When shopping for a new car, consumers look for reliability


Consumer Reports, a non-government organization based in New York state, is recognized worldwide for its comprehensive independent automobile testing program and reliability data.

What sets Consumer Reports apart from other auto publications and websites is that they provide detailed reliability histories and predict which models are most likely to be trouble-free or trouble-prone, based on subscribers’ experiences with more than 640,000 vehicles reported in the latest Annual Auto Survey.

Consumer Reports lets its readers make an informed buying decision based not only on reliability data, but also on more than 50 individual tests and evaluations at their 132-hectare Auto Test Center and on public roads.

Unlike other magazines and websites, Consumer Reports buys the vehicles they test. They do not borrow units from an automaker’s press fleet.

Since Consumer Reports does not accept outside advertising, they can be trusted to tell it like it is, without pulling any punches or glossing over shortcomings that might upset auto manufacturers and other big advertisers.

In its New Cars January 2018 issue, Consumer Reports says that their newest survey of 640,000 vehicles reveals that all-new or updated models are more likely than older ones to have a troublesome engine, a jerky transmission or high-tech features that fail outright.

New tech problems

These problems often arise when automakers incorporate new technologies in their cars. For example, over the past decade, automakers have embraced new transmission technologies in an effort to improve fuel economy.

As more eight- and nine-speed and continuously variable transmissions hit the market, many owners have reported their breaking down or shifting badly, especially in first-year models that feature them, Consumer Reports avers.

The survey revealed that infotainment systems are another trouble spot in new or newly redesigned models. It showed that owners of first-year models had twice as many complaints about in-car electronics than models that had no major changes.

Problems reported include the rear view camera freezing or having a blank screen, no radio reception, difficulties pairing to a smartphone and troublesome power equipment, drive system, fuel and emission systems, brakes, noises and leaks.

Growing pains

Entirely new models tend to experience more growing pains than models that have been updated or refreshed since they usually have many more unproven components and engineering approaches.

It can take automakers a couple of years to solve these glitches once these cars are on the road.

With all the technology and testing available to automakers, why can’t they work out more of the bugs before they roll out a new model?

The director of auto testing at Consumer Reports says that car companies test their prototype vehicles, but mass production and a wide range of real-life driving scenarios multiply the number and nature of problems that can arise in a new model.

Asian brands score high

Consumer Reports New Cars January 2018 claims that grouped by their traditional regions, the average reliability score for all the Asian brands is 64, Europe is 50 and Detroit’s Big Three and Tesla come in at 38.

Consumer Reports scrutinized the 2017 reliability data to see how the numbers compared to their 2016 survey findings.

The brand-level rankings are based on the average Predicted Reliability Score for each brand’s model lineup.

10 most reliable

The magazine listed 27 brands that are sold in North America, some of which are not available locally.

The brands sold in the Philippines that made it to the Top Ten Most Reliable list are listed in the table on this page.

Please note that models sold in North America have different specs from those sold here.

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