Only One US Auto Brand Made the Top 10 of Consumer Reports’ Reliability List

Asian automakers almost claimed the top five slots, but one domestic brand snuck in

The Buick Envision SUV driving down the road. The compact SUV leads its class in reliability according to Consumer Reports.
The Buick Envision: An SUV you may have missed, but one you should consider.

Fuel economy, horsepower, price tag, safety, the presence or lack of heated massage seats — these are all important factors to consider when buying a new car. One element that’s not as sexy but arguably more important is reliability. Every shiny, futuristic, quiet new Tesla is going to feel impressive when scooting around the dealership, but if it’s plagued by problems a month or two down the road, you may wish you had reconsidered your priorities.

Thankfully, every year Consumer Reports releases its Auto Reliability Report, which ranks car brands as well as individual vehicles. This year, the consumer advocacy organization tabulated data from surveys of over 300,000 vehicles, all submitted by CR members. There were trends that held, like Asian automakers topping the list and Tesla scoring near the bottom (alongside Lincoln, Jeep, Genesis and Volkswagen), as well as some surprising movements. 

The top three spots were retained by the same brands as last year, with a little reshuffling as Lexus took first place, Mazda second and Toyota third, with Infiniti coming in fourth, up from eleventh place last year. However, the big news is that not only did just one American brand make it into the top five, but only one made it into the top 10.

That would be the generally unsexy Buick. The historic brand has become a milquetoast division at GM, exclusively offering nondescript SUVs, but according to CR this may be a case of us unfairly judging a book by its cover. After all, in the 2020 reliability survey Buick moved up a whopping 14 spots among the included brands, more than any other, into fourth place, and here they’ve retained a spot in the top five. In other words, this is no fluke; Buick has at least figured out how to build cars that don’t break down. 

For you, the car buyer, these brand rankings may not be the most important piece of data. CR also ranks individual vehicles, which can have wild swings even among the same brand. For example, the Buick Envision “is so reliable that it tops the Luxury Compact SUV class,” as the company writes. Meanwhile the Enclave, a larger midsize SUV, “drops to below average, with transmission, drive system, and blank in-car electronics screen issues.” 

It’s here in these individual rankings that American automakers shine. U.S. brands took the number one spot in seven different categories, which CR called “an unusually strong showing.” These include the Buick Envision (Luxury Compact SUVs), Chevrolet Trailblazer (Subcompact SUVs), Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and GMC Sierra 2500HD (Full-Size Pickups), Chrysler 300 (Midsize/Large Cars), Ford Bronco Sport (Compact SUVs), Ford Mustang Mach-E (Electric SUVs) and Ford Ranger (Midsize Pickups).

Find the rest of Consumer Reports’ findings here.

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