The Product Rating Service released its annual automotive reliability report this week. The report found that Lexus and Toyota make the most reliable cars, while Jeep and Mercedes-Benz make the cars you can rely on the least.
But these ratings reflect the average of all cars made by each manufacturer. There can still be variation within any one brand. Hyundai, for example, has landed in the middle of the pack as a brand. But Kona Electric leads it on the infamy parade.
Some of this difference is due to the way Americans handle their cars—many full-size trucks spend their working lives hauling construction materials around a lot of dirt, while most compact cars rarely leave paved surfaces.
But some of them can reflect problematic design.
CR uses unique methods
When you think about auto reliability, it’s also important to keep in mind how Consumer Reports comes up with its ratings. The magazine does not test every car on the market. Instead, it asks its readers to report problems they’ve had in the past 12 months, and then compiles the results for vehicles made since 2000.
This undoubtedly skews the outcome. The type of shopper who subscribes to a magazine that ranks vacuum cleaners for price-effectiveness may not have the same preferences that you do.
CR looks at 17 problem areas “from nuisances—like squeaky brakes and broken interior trims—to major clamps, like out-of-warranty transmission repairs and AWD system problems.”
It then assigns each car a reliability score on a 100-point scale based on the number of problems reported by readers.
Variety list one lesson
The list includes more affordable cars (the Nissan Sentra is the cheapest, starting at $19,950). But it also includes some very expensive stickers (Mercedes-Benz GLE stickers can run close to $120,000 – six Sentras).
It also includes mechanically complex models that have been asked to do a lot (the Ford F-150 Hybrid, a hard-working pickup truck with a two-part gas-electric engine) and simple commuters (that Sentra again).
It even includes popular cars that you know well (Jeep Wrangler).
If there’s a lesson in the list, it’s that you simply can’t trust the badge on the front of the car. You have to do your research when buying the car or you may end up with constant headaches from your car.
The 10 least reliable cars:
These ten were the bottom of the barrel, in descending order of shame, according to CR:
* The Silverado and Sierra share nearly all of their parts, so the CR treats them as one model