Mazda Tops CR Reliability Ratings
Japanese brands captured four of the top five spots in this year’s Consumer Reports brand reliability survey. Mazda led the field for the first time with a score of 83 out of a possible 100.
Buick is the 2021 model year’s top domestic brand, surging 14 spots to capture fourth place with a score of 70. Porsche, which fell to ninth from fourth last year, leads European marques with a score of 55.
CR presented its results during an online news conference for the Automotive Press Assn. in Detroit.
The magazine’s annual ranking estimates the relative reliability—expressed on a scale of 1-100—of a brand’s 2021-model cars and light trucks, based on a survey about owner experiences with more than 300,000 vehicles sold during the past 10 years.
CR-conducted road tests, owner satisfaction reports and standard safety features also figure into the magazine’s calculations.
Several nameplates are missing from this year’s ranking because CR couldn’t collect enough statistically significant data on at least two models per brand. The no-shows are Acura, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Fiat, Genesis, Jaguar, Land Rover, Maserati and Mitsubishi.
CR says Mazda won top billing in large part because it has been conservative about adding “risky” advanced powertrains and overly complicated infotainment systems.
At the bottom of this year’s reliability rankings are Lincoln (8 points) and Tesla (29). CR, which notes that first-year models often generate above-normal owner complaints, says Lincoln was hurt by a lineup containing two new crossover models: the Aviator and Corsair.
Tesla continues to struggle with such basics as paint quality and trim and fit issues, according to CR. The magazine ranked the EV maker’s gullwing-doored Model Y crossover well below average. Only Tesla’s midrange Model 3 sedan earned CR’s “recommended” rating.
The magazine points out that brand rankings tend to fall when manufacturers introduce a flood of all-new models or add advanced technologies—especially electronic features that owners find confusing, irritating or too complex.
Electric cars, presumed to be inherently more reliable because of the simplicity of their powertrains, don’t necessarily rank well in reliability. CR points to Audi’s new e-Tron crossover model, which has been bedeviled by electrical problems.
Jake Fisher, who heads CR testing, notes that the latest EVs also are being built on all-new, EV-specific platforms and are jammed with advanced electronic features and other cutting-edge technological marvels—all of which invite glitches.
“Whenever a new platform or new component is introduced, there’s an opportunity for problems,” Fisher says. “It takes a little time to get everything straightened out.”
During recent months, the Firestone/Ford Explorer fiasco has shaken the entire automotive industry to its core.
Until model year 2010 Ford offered the Bronco, Explorer, Expedition, and Excursion vehicles with an Eddie Bauer trim package. But that’s so early 21st century.*
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?