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Who Makes the Most Reliable Cars?

Consumer Reports logo Consumer Reports 10/24/2018 Jon Linkov
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The rationale for buying a new car is fairly simple: You get a vehicle that is more dependable than your old car and has the newest technology and advanced safety features. But the results from Consumer Reports’ exclusive Annual Auto Survey again show that this thinking can backfire if shoppers choose the wrong models.

Our newest survey collected data on more than 500,000 vehicles from CR’s members, and from this data, we can let shoppers know which vehicles are likely to have troublesome turbocharged engines, infuriating infotainment systems, and taxing transmissions, among other problems.

The survey reinforces our recommendation that consumers should avoid brand-new or redesigned models and wait a year or two until the automaker has had the chance to work out the kinks and headaches that often arise. Here are how the automakers performed, grouped by their traditional regions. 

The brands are ranked by reliability, starting with the top, within each region.
 

Asian Automakers

Lexus: Lexus and Toyota again lead in CR’s predicted reliability ranking—the sixth year in a row. This year all Lexus models with sufficient data were rated average or above. (We did not have sufficient data on the redesigned LS sedan.)

Toyota: The Tacoma continues to have problems with the driver system and in the transmission minor trouble spots. The redesigned 2018 Camry saw a slight drop in reliability—but only to better than average. Members said they had some problems with the Entune infotainment system, and rough shifting from the eight-speed automatic transmission. This shows that even a reliable brand such as Toyota has to work out bugs after a redesign.

Mazda: The automaker worked out problems that plagued the CX-9 SUV and MX-5 Miata roadster. However, the CX-3 SUV is rated below average because of climate system problems.

Subaru: The redesigned Impreza small car had problems last year, but it has rebounded with better-than-average reliability. The redesigned Crosstrek SUV has much-better-than-average first-year reliability. The sporty WRX was the only Subaru with below-average reliability because of transmission problems.

Kia: The Sportage SUV is similar to the Hyundai Tucson, but it has been much more reliable. Likewise, the Niro hybrid is similar to the Hyundai Ioniq but has above-average predicted reliability. The new-for-2018 Stinger hatchback is average, while the Cadenza sedan came in as much worse than average, with owners reporting faulty thermostat sensors, problems with the climate system, and engine cooling.

Infiniti: The Infiniti brand has rebounded, with the Q50 sedan and QX60 SUV improving to average. 

Hyundai: The Tucson SUV’s 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission have been a significant source of trouble. The transmission suffered from rough shifting, computer problems, and slipping. The Ioniq hybrid came in below average, with owners noting rough shifts from the six-speed transmission, and engine problems.

Genesis: The G80 had above-average reliability, and the G90 was below average, with reported problems in the areas of body hardware and power equipment.

Acura: The past few years have seen Acura—Honda’s luxury brand—add new automatic transmissions and infotainment systems, and they caused reliability headaches. These problems have been worked out on most models, although the MDX is still below average in these two areas.

Nissan: The redesigned Leaf electric car and Maxima sedan rated above average. Two models were below average: the Titan pickup and the Versa Note. The Note’s problems included engine issues.

Honda: Honda’s reliability is bogged down by some of its new and redesigned models. The Odyssey minivan had much-worse-than-average reliability, with problems including the infotainment system, and door locking and unlocking. The CR-V SUV and the new Accord dropped to average, with problems including the infotainment system and interior rattles. Honda’s Clarity line of alternative-fuel cars had much-worse-than-average reliability. Reported problems included electronic glitches.
 

Domestic Automakers

Ford: This brand was the best of all the domestics. The Taurus, the oldest model in Ford’s lineup, had much-better-than-average reliability. But the usually reliable Fusion dropped to below average, mainly because of problems with the Sync 3 infotainment system screen freezing. The Mustang and Explorer were worse than average. Both had some problems with the climate system and body hardware.

Buick: The redesigned Enclave SUV had a much-worse-than-average rating, with owners reporting problems related to the new nine-speed transmission: rough shifts, the transmission computer, and the torque converter. The LaCrosse sedan, and the Encore and Envision SUVs were average.

Lincoln: The lone bright spot for Lincoln was the Continental’s much-better-than-average reliability. The MKC and MKX SUVs remained below average, and the MKZ sedan dropped to below average.

Dodge: Of the FCA brands, Dodge was the best. Reliability of the Charger sedan improved to better than average, and the Grand Caravan minivan was average. The Challenger coupe had problems with the transmission. The Durango and Journey SUVs had multiple problem areas. All three remained below average.

Jeep: This brand had mixed results. The Grand Cherokee and Renegade SUVs improved to average, and the Cherokee and Compass SUVs had below-average reliability. 

Chevrolet: The redesigned Traverse SUV had much-worse-than-average reliability and shared the same transmission problems as the Enclave, along with the infotainment display freezing or staying blank. The redesigned 2018 Equinox SUV came in with average reliability, the Suburban and Tahoe SUVs improved to average or better, and the Bolt electric car remained average.

Chrysler: While the Chrysler 300 sedan’s reliability improved to average, the Pacifica minivan fell to below average. Top issues were a frozen or blank display screen, navigation and radio problems. Transmission problems included the transmission’s computer.

GMC: There are three GMC models with average or better reliability: the Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL SUVs. But the GMC Acadia SUV was worse than average, with infotainment and power equipment problems.

Ram: The previous-generation 1500 and the 2500 had average reliability. The 3500 was below average.

Tesla: The Model S sedan has dropped to below average, with suspension problems and other issues that included the extending door handle. The first-year Model 3 sedan had average reliability, while the Model X SUV stayed much worse than average, with problems including the falcon doors and center display screen.

Cadillac: GM's luxury brand remains troubled, with only the XTS sedan coming in with better-than-average reliability. The other models stayed below average, with issues related to rough shifting on the CT6 sedan and Escalade SUV, and in-car electronics on other models.
 

European Automakers

Audi: All the Audi models that we have sufficient reliability data for rated average or better, although the scores were not as high as they’ve been in previous years. This includes the 2018 Q5 SUV, and the A5 coupe and convertible. A number of Audi sedans and SUV are being redesigned for 2019.

BMW: The redesigned X3 was below average, with climate system problems, including coolant leaks, and seat controls that required the seatback to be replaced. The X1 dropped to below average, with suspension problems, premature brake wear, and steering-wheel vibrations.

Mini: BMW’s Mini brand saw the Cooper improve to average and the Countryman to above average.

Porsche: The German performance brand sees a wide variation in reliability, with the Cayenne SUV being the least reliable model and the 911 sports car have above-average reliability.

Volkswagen: The new Atlas SUV had much-worse-than-average reliability. The most notable problem area for the Atlas was with the climate system. The Golf and redesigned Tiguan were average, but the GTI was still below average.

Mercedes-Benz: The C-Class coupe and sedan improved to average, but the GLC SUV and the E-Class were below average. Members reported in-car electronics and engine problems on the E-Class.

Volvo: Our members told us that the XC60 SUV suffered from display screen freezes; problems with the climate system and interior cabin rattles. Complaints were still numerous on the XC90 SUV’s infotainment system, mainly screen freezes and blank display. The S90 sedan shared those problems in addition to complaints about engine knocking or pinging. 

Others: We had sufficient data on one Alfa Romeo model, the Giulia sedan, which has much-worse-than-average reliability. Notable problems were the keyless entry and seat controls. The only Jaguar with sufficient data is the F-Pace SUV, which is still much worse than average. Problems were in-car electronics, such as screen freezes or a blank display, and differential fluid leaks.
 

Car Brand Reliability Rankings

Our brand rankings are based on the average reliability for vehicles in a lineup. Below, we also list the most and least reliable vehicle in each brand lineup. Buick fell 11 spots, the biggest decline, due to worse-than-average reliability for its Enclave SUV. Mazda moved the most, up nine spots, mostly due to reliability gains for the CX-9 and MX-5 Miata. To be included here, a brand must have sufficient data for at least two vehicles. CR lacks data to rank Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati, Mitsubishi, or Smart.

For more details on reliability, go to CR.org/reliability.

Click on the model names for specific reliability details, along with complete road tests.

Rank

Change

From

2018

Brand

(No. of Models)

Least

Reliable

Model

Average

Reliability

Score

Most

Reliable

Model

11Lexus (6)IS

78

GX
21Toyota (14)Tacoma

76

Prius C
39Mazda (6)CX-3

69

MX-5 Miata
42Subaru (6)WRX

65

Crosstrek
52Kia (8)Cadenza

61

Sedona
61Infiniti (4)Q50

61

Q60
73Audi (6)A3

60

Q5
83BMW (7)X1

58

i3
9N/AMini (2)Cooper

57

Countryman
10Hyundai (5)Ioniq

57

Santa Fe XL
112Porche (3)Cayenne

54

911
12N/AGenesis (2)G90

52

G80
136Acura (3)MDX

51

ILX
143Nissan (11)Versa Note

51

Maxima
156Honda (9)Clarity

50

Fit
16Volkswagen (8)Atlas

47

Passat
173Mercedes-Benz (7)E-Class

47

GLS
183Ford (11)Mustang

45

Taurus
1911Buick (5)Enclave

44

Encore
202Lincoln (4)MKZ

43

Continental
213Dodge (5)Journey

40

Charger
222Jeep (4)Compass

40

Renegade
235Chevrolet (16)Traverse

39

Impala
247Chrysler (2)Pacifica

38

300
251GMC (8)Sierra 2500 HD

37

Yukon
261Ram (3)3500

34

2500
276Tesla (3)Model X

32

Model 3
281Cadillac (6)ATS

32

XTS
296Volvo (3)S90

22

XC60

Note: NA indicates the brand was not ranked last year. — indicates the ranking is unchanged from last year.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2018, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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