Lexus, Toyota and Buick are the most reliable brands in Consumer Reports‘ latest car reliability survey, a reward for their conservative approach to new technology. Of course, those of you who listen to the Car Pro Show know that I think Consumer Reports is more often than not unreliable, and full of bias, but I digress.
It’s the fourth straight year that Lexus came in first and Toyota came in second. Two of their hybrids — the Toyota Prius and the Lexus CT 200H — were named the most reliable vehicles.
The big news is that Buick — General Motors Co.’s near-luxury marque — is the first domestic brand to crack the top three since the magazine began tracking vehicle reliability in the early 1980s.
“Buick’s achievement is commendable and sure to be a wake-up call to other manufacturers,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing. “One reason why the brand has been able to leapfrog others in the General Motors’ stable has been its limited vehicle lineup–with none of the pickups and truck-based SUVs that have negatively impacted Cadillac and Chevrolet.”
Audi and Kia rounded out the top five brands their scores on a scale of 0-100.
Consumer Reports researchers say the best performers have a key thing in common – they add new technology slowly, bit-by-bit, rather than all at once. For instance, consider the 2016 Lexus RX. When introduced, it came with an older engine and an eight-speed transmission , not an all-new one. Also, when Buick introduced the Encore in 2012, it was built on a small-car platform already used in prior vehicles. It also stuck to a six-speed transmission, rather than a newer eight- and nine-speed.
Now for the losers. Once again, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles didn’t fare well. Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat and Ram were the worst performers. Honda fell this year in the ratings partly to the new 2016 Civic. It has two new engines and a new continuously variable transmission, so cue the problems so to speak. The Civic’s infotainment system is also a problem spot. Tesla also fared poorly.
Consumer Reports predicts the reliability of 2017 model-year brands and individual vehicles based on survey responses from its subscribers. The magazine collected subscribers’ comments on vehicles they own from the 2000-2017 model years. Around 500,000 subscribers responded to this year’s survey.
As you can see by the rankings above, General Motors continues to struggle with its larger vehicles. Consumer Reports say they get low marks for steering and suspension issues. The Cadillac Escalade large SUV is the worst performing vehicle in the magazine’s survey due to its combination of transmission problems and its difficult-to-use infotainment system.
Tesla was added to this year’s survey because the magazine had enough responses from owners — suffered multiple problems with its new Model X SUV, including water leaks and issues with climate control along with its glitch-prone falcon-wing doors.
The Consumer Reports 2016 Annual Auto Reliability Survey, gathered information from Consumer Reports subscribers who collectively owned or leased over half a million vehicles, from model years 2000 to 2016, with a smattering of 2017s, covering more than 300 models. More information can be found at www.ConsumerReports.org and in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.