Consumer Reports’ 2017 Car Reliability Survey results are in, and quite a lot has changed since last year. Here’s a look at the new ratings.
Each year, Consumer Reports—a nonprofit organization working on behalf of consumers—sends an online questionnaire to its subscribers, asking them to mention issues they’ve had with their vehicles in the past 12 months. In their responses, participants describe problems in detail, and identify whether those problems are “serious” based on “cost, failure, safety, or downtime.”
This year, the organization has received feedback from about 400,000 subscribers on over 640,000 vehicles, with an average of about 200 to 400 samples for each model year of a certain car. The results for 2017, which you can read about here, show lots of movement among brands.
Chrysler, with its Pacifica’s “average” reliability score (hindered by “minor transmission issues”), jumped up 10 spots from 27 to 17. Jeep also jumped up a few spots (from 23 to 20) thanks to improved transmission calibration in the Cherokee, though Consumer Reports still rates the Grand Cherokee and Renegade as “below average.”
Dodge also rose a couple spots thanks to improvements in the Challenger and Charger, though those models—along with everything else in the Dodge line sans the Grand Caravan—remain “below average.” Ram also jumped up a few spots (four) thanks to improved reliability ratings for the 1500, though the heavy duty trucks still bring down the brand’s overall score.
GM didn’t do so hot this year, with Buick—which kicked butt last year at third place—dropping down to eighth (thanks, in part, to the new LaCrosse’s “well-below average” reliability). The good news is that the Cascada and Envision did well.
Chevrolet dropped three spots in this year’s rankings, in part because the Cruze “plunged to below average” after a solid debut last year. The Bolt, interestingly enough, is Chevy’s most reliable car (above average), while the Volt plug-in hybrid is still below average.
GMC and Cadillac are at the very bottom of Consumer Reports’ list, partially because of issues associated with infotainment, as well as “problems with drive system, power equipment, and climate system,” particularly in the new GMC Acadia. Cadillac’s new 2017 XT5 scored below-average, helping place the brand at the very bottom of Consumer Reports’ list.
Ford gained three spots, and now sits at 15th thanks to an improved F-150, though the Focus and Fiesta still need work on their transmissions. Ford’s Lincoln brand dropped two spots to 22nd.
Rounding out the domestics, Tesla actually rose four spots to 21, thanks to a Model S whose predicted reliability is—for the very first time—rated as “above average.”
Kia now sits at number three, with its little Niro crossover scoring the very highest in the survey, and the brand’s worst-scoring car—the Sportage—still managing an “average” score. Hyundai dropped three spots to No. 10. because of issues with the Tucson’s dual-clutch trans, but the new Elantra seems to be doing well.
Japanese brands are still doing well overall; Toyota and Lexus remain at the very top, Subaru rose five ranks to No. 6, Honda went up a spot to No. 9, and Nissan gained a couple of ranks to No. 11.
Acura and Mazda both dropped quite a few spots, though, with the latter losing six positions and now sitting at No. 12, and the former dropping seven spots to No. 19.
As for the German brands, Audi is still doing well at No. 4, and BMW gained four spots to No. 5., with all of its vehicles having “average or better reliability.” Benz is up three spots to No. 14 because of its new E-Class, and its improved S-Class, and Volvo dropped even farther down the list to No. 23 because of its XC90.
So there’s been a considerable amount of reorganization in the rankings for 2017. Whether you agree with Consumer Reports’ methodology or not, the fact remains that these ratings play an enormous role in shaping auto shoppers’ opinions.
You can read more about Consumer Reports’ survey results—and how a new or updated model now seems to be more likely to have a “wonky engine, a jerky transmission, or high-tech features that fail outright” than an older one—on the nonprofit’s website.