When you’re looking at buy a new car, an all-new or redesigned model may sound like you’re getting something new and improved. But Consumer Reports’ annual auto reliability survey of more than 640,000 vehicles shows that better things may in fact come to those who wait.
The data found that newly redesigned models are more likely to have wonky engines, jerky transmissions or high-tech features that can fail.
“Problems often arise when new technologies are added to today’s cars,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ auto expert, “Owners have reported problems ranging from poor shifting to complete transmission failure.”
The redesigns with the biggest growing pains were the Buick LaCrosse, GMC Acadia and Subaru Impreza.
Another trouble spot in updated models was vehicle infotainment systems.
“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-over from the previous year,” Fisher said.
A stark example is the 2017 Subaru Impreza. The model was deemed “very reliable” in 2016. Owners of the 2017 model, however, are reporting problems with the rear view camera freezing, poor radio reception, and problems pairing their smartphones.
The all-electric SUV Tesla Model X ranked last in reliability due to problems with its falcon-wing doors, body hardware, paint and trim and climate system.
The 2017 models that scored highest in reliability are the Kia Niro, Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86 and Lexus ES.
The category scoring highest for 2018 models was compact hybrids and electric cars, with four of the top five cars being different Toyota Prius models.
Last year, SUVs surpassed traditional sedans in sales for the first time. In Consumer Reports’ popular compact SUV category, the Toyota RAV4 tops for the second year in a row. The Hyundai Tucson is currently the least popular vehicle in this category.