Nathan Bomey USA TODAY
Want a reliable car? A little patience could pay off.
It might sound counterintuitive, but the latest redesigned car model may not hold up as well on the road as versions that come out a year or two later when the early kinks have been worked out.
That’s one of the takeaways from the annual Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey released Thursday.
Though redesigned vehicles and brand-new models often fetch headlines and social media buzz, the old stalwarts are typically more likely to hold up well on the road.
“When you redesign a new vehicle, often you get better fuel economy, better safety, potentially better features,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. “But if you want … reliability, your best bet is to wait a year or two until those initial growing pains have been worked out.”
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Case in point: Tesla. The company’s best-seller, the Model 3 electric compact car, earned the coveted Consumer Reports recommendation this year after failing to earn that status previously.
That recommendation comes “with an asterisk,” though, Fisher said: Since Tesla regularly updates its vehicles that use wireless technology, customers could experience unforeseen bugs in the future.
In the Consumer Reports brand reliability rankings, Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, and its namesake brand ranked first and third, respectively. Mazda was second.
Korean brands Genesis, Hyundai and Kia, all part of the same parent company, ranked fifth, sixth and ninth, respectively. They topped rival Japanese brands Nissan (11th), Honda (12th), Infiniti (13th) and Acura (28th).
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“There is no gap anymore between the Korean manufacturers and the Japanese,” Fisher said. “Their reliability is equal.”
General Motors luxury brand Cadillac ranked last among the 30 brands included in the survey. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand Alfa Romeo was second to last.
The study was based on surveys of owners of more than 400,000 current-generation vehicles made within the past three years. Those owners evaluated safety systems, vehicle infotainment, engine performance and other aspects of the cars and trucks.
Consumer Reports crunches the data to make predictions about 2020 models.
10 most reliable models of 2020, according to Consumer Reports:
- Mazda MX-5 Miata
- Toyota Prius Prime
- Toyota Prius
- Lexus GX
- Hyundai Kona
- Mazda CX-3
- Lexus NX
- Toyota 4-Runner
- Mazda CX-9
- Lexus GS
10 least reliable models of 2020, according to Consumer Reports:
- Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon (same body style, different badging)
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Jeep Wrangler
- Alfa Romeo Giulia
- Volkswagen Atlas
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Acura MDX
- Tesla Model X
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Chevrolet Traverse
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How automotive brands ranked for reliability:
- Alfa Romeo