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With the slew of new EVs flooding the new car market, the three rated the most reliable by Consumer Reports will surprise you, and all for different reasons. CR found the three most reliable to be the Nissan Leaf in third, Tesla Model 3 in second, and number one going to the all-new Kia EV6. So why are these surprising?

Why is the reliability picks for these EVs surprising?

Front angle view of silver 2023 Kia EV6 electric car, most reliable Kia according to Consumer Reports owner surveys
2023 Kia EV6 | Kia

With the Nissan Leaf, it is considered the first production EV available. And though Nissan has tweaked it over the years, with a major restyle in 2017, it has remained relatively the same. And maybe that’s why it made the top three. The company has had all these years to get it right. 

For the Tesla Model 3, we’re a bit surprised because of Tesla’s ongoing quality issues. But those quality issues are due more to fit and finish problems, apparently. The basic components and engineering are proving to hold up well. And it too may benefit from how many have been sold since it debuted in 2017.

Two of these EVs are older designs and one is brand-new

Rear angle view of blue Tesla Model 3, highlighting why it’s called 3 and connection to Elon Musk and S3XY
Tesla Model 3 | Tesla

But there have still been problems for some of Tesla’s other models that continue to plague owners. Forums paint a checkered image of Model Y issues that include paint and trim, but also problems with suspensions. And the Model S and Model X air suspension systems, which the Model Y doesn’t have, have seen reliability issues as well. 

What’s surprising about the Kia EV6 making it to the list, and at number one no less, is just the opposite of the Model 3 and Leaf. It is a brand-new design, and Kia’s first EV ever. Teething problems, especially with completely new technology, can be an issue with some cars. We’ve seen that with both Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and Chevy’s Bolt EV. But not so with Kia’s EV6. 

It is expected that Kia will sell 80,000 EV6 cars in this, its first year. As EV adoption is slowly ramping up, these are strong numbers to start out. For comparison, in its first two years, the Mustang Mach-E will wind up selling fewer than 70,000 EVs. So the EV6 will beat that number in its first year of production. 

Are these EVs as reliable as gas-powered vehicles?

A Nissan LEAF is an affordable EV alternative to a Tesla car.
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

Only 1 Electric Car Is No Longer a Top Choice

While all of these manufacturers should be pretty happy with the results, Consumer Reports also throws a wrench into their celebration. It notes that, while these three EVs are the best of the best in terms of reliability, they’re not as reliable as their gas-powered counterparts. That too can be chalked up to mostly dialing in the combustion engine platform over the decades. Even with the proliferation of electronics thrown into them. 

The EV line has been that they’re cheaper to own and operate. One reason given is that they use fewer parts, so there is less to go wrong. In theory, that is true. But EV owners are having problems with systems rather than components. CR says owners surveyed complain of charging, battery pack, and heating and cooling system problems. 

If you’re looking at both reliability and price, then the Leaf offers more for less. The long-range Leaf starts at $36,000, compared to both the Model 3 and EV6 starting to nudge $50,000. Granted, buyers get more with the Kia and Tesla. But a loaded Leaf, which sells for $37,500, offers plenty for $13,000 to $16,000 less.