Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The 5 most and least reliable cars in the US, according to car owners

Way.com uses data from Consumer Reports to discuss the most reliable and unreliable cars in the U.S. as of December 2023.

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Row of cars for sale in a lot

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The search for the most reliable car brands has risen in recent years. Increasing fuel costs and the booming acceptance of electric and hybrid vehicles have influenced people's mindsets. However, since buying a car is a long-term investment, you should be extra careful in finding the best car for your needs. 

According to recent trends, some brands have gained acceptance among the U.S. public, while some popular names have fallen to the bottom. In addition, the hybrid cars category proved to be the most reliable, while electric vehicles were at the opposite end. 

Way.com discusses how reliability is measured and what brands you can count on. You will also see some of the most reliable car brands as of December 2023 and some of their best-performing models. In addition, you can also find some of the least reliable brands of the year. 

What is the most reliable car brand? 

According to car owners' feedback in the U.S. nonprofit Consumer Reports' annual survey, Lexus—the luxury arm of Toyota—is the most reliable car brand in the country. Japanese manufacturers have impressed again this year—no surprises there. Six of the top 10 reliable car brands in the U.S. are from the island nation.

No American brands made the list. In fact, over the past few years, few American brands have had a good showing on these reliability rankings. But Japanese companies are making the list repeatedly with old and new models.

And some brands got kicked out of the top five. The biggest drop was BMW, which was ranked third in 2022 but is ninth at the end of 2023. Audi also saw a massive drop in rankings—from fifth in 2022 to nineteenth in 2023. One has to ask, what's happening to German brands? Some other most reliable brands in the U.S. are Subaru, Mazda, Porsche, BMW, and Kia in that order. Let's take a look at these in detail.

Lexus

The son has dethroned the father from the top of the reliability rankings. Luxury brand Lexus gets ranked first, with models like the 2023 Lexus GX proving to be the most reliable. They are also doing well in the hybrid model section. Better fuel economy, low maintenance costs, and top-rated technology are what you get when you buy a Lexus.

Toyota

Even though it was knocked to second place by Lexus, Toyota is not complaining. They have models like the Prius, Prius Prime, and Corolla hybrid, which are the poster children of reliability. Also, the Corolla is still churning out in numbers and is still the most-sold car in the world. Affordable prices and longevity are what make Toyota the reliable king in the car kingdom.

Mini

It's been a good minute since this iconic brand broke into the top five in the United States. The small two-door and four-door cars are making inroads into the minds of American car lovers. It is easy to maintain and cheap compared to other brands. Countryman, hardtop, convertible, and Clubman are the available models of the Mini. In addition, there is the electric version, too.

Acura

Yet another luxury brand has topped its parent company. Acura, a part of Honda, offers premium SUVs and sedans—Integra, TLX, MDX, and RDX are some of the models Acura offers for the U.S. market. All-electric versions like the ZDX are also available.

Honda

Coming in at number five, Honda has improved its position from last year. The CR-V, HR-V, Civic, Accord, and Pilot are popular, and even the Hybrid variants are performing well. You can get a Honda Civic for as low as $24,000. Service and maintenance charges are also often lower than other brands.

Least reliable car brands

Jeep  

Jeep models are expensive—everyone knows that. Every year, only a limited number of cars roll out of Jeep's production line. Even though they have some of the best off-roaders, the reliability is very poor compared to the competition. Massive recalls due to the engine shutting off and fuel tank design flaws have cost Jeep dearly. Wrangler and Cherokee are decent performers in sales for the brand. 

Volkswagen  

Once a giant, this German brand continues to fall in rankings. The high frequency of repairs and shop visits is something that has been plaguing VW owners. Coil failure, poor fuel economy, and other engine issues are common issues with VW vehicles. Even their EVs are getting a bad rep. Let's hope they learn from their mistakes and bounce back in the coming years. 

Rivian  

The "Tesla-killer" is one of the least reliable brands in the U.S. with leaks, climate control issues, and trouble with the drive system, but give them some time. Rivian is suffering from common concerns like software bugs and battery issues. With more investments in research and development, the electric R1T and R1S-makers can still grab a significant market share.  

Mercedes-Benz 

Things are not looking good for the German manufacturer, especially on the EV front. Where to start? There are build quality issues, noises from the car body and engine, electrical accessories malfunction, and so on. With a huge price tag on each of their models, owners will expect best-in-line offerings. Long-term reliability is not Mercedes' strong point for the time being. Again, what's happening to the powerhouses of German automotive engineering? 

What is the least reliable car brand? 

Chrysler 

Chrysler takes the unenviable title of the least reliable brand in the market as of December 2023. The least reliable car of the year goes to its Pacifica Hybrid. It has been a bad year for their hybrids and EVs, and the Pacifica is a mess, to say the least. Battery issues, a poor charging system, motor troubles, and the usual electronic problems are what pushed Chrysler to the bottom of the list. 

How do you measure the reliability of a brand? 

The Consumer Reports survey compiled results from more than 300,000 cars and owners and learned about many issues that may hinder a vehicle's performance. In a broader classification, mechanical problems and other serious issues are considered in determining whether a car is the most reliable or vice versa. 

Problems arising factoring in the cost (of repairs), failure (engine and other systems), safety (airbags not considered), and downtime are taken into account for measuring how reliable a car brand is. How often you visit repairs and how much money you spend on repairs will greatly impact your finances. 

All problems covered in the warranty are not taken into account. A total of 17 trouble areas are studied, and each of these is ranked in terms of how severe they are. After collecting the data, the reliability score is calculated on a scale of 0 to 100. 

Among the data collected, major engine and transmission troubles, engine cooling, and drivetrain issues are given more weight when given a reliability score. These are errors that could cause more damage, cost more to repair, and even render your car useless in the worst-case scenario. A few other problems considered in ranking the most reliable car brands are given below. 

  • Minor Engine (or Electric Motor) and Transmission 
  • Emissions or Fuel System 
  • Charging System/Electrical System 
  • Climate System 
  • Steering and Suspension 
  • Brakes 
  • Exhaust 
  • Trim or Paint 
  • Body Integrity 
  • Body Hardware 
  • Power Equipment and Accessories 
  • In-car Electronics