Consumer Reports Gives These Kind of Models the Wait to Buy Label

When you buy something new, you expect it to work. Vehicles are no different. Especially with pickup trucks—whether on a job site or in the ‘burbs, people depend on reliable trucks. But designing and building a car or truck isn’t easy. And sometimes, problems show up; some minor, some catastrophic. Especially in brand-new, redesigned models. That’s why, in a recent report, Consumer Reports recommend waiting until the final years of a car or truck’s model run before buying it.

Redesign: what it actually means

Automotive ads throw around words like ‘all-new’, ‘refreshed, and ‘redesigned’ so often, they’re at risk of losing all meaning. Fortunately, Consumer Reports breaks the definitions down.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept | Hyundai

An ‘all-new’ vehicle is one that’s never been produced before or a reintroduction after years off-market. Some parts may be borrowed from other cars or trucks, but the model itself is completely new. For instance, when the Hyundai Santa Cruz debuts, it’ll be an all-new truck.

COLMA, CA - APRIL 26:  Ford F-150 pickup trucks parked on the lot at the Serramonte Ford dealership on April 26, 2011 in Colma, California.  (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
COLMA, CA – APRIL 26: Ford F-150 pickup trucks parked on the lot at the Serramonte Ford dealership on April 26, 2011 in Colma, California. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

A redesigned model, on the other hand, is an extensive update of an existing vehicle. Think of it as a smartphone OS update. A good example of this is the 2011 Ford F-150’s switch to aluminum.

2020 Nissan Titan | Nissan-00
2020 Nissan Titan | Nissan

And finally, there’s ‘refresh’. This is more equivalent to a video game patch: components or styling might get revised, but the vehicle’s bones stay the same. Such is the case with the updated 2020 Nissan Titan.

Although newer trucks offer several improvements over older models, especially when it comes to safety, they’re often troubled by reliability issues. At least, at first.

Why redesigns hurt reliability

Consumer Reports, in a recent article, explained why consumers should wait for a few model years before buying a redesigned vehicle.

In redesigns, manufacturers are introducing a number of new features. Especially if the redesign is extensive, that means a lot of new systems and components are being installed, which increases the odds of glitches or malfunctions. Automakers test their vehicles extensively on both test tracks and real-world roads in an effort to prevent this, but they don’t always catch everything.

However, once a model has been out for a few years, manufacturers have had time to iron out all the kinks. Production quality improves, different parts or materials are sourced, and so on. In general, Consumer Reports recommends waiting for at least 2-3 years before buying a redesigned vehicle.

Trucks that prove the rule

2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 | GM
2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 | GM

In the article, Consumer Reports specifically mention the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500. Following their 2019 redesign, owners of these trucks reported rough-shifting transmissions and infotainment systems that would crash suddenly. Car and Driver noted the transmission issue, as well.

Honda Ridgeline Black Edition
Honda Ridgeline Black Edition | Honda

Not even high-selling or well-regarded trucks are immune. Perhaps the best example is the Toyota Tacoma: its 2016 redesign was so poorly received, 2013-2015 models sold for higher prices than the new ones. The newly-redesigned Ram 1500, too, has had issues, with both its brakes and electronics. And the redesigned Honda Ridgeline had a fuel system problem that took several years to resolve.

But, not every redesigned truck got the Consumer Reports wait to buy label.

Truck exceptions

2019 Toyota Tundra
2019 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

Although the Toyota Tundra hasn’t been redesigned since 2007, the model years immediately following didn’t change in overall reliability. CR ranked both the 2007 and 2008 models as above-average.

2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock Mojave Sand
2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock Mojave Sand | FCA

There are also two more truck models that don’t suffer the redesign reliability issue, although with an asterisk. The Ram 1500 Classic, for instance, is technically the pre-2018 Ram 1500 sold as a separate model. So, it’s a redesign compared to the newer Ram. But, because the Classic is a continuation of a several-year-old design, Ram has had the time to address several reliability issues.

2019 Ford Ranger
2019 Ford Ranger | Ford

The other technicality is the Ford Ranger. Ford had sold a Ranger pickup in the US before, but it was dropped after 2011. You’d think, then, that the current Ranger would be called “all-new.” However, the Ranger kept being produced and updated elsewhere in the world. The Ranger on sale in the US now is actually a design that’s been produced for several years. This is why we haven’t received the current Ranger Raptor in the US. But, all this means the current Ford Ranger is technically a redesigned pickup that hasn’t suffered post-redesign reliability issues.