Lexus, Toyota and Mini are the most reliable auto brands, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.
Acura and Honda rounded out the top five most reliable brands in the annual survey published by the nonprofit consumer organization this week.
As for the most reliable types of vehicle, sedans, hatchbacks and wagons ranked best. Midsize and electric pickup trucks ranked worst.
“Sedans have fallen out of favor with consumers, but as a class, they are very reliable,” Consumer Reports senior director of auto testing, Jake Fisher, said in a statement. “They often have less of the latest technology and features that can cause problems before the bugs are worked out.”
For its annual survey, Consumer Reports surveys its members about the problems they’ve experienced with their vehicles over the prior year. The 2023 report was based on data from over 330,000 vehicles, the majority of them 2000-2023 model year vehicles, with a handful of early-introduced 2024 models.
For its overall reliability scores, Consumer Reports uses consumer survey results paired with the magazine’s track tests and safety data. Looking at 20 problem areas, from small nuisances like squeaky brakes to transmission and engine issues, this year’s survey was the first to include questions about electric motors, EV/hybrid batteries and EV charging due to the rapid proliferation of hybrids, plug-in-hybrids and electric vehicles, which, in the third quarter, accounted for 18% of all new passenger vehicle sales in the U.S.
By fuel type, hybrids had 26% fewer problems compared with cars that use traditional internal combustion engines, Consumer Reports found. The Lexus UX and NX Hybrid were some of the most reliable hybrids, along with the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Highland Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid.
Plug-in hybrids, however, had 146% more problems compared with ICE vehicles. Consumer Reports cited the Audi Q5 and Chrysler Pacifica as being particularly unreliable. The exceptions: the Toyota RAV4 Prime and Kia Sportage, both of which scored well above average for reliability.
Electric cars and SUVs also had below average reliability because of problems with their EV drive system motors, charging systems or batteries. Electric pickup trucks scored even worse, the survey found, with an average reliability score of 30.
“EVs are still in their relative infancy as mainstream vehicles, so it’s really not surprising that manufacturers, by and large, are still working out the kinks,” Fisher said. “That said, we are seeing signs of movement in the right direction. And as our data has consistently shown, reliability-minded consumers would be best served by forgoing brand-new vehicles in their first model year.”
Overall, Asian automakers were most reliable in the survey, with an average score of 63 out of 100. Seven of the top 10 most reliable brands were from Asian companies. Following Lexus and Toyota, Acura (4th), Honda (5th), Subaru (6th), Mazda (7th) and Kia (10th) rounded out the top 10.
European automakers were the second most reliable in the survey, with an average score of 46 out of 100. Three of the top 10 most reliable brands were from European companies. Following Mini, which ranked 3rd, came Porsche (8th) and BMW (9th).
Tesla was the highest-ranking American brand, in 14th place, followed by Ram (15th) and Cadillac (16th).
Of the 30 brands Consumer Reports surveyed, Chrysler ranked last, with Mercedes-Benz, Rivian, Volkswagen and Jeep rounding out the bottom five.