Subscribe

Consumer Reports' most reliable car brands: Toyota, Lexus...Buick?

There's one at the top you may not expect. 

  • close
    The Buick logo on the grill of a 2013 Buick Regal on display at the 2013 Pittsburgh Auto Show in Pittsburgh.
    Gene J. Puskar/AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Critics are a lonely bunch, and the folks at Consumer Reports are no exception. While many shoppers trust what the magazine has to say, more than a few think it's been unduly judgy when it comes to Detroit car brands.

If you're one of those people, this will come as something of a shock. 

Consumer Reports has published its rankings of the most reliable car brands in America, and at the top of the list sit Toyota (duh), Lexus (also duh), and Buick.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, Buick--the General Motors brand that was, until recently, the butt of so many jokes that Buick used consumers' low expectations to power some very memorable ads. As you can see in the clip above, the "That's A Buick" campaign poked fun at Buick itself and at people's perceptions of a marque that many had written off years ago.

Buick's bronze medal marks the first time in Consumer Reports' 30+ years of issuing reliability rankings that a Detroit brand landed in the top three. No small feat, that.

How did this happen?

To generate its reliability rankings, Consumer Reports polled its 500,000+ subscribers about the problems they'd experienced with their vehicles. Some of the 17 potential trouble spots were fairly minor, like squeaky brakes. Others were major headaches, like transmission failures. 

Then, Consumer Reports compiled that data, paired it with its own test-track findings, and looked at the various problems that specific brands experienced over time. For its new reliability predictions, the company looked at 16 model-years' worth of information. 

Consumer Reports then created a Predicted Reliability Score ranging from 0 to 100. Today's average scores range from 41 to 60 on that scale. 

The magazine even feels comfortable predicting the reliability of new and redesigned models, although there's limited real-world data on them. "[B]y combining what we know about the reliability of the brand with detailed information about previous models, we can give a rating for models that are new to the market."

Da winnas, da loozas

Asian marques all fared well in Consumer Reports' reliability study. In fact, all of them finished in the top half of the survey--even Subaru, though it didn't land in the top ten because of low reliability scores from the 2016 Legacy, Outback, and WRX/STi.

In Europe, the bag was much more mixed. Audi rose, but its sibling Volkswagen tumbled, earning below-average scores on most models. Mercedes-Benz also climbed a bit, even though its GLS, C-, and S-class models received shoddy rankings. Volvo's popular XC90 proved to be the brand's undoing, due to its dodgy infotainment system. 

In America, Ford continued to suffer due to its dual-clutch automatic transmission, and brands like Chevrolet and GMC took hits for some problem-prone SUVs and pickups. Fiat Chrysler fared worst of all, though, with no Fiat or Ram vehicle earning even an "average" rating.

Tesla was included in the rankings for the first time because it now has two vehicles in its lineup--the minimum Consumer Reports allows. Though the Model X fared very poorly (thanks to uncooperative falcon doors, among other things), the Model S earned an "average" rating.

However, the magazine has some moderately harsh words for Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk with regard to the rollout of Autopilot:

"Consumer Reports has serious concerns about how some automakers, including Tesla, have designed, deployed, and marketed semi-autonomous technology. We believe automakers need to clearly communicate what these systems can and cannot do."

Is Consumer Reports "killing people" by making statements like that? We're afraid you'll have to ask Mr. Musk.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK