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William Maley

Industry News: Domestic Brands Falter in Consumer Reports' Annual Reliability Survey

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Consumer Reports' has unveiled the results of their 2018 Auto Reliability Survey and it was not a good showing for the domestics. Only two domestic brands finished in the top 20 - Ford which came in 18th and Buick who placed 19th. The latter dropping 11 spots in this year's survey. The rest of the domestic brands finished in the bottom half with Ram, Tesla, and Cadillac finishing 26th to 28th. Finishing last was Volvo with CR saying the brand's Sensus Connect infotainment system being the reason for the drop.

What finished towards the top? For 2018, Lexus and Toyota take the top two spots. Mazda saw the biggest improvement, jumping nine spots to third place. Completing the top ten are Subaru, Kia, Infiniti, Audi, BMW, MINI, and Hyundai.

CR's predicted new-vehicle reliability ratings are derived from an annual questionnaire sent to their subscribers asking about the vehicles they own. The group reports that it had gotten responses for over "500,000 vehicles in its latest survey."

A key reason why a number of brands saw a drop in the rankings is due to implementing new and complex technologies. A key example is vehicles equipped with 9 and 10-speed transmissions.

Source: Consumer Reports


Consumer Reports Annual Reliability Survey: Tesla and Other Domestic Brands Take Big Steps Backwards in Rankings

  • Asian automakers again top the list for most reliable; Volvo drops to last amid shift to new designs

YONKERS, NY — It was a rough year for domestic brands, according to Consumer Reports’ (CR) latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey, which collected data from its members about their experiences with more than half a million vehicles. Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Tesla are among the brands that tumbled in the organization’s predicted new-car reliability rankings announced at a news conference before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today.

Every domestic automaker landed in the bottom-half of CR’s latest reliability rankings, which covers 29 brands this year - two more than 2017. Ford ranks the highest at 18, down three spots from the previous year. Right below Ford on the list is Buick, which had performed well in recent years and was in the top 10 last year. Cadillac is the worst-rated domestic manufacturer and ranks near the very bottom at 28.

Asian brands, led by Lexus, Toyota, and Mazda, in that order, continue to be the best for new car reliability in CR’s survey, which is the largest of its kind. Seven of the top 10 brands in this year’s reliability rankings are from Japan and South Korea, including Subaru, Kia, Infiniti, and Hyundai.

Three European brands, Audi, BMW, and Mini, round out the top 10. Audi and BMW both declined from last year. Three other brands, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz, finished midpack. Volvo finished last overall.

Tesla fell six spots from last year and now ranks third-worst (27 out of 29). The Model S dropped to “Below Average” this year, and its Overall Score is no longer high enough to be “Recommended” by CR. Owners reported suspension problems and other issues that included the extending door handle.  (Please see chart below.) The Model X SUV remained “Much-Worse-Than-Average” for reliability, with ongoing problems including the falcon-wing doors and center display screen. On the flip side, the Model 3 sedan has “Average” predicted reliability based on owner feedback.

“While the Tesla Model S appears very similar physically to the car that launched six years ago, Tesla has made many significant mechanical and software changes over the past few years. Just as we’ve seen with many other manufacturers, major changes and updates can cause reliability to slide. It can take a year or two for carmakers to work out the kinks with new technology,” said Jake Fisher, Director of Auto Testing at CR. “Making air suspension and AWD standard in the 2017 model has added more complexity and more things that could potentially falter.” 

“Time and again, consumers tell us that reliability is what matters most when it comes to choosing a vehicle that will meet their families’ needs,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “That’s why we conduct this exhaustive survey each year—to equip people with the trustworthy information they need to make confident choices, which in turn helps drive the market toward even greater reliability.”

Consumer Reports’ survey also reveals that some automakers--striving for improved fuel economy--are clearly making more reliable turbocharged engines than others. When compared to the average non-turbo engine among 2016-2018 models, overall, Lexus makes the most reliable turbo powertrain, followed by Honda and Porsche. On the other end of the spectrum, Hyundai and Mini have the most problematic turbos. There hasn’t been a common thread to explain the problems, but new powertrains have the propensity to be problematic in their first few years.

“Not only are auto manufacturers adding more and more turbocharged engines, but they’re increasingly pairing them to high-tech transmissions with eight, nine, even 10 gears,” Fisher added. “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.” 

Newly “Recommended” models show some bright spots for Detroit:  Dodge, GMC edge up; Other domestics slide down

Consumer Reports’ prediction of new-car reliability is a key element of CR’s Overall Score. 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 more than a dozen vehicles with reliability ratings that improved enough to lift their Overall Scores to enable them to be “CR Recommended.”

Overall, there is a lot of reshuffling among the brands in CR’s latest predicted new-car reliability rankings, with most domestic brands moving down the list. But reliability for some key models from Detroit has risen over the past year, allowing CR to “Recommend” them. Those vehicles include the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Suburban, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Lincoln Continental.

Brands from Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) continue to occupy the bottom third of CR’s rankings. Dodge edges up three spots to number 21 out of 29 brands thanks partly to the “Better-Than-Average” reliability rating of the Dodge Charger, which has steadily improved over the past few years. The Dodge Grand Caravan continues to have “Average” reliability, while the Challenger, Durango, and Journey all stay “Below-Average.” Jeep has mixed results, falling two spots to 22. The Grand Cherokee and Renegade improve to “Average,” while the Cherokee and Compass SUVs have “Below-Average” reliability. Chrysler drops seven spots to number 24. While the Chrysler 300 improves to “Average,” the Pacifica minivan falls to “Below-Average.” Ram was the worst-charting FCA brand at 26.

GMC inches up one spot to number 25 due to average or above reliability for the Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL. The Acadia and all the pickup trucks rate “Below-Average.”

Other GM brands saw their place in the rankings fall from last year. Buick, which had recently been a bright spot for reliability among all domestics, falls 11 spots to 19 – this year’s biggest decline. The redesigned Enclave SUV had a “Much-Worse-Than-Average” rating, with owners reporting problems related to the new nine-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet is down five places to number 23, in part because the redesigned Traverse had “Much-Worse-Than-Average” reliability. Cadillac is again the worst-performing of the GM brands, dropping one spot to 28. Only the XTS sedan rates “Better-Than-Average” for reliability.

Ford ranks number 18, down three spots from last year. The Taurus, the oldest model in Ford’s fleet, has “Much-Better-Than-Average” reliability. But the usually reliable Fusion drops to “Below-Average”, mainly because of problems with the Sync 3 infotainment system screen. The Mustang and Explorer are “Worse-Than- Average.” As for 20th ranked Lincoln, its bright spot is the Continental’s "Much-Better-Than-Average” reliability rating. The MKC, MKX, and the MKZ are “Below Average.”

Volvo sinks to last in down year overall for Europe

Volvo drops six spots from last year as it rapidly brings a number of new models to market. It’s now in last-place among the 29 brands in the survey due in large part to an infotainment system that’s common to a number of different models including the XC60 and XC90 and the S 90. For the XC60, owners also reported problems with the climate system and interior cabin rattles.

Other European automakers also lost ground. Audi tumbles three spots to seven on the list. BMW falls three spots to eight, followed by Mini at number nine. Mercedes-Benz declines three spots to number 17. The C-Class coupe and sedan improves to “Average,” but the GLC and E-Class are “Below-Average.” Porsche bucks the trend in this group, rising two places to number 11.

Lexus, Toyota trade places at the top as Asia dominance persists

Lexus and Toyota take the top two spots, respectively, in CR’s predicted new-car reliability rankings, as they have for six years in a row. Mazda jumps nine spots in the rankings to third overall, making it the year’s biggest gainer, as the automaker worked out the problems that plagued the CX-9 and MX-5 Miata roadster. Subaru continues its recent march up the chart, rising two places to fourth overall.

The Infiniti brand also rebounds slightly, with the Q50 getting an “Average” score and the QX60 improving to “Above Average.” Nissan similarly tumbles a few slots, even with both the Maxima and the redesigned Leaf rating above average.

Honda turns in mixed results, landing at 15, which is six spots lower from the year prior. The brand’s reliability is bogged down by some of its new and redesigned models. The Odyssey and the Clarity have “Much-Worse-Than-Average” reliability, and the CR-V and new Accord drops to “Average.” However, Acura seems to have worked out recent trouble spots with its new transmissions and infotainment systems. Honda’s luxury brand gains six spots in this year’s rankings to number 13.

Kia drops two spots but remained in the top-ten as its all-new Stinger hatchback rates “Average” for reliability, as was the Sportage. Hyundai comes in at number 10, and its luxury Genesis brand is close behind. The G80 has “Above Average” reliability, and the G90 is below average, with reported problems in the area of body hardware and power equipment.


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Meh, CR has always been Asian Biased. I really have not changed my mind that CR is a biased based test company.

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Right...BMW anything other than run screaming is pretty much delusional.

I can buy Ford ranking that low. Buick have in my experience been pretty reliable.

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9 minutes ago, dfelt said:

Meh, CR has always been Asian Biased. I really have not changed my mind that CR is a biased based test company.

Still...domestics need to do better...as do the Europeans

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16 minutes ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Still...domestics need to do better...as do the Europeans

Totally agree with you here that they do need to do better.

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14 minutes ago, dfelt said:

Totally agree with you here that they do need to do better.

Also...one can get decades of fine service out of a domestic or European car.

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@A Horse With No Name

Interesting is that MSN Auto posted on this too and their 10 Least Reliable Cars is as follows based on the latest CR report.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/research/10-least-reliable-cars/ar-BBOBgez?li=BBnb7Kz#page=1 

  • #10 - Honda Odyssey - Trouble spots - In-Car Electronics, Power Equipment and Body Hardware
  • #9 - Volkswagen Atlas - Trouble spots - Transmission, Climate System, noises and leaks
  • #8 - Buick Enclave - Trouble Spots - Transmission, Climate System, Emissions / Fuel System
  • #7 - Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD - Trouble Spots - Engine, Noises, leaks, in-car electronics
  • #6 - Kia Cadenza - Trouble Spots - Climate Control, Fuel / emissions system
  • #5 - Chevrolet Traverse - Trouble Spots - Transmission, in-car electronics
  • #4 - Honda Clarity - Trouble Spots - Climate Control, fuel / emissions system, body hardware
  • #3 - Cadillac ATS - Trouble Spots - In-car electronics, climate system, drive system
  • #2 - Tesla Model X - Trouble Spots - In-car electronics, noises and leaks, body hardware
  • #1 - Ram 3500 - Trouble Spots - Steering / Suspension, Fuel / Emission system, Engine Cooling, Noises and leaks

Out of the same report here is what MSN listed was the 10 most reliable cars.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/research/10-most-reliable-cars/ar-BBOBmst?li=BBnb7Kz 

  • #10 - Lexus GX
  • #9 - Toyota Prius C
  • #8 - Toyota Prius Prime
  • #7 - Mazda Miata MX-5
  • #6 - Toyota Corolla
  • #5 - Lexus NX
  • #4 - Toyota Prius
  • #3 - Honda Fit
  • #2 - Kia Sedona
  • #1 - Toyota Highlander

I wonder 🤔 just how much did Toyota PAY CR to list their company as #1? 😏

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Not sure. Seeing that list makes me want another Miata.

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I had no idea that CR is this biased towards Toyota.  Lexus I can believe though.  You would think that Honda/Acura would be a lot higher than where they are given the source.

As for the domestics, CR has hated them for at least 40 years or so, with relatively few exceptions.  Sometimes I wonder if they would have preferred that Detroit drown with all of the bad banks ten years ago.

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LOL,

I was waiting for people saying CR is biased and paid by certain manufacturers.  You guys are so full of sh@t.  These rating are based on subscribers filling out the questionnaire about THEIR cars.  My friend has a subscription and he does that questionnaire every year (noting btw all the issues he had with his Odyssey and Outback).   

So apparently all subscribers that have Ford and GM are undercover Toyota agents or secret Asian car lovers. :)

Edited by ykX
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49 minutes ago, ykX said:

LOL,

I was waiting for people saying CR is biased and paid by certain manufacturers.  You guys are so full of sh@t.  These rating are based on subscribers filling out the questionnaire about THEIR cars.  My friend has a subscription and he does that questionnaire every year (noting btw all the issues he had with his Odyssey and Outback).   

So apparently all subscribers that have Ford and GM are undercover Toyota agents or secret Asian car lovers. :)

I do think there is bias but I also think Asian cars are more reliable. Were I to recommend a car to a friend I would recommend an Asian model in most cases.

And I would always steer people away from Ford products based on my internal bias.

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15 hours ago, dfelt said:

Meh, CR has always been Asian Biased. I really have not changed my mind that CR is a biased based test company.

Biased or are they better? 

@ykX You literally read my mind.

I would love to see proof that these companies are biased. I don't think they're biased at all. It would only hurt them.

I do think, however, that things people complain about tend to be petty on some of the "least reliable" vehicles. 

Edited by ccap41
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7 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

Biased or are they better? 

@ykX You literally read my mind.

I would love to see proof that these companies are biased. I don't think they're biased at all. It would only hurt them.

I do think, however, that things people complain about tend to be petty on some of the "least reliable" vehicles. 

I would have to say LAZY AMERICANS, If you take a 90's Detroit 3 auto and followed the service chart for taking care of the auto, many would still be running. Yet, the Asians went to 100,000 mile tune ups and service when the Detroit 3 still run 30,000 mile tune ups and service. 

Human LAZINESS treated the US auto's like asian and when they died at 50,000 miles due to neglect, they bash the US builders as building crap compared to the Asian auto companies.

Reality is if a person took responsibility to read their owners manual, follow the service guide and do what was required, they would not have had their auto detonate early in life.

Fairness being that yes we do know that some auto's were terrible from the beginning. Blame corporate bean counters for penny pinching.

With this said, I have never had an auto leave me stranded. I have always done the recommended service guide and still have my very first auto running strong, 1994 GMC Suburban SLE. 

Bias comes in many forms and laziness from end users has biased them towards one builder versus another.

CR has never clearly taken this into account and seems to follow the same Laziness of humanity towards auto's by lumping them all into the same bucket.

Just my humble opinion.

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This isn't a report on fckn 90's cars. People always read this and then say "I had a 199X/200X car that had 200,000 miles on it and say this is an irrelevant report. This isn't about old sh!t. 

If vehicle A and vehicle B are both treated like crap but A lasts longer, you'd say A is better. Put a brand on it and it becomes an argument and people instantly get defensive. 

Laziness from the end user is not CR's fault. 

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@dfelt I am sorry, but you just making empty excuses and incorrect assumptions.

Chevy Traverse that is in your least reliable list recommends only oil changes up to 97500 miles, where they want people to replace transmission fluid and spark plugs.

Most of the new cars are required only oil changes and checkups up to 100k miles.

BTW Traverse rated bad because of the transmission issues, nothing to do with maintenance.  Same issue Buick have with Enclave.

Edited by ykX
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@ccap41 @ykX

I understand the points you both are making and also attempting to point out that many who had an experience that is based on an old auto hold it through to later years in still buying an auto. I also pointed out that there are bad built parts / auto's as pointed out with the transmission issue with the Traverse and Enclave.

The point I am attempting to make is that many humans will take the lazy way out and do minimal if anything to an auto and just drive it and when it fails they blame the auto company not taking any responsibility themselves and then they state that out to reviews on how terrible an auto is when in reality the problem started with the end user.

Knowing the History of japan manufacturing probably better than many and how they embraced the work of Edwards Deming and his push for quality JIT manufacturing has shown that the Japanese manufacturing can and does produce high quality auto's. Yet as we have seen in recent years, they can also produce garbage no different than US or European auto companies.

With that said, I will always question CRs reports as I have had some of their terrible rated auto's that ran and lasted just fine and all I did was the basic maintenance and repairs as needed. The difference is I pay attention more to my auto's than most do and as many on this site we have a passion that is much higher than the rest and so we tend to be more vocal about it.

I appreciate both of your thoughts and passion on this.

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3 hours ago, ccap41 said:

Their surveys are suspect, yes.

I haven't been able to try the Tesla AutoPilot... but yes, the Cadillac SuperCruise is super easy to use and I tried it before the update.  I'm not sure how much easier it can be made than what they've got now. 

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      Consumer Reports’ survey also reveals that some automakers--striving for improved fuel economy--are clearly making more reliable turbocharged engines than others. When compared to the average non-turbo engine among 2016-2018 models, overall, Lexus makes the most reliable turbo powertrain, followed by Honda and Porsche. On the other end of the spectrum, Hyundai and Mini have the most problematic turbos. There hasn’t been a common thread to explain the problems, but new powertrains have the propensity to be problematic in their first few years.
      “Not only are auto manufacturers adding more and more turbocharged engines, but they’re increasingly pairing them to high-tech transmissions with eight, nine, even 10 gears,” Fisher added. “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.” 
      Newly “Recommended” models show some bright spots for Detroit:  Dodge, GMC edge up; Other domestics slide down
      Consumer Reports’ prediction of new-car reliability is a key element of CR’s Overall Score. 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 more than a dozen vehicles with reliability ratings that improved enough to lift their Overall Scores to enable them to be “CR Recommended.”
      Overall, there is a lot of reshuffling among the brands in CR’s latest predicted new-car reliability rankings, with most domestic brands moving down the list. But reliability for some key models from Detroit has risen over the past year, allowing CR to “Recommend” them. Those vehicles include the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Suburban, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Lincoln Continental.
      Brands from Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) continue to occupy the bottom third of CR’s rankings. Dodge edges up three spots to number 21 out of 29 brands thanks partly to the “Better-Than-Average” reliability rating of the Dodge Charger, which has steadily improved over the past few years. The Dodge Grand Caravan continues to have “Average” reliability, while the Challenger, Durango, and Journey all stay “Below-Average.” Jeep has mixed results, falling two spots to 22. The Grand Cherokee and Renegade improve to “Average,” while the Cherokee and Compass SUVs have “Below-Average” reliability. Chrysler drops seven spots to number 24. While the Chrysler 300 improves to “Average,” the Pacifica minivan falls to “Below-Average.” Ram was the worst-charting FCA brand at 26.
      GMC inches up one spot to number 25 due to average or above reliability for the Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL. The Acadia and all the pickup trucks rate “Below-Average.”
      Other GM brands saw their place in the rankings fall from last year. Buick, which had recently been a bright spot for reliability among all domestics, falls 11 spots to 19 – this year’s biggest decline. The redesigned Enclave SUV had a “Much-Worse-Than-Average” rating, with owners reporting problems related to the new nine-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet is down five places to number 23, in part because the redesigned Traverse had “Much-Worse-Than-Average” reliability. Cadillac is again the worst-performing of the GM brands, dropping one spot to 28. Only the XTS sedan rates “Better-Than-Average” for reliability.
      Ford ranks number 18, down three spots from last year. The Taurus, the oldest model in Ford’s fleet, has “Much-Better-Than-Average” reliability. But the usually reliable Fusion drops to “Below-Average”, mainly because of problems with the Sync 3 infotainment system screen. The Mustang and Explorer are “Worse-Than- Average.” As for 20th ranked Lincoln, its bright spot is the Continental’s "Much-Better-Than-Average” reliability rating. The MKC, MKX, and the MKZ are “Below Average.”

      Volvo sinks to last in down year overall for Europe
      Volvo drops six spots from last year as it rapidly brings a number of new models to market. It’s now in last-place among the 29 brands in the survey due in large part to an infotainment system that’s common to a number of different models including the XC60 and XC90 and the S 90. For the XC60, owners also reported problems with the climate system and interior cabin rattles.
      Other European automakers also lost ground. Audi tumbles three spots to seven on the list. BMW falls three spots to eight, followed by Mini at number nine. Mercedes-Benz declines three spots to number 17. The C-Class coupe and sedan improves to “Average,” but the GLC and E-Class are “Below-Average.” Porsche bucks the trend in this group, rising two places to number 11.
      Lexus, Toyota trade places at the top as Asia dominance persists
      Lexus and Toyota take the top two spots, respectively, in CR’s predicted new-car reliability rankings, as they have for six years in a row. Mazda jumps nine spots in the rankings to third overall, making it the year’s biggest gainer, as the automaker worked out the problems that plagued the CX-9 and MX-5 Miata roadster. Subaru continues its recent march up the chart, rising two places to fourth overall.
      The Infiniti brand also rebounds slightly, with the Q50 getting an “Average” score and the QX60 improving to “Above Average.” Nissan similarly tumbles a few slots, even with both the Maxima and the redesigned Leaf rating above average.
      Honda turns in mixed results, landing at 15, which is six spots lower from the year prior. The brand’s reliability is bogged down by some of its new and redesigned models. The Odyssey and the Clarity have “Much-Worse-Than-Average” reliability, and the CR-V and new Accord drops to “Average.” However, Acura seems to have worked out recent trouble spots with its new transmissions and infotainment systems. Honda’s luxury brand gains six spots in this year’s rankings to number 13.
      Kia drops two spots but remained in the top-ten as its all-new Stinger hatchback rates “Average” for reliability, as was the Sportage. Hyundai comes in at number 10, and its luxury Genesis brand is close behind. The G80 has “Above Average” reliability, and the G90 is below average, with reported problems in the area of body hardware and power equipment.
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