Mach-E replaces Tesla Model 3 in Consumer Reports 'Top Picks' list

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

With its all-electric Mustang Mach-E, Ford Motor Co. has dethroned Tesla Inc. from this year's "Top Picks" list released Thursday by Consumer Reports.

Ford was the only Detroit Three automaker with a vehicle on the list. 

“We are taking our icons and making them electric and Mustang Mach-E shows how Ford intends to compete in the EV revolution," said Darren Palmer, Ford's general manager of battery electric vehicles, in a statement. "Mustang Mach-E’s continued success with customers and recognition like this from Consumer Reports, are signs of the momentum we’re building. Now, with E-Transit heading to customers and F-150 Lightning arriving later this spring, we’re building on that momentum.”

Consumer Reports also released its brand rankings, and this year not one Detroit-based auto brand ranked in the top 10. Japanese brands continued to dominate the list this year because of their solid reliability. General Motors Co.'s Buick brand placed the highest on list of 32 makes at No. 11, followed by Stellantis NV's Chrysler at No. 13 and Dodge at No. 16. 

To get back in the top 10, the Detroit Three need "consistent reliability," said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. "It's not that easy, but it's about being maybe a little more conservative with some of the redesigns. The automakers that are really good when it comes to reliability, they don't reinvent everything when they redesign a car."

2022 Top Picks

Consumer Reports, a nonprofit consumer research and advocacy organization, selects the year's top models from hundreds of current models in its ratings with added emphasis on vehicles that are affordable and still deliver the latest safety features. Top Pick cars have some of the highest overall scores in their categories for road test performance, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction and safety. 

This year, five of the 10 "Top Picks" are new to the list: the Nissan Sentra and Nissan Rogue Sport, Honda Accord/Accord hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Prime and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Making the list again are the Subaru Forester, Toyota Prius/Prius Prime, Kia Telluride, Honda Ridgeline and Lexus RX/RX hybrid. 

The Top Picks by price are:

  • Under $25,000 category:  Nissan Sentra (small car) and Nissan Rogue Sport (subcompact SUV).

  • $25,000 to $35,000 category: Subaru Forester (small SUV), Toyota Prius (hybrid) and Honda Accord (mid-sized sedan).

  • $35,000 to $45,000 category: Toyota RAV4 Prime (two-row SUV), Kia Telluride (mid-sized, three-row SUV) and Honda Ridgeline (compact pickup truck).

  • $45,000 to $55,000 category: Lexus RX (mid-sized SUV), Ford Mustang Mach-E (electric vehicle)

In a release, Consumer Reports said the "well-executed" Mach-E "catapults Ford into the burgeoning market with its first purpose-built EV that blends being green with character and driving fun."

Ford's battery electric SUV took the place of Tesla's Model 3 on the list because "it's a better choice," CR's Fisher said. 

The Model 3 drives like a sports car, but the Mach-E is a "blast to drive, and the Mach-E is a little more practical, too," he said. 

Consumer Reports now looks at the automated driver-assist systems and Ford's Blue Cruise makes sure that someone is looking at the road when the system is engaged, but Tesla's "does not really do that," Fisher said.

"The Mach-E is a phenomenal car," Fisher added. "It really impressed us in testing."

Brand ranking

A total of 32 brands were included in Consumer Reports' 2022 Brand Report Card Rankings. Consumer Reports tests various new models at its 327-acre Automotive Test Center in Connecticut for the rankings. The organization conducts more than 50 tests on each vehicle, including braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety and fuel economy. It then forms an overall score that includes input of owner satisfaction based on member surveys. Consumer Reports buys all the vehicles it tests anonymously. 

Six Japanese brands this year placed in the top 10 in the rankings. Subaru came in first, followed by Mazda and BMW for the top three brands. 

Last year, Chrysler came in 8th place and Buick followed in 9th, but both brands fell out of the top 10 this year. After Dodge at No. 16 came GM's Cadillac luxury brand at No. 21 and Ford at No. 22. 

"Delivering safe, reliable vehicles is our top priority at General Motors, and we use several third-party data sources to measure customer satisfaction," GM spokesman Chris Bonelli said. "We appreciate the feedback from Consumer Reports and, as always, we will conduct a detailed analysis to identify opportunities to deliver the best possible vehicles for our customers."

Tesla dropped seven spots to No. 23, mostly because of its "difficult-to-use" yoke steering wheel added to the Model S and Model X, which lowered their road-test scores, Consumer Reports said. The Model 3 is the only Tesla model CR recommends.

GM's Chevrolet came in behind Tesla at No. 24, followed by Ford's Lincoln at No. 26, Stellantis' Alfa Romeo at No. 28, GM's GMC at No. 31 and Stellantis' Jeep at No. 32 — dead last in part because of reliability issues with the Gladiator pickup truck.

"We will take these ratings under advisement because we consider multiple evaluations in our pursuit of continuous product improvement," Stellantis spokesman Eric Mayne said in a statement. "Alternate third-party data from diverse customer sampling shows sustained advancement in our performance."