Lexus, Mazda, Toyota tops in 2021 Consumer Reports reliability study
Buick and Mini were the only non-Asian automakers to make the top ten spots
Lexus is tops for reliability, with Mazda and Toyota right behind, according to the 2021 Auto Reliability Data report from Consumer Reports. Eight Asian automakers hit the top ten, along with Buick and Mini.
The report also found that hybrids and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles are among the most reliable models, despite their complexity; but the electronics in high-end electric SUVs were among the least reliable. Meanwhile, some Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, and Toyota models continue to have issues with their technologically-advanced transmissions.
The report is based on data collected from Consumer Reports (CR) members, covering more than 300,000 vehicles. The company said vehicle owners reported everything from transmissions that required replacement after just 5,000 miles (8,046 km); to misaligned tailgates and doors; or infotainment screens with hardware problems. In addition to the owner surveys, each vehicle’s overall score also includes its road-test performance, crash-test results, and whether it can be optioned with key active safety systems.
Mazda fell to second place from last year’s top spot, mostly due to the Mazda3, which CR said has “average” predicted reliability due to issues with its climate system and in-car electronics. CR said Mazda has a “conservative design approach” to sharing platforms and components, “which helps it to produce reliable vehicles overall.” It also sticks with its six-speed automatic transmission, “while other automakers use more complex ones with eight or nine ratios or continuously variable transmissions [CVTs], some of which have proven troublesome.”
In addition to Lexus’ top spot, its GX sport-utility was also the most reliable new vehicle overall. The UX is its only “average reliability” model. Toyota had only one below-average vehicle, the Corolla Hatchback, due to respondents citing transmissions needing replacement or rebuilding. The RAV4, Tacoma, and redesigned Sienna were rated average, but the RAV4 Prime and redesigned Venza are well above average.
Infiniti ranked fourth, moving up six spots as its QX50 improved to average. Buick came in fifth, with the Encore and Envision well-above-average, and the Encore GX above-average, but the Enclave fell to “below average” due to transmission and drive system issues, and electronic screens that went blank.
Sixth place went to Honda, with the Insight well-above-average and CR-V, Accord, and Ridgeline all above-average; the Passport and Odyssey improved, but owners still report infotainment systems freezing up, and problems with the Odyssey’s sliding doors. Subaru was seventh, with the Crosstrek well-above-average; and Legacy, Impreza, and Forester above-average, but the Ascent has “subpar” reliability.
Acura was eighth, with the redesigned TLX and MDX above-average, while the RDX improved from below-average to average. Nissan took ninth place, mostly because of impressive reliability of older models. Mini hit the tenth spot; it only has two models, but the Cooper Countryman showed “outstanding reliability.”
While only one domestic brand made the top ten, individual domestic models scored high. Some of the top category winners were: