Tesla's Model 3 gets an 'average' as new tech dents auto reliability

Andrew Cummings
October 20, 2017

Consumer Reports predicts reliability of 2018 vehicles based on a survey of its subscribers, who owned or leased 640,000 vehicles from the 2000-2017 model years. It's the fifth year in a row that a Toyota brand has topped the survey. Nonetheless, our comprehensive annual auto reliability survey tells us that some buyers will be taking their brand-new vehicle back to the dealer's service department sooner and more often than other vehicle buyers will.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) probably won't be too pleased with the initial impressions of its new Model 3 sedan from a famous consumer products ratings agency. But it relies largely on technology the carmaker has used on its Model S sedan, which has been in production since 2012, and Consumer Reports said predicted reliability for that auto is now "above average".

Infotainment systems and new transmission technology hurt a lot of automakers this year.

"More often than not, our data suggests it's prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature", Jake Fisher, head of Consumer Reports auto testing, said in a statement ahead of a presentation in Detroit. The Chrysler brand climbed the most in this year's report, jumping 10 positions from last year to No. 17.

While Tesla's electric powertrains are simpler than traditional cars, the publisher says its lack of experience in producing vehicles at high volumes weighed on its opinion. All landed in the top 10, with CR noting Honda, up one spot from a year ago, seems to have worked the bugs out of the Civic's in-car electronics, which it surmises had a positive effect on the car's platform-mate the CR-V CUV.

While Chevrolet's Bolt EV was the brand's most reliable model, ranking above average, all other Chevys were below average, including the Volt and Cruze, the latter of which performed well on the 2016 survey.

The magazine blamed the redesigned Buick LaCrosse for the brand's slip in reliability ranking.

The magazine's rankings are closely watched in the industry, since many buyers seek advice from Consumer Reports.

Ford climbed three spots over previous year due mostly to reliability improvements from the best-selling F-150 pickup. But Kia, a brand long dismissed for questionable quality, came in third, a surge reflected by several other recent studies.

Consumer Reports' brand rankings for 2018 models and the number of spots each brand rose or fell from previous year.

A continuing trend, infotainment systems and advanced transmissions are still causing plenty of headaches for automakers.

Below the No.10 spot but improving nonetheless were Nissan, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volkswagen, Jeep and Ram.

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