Consumer Reports (CR) auto guys are a breed apart. In the world of car people, they are honest-to-goodness car nuts, but have a bigger job to perform: their mandate is to give you unbiased information about cars and trucks. It’s the type of information that is “need-to-know.” In other words, you “need to know” the information they present so you can make totally informed decisions whether the vehicles you are considering is new or used.
CR people are the super-studs of the car world. They could easily have had jobs at general auto publications. However, they have a sense of responsibility that leads them to the country’s leading consumer product analysis journal where they can share their knowledge with their readers. Their car knowledge is based on objective research and study of the vehicles they test. They also use the latest in analytics to help reach their conclusions.
Now, it is true that they are gearheads like most of the people who write about cars. However, they go steps further. They not only enjoy the fun aspects of this work – driving and putting vehicles through their paces – the key difference being that they use vehicles that are owned by Consumer Reports to keep their work on the up and up. When they are off the test track and sitting back at their desks they do the type of work that is among the most valuable services they perform; they analyze trends, looking back at years’ worth of data to help determine things the best used cars to buy or those to stay away from.
Just this week, the automotive journalists at CR came out with an updated list of used cars to leave at a dealer, while you look elsewhere for something else.
Here’s a look at what the CR guys found:
CR has some interesting advice: never buy a new or redesigned make. That’s why they told their readers to put a sales stop on the redesigned Pacifica, even though just about every publication in the known world believes it is one of the bet minivans on the planet. Still, CR urges people to wait a year or two before buying one. Looking back at the records of the model it replaces – the Town and Country – Chrysler minivans have had less-than-stellar ratings from 2006-2013. The same was true of the Dodge-badged Grand Caravan, which is essentially the same vehicle as the T&C.
Golf is Volkswagen’s best-seller, bar none. It does make one sit up and notice when CR makes one of the family – GTi’s -- a car to stay away from. CR’s found that some GTi models, built from 2010 to 2013, have had poor reliability. Interestingly, the standard Golf did quite well.
Chevy thought it had a winner with the first Cruze, but, it turned out Cruze models built from 2011 to 2013 were unreliable. Starting in 2014, Chevy’s redesigned Cruze went on sale and moved the bar significantly.
Jeep Grand Cherokee | Jeep
Though Jeep is popular with many buyers, Fiat Chrysler Autos (FCA) has had issues with the SUV line’s reliability. The automaker has had poor reliability ratings not only in Jeep but also in other models such as its minivans for some years. In 2007, Grand Cherokee was rated unreliable. From 2010-2014, all Jeeps were way down on the reliability curve.
This one had us scratching our heads, but Mercedes-Benz GL crossovers were plagued with many issues. There were so many problems between 2013 and 2015 that M-B GLs were rated among the least reliable SUVs on the market. If you want a used Mercedes crossover, look for a later model.
Of the 10 Fords that have made the poor reliability list, two of the automaker's small models fared even worse. Watch out for Ford’s 2011 to 2014 Fiesta and 2012-2014 Focus. Both were rated below average.
What CR’s advice on Mini Cooper? Three words sum it up: don’t do it. CR found they weren't worth a blank purchase and sales agreement as they had way below average in reliability. The 2011-2012 Countryman made the list, as well.
Tesla Model S
After heaping tons of praise on the Tesla Model S electric when it rolled out, CR’s experts turned their smiles into frowns for model years 2012, 2013 and 2015. Model S vehicles built during this timeframe weren’t all that reliable.
Chrysler PT Cruiser
This is one of those that you should just stay away from. Not only are the lines, well, unique, there is nothing particularly right about this vehicle, especially from 2006 to 2008. During this period the PT Cruiser was terribly unreliable. Overall, CR had words of advice about all FCA vehicles: if you are looking at any and they were built before 2006 or so, be sure to have them inspected carefully.
Chevy has had its challenges. From 2009 to 2011 Traverse crossovers had poor reliability to the point where CR advises those look at one to look elsewhere. They were among 17 Chevy models to receive below-average ratings in the last decade.