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William Maley

Industry News: Latest Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey Has Buick In the Top 3

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It seemed that it would never happen, a domestic brand cracking into the top three of Consumer Reports' annual Auto Reliability Survey. But in the 2016 survey, Buick became the first domestic brand in three decades to be in the top three of reliable brands - behind Lexus and Toyota.

“Buick’s achievement is commendable and sure to be a wake-up call to other manufacturers. 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,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing in a statement.

For the 2016 survey, Consumer Reports changed up their predicted reliability score to a 0-100 scale. Brands that score between 41 to 60 were deemed to be reliable. If a brand finishes below, it is deemed to be less reliable, while those that finished above were deemed to be more reliable. 

Rounding out the top ten list include Audi, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, Infiniti (up 16 spots), BMW, and Honda. Chevrolet was the second highest domestic brand by finishing 15th. Ford placed 18th in the survey, still being troubled by the dual-clutch transmissions used in the Fiesta and Focus. FCA had a rough showing again with Chrysler, Fiat, and Ram Trucks finishing in the bottom three. 

Other notes from the 2016 Annual Auto Reliability Survey:

  • Tesla is now part of the survey as they now have two models - Model S and X. They placed 25th. The Model S saw its reliability rating improve to average, while the Model X is toward the bottom due to numerous problems.
  • Subaru fell out of the top 10 because of the WRX and STI getting below average reliability, and the Legacy/Outback falling to average.
  • The recently redesigned Honda Civic is said to have “much-worse-than-average” reliability due to issues with the infotainment and power accessories. 

Source: Consumer Reports, Automotive News (Subscription Required)
Press Release is on Page 2


Consumer Reports 2016 Annual Auto Reliability Survey: Buick Becomes First Domestic to Reach the Top Three

  • New Honda Civic Plagued with Power Equipment and Infotainment Systems Problems

YONKERS, NY – While Asian brands continue to dominate, Buick has become the first domestic brand in more than three decades to earn a place in the top three most reliable brands in Consumer Reports’ Annual Brand Reliability Survey. The findings were announced during a press conference before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today.

There was trouble, too, for one of the imports: Honda’s popular Civic model proved to have “much-worse-than-average” reliability due to problems with its power equipment and infotainment systems. The Civic was North American Car of the Year for 2016.

Buick, General Motors’ near-luxury brand, has been hovering in the top 10 of CR’s brand reliability rankings for the past few years. But CR’s latest findings show Buick has joined Lexus and Toyota on the podium for the first time since the organization began tracking brand performance in the early 1980s. Chevrolet ranks as the second-best domestic brand and is in 15th place overall among the 29 brands covered.

Consumer Reports—the world’s largest and most trusted consumer nonprofit—first published its annual brand reliability rankings in 2001. That initial analysis showed that domestic nameplate vehicles had been lagging behind Japanese and European imports for the previous 20 years. Factoring in that history makes Buick’s third-place finish the highest for any American brand in more than 35 years.

“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.”

All of the Asian nameplates scored among the top half of the 29 brands tested, accounting for seven of the top 10 spots. Lexus and Toyota continued their domination, finishing in first and second place for the fourth straight year. All nine Lexus models CR rated had better-than-average reliability, as would have Toyota, had it not been for the below average score of the redesigned 2016 Tacoma pickup truck.

Among the other Asian brands, Infiniti made the biggest gain, while Acura was up six spots and Nissan moved up two. All Mazda models remained above average except for the new CX-3 small SUV, which came in at average. Kia and Hyundai continue to surge up the rankings, coming in at five and seven this year. No Kia or Hyundai models scored below average.

Honda has continued with its erratic trajectory, making landfall at number 10 among all brands. Usually a top finisher known for reliability, the brand has been hurt by new introductions. In addition to the new Civic, the redesigned Pilot SUV was just average.

Historically a strong performer, Subaru is an example of how smaller manufacturers can be helped—or hindered—by the performance of one or two models. Subaru fell out of the top 10, hurt by the 2016 Legacy and Outback falling to average, and the sporty WRX/STi dropping to below average.

Reliability improvements helped some luxury brands move up. Infiniti jumped 16 spots to number eight, but the brand still runs hot and cold. The older QX50 SUV and Q70 sedan had top scores, but the newer QX60 SUV and Q50 sedan were below average. BMW also moved into the top 10, with the 5 Series, X5, and i3 improving to average.

Audi has had several years of upward progress, and it continues to rank in the top five. The new Q7 and the Q3 SUVs were very reliable. Other European brands continue their inconsistency. Mercedes was one of the big movers, jumping four spots to number 17. The 2016 GLC, which replaced the reliable GLK, launched with well-above-average reliability, and the GLA and GLE SUVs were average. But the large GLS SUV was among the 20 most trouble-prone new cars in the survey, and the C- and S-Class sedans remained unreliable.

Volkswagen and Volvo, however, tumbled. Aside from the Tiguan SUV, all other VW models had below average reliability. The redesigned XC90 was the big culprit in Volvo’s plunge to the bottom third ranking, with its touch-screen infotainment and climate systems being particularly problematic.

Transmissions with more ratios and advanced drivetrains continue to be a challenge for a number of brands. While the Acura TLX and Jeep Cherokee have seen improvements in the reliability of their nine-speed automatics, earlier models are still problematic. Ford’s dual-clutch automatic transmission continues to afflict the Fiesta and Focus, which is one reason they are among the lowest-scoring models. Likewise, early versions of the current Nissan Pathfinder and similar Infiniti QX60 SUVs continue to suffer from problems with their continuously variable transmissions.

Other GM marques did not fare as well as Buick. Chevrolet saw gains, moving up five spots since last year. It was helped in particular by the stellar reliability of the redesigned 2016 Cruze, which topped all compact cars, and the Corvette, which moved up to average. Cadillac has two models with below-average reliability—the Escalade and small ATS sedan—while the CTS and XTS sedans were average or better. GMC has dropped, hurt by its versions of the same large SUVs and pickup trucks that haunt Chevrolet.

Consumer Reports requires at least two models with sufficient data in order to be included in its brand reliability rankings. With the introduction of the new Model X SUV, Tesla is now included and is ranked toward the bottom, at 25th. The Model X launched with abundant problems, including frequent malfunctions of the falcon-wing doors, water leaks, and infotainment and climate-control system problems. The Model S gained ground this year, improving to average reliability.

Fiat-Chrysler continues its turbulent voyage. The Fiat 500L, the most trouble-prone new car for the past two years, is now only the seventh-most troublesome. No Fiat or Ram vehicle managed even an average reliability rating. Only the Chrysler 300 sedan, Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, and Jeep Patriot SUV managed an average or better score.


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H'mmm :scratchchin: One wonders if CR is finally acknowledging that America is building good quality rides. Would be nice to see them off their Asian is best everything reporting.

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Backs up my claims of 'Subaru reliability' being a myth. They're average at best. Not sure how that lie came about in the first place. 

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I've never thought that Subaru had the legendary reliability that Honda and Toyota had (as I said.. a legend), I always felt that people just put up with them because they loved Subarus.  A neighbor of mind went through 3 of them (two Forresters and a Legacy) before finally giving up and getting a Mazda 3 (which she promptly totaled)

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I think Buick has it pretty easy, as there is nothing advanced or cutting edge….tech that pushes the envelope.  At least not with respect to this 2016 reliability survey, which looks at what, 2015 or older models?  Kudos for the award, for sure, but let’s face it, they only have to swing at Nerf balls. 

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2 hours ago, surreal1272 said:

So Buick is just taking a page from the Lincoln playbook, only more reliably. Good news for Buick. 

What does Lincoln have to do with anything?

But since you mentioned them, I could itemized a large relative list that is lacking from Buick,

including:

AWD across their lineup for years, not just recently.

Even advanced AWD

Large BOF SUV's

Advanced tech, including 2 levels of park assist, semi-autonomous, massaging seats, etc. (you know, typical stuff that drags down reliability).

Hybrids

Plethora of GTDI engines.

Shall I go on????

 

 

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 I mentioned Lincoln because they are cut from the same corporate cloth as Buick. No need to get your panties in a knot over a simple observation. Btw, Toyota and Lexus have far more models than Lincoln with a lot of tech while still being reliable. Want to try a different argument?

Edited by surreal1272

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Sorry but CR ratings are pure BS no matter if GM did good or bad. 

They rely mostly on a limited slice of owners that happen to be subscribers to give them feed back. Hardly scientific. 

Also the fact Buick sell a limited number of models and cars also has to be factored here. here. 

Limited numbers, brand loyalty and ratings done much like an Amazon review are not generally a clear picture of what is really going on. 

I am glad Buick had a good showing but even like when GM is condemned I must remember the review from them are generally bogus. 

If you want real feed back you need it to be consistent and from people that really know the subject. My mother reviewing a Buick is no real review. Nor are test from people who specialize in testing toasters as well as nose hair trimmers. 

CR is a real racket and they have a good thing going and make a lot of money doing just what the reviews on the web do. Half these people never even cracked open the owners manual or know how to change a tire. 

Actually many of these models do well due to bias brand loyalty by the owners. We are all guilty of this just as these owners are in many cases. 

Edited by hyperv6
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Shocked that CR named Lexus and Toyota the top 2 in reliability.   What is interesting about Buick is the  Enclave and Lacrosse are the only 2 made in America, most of their cars are from other countries or other GM brands.

Audi as the 4th most reliable brand is laughable.  CR should pay Audi owners out of pocket repair costs during the first 50,000 miles if they want to back up that claim.

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1 hour ago, surreal1272 said:

 I mentioned Lincoln because they are cut from the same corporate cloth as Buick. No need to get your panties in a knot over a simple observation. Btw, Toyota and Lexus have far more models than Lincoln with a lot of tech while still being reliable. Want to try a different argument?

Again with Lincoln comparison?

 

LOL

Can't make this stuff up

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1 hour ago, hyperv6 said:

Sorry but CR ratings are pure BS no matter if GM did good or bad. 

Absolutely.

1 hour ago, smk4565 said:

Audi as the 4th most reliable brand is laughable.  CR should pay Audi owners out of pocket repair costs during the first 50,000 miles if they want to back up that claim.

Exactly why I think CR is pretty much useless. When has Audi made a truly reliable vehicle..?

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lincoln didn't win because the sample size was too small

buick won because CR's readership votes 10 times with dead people's names

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Fun fact: two very expensive niche vehicles sold more than half of the total of what six Fords did in September.

Lincoln -8,797

Tesla - 4,864

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Well, even with their ratings, delve into it further enough, they do plainly mention this survey is based off of their subscribers.

 

Buick, well....I see a lot of vehicles in Buick right now, other than Lacrosse that are pretty long in the tooth, and that might just spike reliability, when the vehicles have been out there for so long. 

 

Ah, I woudn't base a purchase off of this, like any sensible person should, but the people who evaluate cars are auto engineers and work on their own cars. For example, i heard somewhere that one evaluator drives a Durango, and the other a previous gen (before 2012) VW Passat, even when Toyota or other Japanese brands would rate near the top.

 

There are statistical tools used to account for the various different pooled sample sizes. But still, no survey is perfect. Unless you get a census. But that's like 150 million autos....way too much.

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My thought is drive what you like and don't worry about the damned thing.  I wanted a MINI Cooper S for a long time,w as worried it was going to practically melt down and eat through the asphalt on my driveway as it burned itself down in flames when I bought it. 

My 2003 Cooper S has been MUCH more reliable than my fathers 2003 Highlander, they have similar miles (117,000 aprox on each)

CR reliability is bull crap, Audi is rated #4 and Volkswagen is rated near the bottom, they are basically the same car in many ways. Despite my good experiences with the MINI, i would not touch a German Luxury car out of warranty if you put a gun to my head.

Buick and Lincoln are both kind of dull IMHO, I could not see spending actual coin for either. Actually, I could see recommending to a friend a used Encore as they seem to have become a depreciation magnet and $ for dollar they are a very good buy on the used market.

Honda is also wildly over rated for build quality, I live in central Ohio which is Honda country because of the R and D center and the plant in Marysville.  While Honda is not quite Fiat, they are also deadly, deadly dull vehicles aside from the Civic SI (which still lacks a lot as an enthusiast vehicle) and they have ridden on their reputation for a good fifteen years plus.

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2 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

My thought is drive what you like and don't worry about the damned thing.  I wanted a MINI Cooper S for a long time,w as worried it was going to practically melt down and eat through the asphalt on my driveway as it burned itself down in flames when I bought it. 

My 2003 Cooper S has been MUCH more reliable than my fathers 2003 Highlander, they have similar miles (117,000 aprox on each)

CR reliability is bull crap, Audi is rated #4 and Volkswagen is rated near the bottom, they are basically the same car in many ways. Despite my good experiences with the MINI, i would not touch a German Luxury car out of warranty if you put a gun to my head.

Buick and Lincoln are both kind of dull IMHO, I could not see spending actual coin for either. Actually, I could see recommending to a friend a used Encore as they seem to have become a depreciation magnet and $ for dollar they are a very good buy on the used market.

Honda is also wildly over rated for build quality, I live in central Ohio which is Honda country because of the R and D center and the plant in Marysville.  While Honda is not quite Fiat, they are also deadly, deadly dull vehicles aside from the Civic SI (which still lacks a lot as an enthusiast vehicle) and they have ridden on their reputation for a good fifteen years plus.

6

Exactly my point for years. It just makes me giggle inside when folks just can't get over the fact that not everyone here is beholden to only one brand or manufacturer. I also have had many different results with past cars that would not be considered very good by some here while I have some really crappy experiences with cars that are regarded as having bullet proof reliability (looking at you Lexus ES300). I had an old 95 Eagle Talon for years, back in NC, and it was one the most trouble free cars I ever owned (save for the crappiest factory door handles on the planet). My point here is that some folks need to separate these one brand notions when talking to other folks because not everyone feels as strongly as they do about their ONE brand, whether it be GM, FCA, Toyota, Daimler-Benz, or Ford.

Edited by William Maley

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19 minutes ago, FordCosworth said:

My mistake. Looks like I clicked on the wrong thread again...

Thought this was about consumer Reports Reliability Survey and Buick placing on top.

 

 

Maybe you should talk to your buddy who brought up Cadillac and GMC into this because he thought that I would be offended by it (of course, now it looks like it has been deleted).

 

As others have alluded to, CR is crap overall but it is also a tool that one can use to gauge certain aspects of a car or truck (just not all aspects). It should be used with all other tools at the consumers disposal so that one can make an informed decision about their next car or truck.

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they should break down reliability into two categories.  one being primarily anything dedicated to propelling and stopping the vehicle, and its related systems....cooling systems, oil systems, engine brakes tranny etc.

second category for electronics (not including climate control).  this would be radio, connectivity, etc.

I'm curious to know the reliability scores of AWD vehicles vs non AWD

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42 minutes ago, regfootball said:

I'm curious to know the reliability scores of AWD vehicles vs non AWD

On the Escape forums some have had rear diff issues so I know there would be at the very least SOME lower scores for AWD. 

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My biggest issue with these reliability ratings (not just CR, either, JD Power is just as bad) are the reliance on non-issues. A simply inconvenience such as a poorly designed infotainment system can tarnish an otherwise reliable vehicle. I really don't care how awful it is to use if it works. When I look to these studies, I'm looking for real issues. It's outrageous that a vehicle can have excellent marks in every category except audio and the like and be deemed less reliable overall than one with actual issues. 

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Throughout my life, I've had a 2x CR80R, CR125R, 3x CR250R and the damn freak me out CR500R...

Oh wait, wrong thread.

Sure, its just CR...but once again, in another reliability survey, FCA divisions dead last.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Cory Wolfe said:

A simply inconvenience such as a poorly designed infotainment system can tarnish an otherwise reliable vehicle.

EXACTLY! That's why I hate these so much. They're just very inaccurate.

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