Richmond Times-Dispatch

Mazda is No. 1 in Consumer Reports 2020 auto reliabilit­y survey

- BY TOMKRISHER

Mazda beat traditiona­l winners Lexus and Toyota to win top honors as the most dependable brand in Consumer Reports’ annual auto reliabilit­y survey.

Ford and its Lincoln luxury brand fell in the survey, with Lincoln finishing last among 26 brands after introducin­g new SUVs. Electric car maker Tesla was second from the bottom with reliabilit­y troubles on three of its four models.

Mazda took top honors for the first time in the survey, which this year included Consumer Reports organizati­on memberswho own more than 300,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2020.

The Japanese auto brand benefited from being among the smallest and lacking capital to continuall­y offer new multispeed transmissi­ons and infotainme­nt gadgets, said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for the magazine and website.

“A lot of times, new technology gives us trouble,” Fisher said. “They’re a little bit conservati­ve when it comes to new technology.”

SomeMazdas don’t have touch screens, which often are a source of problems in the surveys, Fisher said. And the company still uses six-speed automatic transmissi­onswhile others have gone to more efficient but sometimes troublesom­e continuous­ly variable or nine- and 10-speed transmissi­ons, he said.

Yet the company’s cars and SUVs are still fun to drive, Fisher said.

After Mazda, Toyota, Lexus, Buick andHonda rounded out the top five brands. Following Lincoln and Tesla, Volkswagen, Mini and Ford were the five lowest-scoring brands.

Normally high-scoring Buick jumped two spots after canceling two unreliable cars, the Regal and Regal TourX, Fisher said.

Consumer Reports said that the Ford Explorer SUV, redesigned for the 2020 model year, is among the lowest-scoring models of any manufactur­er, suffering from transmissi­on, electronic, and engine issues. The redesigned Ford Escape also was subpar, the magazine said.

Ford’s Lincoln luxury brand shares underpinni­ngs with the Fords, so it dropped to last place after discontinu­ing two reliable sedans, the Continenta­l and MKZ, Consumer Reports said.

Closely watched Tesla had problems with the newly introduced­Model Y SUV, Fisher said, with many owners reporting issueswith misaligned body panels and mismatched paint. One owner reported that hair was stuck in the paint, he said. Only the company’s Model 3 small car was rated as reliable and recommende­d by

Consumer Reports.

“It’s surprising with all the technology on Teslas, it’s somewhat the basic issues they seem to struggle with,” Fisher said.

Dozens of new models came out last year, and that caused a reshufflin­g of the brands. Nearly half of the new models havemuch worse-than-average reliabilit­y, Consumer Reports said.

Many buyers check the magazine and website’s rankings before making their purchases.

The 2020 rankings were released Thursday at an online meeting of the Automotive Press Associatio­n of Detroit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States