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Buick breaks 35-year domestic drought in Consumer Reports reliability survey

Meanwhile, four Fiat Chrysler brands are having a grand ol' time at the bottom of the rankings.


Every year, Consumer Reports takes years of vehicle reliability data and compiles it into one large survey. This year, Buick broke a three-decade drought, bringing a domestic brand back into the reliability ranking's top three.

Lexus, Toyota and Buick walked away with the top three spots, respectively. Rounding out CR's "Most Reliable" grouping is Audi, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai and Infiniti. The most notable inclusions are Buick, which jumped up four spots, and Infiniti, which positively dominated with a 16-spot improvement.

The bottom five automakers are almost entirely under the Fiat Chrysler umbrella. The lowest-ranked brand was Ram, followed by Fiat, Chrysler and Dodge, respectively. The fifth least reliable brand was actually Tesla, which marked its first appearance on the list with a real bang of a whimper.

Tesla was finally eligible because it now produces two models instead of one. In fact, the Model S' reliability was bumped up to Average this year, but that wasn't enough to offset the Model X's less than stellar debut. A litany of customer gripes, from door malfunctions to water leaks, put the Model X among the 10 lowest-ranked vehicles this year.

While you might expect Honda to consistently rank near the top of the list, this year, it's actually in the 10th slot overall. It dropped two spots thanks to the Civic and Pilot. The Pilot SUV was ranked Average, while the Civic's out-the-box performance wasn't much better.

Consumer Reports is quick to point out that smaller manufacturers tend to see larger swings in position each year, because a change in one car has a greater effect on the whole brand. Subaru's new Legacy and Outback received just Average ratings, which helped push the brand out of the top 10. Those polled took issue with the Volvo XC90's infotainment and climate systems, pushing it into the lowest category.

In general, Japanese and Korean brands dominated the reliability survey, taking six of eight slots in the highest ranked category and taking 5 spots in CR's top 10 most reliable vehicles list.