Consumer Reports takes a deep looks at everything from appliances to cleaning supplies to vehicles; giving not only their expert opinion on how things but mostly how products check out on the consumers end, hence the name Consumer Reports. When it comes to rating vehicles, Consumer Reports samples over 640,000 vehicles in order to create reports focus on things like safety, owner satisfaction and reliability. Reliability is measured by rating different categories or trouble spots as they call it on how the vehicles reliability checks out. Trouble spots focus on mechanical things like the power train, brakes and suspension. It also focuses on physical things like body, paint and in-car electronics.
Consumer Reports does an amazing job analyzing the new data collected about vehicles every year. It compares the data they have collected throughout the years making comparisons on how the manufactures have improved throughout the years. They also come out with annual vehicles reports like most reliable, best pick, and the dreaded Consumer Reports least reliable list, a list that no vehicle wants to be. Next, we will take a look at some of the 10 least reliable vehicles, and 10 that will likely never break down.
20 Unreliable: Pontiac Fiero
Back in the 80s, we were all given the Pontiac Fiero. According to Motor1, was one of the “worst sports cars” due to a lot of reasons. For starters the Fiero’s suspension was complicated, constantly having issues, it was heavy and in addition, the maintenance was very pricey on the Fiero despite the fact that it was American made.
There were over 100 reports of Fieros bursting into flames due to a design flaw in their engine.
All in all the Fiero was a mess and luckily discontinued after just a few years.
19 Unreliable: Cadillac Escalade
Cadillac broke into the market of SUV’s after releasing its Escalade back in 1999, and it seemed to have had issues ever since. Last year the Escalade even made the Consumer Reports “Least Reliable Cars” list in 2017. Consumer Reports notes this is due to issues with the infotainment system, and major issues with the transmission. The Escalade may be massive on the outside, but Consumer Reports also notes that the interior feels very small on the inside, with complaints about the comfort. Not what you would expect from a luxury SUV that cost over 80k.
18 Unreliable: Ford Fiesta
Another vehicle to make the dreaded, “10 least reliable cars" list is the Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta is just like its close relative the Ford Focus; owners with the defective “Powershift” dual transmission will be receiving a payout from a class action suit filed against Ford.
Like most vehicles on this list, the Fiesta has done worse every year on the overall reliability score.
The majority of the issues are due to the transmission, heating and cooling system, and weather-stripping defects that results in all sorts of weird noises and leaks.
17 Unreliable: Dodge Ram
Back in 2015 Fiat-Chrysler got slammed with a $105 million dollar fine due to mishandling recalls. According to Car and Driver, the lawsuit came after there were three separate recalls all dealing with steering issues on over a half a million vehicles, mostly effecting Rams of all rated tow levels. Some consumers had waited as long as a two years to finally get their faulty vehicles sorted out, some weren’t as lucky as because of these recalls there were 32 recorded accidents and one death. Regardless it doesn’t comply with the law saying that manufacturers must tend to recalls in a timely fashion, and why Fiat-Chrysler had to pay over 100 million in fines, and buy back vehicles that weren’t repaired.
16 Unreliable: Chevy Cruze
The Chevy Cruze was introduced to the world in 2008, and it seems like it’s been nothing but problems since then.
There are countless complaints on Consumer Reports that state the Chevy Cruze has issues of rough rides, hard shifts and a plethora of different electrical issues.
According to The Drive, GM released a recall that effected over 110k Cruzes and put a freeze on further sales of Cruzes until the issues were resolved. That is definitely enough to show this car is not likely to be one that lasts very long.
15 Unreliable: Ford Focus
The Ford Focus scored 1 out of 5 on Consumer Reports reliability. The Focus had a plethora of issues and recalls in the past; the most major being the transmission. Road and Track announced that owners Ford Focus models from 2012 to 2016 that were equipped with the “Powershift” dual transmission will be receiving a payout from a class-action suit from Ford due to their vehicles being deemed as lemons. The Focus has also had countless issues with their infotainment system, forcing them to move to a new and improved system.
14 Unreliable: GMC Acadia
The GMC Acadia came out in 2007 and hasn’t done well on Consumer Report’s overall reliability since then. This year the Acadia already has two recalls on file, both increasing the risk of an accident. The first being an issue with the fuel pump; resulting in a fire or the other dealing with the driveshaft. If it malfunctions while driving could cause crash or is while its parked will simply just roll away. In addition to all the other issues the Acadia had, that may not be such a bad deal.
13 Unreliable: Fiat 500
Yet another vehicle to make Consumer Reports “Least Reliable Cars” is the Fiat 500.
The pint-sized vehicle came out in 2012, and seemed like a city driver's dream come true.
The 500 has done worse every year on Consumer Reports overall reliability every year that is has been produced, the 2014 year in particular was really bad as it didn’t seem to do much improving on the major trouble spots that it had in 2013. It was a small car that packed some bigger headaches.
12 Unreliable: Volkswagen Jetta
Long before Volkswagen had a bad reputation for their dirty diesel scandal, they had a reputation for being unreliable. According to Consumer Reports, the Jetta hasn’t improved on the overall reliability verdict since 2000 or the oldest data Consumer Reports had listed, and it looks like they’re predicting that 2018 isn’t going to be a great year either. In 2017 a majority of the issues focusing on the transmission, with consumer having to get clutches and torque convertors replaced and in worst case scenarios having to get a whole new transmission or theirs rebuilds.
11 Unreliable: Land Rover Discovery
There were many issues with the Land Rover Discovery, since, well, its discovery. Forums all over the internet warn consumers of the countless issues and recalls they have encountered with their Land Rovers. Consumer Reports claimed that the Discovery II was a disaster with a laundry list of issues. Issues included less than par steering and handling, rough ride and a slew of issues with the air-ride system. 2017 was another rebuilding year but it seems there’s still issues as Consumer Reports still predicted its reliability in 2018 to be 1 out 5.
10 Reliable: Subaru Forester
Subaru has been bragging about their reliability for years, and rightfully so as they have been collecting awards that proves their credibility.
Subaru just this year has been recognized by Kelley Blue Book, Forbes and IIHS for awards, and remains the best-selling all-wheel drive vehicle and has held the title for the past decade.
According to Subaru, 97% of their vehicles are still on the road that have been sold in past decade. In addition, they were the first US automotive factory with zero-landfill.
9 Reliable: Toyota 4Runner
Toyota has been know of their reliability and the same goes for their 4Runner. This year the 4Runner was recognized by Kelley Blue Book for “Top 10 for Best Resale Value.” Since 2000, which is the oldest reporting Consumer Reports had on file, the 4Runners overall reliability has increased. The 2017 scored perfectly, revealing it didn’t have a single trouble spots according to Consumer Reports. In addition, it was also noted by Consumer Reports to have no issues making it the 200k milestone, and with minimal repairs.
8 Reliable: Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
While the Mitsubishi Outlander may have not made the Consumer Reports “Most Reliable Car” list, it has done consistently well across the board throughout the years. This year Consumer Reports predicts that the Outlander will do well again as far as overall reliability, as it has since its release in 2011. In essence, this isn't the toughest machine on the road, but it's definitely a safe bet with few issues. It also has a nice look and would make a smart purchase.
7 Reliable: Honda Civic
You know a Honda Civic is reliable due to number of old hatchbacks from the 80’s you still see cruising around 30 years later.
They were known for being able to rack up hundreds of thousands of miles on the original power train, while getting some of the best gas mileage for a car.
While the Civic didn’t get a perfect score on Consumer Reports overall reliability the past couple of years, but a majority of decrease on the overall is due to recent issues with in-car electronics and power equipment.
6 Reliable: Toyota Rav4
Next on the list is the Toyota Rav4; dominating the list this year was both Toyota and Lexus both with 3 models each to make the Consumer Reports “Most reliable car” in 2017. Since 2000, which is the oldest reporting Consumer Reports had on file, the Rav4 has increased almost every year on the overall reliability verdict, the exception being in 2006 and 2007 when it stayed indifferent on the scale. The 4 Runner even did better than the Subaru Forrester, which also makes this list, for a comparison of overall reliability for the past three years.
5 Reliable: Toyota Prius
The Toyota wowed the world when it was introduced back in 2001, being a hybrid and bragging about getting up to 52 mpg. The Prius may be a hybrid, but its batteries check out. Consumer Reports compared a Prius with 2000 miles on it to one that had 200k miles in the original batteries, power train and even suspension components. The decreases were pretty miniscule. Since 2001, the Prius has done nothing but improve on Consumer Reports overall reliability verdict. It was even credited by Consumer Reports as a vehicle to have no problem getting to the 200k mile mark, with minimal repairs.
4 Reliable: Subaru Legacy
The Subaru as we now know, is an award-winning car manufacturer that is known for its reliability.
The Subaru Legacy is Subaru’s flagship vehicle, and this year they released a 50th anniversary edition to celebrate Subaru’s 50th year of selling in the states.
This year is one of the only years that the Legacy didn’t improve on Consumer Reports overall reliability verdict due to issues with in-car electronics, but did well in every other trouble spot. That speaks to the car's legacy, pun intended.
3 Reliable: Kia Niro
The Kia Niro was crowned the Consumer Reports “Most reliable car” in 2017, as the new report won’t be out until later this year. What’s even more remarkable is that 2017 was the first year the Kia Niro was made. Once upon a time, Kia was known for being very cheap and not very reliable, but after rebranding a few years back Kia has come back better than ever. The Niro a hybrid claiming to get up to 42 mpg got ranked 5 out of 5, the best in every reliability category. Consumer Reports reliability for this year is predicted to be 5 out of 5 across the board.
2 Reliable: Lexus ES
Another car straight from the Consumer Reports “Most reliable car” list in 2017 is the Lexus GS. Lexus and Toyota both dominated the list this year, both with three different models to make the list this year. The ES has continued to improve on the overall reliability, and this year Consumer Reports is predicting another 5 out of 5, or perfect score. The only trouble area the ES didn’t score perfect in 2017 was the in-car electronics with issues with freezing, glitching and problems pairing smart phones, and the climate control with issues with leaking and electrical issues.
1 Reliable: Audi Q3
New in 2015 and already making Consumer Reports “Most reliable car” list is the Audi Q3. The Q3 also scored the best in a comparison of similar new vehicles, scoring well in all categories. The Q3 is expected to make another 5 out of 5 score this year on the overall reliability verdict, which would be no surprise as it has had a perfect score since its release in 2015. With this much space, sport, and reliability, this car should be a no-brainer as a future purchase.