DETROIT -- For the fifth year in a row, Toyota and Lexus rank as the top two brands for reliability based on a survey of Consumer Reports subscribers. The rankings of the remaining 25 brands reflect a game of musical chairs, however.
Consumer Reports' 2017 Auto Reliability Survey found "growing pains" among automakers with new and updated cars and light trucks, with "wonky" engines and "jerky" eight- and nine-speed and continuously variable transmissions, as well as infotainment systems, among the top problems.
"These new technologies can add features and improve fuel efficiency, but are more prone to have issues," Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' director of automotive testing, said in a statement. "More often than not, our data suggests it's prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature."
The magazine said its survey shows some but not all automakers are quick to respond to major problems between model years. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson crossover scored poorly with owners due to transmission issues, but complaints about 2017 Tucson transmissions dropped by more than half, Consumer Reports said. Similarly, gripes about the in-car electronics on the 2017 Civic were so improved that the complaint rate was only a third of that for the 2016 version.
The 2017 results were announced at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit on Thursday.
Toyota led the way with a predicted new-car reliability score of 80 on a 100-point scale, with Toyota's luxury brand Lexus right behind at 77. In last year's ranking, Lexus was No. 1 and Toyota was No. 2.
“All the way down at the bottom is Cadillac, which is just really very disappointing because these cars are great,” Fisher said at the luncheon. “Anyone who's driven a Cadillac lately realizes that this is a very competitive, luxury car [brand] but unfortunately, there’s a lot of reliability issues. Again, Cadillac Cue, it looks like they’re moving away from that, which is good, but there’s still a lot of issues.”
Starting with last year's survey, Consumer Reports converted its predicted reliability score to a 100-point scale, with those brands scoring between 41 and 60 points deemed reliable. Those with scores above that were considered more reliable and those below that less reliable.
Kia, with its Niro hybrid pegged as the most reliable new vehicle in the survey, came in at No. 3 overall.