Infotainment, trans problems hit reliability rankings

Infotainment, trans problems hit reliability rankings

America’s widely-respected Consumer Reports has again found the most reliable brands in the automotive world to be Japanese. Or Audi.

Lexus, Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru join the German make as the most reliable, while buyers site new transmissions as the biggest headache – and the most damaging tho their wallets – when it comes to repairs, the latest Consumer Reports survey finds.

Problematic infotainment systems continue to be a major issue for new car owners, but there’s a notable increase in problems with new automatic transmissions that are designed to improve fuel economy.

Lexus managed the rare feat of garnering top reliability marks for all seven of its vehicle lines in the survey, with Toyota’s luxury arm coming out in first place overall.

Nissan’s equivalent luxury brand Infiniti has continued on its downward trajectory with its troublesome InTouch infotainment package.

Although none of Honda’s models rated below average, the brand has dropped a few places – again largely due to glitches with its infotainment system in redesigned and freshened up models.

Toyota, Mazda and Subaru pad out the top five.

Acura – Honda’s lux models – dropped a massive seven places in predicted reliability, with in-car electronics and transmissions on its latest RLX and TLX sedans.

Ford, Nissan, Fiat-Chrysler and other have already had overall scores dragged down by the same issues.

“We’ve seen a number of brands struggle with new transmission technology,” says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing.

“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,” he adds.

Not all new-generation transmissions are troublesome. Audi and BMW have created reliable dual-clutch transmissions, while the CVTs in Honda and Toyota hybrids have been strong performers.

Audi, which at one time struggled with service issues, continued its recent upward trend leading all European brands and finishing third, just behind Lexus and Toyota.

Mini, BMW, Volvo, and Volkswagen all finished in the top 15. Porsche dropped from ninth to 14th place because of a declining score for the Cayman and a below-average debut for the Macan.

Korean automakers, Kia and Hyundai, continue to rise in Consumer Reports rankings. The sister brands finished sixth and ninth, respectively. For the first time, Kia beat the stalwart Japanese brand Honda, and by a significant margin.

For the second year, Buick was the only US brand in the top 10 coming in seventh place. Cadillac dropped seven places to near the bottom, still plagued by its CUE infotainment system. Other General Motors brands, Chevrolet and GMC finished in the bottom third of the overall rankings.

Ford remains in the lower half of the rankings as well, but showed significant gains with most of its cars scoring average or better. The redesigned F-150 pickup and Expedition SUV were bright spots, scoring above average in their first year.

But the first-year Mustang had issues with its body hardware, drive shaft, and stability/traction control systems. Nine of the 13 Fords Consumer Reports scored had average or better reliability.

Tesla’s Model S sedan got high marks in Consumer Reports’ 50-plus performance tests, but its predicted reliability is another matter. CR received about 1400 survey responses from Model S owners who chronicled an array of detailed and complicated maladies.

From that data, the Tesla Model S earns a worse-than-average predicted reliability score. The main problem areas are the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, centre console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks.

While the long-running Chrysler and Dodge minivans scraped up an average reliability score for the first time in many years, all of Fiat-Chrysler brands (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat) finished at or near the bottom again.

The findings are collected annually from Consumer Reports’ subscribers, with its 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey taking data from more than 740,000 vehicles.


  • Ford +6
  • Kia +4
  • Hyundai +4
  • Volkswagen +4


  • Acura -7
  • Cadillac -7
  • Porsche -5


  • Volkswagen CC
  • Ford C-Max
  • Mini Countryman
  • Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ
  • Chrysler Town & Country/
  • Dodge Grand Caravan


  • Acura RLX
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Kia Rio
« | »

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