Fiat Chrysler makes top 10 in Consumer Reports reliability rankings

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was the only Detroit automaker to have a brand make the Top 10 in Consumer Reports' reliability rankings released Thursday.

The annual survey based on data the magazine receives from members about their experiences with more than 400,000 vehicles placed FCA's Dodge brand in eighth place, up 13 spots from last year. The move up was attributed to above-average reliability ratings for the Challenger and Grand Caravan. The Chrysler brand moved up seven spots to No. 19, while Jeep dropped down three to No. 26 in the rankings that were released in Detroit at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association.

Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, also noted the Dodge brand hasn't seen redesigns in a while. When automakers redesign vehicles, reliability tends to take a dive until they work out the bugs. Dodge "is really benefiting from that age," Fisher said.

Above-average reliability ratings for the Dodge Challenger helped the brand move into the Top 10 in Consumer Reports' annual auto reliability survey.

Meanwhile three of General Motors Co.'s four brands saw their rankings drop this year. The Cadillac brand was dead last at No. 30.  Buick fell five spots to No. 18, marking the largest decline for a domestic automaker. Chevrolet dropped three spots to No. 25, partially because the Silverado 1500 had below-average reliability along with Camaro, Colorado and Traverse. GMC was the only GM brand to improve; it moved up two spots to No. 22 due to positive survey results for the Acadia, Terrain, Yukon and Yukon XL.

The Ford brand ranking went unchanged at No. 16. Ford's re-introduced Ranger improved to an above-average rating and the Mustang improved to average. But its top-selling Ford F-150 dropped to well-below average because of minor transmission issues, body hardware and drive system problems. 

Ford's Lincoln brand dropped four spots to No. 15 partially, with the Nautilus earning a below-average reliability ranking. 

Tesla Inc. saw a slight rebound in this year's survey, moving up four spots to No. 23. 

“The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, in a statement. “But as the production  stabilized, we have seen improvements to the reliability of the Model 3 and S that now allow us to Recommend both models.”

Tesla's Model X continues to rank among the least-reliable models in the survey. 

Japanese brands led the pack of best rankings. Lexus, Mazda and Toyota, in that order, continue to be the best for new car reliability in the survey.  Subaru, another Japanese brand, ranked seventh. 

Korean brands: Hyundai Motor Co.'s Genesis, Hyundai and Kia also made the top 10.

But Asian brand Acura, Honda Motor Co.’s luxury brand, struggled this year, dropping nine spots to 28th place after having multiple new transmission changes in the past few years.

A bright spot for the European brands came with Germany's Porsche, which jumped five places to land at No. 4 in the survey rankings. Volkswagen fell nine spots to No. 27 in the rankings because of issues with its Atlas and Tiguan SUVs and Audi dropped seven spots because of problems with new or redesigned 2019 models.

The Mini brand, owned by German-based BMW Group, rounded out the top 10 this year but the BMW brand dropped seven spots to No. 17.

To get to the top of the reliability chart Fisher says the answer is for automakers to "keep refining the system ... don't keep switching gears."

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