2017 is on its way out, which means two things in the automotive world. First, dealers are scrambling to get ’17 models off the lots as they make room for 2018 models. But for car buyers, it means that Consumer Reports now has enough data on the ’17s to gauge short-term quality and reliability. And that means it generally has enough information to predict how the brand new 2018 models will fare.
On a scale of one-to-100, Consumer Reports pours over its car reliability data from the previous few years (as well as customer input) and makes an educated guess on how quality will be in new models. The good news is that the bad old days are over. Even the worst new cars don’t compare to the doldrums of the 1970s, or even the slump that was the 2000s. Of the 10 most reliable brands going into 2018, three had reliability scores of 59 (the average is between 41 and 60), two had scores of 60. The top five scored 62, 68, 71, 77, and 80 respectively. Want to know what the most reliable car brands are going into 2018? Here they are.
The normalization of Korean cars continues in a big way into 2017, as Hyundai remains one of the 10 most reliable automakers sold in the U.S. The brand fell three spots compared to 2016, but that’s likely due to the phasing out of older models and the launch of several facelifted ones. Its most reliable model is the compact Elantra. The least reliable member of the Hyundai stable is the Tucson crossover.
After years of making numb, boring cars, Honda has finally found its groove again. Honda moves up to the nine spot for 2017, up from rounding out the top 10 a year ago. Its least reliable vehicle is the Pilot-based Ridgeline pickup. Its most reliable is the wildly popular CRV crossover.
Buick has the distinction of being the highest-scoring American automaker out there. Still, the brand has fallen a full five spots since 2016. The crossover-heavy brand’s most reliable model is the popular compact crossover Encore. Its least reliable? The new-for-2017 LaCrosse sedan, which has had its share of teething problems.
Coming in at number 11, Nissan just missed the mark, according to consumers. But its luxury brand, Infiniti, has some of the happiest customers out there. Moving up from the number eight spot in 2016, Infiniti’s improving quality and increasingly engaging, good-looking models make it a standout. Its least reliable model is the Q50 sport sedan. Its most reliable is the bigger, more luxurious Q70.
For the past few years now, Subaru has been selling cars about as fast as it can build them. With a reputation for safety, affordability, and value, it’s gone from a cult brand to mass-market in the span of a few years. Subaru jumped a full six spots in 2017, cracking the middle of Consumer Reports‘ top 10 list. It least reliable model is the strong-selling Impreza. Its most reliable? Surprisingly, it’s the cult favorite BRZ sports car.
Bringing us into the top five, BMW is making a strong argument for that famous “German reliability” stereotype. The “Ultimate Driving Machine” brand climbed six spots for 2017. Its least reliable model is its novel i3 electric subcompact. Its most reliable is the sporty 2 Series.
In the past, Audi didn’t have the best reputation for reliability. In 2017, that’s a thing of the past. Audi has held onto fourth place for the second year in a row, on the strength of its well-built, tech-laden cars, crossovers, and SUVs. Its least reliable model? The temperamental but beautiful (and fast) A7 liftback sedan. Its most reliable is the popular Q3 crossover.
Hyundai and Kia may be corporate cousins, but in the real world, they’re bitter rivals. And in terms of reliability, Kia is beating the pants off of its rival. The brand has jumped two spots in 2017, on the strength of its sporty, well-built model lineup. Its least reliable model is the Sportage crossover. Surprisingly, its most reliable is the all-new Niro hybrid.
Since it launched in 1989, Lexus’ main goal has been to out-engineer and out-luxury the luxury market. Nearly 30 years on, it’s still at it. For 2017, Toyota’s luxury brand has fallen one spot, but that’s still enough to earn the silver here. Its least reliable model (remember “least reliable” is relative here) is the GX crossover. Its most reliable is the ES luxury sedan.
Lexus may have lost the top spot, but really, it just switched positions with its parent company. Toyota is known for its almost appliance-like reliability, and for 2017, it’s paid off handsomely. Toyota’s least reliable model is the freshly-redesigned Tacoma, which is still plagued by teething problems. Its most reliable is the 86, a cousin of the Subaru BRZ, and the one model that’s kept Toyota from getting too boring over the past few years.