While Tesla ranks at the bottom of Consumer Reports’ most reliable vehicle ranking, all hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles are earning a reputation for reliability, according to the automotive testing manager for the influential magazine.
Jake Fisher also says that compared to conventional internal combustion engines, battery-powered electric powertrains are more reliable because they have fewer parts, and he sees consumers adapt. “Electric vehicles are increasingly popular. There is a lot to love about them, ”he says.
Digging into BEVs issues, Fisher notes that the issues almost always involve other electronic functionality that has nothing to do with the electric powertrain. In fact, while Tesla has a near-low reliability score, the issues revolve around other features and Tesla constantly making changes to vehicles, says Fisher.
“The problem is not the powertrain,” he says. “Manufacturers are using electric vehicles as a test bed for new technology and these are the things that are wrong. ”
In a presentation to the Detroit Automotive Press Assn., Fisher said the features create problems for luxury car owners from manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, who are redefining luxury to encompass the wide array of electronic features. integrated into their vehicles rather than the old-school emphasis on stress-free driving.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW, however, aren’t the only luxury brands to have issues with the various features of their vehicles; The same goes for Lincoln and Genesis, which ranked near the bottom of Consumer Reports’ Automotive Reliability Survey for 2021.
With disrupted supply chains, it can also be more difficult to find replacement parts, which means vehicles could be put on hold for longer periods of time to wait for repairs, Fisher adds.
On the flip side, information gathered from the more than 300,000 Consumer Reports readers who contribute to the annual reliability survey indicates that motorists also have problems with powertrains powered by combustion engines.
The transmissions are particularly problematic, according to Fisher, who notes that the magazine’s data revealed issues with the CVT and dual-clutch automatic transmission used by Hyundai.
Japanese automakers, led by Lexus, once again topped Consumer Reports’ annual reliability rankings, as they have in recent years. Eight of the 10 most trusted brands are Japanese, according to the magazine, while Lincoln, Tesla and Jeep as well as Genesis (GV80 shown above) finished at the bottom.
Fisher says reliability scores for Japanese brands appear to benefit from a cautious approach. “They don’t make big changes. They are conservative with new technology, ”says Fisher, noting that Toyota Synergy Drive has been around in its hybrids for 20 years.
Mazda also embodies the conservative approach. While other automakers add gears to their automatic transmissions, Mazda uses a 6-speed AT and its cars are considered very reliable.
Yet some Japanese models fail. Fisher says the new Toyota Corolla hatchback did not fare well in terms of reliability and scored below average.
Domestic vehicles such as the Ford Ranger, Chrysler 300 and Ford Bronco Sport lead in their specific segments in terms of overall reliability, suggesting that vehicles from American manufacturers have improved.
Ford Mustang Mach-E BEV scores well in reliability survey, says Fisher, adding
he believes the switch to electric vehicles will benefit domestic automakers. “GM and Ford have the potential to do very well in electric vehicles. ”
Overall, this year’s Consumer Reports poll ranks the Kia Niro EV as the second most reliable vehicle behind the Lexus GX and ahead of the Toyota Prius Prime, Toyota Prius and Cadillac XT5.
The magazine’s list of less reliable vehicles includes the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Ford Explorer, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra pickup, and Chevrolet Corvette.