Highlights From Consumer Reports' 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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Highlights From Consumer Reports' 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey

6 Big Losers From Consumer Reports’ Reliability Survey

This week, Consumer Reports has released its Annual Auto Reliability Survey, and the results are nothing short of surprising. In fact, cars that the consumer watchdog trumpeted just a few months ago have come under fire as drivers describe day-to-day life with their new cars, sometimes with less than impressive results.

While virtually every new car is thoroughly gone over when new, the group’s reliability survey is the one that separates the wheat from the chaff. All the expensive options and trim levels are subjected to everyday driving, and are forced to prove their toughness against cold starts, carloads of kids, hot days, rain storms, snow storms, and nearly everything in between.

But while the list is certainly a wakeup call for manufacturers, it’s by no means a black spot. Often, automakers are penalized for rolling out new models, as the unproven powertrains and infotainment systems tend to be problematic for early buyers. But as the models mature, and automakers work out the kinks, they tend to be rewarded by a higher ranking.

So with that in mind, here are the six automakers who took the biggest plunge in the 2015 Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey.

1. Acura
2015_Acura_TLX_Exterior_V6_SH_AWD_046
Source: Acura
Honda’s premium brand has been selling great as of late, with sales up 6.3% through September. But the success comes at a price: The new RLX and TLX models may be flying off the lots right now, but the first-year models are having plenty of teething issues. Because of this, Acura slid a full seven slots, from 11 down to 18. If it can fix the electronics and transmission issues that customers are complaining about, expect the brand to have a stronger showing in 2016.

2. Cadillac
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
As it continues to struggle to find buyers, the last thing Cadillac needs right now is some bad PR. Unfortunately, General Motors’s flagship brand fell seven spots – from 18 to 25 – largely based on its troublesome Cue infotainment system. Cadillac isn’t taking the news lightly, however, with a spokesman telling Automotive News, “Cadillac’s product development experts are analyzing this data, along with other information we have [from] owners, as part of the ongoing elevation of our product portfolio,” and adding, “There are significant upgrades to 2016 models in production now, including enhancements to CUE such as faster and more powerful system response and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay.”

3. Porsche
Source: Porsche
Source: Porsche
Porsche scored high in Consumer Reports’ new car testing, with the Porsche Macan ranking as one of the highest-rated vehicles of the year. But as is the case with high-end luxury cars, long-term reliability isn’t always a top priority. Because of complaints largely from Macan and Cayman owners, Porsche slid five spots this year, from nine to 14.

4. Infiniti
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
This summer, we drove the Infiniti Q50 S, and we loved it. With strong performance, a truly great interior, and a top-notch infotainment system, our Micah Wright said, “It may not have the racing pedigree of an AMG or the ferocity of an M-series, nor can it compete with the hulking supercharged V8 found in a Cadillac CTS-V, but that’s not what Infiniti is about. The Q50 S never pretends to be something it isn’t, and for that, we’re grateful.”

Like Acura, it seems like Infiniti owners’ biggest gripe is the infotainment system, and as a result, the brand slid from No. 20 to 24 this year. Once Nissan’s luxury brand gets the bugs worked out, we expect it to climb right back.

5. Honda
2016_Honda_Accord_1
Source: Honda
For 2015, Honda debuted a redesigned Fit, a face-lifted CR-V, and launched the HR-V crossover. For 2016, an updated Civic, Accord, and all-new Pilot are on the way. While that’s sure to bring buyers to Honda dealerships, it also means plenty of growing pains for all these new models. Honda slid from No. 4 in 2014 to 8 in 2015. Until all these models mature, Honda may be in for a rocky year or two on this list.

6. Tesla
Tesla Model S
Source: Tesla
The biggest news from Consumer Reports came from an automaker that didn’t even make the list. After famously breaking the group’s ratings system this summer, the consumer watchdog announced that it could no longer recommend the groundbreaking EV due to a number of reliability issues. Customers cited a number of problems, from sunroof leaks, to powertrain issues to batteries with charging issues. After CR issued its statement, Tesla’s notoriously fickle stock plunged 10% before closing at $213.03. But Elon Musk and company have rarely shied away from a fight – there’s a good chance the company will tackle the reliability issues sooner rather than later.

Continuing struggles with communications and infotainment systems, as well as problems with recently developed transmission technologies, are the top trouble areas reported in Consumer Reports’ 2015 Annual Auto Survey.

Consumers want their car infotainment systems to be as capable as the latest smartphones. But vehicles have lengthy development and production cycles, which means that car tech often lags behind the rapid-fire release of smartphones and apps. As a result, many infotainment systems end up disappointing consumers in terms of how they function and how reliably they operate.

More troubling is that many new transmissions developed to help meet heightened fuel-economy standards are having some significant problems. That’s happening whether it’s a complex system such as a dual-clutch gearbox, a continuously variable transmission, or one with eight or nine speeds. Many vehicles require repair and replacements because of rough shifting among the gears and slipping CVT belts.

Those trouble areas have resulted in several automakers dropping sharply in our predicted-reliability scores, which are based on subscribers reporting on more than 740,000 vehicles in their garages. But other automakers have seen sharp movement upward.

Our survey is a measure of how reliable a new car you buy today is likely to be, based on the past three model years of problem areas reported by consumers. Note that new-car predicted-reliability scores are separate from our road-test scores, which are based on the performance, comfort, and road manners of the cars we buy.

For full details, read our complete report on the Most and Least Reliable Cars.

2015 Car Reliability Highlights
Two Korean automakers, Kia and Hyundai, are considerably stronger. The sister brands finished sixth and ninth, respectively. For the first time, Kia beat the stalwart Japanese brand Honda, and by a significant margin.
Lexus pulled off a rare feat, garnering top reliability marks for all seven vehicle lines scored in our survey. But it was the only strong Japanese luxury brand.
Honda’s Acura brand has plummeted because of problems with in-car electronics and new transmissions.
Nissan’s Infiniti brand has continued its downward trajectory because of similar problems with its InTouch infotainment system.
Ford remains in the lower half of the rankings but showed significant gains, with most of its cars scoring average or better.
Audi, once a sinkhole of service problems, continued its recent roll and finished third, just behind Lexus and Toyota.
The Fiat-Chrysler brands (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat) finished at or near the bottom again.


How the Brands Compare
This table shows how the brands rank based on the average of their models’ predicted reliability scores. A measure of the brand’s consistency can be seen in the span of its scores, cross-referenced by how many different models it produces. The blue bars illustrate a brand’s consistency by showing the reliability range between its top and bottom model. The numerals indicate the number of models included. We excluded Jaguar, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Scion, Smart, and Tesla because we lack data on two or more of their models.



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