Buying Advice

New cars aren't the most reliable according to new Consumer Reports survey

Consumer Reports' annual survey has concluded that most new cars aren't as reliable as older models.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Consumer Reports has released the results from its Annual Auto Reliability Survey. According to its survey, nearly half of new and redesigned 2019 models have below-average predicted reliability. The most reliable are those that are near the end of their generational run.

Why? Simply put, it takes manufacturers a few years to work out all the engineering and production kinks to get a new model where it needs to be to be considered reliable.

Here's how Consumer Reports calculates reliability:

Every year, CR asks its members about problems they've had with their cars, minivans, SUVs, and trucks in the previous 12 months. This year we gathered data on 420,000 vehicles, spanning the 2000 to 2019 model years. Members reported on problems in any of 17 trouble areas, including engine, transmission, in-car electronics, and more. We use that data to calculate reliability ratings for every major mainstream vehicle.

The predicted reliability for the 2020 models on is based on each model's overall reliability for the past three years. We do this for redesigned models by analyzing the brand's reliability history, the previous generation's reliability, and if applicable, the reliability of models the vehicle shares components with. These are our predictions, and reliability can change if the automaker resolves problems or creates new ones by freshening the model.

How do you know if the model you're buying is reliable? Besides checking ratings from trusted institutions like Consumer Reports and JD Power, you can use some basic buying advice:

  • Expect that there will be recalls. Check out the recall history of the models you're shopping. New models likely don't have many recalls at first, but their recall history builds as they age.
  • Search forums looking for common service issues that seem to keep arising. If a certain vehicle is known for having a recurring issue, it may be best to skip it. At the very least, you'll be better informed about what you're getting yourself into.
  • Small hiccups are normal when a model is introduced. Realize that automakers and their parts suppliers generally take two to three years to get production and parts manufacturing down to a science, especially if the model is "all new" and doesn't have many/any carryover parts from the previous generation.
  • Remember, many technology issues can be solved by over-the-air updates or quick dealership visits. Do not hesitate to call a dealer and ask if these are included with your purchase.
  • The production process and level of attention given to each model can dictate what the quality of the product is. The 2018 Tesla Model 3 has had numerous issues arise including cracks in the rear window glass, loose trim, and paint defects. However, many of these issues had been resolved by the 2019 model year.
  • When buying used car, be sure a licensed mechanic has given the car a thorough once-over and is able to tell you where the wear patters are in the vehicle and if they're appropriate for the vehicle's age. Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle can help alleviate some of the concern in this area.

Most importantly, don't just take one source's opinion as gospel.


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The redesigned 2022 Subaru BRZ joins the company's lineup this year.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Want to buy a new refrigerator? They have a ranking for that. Consumer Reports also takes a close look at automotive brands rating them based on a combination of feedback from testing and member surveys. Each year they release a list ranking all the brands sold in the U.S.

Here's how Consumer Reports determines their rankings, straight from the horse's mouth:

Brand report cards are built on an average of the Overall Score for each model tested. A brand must have at least two models tested to be included. The Overall Score is based on four key factors: road test, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety.

• The road-test scores are for vehicles purchased by CR and run through more than 50 tests.
• Reliability predictions are based on problems reported by CR members in 17 trouble areas.
• Owner satisfaction from surveyed CR members reflects whether drivers would purchase the same car if they had it to do again.
• Safety includes crash-test results and extra points awarded for proven advanced safety features that come standard for the model.

From worst to first, check out how the brands scored below. Click here to see 2020's results.

No. 32 - Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo 4C

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Alfa Romeo scored a 59/100, 15 points lower than they did in 2020. Consumer Reports tested two of the company's vehicles and was not able to recommend either of them.

No. 31 - Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover earned a 46/100 in the ratings, four points less than in the 2020 ratings, and drops one position. None of its products are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 30 - Mitsubishi

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: Exterior Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi is up three spots from their 2020 position with a score of 46/100 - the same score as lat year. None of their vehicles are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 29 - Jeep

Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Jeep earned a 48/100 score but went up two places from their 2020 position, which was up from the 2019 spot. The company has only one product Consumer Reports would recommend out of the six they tested.

No. 28 - Lincoln

Lincoln Corsair

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln fell 15 spots in this year's rankings, after falling five the year before, getting a 53/100 score despite earning a respectable 78/100 in road testing.

No. 27 - Jaguar

2021 Jaguar XF: Exterior Photo courtesy of Jaguar

Jaguar climbs one in 2021 and was up four places in 2020. The company scored a 54/100 and has one green vehicle in its lineup.

No. 26 - GMC

GMC Acadia AT4

Photo courtesy of GMC

There's some good news for GMC. Despite being in the bottom third of the ratings, Consumer Reports recommends one of their vehicles. That's one more than they did last year. Overall, the company earned a 57/100, down two points from 2020.

No. 25 - Ford

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford fell three places in 2020 and two more in 2021, earning a 57/100 score, the same as what GMC got.

No. 24 - Chevrolet

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevy is up one place in 2021, scoring 58/100. Out of the 13 Chevy vehicles Consumer Reports tested, they recommend two of of them.

No. 23 - Acura

2021 Acura TLX Advance Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura is up one spot for 202, earning a 59/100. The company had decent road test scores but Consumer Reports doesn't recommend any of their models.

No. 22 - Cadillac

2020 Cadillac XT5 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac's brand score of 62/100 helped it jump seven places in the 2021 rankings. Consumer Reports recommends one out of the five Caddy products they tested.

No. 21 - Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

With its 62/100 score, Mercedes-Benz finds itself one spots lower on the list than where it ended up last year. Consumer Reports recommends three of their vehicles.

No. 20 - Volvo

Volvo XC60

​​Photo courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo pops up two spots in the' rankings with its 64/100 score. Two of its five vehicles that were tested by the Consumer Reports team are recommended.

No. 19 - Kia

2021 Kia K5 Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia fell down 10 spots in the rankings earning a 64/100, a score 10 points lower than the company scored in 2020. The good news is that out of the 11 of their vehicles that were tested, Consumer Reports recommends four of them.

No. 18 - Volkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Taos Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has better road-test scores than anyone lower than it on this list. The company scored 65/100 and Consumer Reports recommends two of its models.

No. 17 - MINI

2021 MINI Paddy Hopkirk Edition Photo courtesy of MINI

Mini was up five places in the 2020 rankings compared to 2019, but fell seven places from their 2020 level in 2021. The company earned a 66/100 score for this year.

No. 16 - Tesla

Tesla Model X Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla was the biggest mover in this year's rankings, gong up eight places to end up at No. 11. But, this year, they're down five spots scoring just 66/100.

No. 15 - Genesis

2020 Genesis G90 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Genesis placed second with an 66/100 score, 18 points lower than they scored in 2020. The automaker fell 13 spots from their 2020 placement

No. 14 - Dodge

2020 Dodge Challenger Photo courtesy of Dodge

Dodge was up four places in 2020 earning a 68/100 score. For 2021, the company moves up one place but only earned 67 points.

No. 13 - Nissan

2021 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan jumped four places to No. 17 earning 70/100. For 2021 they are up another four places, getting a 68/1000 with Consumer Reports recommending half of their 12 tested vehicles.

No. 12 - Infiniti

2021 Infiniti QX80 Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti, the premium arm of Nissan, jumps two spots for 2021 earning a score of 70/100. Like Nissan, Consumer Reports recommends half of the company's vehicles to shoppers.

No. 11 - Audi

Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi fell five spots in the 2021 rankings earning a 71/100 score, just one better than Infiniti. However, Audi's road test score was an 88 compared to Infiniti's 77.

No. 10 - Hyundai

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai jumped three spots in the 2020 rankings, earning a 75/100 score. For 2021, they fell three spots with a 71/100 score.

No. 9 - Buick

Buick Envision

Photo courtesy of Buick

Buick slid down one spot with its 69/100 score in 2020, but has made up for it in 2021, jumping up 10. Out of the three Buicks Consumer Reports tested, they recommend two of them.

No. 8 - Chrysler

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Like Buick, Chrysler is up 10 places for 2021 earning 74/100. This is on top of the four places they gained in 2020 with a score of 69/100.

No. 7 - Toyota

2021 Toyota Venza Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Toyota fell three places in 2020's rankings, but gained five in the 2020 ratings, scoring 74/100. Consumer Reports recommends 15 of the 19 Toyotas it tested - impressive!

No. 6 - Lexus

Lexus LX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus is down one position for 2021, scoring 75/100, which is two points worse than the company scored in 2020. Seven fo the eight Lexus vehicles tested by the publication are recommended.

No. 5 - Honda

Honda Accord Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Like Buick and Chrysler, Honda jumped 10 places in 2021 with a 75/100 score. In 2020, the company earned a 72/100. Eight of the 10 Hondas tested are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 4 - Porsche

2021 Porsche Panamera 2021 Porsche Panamera Photo courtesy of Porsche AGPhoto courtesy of Porsche AG

Porsche scored 10 less points in 2021 than they did in 2020 (76 vs. 86/100). The company has earned the same road test score as Audi: 88. Three of the four Porsches that were test driven earned recommended ratings.

No. 3 - Subaru

2022 Subaru BRZ Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru sits in the same place in 2021 as it did in 2020. The company scored worse, however, earning just 76/100 compared to the 81/100. Five out of the seven models Consumer Reports test drove they recommended.

No. 2 - BMW

BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is up six spots compared to their 2020 ranking, earning 78/100. Subaru and BMW scored the same in Consumer Reports road testing, getting an 87. Ten out the 12 BMWs Consumer Reports tested are recommended.

No. 1 - Mazda

Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda moved up three places to claim the 2021 crown with a score of 80/100. That rating is one point higher than the company earned in 2020. Consumer Reports recommends all seven of the Mazdas they test drove this year.

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Ford's new certification program brings a new level of scrutiny to used vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, its dealers, and Cox Automotive are partnering to create a new, digital used car marketplace. Ford Blue Advantage allows dealers to list and sell certified used vehicles on a single platform, backed by a Ford warranty. Cox Automotive's Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book brands had hands in developing and populating content on the site.

The online marketplace, which features familiar Autotrader styling, allows users to filter vehicles by location, Ford Vehicle Exchange Program eligibility, dealer home services (including test drive at home), price, vehicle history (no accidents, single owner), year, mileage, make, body style, drive type, fuel type, fuel economy, transmission, cylinders, exterior color, interior color, features, doors, and price rating.

The new online marketplace features technology by Autotrader and a familiar design.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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"We can now connect the right shopper to the right pre-owned Ford vehicle faster than ever," said Andrew Frick, vice president, U.S. marketing. "Providing a great digital experience is paramount today, but we know customers still want to touch, smell and feel a vehicle before they buy it. Ford Blue Advantage offers the best of both worlds, enabling customers to shop online or come into a dealership, or a combination of both."

The Ford Blue Advantage site features Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor to signify if a vehicle has a Good or Great price. Visitors are also able to see a vehicle's original window sticker.

"At Cox Automotive, we believe that the automotive industry thrives when dealers, consumers and manufacturers are completely connected," said Jessica Stafford, senior vice president, Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. "This philosophy drove us to engineer a uniquely integrated platform for Ford dealers to help simplify, streamline and personalize the car-buying experience for consumers and drive more value."

More than half of Ford's dealerships are currently enrolled in the program.

All vehicles listed on the platform have undergone an inspection by Ford factory-trained technicians. Participating dealers are able to certify vehicles under two different levels, Gold Certified and Blue Certified, covering up to 90 percent of their used-vehicle inventory.

Gold Certified vehicles have passed a 172-point inspection and come with a 12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Limited Warranty and a seven-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty. Dealers can certify Ford vehicles up to six years old that have less than 80,000 miles on the odometer as Gold Certified.

Older, Blue Certified vehicles pass a 139-point inspection and come with 90-day/4,000-mile Comprehensive Limited Warranty coverage. Blue Certified models are less than 10 years old and have fewer than 120,000 miles on them. Ford and non-Ford vehicles are eligible for this certification.

Ford promises to run a Carfax Vehicle History Report on every Blue and Gold Certified used vehicle to identify any issues that might not be detected during the inspection.

Gold and Blue Certified vehicles are sold with 24/7 roadside assistance and complimentary FordPass Rewards Points (11,000 points for Blue Certified and 22,000 for Gold Certified) that can be used for future service visits at Ford dealerships. FordPass is the automaker's mobile app. The Rewards Points program allows users to earn rewards by visiting their dealership for service, purchasing a vehicle, and other purchases.

Ford isn't the only automaker making an online sales shift for certified used cars. Honda and Acura recently launched similar sites.

Ford Blue Advantage can be found at FordBlueAdvantage.com.

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