One U.S. brand in Consumer Reports 10-most reliable

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
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Foreign brands again dominated the list of most reliable new cars in the latest annual Consumer Reports rankings.

For the fifth year in a row, Toyota ranked at the top of the 27-brand list for new-car reliability.

Buick fell five spots to rank eighth in overall new-car reliability in results released Thursday. In a repeat of last year’s results, it was the only Detroit Three brand to rank in the top 10. Toyota topped the list.

GM’s luxury brand Cadillac fell six spots to last place out of 27 make. Consumer Reports said all of Cadillac’s models had below-average reliability, including the new XT5 compact SUV. Cadillac’s Escalade ranked among the 10 least reliable vehicles, with a Cue infotainment system the magazine called “confounding.”

The influential report is important to automakers because car buyers frequently consult the ratings before purchasing

Infotainment systems and new gas-saving transmissions hurt a lot of automakers this year.

“These new technologies can add features and improve fuel efficiency, but are more prone to have issues,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of auto testing. “More often than not, our data suggests it’s prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature.”

Consumer Reports blamed the redesigned Buick LaCrosse for Buick’s slip in reliability ranking.

Consumer Reports surveyed owners of 640,000 vehicles for the study, which showed overwhelmingly that new models are more likely to have high-tech failures than older models.

The magazine blamed the redesigned Buick LaCrosse for the brand’s slip in reliability ranking. The Cascada and Envision kept Buick in the top 10.

Acura, Mazda and Cadillac all saw big drops in rank. The magazine said that’s one of the pitfalls of having limited vehicle lineups: “If just one or two models drop in reliability, it can magnify the impact across the brand,” it said.

Ford was the closest domestic brand behind Buick, ranking at 15. The Chrysler brand climbed the most in this year’s report, jumping 10 positions from last year to No. 17.

Not a single U.S. model landed on the list of the 10 most reliable vehicles, which included the Kia Niro, Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, Lexus ES, Lexus GS, Lexus IS, Audi Q3, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Prius V, Toyota Prius C and Infiniti Q70.

The 10 least reliable models included the Chevrolet Camaro, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace, GMC Acadia, Ford Focus, Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500, Cadillac Escalade, Tesla Model X and Volvo XC90.

Models in the emerging electric field caught the magazine’s attention. While GM brands aside from Buick ranked in the bottom third of the reliability report, Chevy’s Bolt electric car was the brand’s most reliable model. The plug-in hybrid Volt fell to a below-average ranking.

“Electric vehicles are inherently less complicated than gasoline or hybrid alternatives,” Fisher said.

Chevy’s Bolt electric car was the brand’s most reliable model.

Fisher expects upcoming Tesla’s Model 3, which has run into production issues, will debut with average reliability following improvements reported this year by Model S sedan owners.

“The Model 3 is the least complicated Tesla yet, and should benefit from what Tesla has learned from the Model S,” he said. Overall, Tesla climbed four spots to rank 21 on the list.

Ford climbed three spots over last year due mostly to reliability improvements for the best-selling F-150 pickup. Ford’s Focus and Fiesta ranked well-below average due to clutch and transmission problems. Owners also had issues with Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system in the Fusion. Ford’s Lincoln brand fell two spots to 22.

Fiat Chrysler’s popular Jeep brand climbed three spots to No. 20, which the Dodge and Ram brands came in at 24 and 25, respectively. GMC and Cadillac closed the rankings at 26 and 27, respectively.

With all the technology and testing available, the magazine said it’s reasonable to wonder why bugs aren’t worked out before cars hit the market.

“Car companies test their prototype vehicles, but mass production and a wide range of real-life driving scenarios multiply the number and nature of problems that can arise in a new model,” Fisher said.

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

Brand reliability

Here are the latest reliability rankings from Consumer Reports. Last year’s rankings are in parenthesis.

1. Toyota (2)

2. Lexus (1)

3. Kia (5)

4. Audi (4)

5. BMW (9)

6. Subaru (11)

7. Infiniti (8)

8. Buick (3)

9. Honda (10)

10. Hyundai (7)

11. Nissan (13)

12. Mazda (6)

13. Porsche (16)

14. Mercedes-Benz (17)

15. Ford (18)

16. Volkswagen (22)

17. Chrysler (27)

18. Chevrolet (15)

19. Acura (12)

20. Jeep (23)

21. Tesla (25)

22. Lincoln (20)

23. Volvo (19)

24. Dodge (26)

25. Ram (29)

26. GMC (24)

27. Cadillac (21)

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