While some manufacturers dropped their rankings from last year, others surged up the list and into the top five.
An annual survey ranking the most reliable car brands in the United States has crowned Mazda as the manufacturer with the best record in 2020.
Every year, Consumer Reports – an independent product testing and research agency – ranks car brands according to their reliability scores, which are ascertained via the agency’s own testing of at least two models in a manufacturers’ line-up.
“For a brand to be ranked, we must have sufficient survey data for two or more models,” Consumer Reports explained.
For 2020, Mazda topped the list with a reliability score of 83, up one point from last year, followed by Toyota in second place with 74 and Lexus in third place with a reliability score of 71 – a fall of two points compared with 2019.
Toyota’s standout models were the Prius and the Corolla, which received notably high reliability scores of 93 and 90 respectively, while Lexus’ UX and NX SUVs were the highlights of its line-up, scoring 95 and 91 respectively.
“Overall, Mazda’s new models are the most reliable of all brands currently,” Consumer Reports (CR) said, with its MX-5, CX-30, CX-3, CX-5 and Mazda 6 models all receiving a reliability score of 80 or above.
Rounding out the top five were Buick in third place and Honda in fifth place, both brands seeing a significant rise up the rankings from 2019 to 2020.
In particular, General Motors’ sub-brand Buick jumped 14 positions on the list in the past year thanks, in large part, to “not many problems in its small product line-up,” CR said.
Similarly, Honda raised its ranking by seven positions because of “steady improvements and some outstanding models in its line-up”, with CR citing standout models as being the Accord, CR-V, Odyssey and Ridgeline (a US-only pick-up model).
The rest of the top 10 most reliable brands in North America included Hyundai in sixth place, followed by Ram, Subaru, Porsche and Dodge closing out the top 10.
While they may not have cracked the top 10, certain brands saw a sharp rise in reliability for 2020, including BMW, Volvo, and Jeep, which CR said had all made “reliability improvements in some of their newer or redesigned models”.
“The BMW 3 Series and X5, and Volvo S60/V60 and XC40 performed well. Jeep’s new Gladiator was very reliable in its first year, and the Wrangler’s reliability improved,” CR wrote in its report.
Meanwhile, Ford and Kia experienced drops in their rankings. Kia’s decline was due to the introduction of a continuously variable transmission on two US-market models, the Forte and the Soul, while Ford’s was largely driven by issues with its Explorer SUV and redesigned Escape.
CR also said Audi’s performance had taken a hit despite retaining its 14th place ranking.
“Audi was hurt by the redesigned Q3 SUV, along with the Q8 and E-Tron EV, all of which have below- or well-below-average reliability,” CR said.
“The only reason the brand’s ranking didn’t change was that the A6 sedan improved to average this year joining the Q5, and the older, very reliable A4 and A5 helped raise the brand’s score.”
Consumer Reports’ most reliable car brands
- Mazda – 83
- Toyota – 74
- Lexus – 71
- Buick – 70
- Honda – 63
- Hyundai – 62
- Ram – 58
- Subaru – 57
- Porsche – 55
- Dodge – 54
- Infiniti – 54
- BMW – 52
- Nissan – 51
- Audi – 46
- Kia – 45
- GMC – 43
- Chevrolet – 42
- Volvo – 41
- Jeep – 41
- Mercedes-Benz – 40
- Cadillac – 38
- Ford – 38
- Mini – 37
- Volkswagen – 36
- Tesla – 25
- Lincoln – 8
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US study names the car brands with the best reliability in 2020