For the better part of 90 years, when potential new-car buyers wanted information about which model to buy, they turned to one of the best independent voices of information on the market, Consumer Reports (CR).
CR Accountable Only To Members
It made lots of sense, too, because CR was the fount of independent automotive knowledge. The reason one could call it the fount of knowledge is straightforward. It is accountable to no automaker. For example, when CR wants to evaluate a vehicle or a range of vehicles, they don't go to the manufacturer and ask for the specific models.
No, they go to independent dealers where the organization – the Consumer Union runs CR, an organization of ordinary folks who trust the many tests CR publishes – purchase the vehicle they are interested in, just like you or me. Because they own the vehicles they evaluate, they are free to offer unbiased opinions about a particular vehicle or vehicle. It's a sound system.
It may seem like a popular publication like Consumer Guide, which also publishes vehicle evaluations, is the same as CR, but they are very different. Where CR owns its vehicles, Consumer Guide (CG) borrows vehicles from manufacturers. Because it does borrow vehicles from manufacturers CG is somewhat indebted to them for either current or future vehicles. However, the information in CG is valuable because it presents another voice for consumers to look at as their automotive experts have many years in the automotive journalism trade, and yearly they may have hundreds of evaluation vehicles.
CR is not afraid to call things as they see them. Indeed, a recent edition of the MotorBiscuit makes this quite clear. Indeed, Ford's more popular models, the Mustang and the Explorer, the automaker's veteran SUV, have been called "two of the least reliable Ford cars on the market and what makes them so unreliable for drivers." CR rates them as numbers two and three, following the Mercedes GLE.
CR Finds Takes Issue With 2 Models
As related by the MotorBiscuit, the Mustang had a "lower reliability score than the Chevy Corvette." CR notes that the Mustang has had "reliability problems since the 2016 model year."
The good news, said the MotorBiscuit, is that "Ford is aware of these issues, and the automakers have fixed some of them over the years. However, that hasn't stopped new ones from appearing." For example, during the 2022 model year, while "Ford seems to have fixed the engine reliability issues that the 2018 Mustang suffered from … the 2022 Mustang now has reliability problems relating to its suspension, brakes, and in-car electronics."
CR, for its part, is realistic. It notes, said the MotorBiscuit, that "Mustang buyers don't buy the model for its reliability. The Mustang continues to be a powerful muscle car, which is why it still has a great owner satisfaction score."
Not so the Ford Explorer, which is "simply infamous for its lack of reliability." The consumer group has data for the SUV that dates back more than 20 years, and "while the Explorer was able to score decently on some model years, it has never had a year where its reliability was above average." The Explorer was "simply plagued by reliability problems for most years."
Automaker Aware Of, Fixing Problems
Fortunately, the automaker is "well-aware of these problems, and … has been fixing them as they come to light." During the last model for which CR has total data – 2021 – the Explorer "only had a few reliability issues. The vehicle's "body integrity and power equipment didn't score well, but everything else did."
Despite the changes and updates Ford made to address the issues, the 2022 version of the SUV still gets a "poor predicted reliability score." The score is due primarily to its transmission.
An interesting side note came early this week for the Mustang: it scored pretty well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) safety ratings. While the Mustang didn't earn the top award, it still earned Top Safety Pick honors.
So, we know three of the most miniature reliable cars on CR's list. So what about the rest?
CR’s Full List Of Vehicles
- Tesla Model Y – terrible reliability score
- Subaru Ascent (tied with the Model Y) – terrible reliability score
- Chrysler's Pacifica (also tied with the Model Y) – terrible reliability score
- Volkswagen's Tiguan (tied with the Volvo XC90)
- Volvo XC90 (tied with Tiguan)
- Chevy Corvette
- Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.