Tesla Ranked Near Bottom of Automaker Reliability List, Toyota, Lexus at Top

A Consumer Reports survey found that electric SUVs are among the least reliable vehicles, pushing companies like Tesla to the bottom of their reliability list.

Consumer Reports recently conducted their annual auto reliability survey. According to the Associated Press, subscribers to the magazine and website participated, representing over 300,000 car owners.

The survey found that electric SUVs like Tesla's Models X and Y, the Audi E-Tron and Volkswagen ID.4 were singled out as being unreliable, though not because of their electric power source. The newest electric vehicles are more prone to glitches in their electronics like climate controls.

The survey also found that gas-electric hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime were among the most reliable. The Lexus GX SUV was the most reliable in the survey. Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, told the AP Lexus is usually at the top of the survey because they are slower to roll out new features.

Fisher also said once the bugs are worked out in electric cars' features, they have the potential to become the most reliable vehicles.

"By having all of these new technologies saddled into these early adopter-mobiles, there are more problems associated with them," Fisher said.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below:

Tesla Model Y, electric car
Consumer Reports says electric SUVs generally are among the least reliable vehicles on the road, but it’s not because of the batteries or electric motors that power them. Above, a Tesla Model Y Long Range is displayed on February 24 at the Tesla Gallery in Troy, Michigan. Carlos Osorio, File/AP Photo

Overall, Japanese brands led by Lexus, Mazda, Toyota and Infiniti took eight of the top 10 spots in the reliability survey. General Motors' Buick brand finished fifth, and BMW's Mini was 10th.

Ford's Lincoln luxury brand finished last of 28 brands with Tesla, Jeep, Genesis and Volkswagen rounding out the bottom five.

The Lexus GX SUV was the most reliable model in the survey, followed by Kia's Niro electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, the Prius hybrid and the Cadillac XT5 sedan.

Least reliable were the Mercedes GLE, Ford Explorer, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, and the Chevrolet Corvette, according to the survey.

Fisher said owners are reporting more problems with complex eight-, nine- and 10-speed transmissions that are designed for fuel efficiency, especially among some Hyundai, Kia, Subaru and Toyota models.

Tesla, the world's leading electric vehicle brand, was ranked near the bottom for reliability due to reports of body hardware problems, water leaks, trunks not closing and missing weather stripping, Fisher said. There also were problems with a new heat pump system to heat the passenger compartment and defrost the windshield, he said. Tesla's Model 3 sedan, with average reliability, was the only model recommended by Consumer Reports.

Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, traditionally is at the top of the survey because it's really conservative when rolling out new engines, transmissions and technology, Fisher said. The brand, he said, was among the last to add Apple CarPlay to its vehicles, and it was slow to move toward eight-speed transmissions, he said.

Fisher said reliability is more important than ever now due to parts supply shortages to fix problems. "Buying a reliable vehicle can help ensure that you'll be able to hit the road when you need to, and not worry about getting stuck waiting on parts for repairs," he said.

The survey is used by Consumer Reports to predict reliability. It's based on overall reliability for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 model years, for vehicles that have not been redesigned.

Volkswagen ID.4, electric car
A Consumer Reports survey found electric SUVs are the least reliable vehicles due to their glitches in things like climate control. Above, a Volkswagen ID.4 electric car is seen being charged at the airport of the Aegean Sea island of Astypalea, Greece, for the official launch of a project to introduce and test electric vehicles and sustainable energy systems on June 2. Alexandros Vlachos/Pool via AP, File