Who builds the most reliable new cars? According to Consumer Reports, Japanese automakers dominate dependability. Eight of the top 10 finishers in its annual reliability ratings come from the island nation. Among domestic brands, only Buick made it into the leaders’ pack.
Ratings Based on Member Reports
CR’s ratings differ from most industry rating systems because they’re based on surveys of CR members. The company surveys members on the problems they’ve experienced with their new cars and compares the data for other models from the same manufacturer to produce a predicted reliability score on a scale from zero to 100. This can leave some models out of the rankings if not enough CR members own one to justify a score.
This year, CR notes, “For a brand to be ranked, we must have sufficient survey data for two or more models.” Automakers sell cars under more than four dozen nameplates in the U.S. CR ranked 28 brands this year.
Cars More Reliable Than SUVs, Except Among American Brands
A few trends stand out from the rankings.
The average score, industry-wide, was between 41 and 60. Asian brands scored an average of 62. European brands trailed at 44. Domestic automakers averaged just 42.
Overall, cars proved more reliable than trucks or SUVs. Cars – meaning sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, coupes, and convertibles – posted an average score of 57. SUVs scored an average of 50. Trucks and minivans each averaged 43.
Domestic brands, however, bucked that trend. American-built SUVs averaged 45, and trucks 41. Domestic cars, meanwhile, came in below average at 38.
EV Reliability May be a Myth
Electric cars contain fewer moving parts than gasoline-powered cars, leading many to speculate that they’ll be more reliable. That’s not what CR found. Electric SUVs, in particular, did poorly – the worst-performing category in the survey. This may be, CR speculates, because “automakers continue to add new technology to these advanced models.” Most reported problems did not involve the powertrain.
This phenomenon partly accounts for Tesla’s second-to-last score. Tesla owners were most likely to report problems with cabin electronics, CR notes.
The most reliable vehicle in the survey was the Lexus GX SUV, which got a perfect score of 100. The Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, which share virtually all of their parts, tied for last…with two points.