Many shoppers rely on Consumer Reports when making big ticket purchases. Whether it is appliances, electronics, grills or cars, Consumer Reports has the detail on product reliability. Dealer inventories are low (or non-existent), so shoppers may need to consider alternative brands to find the vehicle that meets their needs. Without knowledge or experience with a new brand, you may be flying blind.
Last week, Consumer Reports released their 2021 Auto Reliability Report. The data for this report comes from member surveys of over 300,000 vehicles within the past three model years. The survey ranks both the brands and the models within the brands.
The predicted reliability score is calculated on a 0-to-100-point scale, with the average rating falling between 41 and 60 points. For a brand to be ranked, Consumer Reports must have sufficient survey data for two or more models.
The chart below shows the current ranking of each brand surveyed, the change from last year and the rating score.
- Lexus, Mazda and Toyota are the same brands in the top three positions as last year (albeit in different order)
- Inifiniti, Nissan and MINI cracked the top ten with big movement from last year.
- Buick was the only domestic brand in the top ten. Asian brands dominated the top spots.
- Asian automakers are still leading reliability by a wide margin with an overall reliability average of 62. European nameplates are in second place, but trailing 18 points at 44. Although domestic brands score last, with an average of 42 across all vehicles, U.S.-based automakers had some individual standout models.
Within each brand, there are specific models that stand out–for good or bad. Some are helping bring the brand score up, others bring it down. Here are the most and least reliable models for each brand:
- GM’s most reliable models included the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Envision, Cadillac XT5 and GMC Sierra 2500HD, respectively. The top two are built in Asia: Trailblazer (South Korea); Envision (China).
- The Ford Bronco Sport is a new model for 2021, and was Ford’s most reliable. This could be a good sign for Ford new vehicle launches, as they have suffered through some challenging ones.
- Luxury and/or high dollar SUVs dominated the bottom of the least reliable list. While Consumer Reports did not specify, I have to wonder if complex electronics/features found in these vehicles caused concern for their owners.
Keep in mind, the rankings are the result of owner surveys and not objective data like warranty cost. As such, a misunderstanding of a feature’s operation or a bad experience with dealer personnel could affect an owner’s perception of a vehicle’s reliability.
The rankings come from the feedback of over 300,000 people. That seems like a good sample size for the number of vehicles represented in the study. As such, this study should be considered if you are shopping for a vehicle in the next six months. Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, sums this up nicely:
“To get a car right now, you might have to compromise on your preferred model, color, or options, and even your budget. But you don’t have to sacrifice reliability. Our exclusive data will help you find a vehicle that won’t frustrate you with frequent trips back to the dealer.”