When you’re looking for a new car or SUV, you can’t make your decision solely on the strength of a brand name. After all, automakers might have a bad year while producing a few gems. Or they might produce one stinker in an otherwise great lineup.
Chrysler offers a great example. After years of being thumped by Consumer Reports for poor reliability, the automaker made something of a comeback in a late-2017 study. First, it ditched the 200 sedan, a regular on worst-of lists everywhere. Once it received great scores for its Pacifica minivan, Chrysler jumped a full 10 places in reliability rankings for 2018.
Still, auto consumers do themselves a favor by getting to know the brands that produce quality vehicles year after year. The Consumer Reports annual reliability rankings are always an excellent place to start your search for a new vehicle. In a study that included 27 automakers on the U.S. market, here are the 10 least reliable car brands for 2018.
With 15 vehicles studied by Consumer Reports for 2018, no one can say Chevrolet didn’t get a fair shake. Camaro, star of the muscle car segment, turned out to be the brand’s least reliable model. Overall, GM’s most popular brand dropped three places from the ’17 rankings to land among the 10 worst. Among the bright spots, Chevy Bolt EV landed excellent marks for reliability and topped the pack among electric vehicles in the survey.
Is it just us or does everyone have problems telling Acura TLX from RLX or ILX? When you rank 22nd in sales and have confusing names for your vehicles, you might have a problem. In the latest reliability survey, Acura dropped seven places to land among the industry’s worst on that front, too. ILX, which is a compact sedan based on the old Honda Civic, was a sore spot for the premium brand.
The notoriously unreliable Jeep brand received both good and bad news ahead of 2018. On the bright side, Cherokee posted decent scores and the SUV manufacturer moved up three places on the Consumer Reports list. However, subpar ratings for Compass, Grand Cherokee, and Renegade (the brand’s worst model) kept Jeep among the bottom of the pack.
Another brand with mixed news was Tesla, the electric car maker based in California. The automaker’s flagship Model S finally broke through with owners and Consumer Reports testers, earning an above-average reliability score for 2018. That performance helped Tesla jump four places in the rankings. However, the Model X electric SUV received the worst rating of any vehicle. As a result, Tesla remained on the list of least reliable car brands.
Though all three Lincoln models — MKZ, Continental, and MKX — scored high in Consumer Reports road tests, the brand’s reputation for below-average reliability kept it down for 2018. The MKX utility model was the worst of the Lincoln lineup, with in-car electronics getting the most negative feedback. For the latest survey, Ford’s luxury brand fell two places while the Blue Oval gained three spots in the rankings.
With so many new SUVs appearing on the U.S. market, Consumer Reports testers had their hands full this time around. After gathering feedback on dozens of models, a total of 15 SUVs received the lowest possible reliability scores for 2018. Volvo XC90 was right there among the worst of the pack, and that performance dragged down the Swedish brand four places. When the results came in, Volvo found itself in the bottom five in the U.S. market.
For Dodge, you might say the 2018 reliability rankings represented addition by subtraction. Without the low-scoring Dart dragging the automaker down, Dodge actually moved up two places. (Yes, things were that bad in past years.) Four of the five remaining models still scored below-average in the latest survey, but improvements are improvements, we suppose.
With Ram placing 25th among the 27 brands in the study, that meant Fiat-Chrysler had four of the 10 least reliable car brands in America. (Chrysler, FCA’s fifth, barely escaped this list.) Surveys for the 3500 pickup doomed Ram here. In case you were wondering about Fiat, that brand sidestepped this year’s rankings due to insufficient data. Consumer Reports did see enough of the 500X to rank it worst among all subcompact SUVs, however.
Was there any good news for General Motors in the reliability ratings for 2018? Not really. Buick, the only GM brand that landed in the top 10, actually fell five places from the previous year’s list. Its other three brands dropped in the rankings as well, with GMC nearly taking last place due to Acadia’s dreadful scores. Sierra 2500HD trucks were the only bright spot here.
When you rank 27th among 27 companies, you officially have a problem. Cadillac, which dropped six places to end up in last place for 2018, is the least reliable auto brand in America, according to Consumer Reports. Its average reliability score (26) was more than three times lower than that of Toyota (80), the top brand, and second-place Lexus (77). Cadillac Escalade, which once again flopped in this survey, represented the luxury brand’s worst model.
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