Buick Becomes First U.S. Brand to Crack Consumer Reports Top 3

Buick Becomes First U.S. Brand to Crack Consumer Reports Top 3

Although Asian brands continue to dominate this year's survey, Buick has become the first domestic brand in more than three decades to earn a place in the top three most reliable brands.

While Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand finished first and second in the survey respectively, the big news is the brand that finished third - Buick.

Perhaps the most notable shift involves Buick, which elevated from the seventh spot to the top three. The General Motors brand was just ahead of Audi, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, Infiniti, BMW and Honda.

Four Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV brands (Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat and Ram) finished in the bottom four spots in this year's rankings and among the less reliable brands, with Ram finishing last. Consumer Reports attributes Buick's superior reliability to a line up consisting of mature models that have had many of its kinks worked out over the past few years. All nine Lexus models CR rated had better-than-average reliability, as would have Toyota, had it not been for the below average score of the redesigned 2016 Tacoma pickup truck.

Honda's popular Civic sedan scored much-worse-than-average on reliability because of problems with its power equipment and infotainment systems, Consumer Reports said.

As a result, Tesla ranks among the "Less Reliable" brands on Consumer Reports' list. "One reason why the brand has been able to leapfrog others in the General Motors' stable has been its limited vehicle lineup - with none of the pickups and truck-based SUVs that have negatively impacted Cadillac and Chevrolet". But its Model X sport utility vehicle wasn't recommended because of multiple issues, including problems with the electronic controls on its 17-inch dashboard screen and failures of its falcon-winged doors, said Jake Fisher, the magazine's director of automotive testing.

Most domestic brands continued to have problems, though Chevrolet and Ford are considered among the reliable brands in the survey.

Fisher said GM has been improving its cars and small SUVs for several years now.

GM's Chevrolet was the second-highest USA brand, moving up five places from a year ago to 15th.

GM's Chevrolet brand was the only other US brand to crack the top 15, moving up five spots from past year to No. 15 as it was helped by the 2016 Cruze, the most reliable compact. The older QX50 SUV and Q70 sedan had top scores, but the newer QX60 SUV and Q50 sedan were below average.

It did move the Model S from worse-than-average to average reliability.

Consumer Reports is not a big fan of autonomous driving systems, at least as they are being marketed by carmakers. Tesla's electric-drive system is reliable, but the brand loses points for fancy features, such as power door handles that pop out from the side of the auto, touchscreen controls and the Model X's falcon-wing doors.

"The problem with Tesla has always been the gimmicks", he said.

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