Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Great, Nissan LEAF Good, Ford C-Max Energi – Dead Last

OCT 29 2013 BY JAY COLE 28

Tesla Model S - Gets A 99 Out Of 100 Ranking AND A Reliability Recommendation From Consumers Report

Tesla Model S – Gets A 99 Out Of 100 Ranking AND A Reliability Recommendation From Consumers Report

Consumer Reports has published its latest “Annual Auto Reliability Rankings” and the car that scored a unprecedented 99 out of 100 initial rating, now also has a “recommended” rating when it come to reliability as well – the Tesla Model S.

“The Tesla Model S electric car performed well enough in the survey to earn a Recommendation from CR for the first time. CR gathered data on more than 600 2012 and 2013 models.”

According To CR 2012 Tesla Model S Cars Are Built Superior To 2013s

According To CR 2012 Tesla Model S Cars Are Built Superior To 2013s

Interestingly, Consumer Reports found that early 2012 Model S owners were experiencing far less flaws with their cars as compared to the 2013 model.  Perhaps the pains of mass production for the small auto maker from California has shown itself in build quality?

“Owners of the 2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners reported quite a few more. Problem areas included wind noise, squeaks and rattles, and body hardware (including the sunroof, doors, and locks).”

Overall, the Japanese brands continued to dominate the list of overall reliability, but CR noted that grasp may be slipping as auto maker such as GM (seriously, GM) are starting to show year-over-year improvements.  GMC was ranked 9th overall this year.  Overall, . Lexus, Toyota, and Acura captured the top three spots, with Audi coming in 4th.

Almost All Plug-In Vehicles Scored Well On CR's Reliability Rankings

Almost All Plug-In Vehicles Scored Well On CR’s Reliability Rankings

As for other plug-ins and hybrids of note most did well.  The Nissan LEAF scored in the top of its class, as well as perennial favorite Toyota Prius (although sister Prius PHV finished lower in the Toyota stable).

Consumer Reports did go out of its way to stress that Ford’s Fusion and C-Max Hybrid and Energi models did not fare well, “…of the 31 Ford models in Consumer Reports’ survey, only one, the F-150 pickup with the 3.7-liter V6, was above average.”

In fact, while the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester SUV took the top spot, “the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid got the worst score.”   –  Damn Ford MyTouch rears its head again!


Consumer Report’s Press Release (below) on the Reliability Rankings

Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings: Japanese Dominance Cracks as Audi, Volvo & GMC Secure Spots in Top 10 — In-Car Electronics Prove to be Achilles Heel for Many Models in Survey

CR Says The Ford C-Max Energi Is The Most Unreliable Car It Tested This Year

CR Says The Ford C-Max Energi Is The Most Unreliable Car It Tested This Year

YONKERS, NY, Oct. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Japanese brands have historically been known for building some of the most reliable vehicles in the world. But Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Auto Reliability rankings show that some other automakers-from Europe and the U.S.-are also capable of building reliable vehicles. Audi, Volvo, and GMC captured three of the top-10 spots in the survey this year.

Survey results were released at a press conference today before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

Three Japanese brands, Lexus, Toyota, and Acura captured the top three spots in the survey, which was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The survey is believed to be the largest of its kind; findings are based on CR subscribers’ experiences with 1.1 million vehicles. Consumer Reports uses the survey data to compile reliability histories on vehicles and predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will hold up.

For more than a decade, Japanese brands have had a lock on most of the top spots in the survey. It’s been rare for a European, Korean, or U.S. carmaker to achieve anything higher than seventh or eighth place.

But Audi, which has shown steady improvement in vehicle reliability during recent years, moved up four places this year to finish fourth overall-the top European manufacturer in the survey. Three Audis, the A6 sedan, Q7 SUV and Allroad wagon, have “much better than average” reliability. Volvo jumped 13 places to seventh. GMC emerged as the top domestic brand, finishing ninth-three places higher than last year. Moreover, every model from Audi, GMC, and Volvo, for which CR has data, earned an average or better reliability score.

The top predicted-reliability score went to the redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester SUV, which hadn’t been on the market for very long when CR conducted the survey. The Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid got the worst score, and the regular C-Max Hybrid wasn’t much better.

General Motors fared better than other domestic brands. In addition to GMC, Buick climbed nine slots to 12th place over last year. All Buicks except the V6 LaCrosse were average or better. The only dark spots for Chevrolet are the Camaro and Cruze, both of which earned below-average reliability scores.

Japanese brands took seven out of the 10 top spots in the survey. Nissan sank to 22nd among the 28 brands in the rankings. As a group, the nine Japanese brands in the survey still produce a remarkable number of reliable cars. Of the almost 100 models, 90 percent were average or better and almost a third of them received top marks. Ten of those highest scorers were Toyotas. Of the eight Lexus models in CR’s survey, six got top marks. All Lexus and Acura models earned an above average reliability score while all Infiniti, Mazda, and Toyota models earned an average or better reliability score.

Two popular models, the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord V6 and the 2013 Nissan Altima, scored too poorly in the survey for Consumer Reports to continue Recommending them. Last year, CR had predicted that both vehicles would have at least average reliability.

Mazda slipped from fourth to fifth. The redesigned Mazda6 debuted with above-average reliability. Subaru and Scion, which also typically rank well in reliability, were torpedoed by their twin sports cars, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which scored below average. This dropped Subaru to 10th place, from last year’s fifth. Scion, for which CR had only two models with sufficient data, sank from first place to 11th this time.

One of the key problem areas in Consumer Reports’ survey centers on in-car electronics, including the proliferating suite of audio, navigation, communication, and connected systems in newer cars. Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2013 models than for any other category.

In many cases, the survey revealed touch-screen infotainment systems have been buggy, with frustrating screen freezes, touch-control lag, or a reluctance to recognize a cell-phone, an MP3 device, or a voice command.

Hybrids and electric cars continue to do well. The Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Prius C, and Honda CR-Z hybrids, as well as the Nissan Leaf electric car, were among the top models. Ford’s C-Max and Fusion hybrids were the only exceptions.

The Tesla Model S electric car performed well enough in the survey to earn a Recommendation from CR for the first time. CR gathered data on more than 600 2012 and 2013 models. Owners of the 2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners reported quite a few more. Problem areas included wind noise, squeaks and rattles, and body hardware (including the sunroof, doors, and locks).

Of the 31 Ford models in Consumer Reports’ survey, only one, the F-150 pickup with the 3.7-liter V6, was above average. Seven achieved an average score. Ford’s challenges don’t end with the historically problematic My-Touch systems. Several EcoBoost turbocharged V6 models have poor reliability as well. Almost two-thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got scores that were much worse than average.

Chrysler is still below par overall, but a bright spot is the very nice Chrysler 300 C which scores above average-last year it was the company’s most troublesome vehicle. Unfortunately, some of Chrysler’s most reliable models, such as the Jeep Compass and Patriot SUVs, didn’t score well in Consumer Reports’ testing, while the better performing 2014 V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee has fallen well below average reliability.

In recent years, Hyundai and Kia were beginning to challenge the Japanese at the top of Consumer Reports’ reliability rankings. In 2011, they scored well ahead of Detroit and most European companies. But they slipped a bit in the 2013 survey, with Kia ranking midpack and Hyundai sliding to 21st place.BMW and Mercedes-Benz remained around midpack among all brands. Most models from those German badges are average or better, with each company having a few problem children: the BMW 335i and turbocharged six-cylinder X3, and the diesel-powered Mercedes M-Class. Volkswagen, which turned in a middling performance, was especially hampered by the trouble-prone Beetle, GTI, and Touareg. All three Minis in our survey made a very poor showing.

Video (below):  Consumer Reports on initial 99 out of 100 rating

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28 Comments on "Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Great, Nissan LEAF Good, Ford C-Max Energi – Dead Last"

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The Model S scored #1 in predicted fire incidents beating out every other EV on the market.

CR actually said the 2013 Model S had quite a few reliability problems and was not included in the overall survey ranking.

One area of problems for the Model S beyond wind noise, squeaks and rattles was body hardware. CR should include battery protection as a problem area.

Consumer Reports clarified that the CMax ranking was skewed by the Infotainment system software that had an update after their testing, rather than having any hardware problems.

The Prius Plug in was ranked the least reliable Toyota.

The Prius V was removed from the Recommended list due to poor safety results.

I guess we’ll know next year if the MyTouch upgrade fixes the C-Max’s ratings.

Your comment about the Tesla and fire incidents is in poor taste.

To be fair, balanced and compete with the information, this is the quote from Consumer Reports clarifying the impact of infotainment systems on the CMax and other Fords.

“Fisher (Consumer Reports Director of Testing) said Monday that most of Ford’s problems are software-related — instead of a nuts-and-bolts hardware issue — which means the Dearborn automaker should have an easier time fixing glitches.”

Consumer Reports further noted that an upgrade to the infotainment system occurred after Consumer Reports test period which improved the infotainment system.

CR absolutely loathes MyFord Touch systems–no secret there. But their complaints are really getting old now…at least with me. I’ve never operated these systems so perhaps I would hate them too however, people are still buying Ford vehicles by the hundreds of thousands. I think CR needs to leave it go now. Complaining about MyFord Touch every time they use it makes them look incompetent and like bullies.

Move on with your lives CR.

Consumer Reports also elicits feedback from users. I don’t think it’s CR harping on the MyTouch system, I think it’s feedback from actual users that’s taken into account.

The system is garbage. Written by Microsoft, I would expect more. However, I frequently read complaints online of the entire entertainment system freezing (requiring a power cycle of the entire CAR!). Why would that ever be acceptable?

Its acceptable for your computer isn’t it

Obviously a car is different from a computer.

At the very least they should have a separate reboot for the entertainment system that can be activated by the driver. That way you can keep driving and still reboot the system if it ever gets stuck.

Actually, no, I don’t find this acceptable for computers either.
On those, I can choose a reliable OS though.

No it isn’t. I choose Linux Mint for my computer. But Ford seems to have a real problem. My FFE has been in the shop for 3 weeks now trying to fix it.

For what it’s worth, I have a C-max energi, and it has had some my touch glitches. I haven’t noticed any since the second-to-last “recall” software update, but perhaps it’s too early to tell.

But the follow-up survey Computer Reports sent me asked a zillion questions about whether the system was unintuitive or confusing, and never gave me an opportunity to say that I don’t care very much, because you don’t need to use it. The ONLY thing I use my-touch for is GPS, there are alternative controls for the radio and traditional buttons for the climate control, both of which work fine. I felt like I was answering a push-poll.

And somehow, “I can’t turn off the radio, but I can turn the volume all the way down” isn’t that awful of a problem to have with a car, especially when it doesn’t happen often. It’s not like “the brakes don’t work”.

Trying to understand this, CR notes that 2013 Model S is less reliable but omits it from consideration? How exactly does that work? Every other company is being rated by their 2013 models.

Sample size, statistics 101. Probably not enough.

With no explanation from CR, it appears that the 2012 data could be skewed to the 1100 signature (read bespoke) vs general production Model S (1400). The article says 600 owners responded, but there is no differentiation made as to the type of Model S.

Noting that the quality of 2013 calendar year Model S has dropped, it would appear that excluding this 2013 data does not benefit the consumer in determining the quality of a general production Model S.

Again this is just commenting a possible problem with the sample. Without knowing why CR made its choice to exclude data and what proportion of the sample set were Signature owners, I have to conclude that the CR rating for the general production Model S remains unclear.

Re-reading the press releases, it reads as if 2013 data was included, although it is unclear about the percentage of signature models included in the sample.

“Based on data collected from more than 600 owners in our 2013 Annual Auto Survey, the Tesla Model S earned an average predicted reliability score. Owners of the 2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners cited quite a few more. The combined score allows us to recommend it”


Anyone have access to the full article?

CR has lost all credibility since it started ranking automobile ‘reliability’ based on their likes and and dislike of an infotainment system.

But slamming cars is the new CR marketing plan. No one would know CR existed unless they had something negative to say about automobiles. They figured out they would not get headlines for rating toasters and washing machines. So they target the most popular, best selling automobiles, and piss off large segments of the auto buying public. And their readership still continues to tank even further.

For product reviews, consumer reviews are the most reliable, which has CR targeting automobiles for relevance.

Just to show how disconnected CR is from the consumer:

– They didn’t like the new Civic, and it became the #1 selling compact sedan that same year.

– They didn’t like the MyFord Touch system, and it became the #1 selling infotainment system industry wide with an 80% take rate, and why Ford vehicles with MyFord Touch, including C-Max/Fusion Energi sales continue to climb.

So in reality, CR has become the most ‘unreliable’ consumer rating source.

I’m going to create a publication called Kdawg Reports. I will rate all of the rating companies on their accuracy and thoroughness. Consumer Reports would not rate very high.

I want to be on your reader list!

Consumer reports rates reliability not how fun the car is. I bought a Toyota Corolla very reliable and very boring. It is like driving a well functioning toaster to work. Nothing like driving my BMW as far as excitement, but gets me there in without raising my heartbeat unless I have a panick stop.

What the heck, Ford? Lie to us with the MPG numbers AND it is the most unreliable car? Ouch! Better fix it up.

And how did the Chevy Volt fare in this latest ranking? (I’m too tight to subscribe to their online version).

Speaking of the Volt, how many Volts caught on fire this month?

Since the Volt has both gasoline and a Li-ion battery on board it should be much more likely to burst into flames than the Model S. At least according to Tesla’s logic. But that isn’t the case. Why is that? Do vehicle fires count in the reliability statistics?

Gee… How many crashes this month for each vehicle? How severe? How do those numbers compare to other manufacturers? Etc.

Without such data, we have no clue what we’re comparing. Even if we had it, unless a statistically significant number of events existed (instead of one or two possible exceptions), no meaningful conclusion could be drawn anyway.

Lastly, no, problems resulting from abuse, e.g. smashing through a wall or two, obviously aren’t deemed reliability issues.

io: I’d like to follow up on your “statistically significant” comment. I remember that the supersonic Concorde jet didn’t have an accident over it’s entire lifetime and then one finally crashed and they took it out of service. It went from being the safest to the least safe airplane with just one event.

Sample size (there were very few Concordes compared to regular jets) is *extremely* important in statistics, which is a point lost on many people who comment on stories.

Thanks for bring up the point. 🙂

All cars have fires, the “other” electric cars have a much worse record than the Tesla (which has the lowest statistics of a fire of any car). The Chevy Volt had one that caught fire during a crash test. Tesla is the only one (so far, that I know of) that tells you to pull over and get out and that the car is on fire (battery fire). Also, Tesla fires are in inconvenience (the car burns, but the passengers are not injured). Not so for about 400 other car fires every year…

I believe Volt was the best Chevy model in terms of quality. I don’t know where it ranks among other plugins….

Remains a recommended buy with “above average” reliability

Thanks, I was wondering where the Volt was in all this. The Volt is so perfect, I don’t know how anyone could even look at another car for their daily driver.

So what are the problems with the cmax energi. I test drove it and my 6 foot 4 inch husband was so comfortable! Besides the my ford system were there mechanical problems, brakes etc. I think I could get used to the my ford if the car was dependable and got good gas mileage. Plus we have solar panels.