Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Report
By Steve Purdy
Photos By Bob Benko
DETROIT - October 27, 2014: As has been a tradition the folks at Consumer Reports revealed their Annual Reliability Survey results at a gathering of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. A few surprises always jump out as a result of the survey and, not surprisingly, a good share of the reliability problems result from the ever more pervasive inclusion of nulti-function, cross-linked infotainment systems and the electronics that support them. Seldom are powertrain failures a problem anymore.
This Reliability Study covers just about all cars and light trucks in the U.S. market for 2014 and it is based on extensive Consumer Reports testing and on surveys of over a million CR subscribers. Twenty-eight brands and a multitude of models were evaluated. Vehicles are rated on a curve resulting in five categories, two on either side of “average.”
One of the most notably troublesome infotainment systems in recent years has been MyTouch from Ford and Lincoln. The survey found much improvement with those as well as similar systems from Honda and Chrysler that had resulted in some models being “not recommended” in the past. The most troublesome infotainment system currently is the newest from Infiniti called Intouch. Along with some other reliability issues the and some other issues, particularly with the QX60 large SUV, the Infiniti brand dropped farther than any other to 20th overall.
Traditional high-rankers among the other Japanese brands remain at the top: Lexus, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Subaru, Scion and Kia took seven of the top ten spots. Nissan and Infinity scored below average.
Most U.S. brands finished below the mean although Lincoln and Cadillac were among the most improved from the previous year. The new full-size pickups and SUVs from GM, fully redesigned for 2014, struggled as the GMC brand dropped 10 places. Ram also sunk considerably. GM’s small cars brought their numbers down while Buick found itself the most improved domestic brand moving from 16th to 6th place.
The German brands mostly did well with the exception of Mercedes-Benz sinking 11 places because of problems with the new S-Class and CLA, both in their first year of a major redesign. Audi found itself in the top five for the second year in a row after hovering near the bottom of the list just six years ago.
Along with the current year’s reliability rankings CR includes “Predicted Reliability” for 2015 based on a variety of factors including, we think, a bit of voodoo. The top ten will remain about the same, they predict, with Fiat and Jeep remaining at the bottom. Predicted to improve most are Lincoln, Cadillac, Hyundai and Nissan. Predicted to slump are Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, Ram and Acura.
Consumer Reports 2014 auto reliability survey
Best cars: Scion xB, Lexus CT 200h, Lexus ES 300h hybrid
Best SUVs: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport; V6 Toyota Highlander Lexus RX
Worst cars: Fiat 500L, Ford Fiesta, Mercedes-Benz CLA 250
Worst SUVs: 4-cyl. Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee-Diesel
For full results visit the CR Website HERE or in the current issue of the magazine or in the specialty publication Consumer Reports Best and Worst Cars of 2015.