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Consumer Reports 2021 auto reliability survey: How Tesla, EVs fared


A Tesla Mannequin X at a charging station in Beijing, China.

Meghan Reeder | CNBC

Lexus was rated probably the most dependable automaker in Shopper Reviews’ 2021 Auto Reliability Report, adopted by Mazda and Toyota, whereas Jeep, Tesla, and Lincoln have been on the backside of the checklist.

The report, which was launched Thursday, focuses on what went unsuitable with homeowners’ automobiles within the final 12 months, and makes use of that knowledge to foretell how dependable the forthcoming fashions from main automakers shall be.

Shopper Reviews surveyed homeowners of greater than 300,000 automobiles from mannequin years 2000 to 2021, and used that knowledge to make predictions about 269 completely different 2022 mannequin yr automobiles. The report encompasses 28 automakers and 144 fashions with a longtime historical past.

Battery-powered electrical automobiles comprised a much bigger section of the checklist this yr than ever earlier than, and their reliability rankings diverse broadly, whereas gas-electric hybrids have been among the many most dependable automobiles general.

Shopper Reviews rated 11 totally electrical fashions from 8 completely different manufacturers, together with 5 totally electrical SUVs, in response to Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Shopper Reviews.

“The entire market goes in the direction of a full EV fleet. We’re very to see what this implies by way of reliability,” Fisher mentioned.

General, Toyota‘s luxurious Lexus model reclaimed its prime spot within the reliability survey after Mazda overtook it a yr in the past, marking the primary time in 15 years {that a} Toyota model had not been primary.

Mazda ranked second on this yr’s survey, adopted by the primary Toyota model.

Home manufacturers reminiscent of Chrysler, Chevrolet and Ford had common reliability, whereas others reminiscent of Ram, GMC and Jeep have been beneath common. Ford’s luxurious Lincoln model ranked final at twenty eighth, behind Tesla.

Going electrical

Reliability rankings for EVs diverse broadly.

The Tesla Mannequin X and Audi E-tron ranked lifeless final on this section for reliability, whereas the Kia Niro EV ranked “nicely above common reliability.” The Nissan Leaf and newer Ford Mustang Mach-E scored “above common reliability.”

Excessive-end electrical SUVs have been among the many least dependable automobiles within the survey general.

“There is no purpose totally electrical automobiles cannot be as dependable or much more dependable than conventional automobiles with inside combustion engines.” Fisher mentioned. “It is how they implement the know-how.”

Electrical drivetrains weren’t the issue. As a substitute, Fisher blamed pointless high-tech bells and whistles.

“For EV introductions, there’s a tendency to simply add a lot tech that’s not crucial,” Fisher mentioned.

The reliability rankings stand in stark distinction with Shopper Reviews’ satisfaction survey, the place Tesla topped the 2020 list, adopted by Lincoln. Tesla’s success with prospects has put strain on different automakers to shock and delight shoppers with options from the entertaining to the intense, Fisher urged. Elon Musk’s electrical automobile firm pioneered over-the-air software program updates that can provide homeowners’ automobiles new navigation options like “waypoints,” or ship a recall repair with out a dealership go to.

However introducing extra software program, {hardware} and options provides complexity, and that may harm reliability, Fisher mentioned.


Tesla‘s low standing primarily stemmed from points with the corporate’s Mannequin S, X and Y automobiles from 2019 by 2021 mannequin years. The Tesla Mannequin 3, which Shopper Reviews continues to suggest, confirmed common reliability.

Generally reported points from Mannequin Y homeowners included faulty sensors that had to get replaced, issues with warmth pumps, air-con, physique panels that did not line up and water leaks within the trunk because of lacking seals, in response to Fisher. House owners additionally reported a wide range of electrical and {hardware} points with the higher-priced (and less-popular) Mannequin S sedan and Mannequin X falcon-wing SUV.

Older fashions usually fare higher in reliability, as corporations are inclined to make tweaks and redesigns to unravel identified issues, whereas sticking with the identical elements and suppliers.

However Tesla deviates from this strategy, Fisher defined. “At nearly random occasions through the yr Tesla will swap main parts, suppliers or sensors and different models. The extra you alter, the better the possibilities you are going to have some issues.”

Whereas electrical automobiles confirmed middling reliability, hybrid and plug-in hybrid electrical automobiles, which mix electrical automobile parts and conventional inside combustion engines, have been among the many most dependable fashions.

“What stood out is that probably the most dependable was truly compact hybrids and plug-in hybrids,” Fisher mentioned. “This can be counterintuitive. They’re most likely probably the most complicated relating to the powertrain.”

Fashionable hybrids just like the Toyota Prius and Honda Perception have been available on the market for a number of years and producers have recognized and solved earlier reliability points.