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Kia tops Tesla in Consumer Reports' reliability tests

Posted October 25, 2017 4:50 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2017 6:07 p.m. EDT

Consumer Reports examined models from 27 brands for its annual vehicle reliability survey.

Toyota, Lexus and Kia topped this year's list, while Ram, GMC and Cadillac ranked at the bottom.

While a new or redesigned model sounds good, the survey of more than 640,000 vehicles shows it's sometimes better to wait until the kinks are worked out. Redesigned models are more likely to have wonky engines, jerky transmissions or high-tech features that simply fail," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' auto expert.

"Problems often arise when new technologies are added to today's cars. Owners report problems ranging from poor shifting to complete transmission failure," Fisher said.

The Buick LaCrosse, the GMC Acadia and the Subaru Impreza had the biggest growing pains among redesigned models.

Vehicle infotainment systems were another trouble spot.

"People actually reported twice as many problems on infotainment systems on vehicles that were new or redesigned as opposed to vehicles that were largely carry-overs from the previous year," Fisher said.

For example, the Subaru Impreza was rated "very reliable" in 2016, but owners of 2017 Imprezas report the rear-view camera freezes, poor radio reception and problems pairing their smartphones.

The all-electric Tesla Model X SUV ranked last in reliability among all models tested by Consumer Reports because of problems with its falcon-wing doors, climate system, body hardware and paint and trim.

Meanwhile, the Kia Niro, the Subaru BRZ, the Toyota 86 and the Lexus ES scored highest in reliability.

In the category scoring highest among 2018 models, compact hybrids and electric cars, four of the top five were different Toyota Prius models.

SUVs surpassed traditional sedans in sales last year. The Toyota RAV4 topped the reliability list among small SUVs for the second year in a row, while the Hyundai Tucson was at the bottom of that category.