Great Again? American Cars Fall Straight to the Bottom of Consumer Reports’ “Most Reliable” Rankings

By: Bridget Clerkin November 14, 2018
Complicated infotainment systems and unpopular under-the-hood changes have led American-made vehicles to rank low on Consumer Reports’ “most reliable” list.
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It’s been a rough year for Detroit.

The steel and aluminum tariffs imposed earlier this summer—and the threats of more sanctions to come—have left bookkeepers befuddled with The Big Three. At the same time, these automotive manufacturers have simultaneously had to deal with creeping competition from the titans of Silicon Valley, who are attempting to lay their own claim to the future of autonomous cars.

But it has to be said: the area’s status as a stalwart of the industry has taken a hit.

Nonprofit research group Consumer Reports recently released its annual ranking of the year’s most reliable cars, and things look pretty bleak for American autos.

Many survey takers aired frustrations with the rides’ confusing infotainment systems, while others were skeptical about the new technology under the hood.

Out of a list of 29 brands, not one domestic manufacturer cracked the top 10—or even came close.

The highest-ranking American carmaker was Ford, which placed in 18th, a 3-point dip from 2017. And things only get worse from there, with only one non-American model making an appearance in the list’s bottom 10 slots.

Consumer Reports, which created the ranking from a survey of more than 500,000 respondents, offered a possible explanation for the mass exodus of American vehicles: many survey takers aired frustrations with the rides’ confusing infotainment systems.

Many were also skeptical about the new technology under the hood, with a spate of new turbocharge and transmission designs received poorly by a large consort of responders. Still, they say bad things come in threes, so maybe Detroit can catch a break now.

You can check out the full list of winners—and not-so-much winners—on Consumer Reports' website, and keep reading below for a list of the American companies that did make an appearance, and the issues that kept them from reaching a spot in the top 10.


2018 Ford Mustang 2

The original American carmaker fared best out of the American automakers this year.

Eleven different models offered by Ford were included in the survey, with the group earning a collective reliability rating of 45 out of 100.

Within that group, the Ford Taurus—the company’s oldest model on offer—emerged as the clear winner by securing a rating “far above average.” Ideas that came fresh from the assembly line fared far worse, including the Fusion, which dropped below average thanks in part to a glitchy infotainment screen.

And pulling up the rear for Ford were the Explorer and the Mustang, which both suffered from a faulty climate system and new body hardware.


The brand suffered this year’s most brutal fall from grace, dropping 11 places from 2017 to land at 19th overall.

Causing the most harm for Buick was the company’s recently redesigned Enclave, with owners reporting a number of issues with the new 9-speed transmission, including rough shifting and problems with the central computer and torque converter.

Its Encore did better—pulling in the brand’s best rating, which came in above average—though overall, the five Buick models on the list earned an average rating of just 44 out of 100.


The classic brand actually creeped up the list slightly, rising two spots this year to land at number 20 overall. Helping it along the way were the rave reviews for the Continental, which earned a “much-higher-than-average” rating, according to Consumer Reports.

Still, Lincoln was weighed down by the poor showing of its MKC, MKX, and MKZ models—all coming in at average or below, and leading to an overall rating of 43 out of 100.



The five models on offer from the company were a mixed-bag of reviews, with its Charger improving to “better than average,” its Grand Caravan remaining squarely in the middle, and its Durango, Journey, and Challenger all struggling to make the grade.

All together, the motley crew averaged a rating of 40 out of 100 for Dodge, putting the company at 21st place on the list.


Even some noted improvements in the line weren’t enough to help the classic American adventure vehicle company, which dropped two places overall from 2017.

The Grand Cherokee and Renegade models both rose in the rankings for Jeep, each now earning middling scores. The Cherokee and Compass both continued to suffer, though, with below-average showings.

All told, Jeep’s four models had a collective rate of 40 out of 100.


At 23rd overall, Chevrolet sunk five slots from last year’s posting, with its 16 models pulling just an average reliability rating of 39 out of 100.

The biggest culprit was the recently redesigned Traverse, which shared the same faulty transmission issues that brought Buick’s Enclave down, as well as buggy infotainment screens.

Even the newly-acquired average-or-better ratings of the redesigned Equinox, Suburban, Tahoe, and Bolt were not enough to bump this company higher up the list.



The Detroit stalwart tumbled seven spots from last year’s ranking. Coming in at 24th overall this time around, Consumer Reports gave Chrysler a collective rating of 38 out of 100.

To be fair, Chrysler only had two entrants in the survey—its Pacifica minivan and 300. However, both racked up a fair amount of problems with consumers, including the familiar rash of transmission issues and sticky display screens. Owners also found fault with the models’ radio and navigation abilities.


GMC jumped one spot from last year’s survey to 25th, thanks in part to strong showings from its Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL—all of which earned average or better-than-average results.

But the Acadia SUV was its apparent undoing, with power equipment and infotainment center problems bad enough to come in far below average. And as the carmaker’s lowest-ranked vehicle this year, the Sierra 2500 HD fared even worse.

All told, the company’s eight models pulled in a reliability rating of 37 out of 100.


The truck company dropped one slot this year to 26th overall, with an average reliability rating of 34 out of 100.

Its three entrants this year—the 1500, 2500, and 3500—peaked at “average” reliability, with the most-recent offer, the 3500, coming in below average and faring the worst of all.


All number of glitches came back to haunt the Silicon Valley company’s Model 3, Model S, and Model X this year, with owners reporting issues with everything from the cars’ suspension to their door handles.

The Model X made the worst showing, thanks to additional problems with its doors and center display screen, though the Model S also fell to a “below average” rating this year, leading to an overall rating of 32 out of 100 for Tesla.


This luxury brand barely escaped landing in the list’s basement, with only Volvo receiving a worse overall score.

Only one of the GM subsidiary’s six entrants this year—the XTS sedan—came in above average, with the rest of its offerings staying well below. This was thanks to reported issues with rough shifting and in-car electronics, among others.

Overall, the faulty performances left Cadillac with an average reliability rating this year of just 32 out of 100.

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