Mazda tops Consumer Reports' car brand recommendations, Tesla slides

CR's 2021 Brand Report Card sees mainstream brands like Toyota and Chrysler flourish, while luxury marques like Genesis dip big time.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo
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2021 Mazda CX-30 Turbo

Good job, Mazda.

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Give a round of applause for Mazda as it lands at the top of the Consumer Reports' 2021 Brand Report Card, announced Thursday. The annual list, based on 50 tests predicting reliability and owner satisfaction, vaulted the Japanese brand to the top to dethrone last year's top dog, Porsche. This is the first time Mazda has topped CR's coveted brand report card. Meanwhile, Tesla, a relative newcomer to these lists, fell five spots from last year as reliability issues outweighed "remarkably high scores" from owners. Only the Tesla Model 3 earned the nonprofit institute's coveted "Recommended" label.

The consumer guide's theme this year is a good one for regular folks shopping for new cars, trucks and SUVs: Some of the best models come from affordable makes. In fact, half of this year's top 10 best brands come from what CR defines as a "mainstream" brand. Those are nonluxury makes and aside from first-place finisher Mazda include Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Chrysler, Buick and Hyundai. This year also marks a big one for legacy American brands as two land in the top 10 for only the second time. Chrysler and Buick enjoyed bumps in reliability and owner satisfaction.

Which brands had a bad time this go-around? Aside from Tesla's slipping, Kia and Genesis surprised with tumbles -- especially the latter. Genesis, a darling on these kinds of data lists for a few years now, fell 13 places due to declining predictable reliability. Kia's 10-place drop also comes amid increased reliability issues across its vehicle fleet. Down at the bottom? Some perennial quality whipping posts -- Alfa Romeo sits in last place with Land Rover and Mitsubishi not far behind. For mass-market Mitsu, hopefully the just-revealed 2022 Outlander can mix things up for the brand.

You can check out the full rankings below and flip through the gallery to see which specific models earned Recommended honors from the publication.

Consumer Reports Brand Report Card 2021

Here's the full picture.

Consumer Reports

These are the top cars, trucks and SUVs, according to Consumer Reports

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