Consumer Reports’ least reliable car brands

It just takes one or more models from an automaker to bring down the reliability ratings. I have a Fusion and it received excellent ratings, but it cannot be said the same for Ford’s other models. Maybe 2013 Fusion and Escape will change things? We have to wait and see. Surprising to see some in this list.

10. BMW

2008 BMW 335i Coupe // 2008 BMW 335i Coupe (Photo: BMW)

Photo: BMW

2008 BMW 335i Coupe

Reliability: 10% worse than average

In the auto world, you can count on Japanese cars; of the 91 Japanese models studied by Consumer Reports, 87 (96 per cent) were considered average or better in reliability. By contrast, Euro car makers can’t boast quite the same. Of the 58 European models surveyed, including 12 from BMW, just 37 (64 per cent) score average or better in their reliability scores. The Germany-based BMW isn’t the least dependable European brand by Consumer Reports‘ measure, but it’s eight spots lower on the list than the continent’s most reliable car maker, Volvo.

9. Ford

2011 Ford Fiesta SES // 2011 Ford Fiesta SES (Photo: Ford)

Photo: Ford

2011 Ford Fiesta SES

Reliability: 11% worse than average

From 2010 to 2011, several notable car brands freefell in Consumer Reports‘ reliability rankings, and Ford is regrettably near the front of the pack. This year, Ford dropped ten spots on this survey’s list, the biggest dip for any domestic car and second-largest of all 28 car makers surveyed. What happened? According to Consumer Reports, Ford’s plummet can be attributed to three new or redesigned models — the Explorer, Fiesta and Focus — that were scored below average in reliability during their first year on the road.

8. Dodge

2009 Dodge Caliber SXT // 2009 Dodge Caliber SXT (Photo: Dodge)

Photo: Dodge

2009 Dodge Caliber SXT

Reliability: 14% worse than average

Remarkably, while this bottom 10 is packed with North American and European brands, at least the local car makers have been able to hang with their Euro counterparts. In spite of a nasty rep in the wake of their government-assisted bailouts, 62 of the 97 domestic models (64 per cent) surveyed by Consumer Reports were rated average or better in terms of dependability, the same reliability percentage as brands based in Europe.

7. GMC

2009 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE // 2009 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE (Photo: GMC)

Photo: GMC

2009 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE

Reliability: 18% worse than average

Consumer Reports polled drivers of 13 GMC models in its survey, so it’s fair to deduce the auto maker’s cars can lay claim to a wide variety of reliability scores. Yet two GMC models stand out, according to Consumer Reports, for better or worse. Under the watchdog agency’s “newly recommended” column sits the GMC Terrain, which receives a favourable dependability review. By contrast, drivers may want to avoid the Sierra 1500 pickup, which Consumer Reports says has declined in reliability from last year’s survey.

6. Mini

2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman // 2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman (Photo: Mini)

Photo: Mini

2009 Mini Cooper S Clubman

Reliability: 22% worse than average

Motorists interested in Minis may want to target two of the car maker’s models — yet avoid another altogether. According to Consumer Reports, the Mini Cooper Convertible has improved reliability this year, and the Cooper Hatchback is the auto brand’s most dependable car, with a reliability score about 15 per cent better than the average car. The Cooper Clubman S, however, may be the dud in the bunch. The baby wagon, first released in 2008, is nearly 90 per cent less reliable than the average car, according to the auto survey. The inconsistency is confusing, given that all three models roll off the same assembly line.

5. Buick

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS // 2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS (Photo: Buick)

Photo: Buick

2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS

Reliability: 27% worse than average

Buick isn’t the least reliable North American auto maker, but it may very well be next year. According to Consumer Reports, just one North American car brand is considered less dependable in 2011 than Buick, which has seen two of its top models decline significantly in perceived reliability. The Enclave (AWD) and LaCrosse (FWD) all were rated less reliable in 2011 than their 2010 versions. In the vernacular of Consumer Reports, these models are “no longer recommended.”

4. Cadillac

2011 Cadillac SRX Premium // 2011 Cadillac SRX Premium (Photo: Cadillac)

Photo: Cadillac

2011 Cadillac SRX Premium

Reliability: 31% worse than average

That least dependable North American brand? That would be Cadillac, which plummeted six spots from its ranking on last year’s Consumer Reports auto survey. The Escalade, arguably the car maker’s most popular model, owns the distinction of being Cadillac’s lowest-rated vehicle for reliability, scoring some 70 per cent less dependable than the average car. The SRX, however, while not as poorly ranked as the Escalade, has declined in reliability in 2011 and is no longer recommend by Consumer Reports.

3. Audi

2010 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro // 2010 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro (Photo: Audi)

Photo: Audi

2010 Audi Q5 3.2 quattro

Reliability: 32% worse than average

The final three cars on this list — are all based in Europe. And if it weren’t for the least reliable car surveyed by the least reliable car maker (you’ll read about later), it would be an Audi that is the lowest-rated model in terms of dependability this year. The Q5 (V6), according to Consumer Reports, is 140 per cent less reliable than the average car, a dubious score bested by only one vehicle in Consumer Reports‘ entire auto survey.

2. Porsche

2011 Porsche Cayenne S // 2011 Porsche Cayenne S (Photo: Porsche)

Photo: Porsche

2011 Porsche Cayenne S

Reliability: 52% worse than average

In 2010, Porsche was the second-highest rated car brand when it came to reliability. In 2011, it is the second-worst. So, what’s to blame for Porsche’s seismic 25 spot drop on this rankings list? According to Consumer Reports, it is the redesigned Cayenne SUV, which poll respondents said is more than 80 per cent less reliable than the average car, that is behind Porsche’s dependability freefall.

1. Jaguar

2010 Jaguar XF // 2010 Jaguar XF (Photo: Jaguar)

Photo: Jaguar

2010 Jaguar XF

Reliability: 154% worse than average

Talk about a drop-off. After covering so much ground in terms of quality and satisfaction of ownership, 2011’s dependability study shows how much more work is needed for the British luxury car maker. It’s more than 100 percentage points less reliable than the second-lowest ranked auto brand. In Jaguar’s defence, only two of its models were surveyed by Consumer Reports, but those two models — the XJ and XF — nonetheless received dependability scores of 150 and 160 per cent less reliable than the average car, respectively.


  1. further bus · September 14, 2014

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    • JoeyDavid · September 14, 2014

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