In addition to performance and appearance, the reliability of a car is probably the most important factor when it comes to committing to a vehicle for many years through a purchase. Large-scale studies by independent organizations such as “Consumer Reports” are therefore an important decision-making aid for potential buyers. Especially when it comes to electric vehicles, whether Tesla, Ford or Audi, many interested parties are very concerned about longevity.

For this year’s report, US consumer advocates looked at data from 330,000 vehicles from 2000 to 2023. The report is based on a survey of Consumer Reports members asking them about problems and complaints with their cars over the past twelve months. The organization then draws a comprehensive picture based on the current answers, results from the last few years and numerous in-house tests.

“Consumer Reports” excludes brands for which there is insufficient data after the survey has been completed. This year it hit Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lucid, Maserati, Mitsubishi and Polestar.

Not surprisingly, the proportion of electric cars is increasing every year – and is gradually making it possible to make statements about their reliability. This was unknown territory for many models not long ago, but it still is for many brands – see Lucid.

However, “Consumer Reports” does not always have good things to say about the electric cars that are on the road frequently enough. Accordingly, new electric vehicles have, on average, 79 percent more problems than combustion engines. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) fare even worse, with an average of 146 percent more problems. There is only good news for hybrids: on average, the tested vehicles had 26 percent fewer problems than petrol or diesel vehicles.

Consumer Reports explains the anomalies as follows: “Electric cars are still in their infancy as mainstream vehicles, so it’s not surprising that manufacturers are largely still working through some issues,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of Auto Testing at “Consumer Reports”. “Nevertheless, we see signs of development in the right direction.”

Fisher then offers perhaps the most important tip for new vehicle buyers: “As our data has shown time and time again, consumers who value reliability are best served by foregoing brand-new vehicles in their first model year.”

The problems that cause driver frustration with electric vehicles are hardly surprising. Most often it is difficulties with charging or breakdowns related to the battery. But newer manufacturers, including Tesla, also have difficulties in the areas of body parts, paint and cladding as well as the air conditioning system. This also explains why plug-in hybrids have such shocking results: In addition to all the defects that can occur with combustion engines, the vehicles also have to contend with the problem areas of electric cars.

On the other hand, long-established companies tend to have problems with new technology – and the rest of the vehicle is naturally in a better position thanks to its long experience.

The report does not reveal what pure hybrids, which also combine both drives, do better. Fisher says: “The high reliability of hybrids is explained by the fact that hybrid technology is now over 25 years old and is mainly offered by the most reliable car manufacturers.”

A look at the most reliable cars makes it clear that individual manufacturers are responsible for the good results of hybrid vehicles: two models, the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Highlander, land at the top in “Consumer Reports”. The Toyota SUV 4Runner takes first place among the most reliable vehicle models.

Toyota is not alone with good results: seven of the ten most reliable manufacturers come from Asia, according to “Consumer Reports”. Lexus and Toyota are at the top, the Honda brand Acura takes fourth place, Honda follows in fifth place, followed by Subaru and Mazda and Kia in 10th place.

There is little room for other manufacturers. BMW subsidiary Mini took third place, Porsche landed in eighth place and BMW qualified for ninth place.

Tesla, the most valuable car manufacturer in the world, came in 14th place. “Consumer Reports” attests that the Model 3 and Model Y have “average reliability” – which is a positive. Elon Musk’s group’s cut is reduced by the expensive Models S and X.

In the last of 30 places there are two original German brands. Volkswagen only made it to 27th place, Mercedes-Benz ended up in 29th place. Chrysler brought up the rear, also in terms of individual placements. The Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid came in last this year.

However, the results for Volkswagen in particular are not very meaningful for Germany, because among the models that are also responsible for the rating, there are several vehicles – the Atlas, Jetta and Taos – that are not even on the market in this country.

The survey results regarding problems with charging electric vehicles should also be viewed with caution, as they are exclusively American impressions – the infrastructure in the States is rather unreliable and therefore probably not comparable to experiences here.

The trade magazine “Auto Bild” recently published how well young used cars perform in the TÜV test – Tesla in particular did not fare well at the German testing authorities (you can find out more here).

Quelle: Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports [2]