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 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 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 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.