Chevy, Ford, Tesla slip in Consumer Reports' reliability survey

U.S. car brands slipped in annual reliability rankings published by Consumer Reports, while Lexus and Toyota dominated once again.

All domestic automakers finished in the bottom half of the list. Ford was the top-ranked American brand at No. 18, down three slots compared to last year. The Blue Oval was immediately followed by General Motors’ Buick, which fell out of the top 10. GM’s Chevrolet and Cadillac, and Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep, Chrysler and Ram also lost ground. Tesla, the upstart electric-car maker, fell six places to 27th.

The magazine, whose ratings are closely followed by car shoppers, compiles its rankings based on information provided by subscribers. Consumer Reports said it received more than 500,000 responses to its annual survey this year, covering 300 models from 2000 to 2018. Overall, subscribers reported a variety of mechanical issues but fewer frustrations with some infotainment systems, an area that has plagued automakers in recent years.

Consumer Reports noted that its latest reliability survey reinforces its recommendation that consumers wait before buying all-new or redesigned models and allow manufacturers to “work out the kinks and headaches that often arise.”

Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, added that some automakers have struggled to perfect turbocharged engines and newer eight-, nine- and 10-speed transmissions.

“With this added complexity, it’s not surprising to see some brands struggling to get them right, particularly the ones that don’t have a long history of producing turbos,” Fisher said.

There were some bright spots for Detroit automakers. Ford-owned Lincoln climbed two notches to No. 20, and Dodge, part of Fiat Chrysler’s portfolio, ranked 21st after gaining three spots. GMC placed 25th, up from 26th.

Tesla was dragged down in part by the Model S, whose reliability is now rated at below average. The Model S was among 12 models to lose a Consumer Reports recommendation as a result of the reliability survey. Some Model S owners reported suspension problems, though a Tesla spokesperson told Consumer Reports that the company addressed a supplier issue and a separate false service alert.

The Honda Odyssey also lost its recommendation from the magazine. Sixteen models, including the Chevy Suburban, Lincoln Continental and Volkswagen Golf, gained recommendations amid improved reliability.

Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, regained its title as the most reliable brand in Consumer Reports’ survey, recording an average reliability score of 78. Toyota edged down to second place with a score of 76. Mazda, Subaru and Kia rounded out the top five.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 60.38 +0.19 +0.32%
F FORD MOTOR CO. 19.63 -0.11 -0.55%
FCAU n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
TSLA TESLA, INC. 1,128.09 +46.17 +4.27%

Mazda was the most improved brand, climbing nine places. Acura also had a strong showing as the Honda-owned brand jumped six spots to No. 13.

Volvo took last place among 29 brands, below Cadillac, Tesla, Ram and GMC.

Consumer Reports said Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mitsubishi and Smart weren’t included in its rankings due to a lack of data.

Here’s the full list from Consumer Reports, starting with the most reliable brands.

  1. Lexus
  2. Toyota
  3. Mazda
  4. Subaru
  5. Kia
  6. Infiniti
  7. Audi
  8. BMW
  9. Mini
  10. Hyundai
  11. Porsche
  12. Genesis
  13. Acura
  14. Nissan
  15. Honda
  16. Volkswagen
  17. Mercedes-Benz
  18. Ford
  19. Buick
  20. Lincoln
  21. Dodge
  22. Jeep
  23. Chevrolet
  24. Chrysler
  25. GMC
  26. Ram
  27. Tesla
  28. Cadillac
  29. Volvo