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Consumer Reports 2019 Annual Auto Reliability Survey


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YONKERS, NY — Tesla, Dodge, Mazda, Porsche and Infiniti all made gains in the latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey from Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit organization committed to creating a fairer, safer, and more transparent marketplace. On the other hand, Acura, Volkswagen and Audi are among the brands that saw sharp drops, following the introduction of troublesome redesigned vehicles. 

The Annual Auto Reliability Survey, which ranks among the largest surveys of its kind in the U.S., is based on data collected from the organization’s members about their experiences with more than 400,000 vehicles. The findings were announced at a news conference before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today. 

Though still ranked in the bottom third, Tesla rebounded slightly, moving up four spots from last year to 23 out of 30. “The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at CR. “But as the production stabilized, we have seen improvements to the reliability of the Model 3 and S that now allow us to Recommend both models.” The Model X continues to rank among the least reliable models in the survey. Fisher cautioned that he expects continued fluidity in Tesla reliability given its track record to date. 

Japanese brands, led by Lexus, Mazda, and Toyota, in that order, continue to be the best for new car reliability in CR’s survey. Another Japanese brand, Subaru, ranked seventh overall. But three Korean brands also made it into the top 10—Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia, in that order. The survey findings show that Korean brands have closed the gap with the Japanese brands by producing vehicles that are reliable.

Reliability woes with new and redesigned models caused brands including Acura, Volkswagen, and Audi to plummet in CR’s latest rankings. Conversely, automakers that haven’t made significant changes in their product lineups—such as Dodge, Chrysler, Infiniti, and Mini—made gains. 

Looking at other brands tracked in CR’s survey, Porsche and Mini both jumped up five spots from last year, while Dodge surged 13 places to round out the top 10 after years of languishing in the lower tier of the rankings. Cadillac slipped to dead last. The most notable shake-ups in the brand rankings include:

  • Dodge (number 8, up 13 spots from last year) due to above average reliability for the Challenger and Grand Caravan, and no recent redesigns.
  • Volkswagen (number 27, down 9 spots from last year) due to much-worse-than average reliability for the Atlas and Tiguan. Notable issues on the two SUVs stemmed from problems with power equipment, in-car electronics, and emissions/fuel system.
  • Acura (number 28, down 9 spots from last year) due to below average reliability of the redesigned RDX, and continuing problems with MDX.
  • Audi (number 14, down 7 spots from last year) due to a number of new or redesigned 2019 models that shared similar powertrains and the new infotainment system. The A6 and Q8 had well below average reliability. Problems included power equipment, engine computer, and multiple in-car electronics issues.

“Consumers deserve products and services that are safe, high quality and offer good value,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “Our annual auto reliability survey, along with the exhaustive testing done at our Auto Test Center in Connecticut, is one way we help consumers identify reliable, and fuel-efficient choices to fit every budget and lifestyle, which is the way the marketplace should be.”

Mixed Year for Brands from Detroit 3; FCA jumps and Buick falls the most in CR’s rankings

Consumer Reports’ prediction of new-car reliability is a key element of CR’s Overall Score, which is a holistic measure of a vehicle’s quality designed to make it easy for consumers to quickly find the best cars, SUVs, and trucks to suit their needs. The score also includes road-test performance, owner satisfaction survey results, whether a vehicle comes with key safety systems, and results from crash tests, if applicable. This year there are 20 models with reliability ratings that improved enough to lift their Overall Scores to enable them to be “CR Recommended.”

Overall, there was a lot of reshuffling among the brands in CR’s latest predicted new-car reliability rankings, with mixed results for domestics. But reliability for some key models from Detroit has risen over the past year, allowing CR to “Recommend” them. Those vehicles include some carry-over models such as the Buick Enclave, Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Ford Fusion, Ford Mustang, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Lincoln MKZ.

Brands from Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) had the most upward mobility of all domestics in CR’s rankings. Dodge vaulted 13 spots to number 8 out of 30 brands partly due to the “Above-Average” reliability rating of the Dodge Challenger and Grand Caravan. The Durango remains “Worse-than-Average.” Chrysler, which has only two models in its lineup, rose seven spots to number 19. While the Chrysler 300 continued to be “Better-than-Average,” the Pacifica minivan remains “Below-Average.” Jeep fell three positions to 26th, with mixed results. The Grand Cherokee and Compass are “Average”, while the Cherokee and Renegade have “Below-Average” reliability. The redesigned for 2018 Wrangler is still “Well-Below Average”.

GMC inches up two spots to number 22 due to average or above reliability for the Acadia, Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL. The redesigned 2019 Sierra 1500 pickup has “Below-Average” reliability, as does the Canyon, a smaller pickup.

Other GM brands saw their place in the rankings fall from last year. Buick, which had recently been among the top 10 brands for reliability, continued to slide, dropping five spots to 18th place—this year’s biggest decline among domestics. However, the Regal is the only Buick model with below average predicted reliability. Chevrolet is down three places to number 25, in part because the redesigned 2019 Silverado 1500 had “Below Average” reliability, as did the Camaro, Colorado, and Traverse. Cadillac is again the worst-performing of all brands, dropping two spots to number 30.

Ford ranks number 16, unchanged from last year. The re-introduced Ranger had “Above-Average” reliability, and the Mustang finally improved to “Average.” However, the F-150 dropped to “Well-Below Average” due to minor transmission issues, body hardware, and drive system problems. Lincoln dropped four spots to number 15 due in part to the “Below Average” reliability of the Nautilus.

Volkswagen, Audi, BMW take big slides in rough year for Europe

Volkswagen sank nine places to number 27 in the rankings. The Atlas and the Tiguan continued to have much-worse-than-average reliability. Issues with the two SUVs include power equipment, in-car electronics, and fuel system.

Other European automakers also lost ground. Usually solid Audi took a steep tumble, dropping seven spots to number 14 due to a number of problematic new or redesigned 2019 models. BMW also slid seven positions, coming in at 17. The redesigned 3 Series and X5 are “Well-Below-Average.” The 21st ranked Mercedes-Benz only fell by one spot, with most of its models having “Average Reliability.”

Porsche was a bright spot for Europe, leaping five places to nab the number four spot in the rankings. And Volvo edged up two to claim the number 24 spot. The XC90 SUV and S90 sedan remained “Below Average” for reliability, while the XC60 is “Average” and the new for 2019 XC40 is” Above Average.”

Lexus back on top, Mazda advances into the top three in another banner year for Asia

Lexus and Mazda take the top two spots, respectively, in CR’s predicted new-car reliability rankings, while Toyota fell to third place. The lone blemish from any of the top three brands is the Lexus LS, which has much-worse-than-average reliability due to reported problems including minor transmission, brakes, and noises and leaks.

Genesis held firm at the number 5 spot. The new G70, and the G80 have “Above Average” reliability, while the G90 is “Average.” Hyundai is parked nearby at number 6, with all of the models in CR’s rating receiving “Average” reliability or better. Kia remains in the top 10, falling one spot to number 9.

Honda rose slightly, edging up to the number 12 slot, even though its redesigned models did not perform well for reliability. The Passport and the Odyssey are both “Below Average.” The Infiniti brand rose four spots to number 13, as the redesigned QX50 has “Average” reliability. Nissan edged up one place to 11th overall, buoyed by the “Well Above Average” redesigned Altima.

The news wasn’t all good for Asia. Acura, Honda’s luxury brand, steeply declined nine spots to 28th place after struggling with many new transmission changes in the past few years. The MDX and the redesigned 2019 RDX have “Well Below Average” reliability. Subaru also slipped, falling back five to number 7. The new Ascent and the redesigned 2019 Forester both have “Average” reliability. Problems include in-car electronics systems, such as the radio and music interface and display screen going blank.

For more information on CR’s annual #CRCarReliability survey, visit CR.org/reliability or follow Consumer Reports on Facebook at facebook.com/consumerreports and on Twitter @consumerreports.

About Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey
The latest Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey, gathered information from Consumer Reports members who collectively owned or leased over 400,000 vehicles, from model years 2000 to 2019. The survey, which is the largest of its kind, covers more than 300 models. More information can be found at www.CR.org.