DETROIT — Lexus, Toyota and Buick are the top three reliable automotive brands, according to a new Consumer Reports survey. The announcement was made at an Automotive Press Association luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club on Monday afternoon.
Asian brands are continuing the dominate the reliability survey by taking seven of the top 10 spots. Lexus and Toyota are on top for the fourth straight year. All nine Lexus models received better-than-average reliability. The redesigned 2016 Tacoma pickup was the only Toyota vehicle that earned a below average score.
“The big surprise of the day is Buick,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports‘ director of automotive testing. “Buick’s achievement is commendable and sure to be a wake-up call to other manufacturers. They have slowly improved. Actually, General Motors deserves a lot of credit. They are making very reliable cars. Their trucks have not been as good. Buick does benefit as it does not have any of those truck-based SUVs. The Buicks in the line-up are somewhat proven at this point.”
General Motors’ Buick brand became the first American automaker to reach the top three since Consumer Reports began tracking brand performance in the early 1980s. Buick received a 75 percent reliability score. In addition, Chevrolet moved up five spots since last year to land at 15th position. Cadillac and GMC are father behind, landing in 21st and 24th.
“The Big Three automakers – and automakers in general – need significant improvement in the workings of and the man-machine interface of infotainment systems and other in-vehicle technologies,” said Michelle Krebs, Sr. Analyst at Autotrader. “With more stringent fuel economy standards approaching, transmissions play a critical role in improving fuel efficiency, yet they have been a troubling area for many automakers in recent years. Auto companies and their suppliers must address the quality and reliability issues of these new transmissions to move forward in fuel efficiency.”
Continuing with the domestic automakers, Ford Motor Company dropped one spot to 18th position with a 44 percent reliability score. Their luxury brand, Lincoln, ended up in 20th–a decline of four spots.
The news is even worse for FiatChryslerAutomobiles. Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat and Ram ended up dead last in the reliability survey. Dodge finished in 26th position with 28 percent reliability while Chrysler got a 26 percent reliability score. Meanwhile, Fiat received a 17 percent reliability score with Ram finishing with only 16 percent of owners calling them a reliable brand.
“Nearly every year and nearly every study and survey shows Fiat Chrysler lagging in quality and reliability,” Krebs added. “It is a puzzlement that it has been unable to make gains. Particularly concerning is the poor showing of Fiat and Fiat-based products – the Fiat 500 models, the Chrysler 200, the Jeep Renegade – since Fiat Chrysler intends to use those architectures for many products.”
Tesla is a new addition to the C.R. auto reliability survey this year. The California-based automaker landed in the 25th spot because of problems with the Model X. Owners reported water leaks, infotainment and climate-control system problems. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is helping to improve its score.
“We will not put any brand on the list until we have two products–now we have two products from Tesla,” Fisher explained. “It won’t be earth shattering news that we had some problems with the falcon-wing doors.”
The Honda Civic received the 2016 North American Car of the Year award last January. However, it was named “much-worse-than-average” due to its power equipment and infotainment system problems.
The Top Five Most Reliable Automobiles:
- Toyota Prius
- Lexus CT200h
- Infiniti Q70
- Audi Q3
- Lexus GX
“The Consumer Reports study is one of several important tools consumers consider when selecting a new car,” Krebs explained. “Our (Cox Automotive, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book) studies consistently show that consumers do an immense amount of research online before they set foot in a dealership. Younger buyers do even more research and cross-shopping between models and brands than older buyers do.”
The 2016 Auto Reliability Survey is based on data submitted by C.R. subscribers who either own or lease over half a million vehicles. It features results from more than 300 models, model years 2000 to 2017. More info will be featured in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports.