Curbside Newsstand: American Pickup Trucks, Newly Redesigned Models Stumble In Consumer Reports’ 2019 Reliability Survey

Four CR Cars

Consumer Reports recently released its annual reliability survey. As always, newly introduced models performed poorly while older vehicles did well. There were some exceptions to that rule though. Some recent debuts continue to vex the automakers that produce them. Other manufacturers managed to launch new vehicles without any hitches. In any event, the publication’s survey definitely had some surprises worth talking about.

Generally speaking, full size pickup trucks scored poorly on the survey. And it wasn’t just American automakers that produced problematic vehicles. But let’s talk about the Big Three’s truck showing first. The Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500 all scored below average. While the Chevy and Ram are brand new models, the F-150 is at the tail end of its current run, having been introduced in 2015. Ford’s full-size is currently dealing with issues related to the transmission, engine, body, and four-wheel drive system. Chevy and Ram trucks experienced problems with their entertainment systems. Additionally, the Ram had braking issues and the Chevy’s driveshaft suffered from excessive vibration.

You can single out pretty much any truck in the full-size segment and say basically the same things about them. Reliability is average at best across the spectrum, but owner satisfaction is high and most people would buy the same truck again if given the chance. The only exception is the Toyota Tundra, which has above average reliability. Mid-size trucks fared similarly. The Honda Ridgeline and Ford Ranger posted average and better than average reliability, respectively. The Tacoma finally reached average in the rankings after several years on the market. Everything else scored below average.

All automakers suffer from first year quality woes, with minor exceptions. Redesigned models like the Rav4 and Mazda 3 dropped to average reliability. Same goes for the new Santa Fe. Honda’s new models haven’t fared nearly as well. Out of the thirty automakers evaluated, Acura is third from last, with the new RDX doing extremely poorly. Honda’s Passport started its first year with well below average reliability despite almost literally being a Pilot with some of its rear end chopped off. What’s the deal? HVAC problems plague the new crossover for some reason.

Notably, the 2019 Nissan Altima and 2019 Porsche Cayenne offered above average reliability despite both being brand new. That Nissan succeeded in properly launching the Altima is a bit of a surprise, as the company simultaneously introduced all-wheel drive and a variable compression engine into the lineup for the first time ever. Porsche has been in the top five most reliable brands for quite some time, so their performance was pretty much expected.

And of course there’s the models that perpetually suffer from maladies. The Atlas and Tiguan suffer from numerous issues despite being on the market for well over a year. The Volvo XC90 and S90 rated below average, with the former having brake issues, among other things. Volvo’s smaller cars were average or better though. Additionally, the Honda Odyssey still suffers from issues with its sliding doors and infotainment system.

Overall, the 2019 report pretty much reaffirms the common assumption that automakers need time to suss out the bugs in their newer models. Sometimes that extends beyond a single model year. The Japanese and Koreans continue to perform well while American and European companies remain uneven at best. Tesla earned average ratings for the Model 3 and Model S. The Model X continues to be a disaster for the company because of the falcon wing doors.

Next year’s report will most likely feature some juicy tidbits, like how some newly introduced three-rows performed in their first year. We’ll also see if Ford launched the 2020 Escape and Corsair without any hitches and if they were able to overcome their initial issues with the 2020 Explorer and Aviator.

2019 Most Reliable Brands:

1. Lexus

2. Mazda

3. Toyota

4. Porsche

2019 Least Reliable Brands:

27. Volkswagen

28. Acura

29. Alfa Romeo

30. Cadillac

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Consumer Reports 2017 Predicted Reliability Survey