Reliability is many consumers’ main concern when shopping for a vehicle. Nobody wants to make a huge investment in a new ride, only to waste money on repairs because parts are constantly giving out. Plus, a car’s dependability can tell prospective owners a great deal about its safety. It can be unnerving to drive a vehicle that could break down at any moment.
Buick has recently taken reliability more seriously than ever in its latest models, and it shows in the brand’s most recent rankings from a well-respected consumer site.
Read on to learn more about Buick’s significantly improved score and why that actually might be misleading.
How does Consumer Reports decide which brands are most reliable?
Consumer Reports compiles and analyzes tons of data on numerous models’ safety and reliability. CR uses data collected from thousands of vehicle owners to calculate a make’s predicted reliability score, ranging from 0 to 100. Most vehicles score between 40 and 60 for reliability, but those that score higher than average sit toward the top of Consumer Reports’ list of the most reliable brands.
For a brand to be considered for this reliability score, Consumer Reports must have sufficient data on at least two models to generate an average across the brand. Sufficient data includes surveys and reports from several years. Some reliability scores use data from the years 2000 to 2020, when available, to give a comprehensive picture of what to expect.
The reliability trend
According to Consumer Reports, Toyota, Mazda, and Lexus regularly produce the most reliable vehicles, and they continue this trend in 2021. On the other hand, Ford and Kia are not as well known for reliability, and their CR rankings show significant drops this year too. According to these rankings, Lincoln is having the worst year, ending up at the bottom of the list after falling 11 spots since last year.
But Buick had the most significant gain by far in its 2021 reliability ranking. It has climbed from 18th all the way to the fourth spot.
Buick’s significant reliability gains in 2021 might be misleading
This is excellent news for Buick as a brand. But at the same time, this jump comes with a significant caveat. As mentioned earlier, Consumer Reports places brands on its ratings only if it has data for at least two models. And Consumer Reports had only two Buick models to judge. Other brands, including Mazda, Honda, and Toyota, had many more cars factored into their scores.
The main reason for Buick’s significant jump comes from the drastic improvements the brand has made to its Encore. From 2014 to 2017, the subcompact crossover SUV received abysmal reliability scores, but Buick turned it around in 2018. Since that model year, the Encore has earned a five out of five from Consumer Reports for reliability, leading to an overall score of 91 in this category in 2021.
The only other Buick model analyzed, the 2021 Enclave, scored a mediocre 50 for reliability. Yet, when averaging the Enclave’s and the Encore’s scores, Buick overall earns a higher score than other brands. Honda’s score had several cars factored in, some of which scored higher than average for reliability and a few that scored lower. But Honda’s average place it lower than Buick.
But is it fair to compare data on two cars from one brand to five or more from other brands? Probably not.
Making the top five is still a big deal
Still, Buick’s 14-spot leapfrog is a big deal for the brand. Ranking in the top five from a well-respected organization such as Consumer Reports bodes well for marketing campaigns and prospective sales figures.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether Buick can continue this trend with the Encore and improve several other models’ reliability.