2015. And, we continue to improve the reliability of cars already on the road via over-the-air software updates and proactive service bulletins. This proactive approach to improved reliability is one of the reasons why Tesla is the highest rated car brand among consumers, according to Consumer Reports.”
The rest of the company’s statement reads:
“Not only are our cars the safest and best performing vehicles available today, but we take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues. That’s just one of the reasons why Model S has been ranked number one on Consumer Reports’ owner satisfaction survey every year since 2013, which was the first year Tesla was included in their report.
As for Chevy, it looks like the new Traverse—with the same trans issues as the Enclave—didn’t help any with its “much-worse-than-average reliability.” A General Motors representative provided the following statement:
We are committed to providing our customers high-quality products and remain focused on launching with excellence. Most of our brands continue to maintain or improve relative to industry average. As always, we are interested in obtaining the survey data to better understand our performance and where we can improve.
You can learn more about how Consumer Reports compiles this list here, and you can watch the video above. You can also check out CR’s press release for analysis on the new rankings. Whether you agree with the non-profit’s methodology, the reality is that Consumer Reports’ findings play a major role in shaping car buyers’ opinions, and also in how automakers actually go about designing their vehicles.
This post has been updated with comment from a Fiat Chrysler spokesperson.