When you buy a new car, you want to make sure it’s going to be a reliable ride. I have new info to share on that front from the annual Consumer Reports auto reliability survey.
What Consumer Reports does each year represents the most extensive survey of automotive reliability. This year’s tally included responses from nearly 1.1 million subscribers.
The worst new cars for reliability
The early leaks of this list pretty much focused on who flopped, so you may have already heard this. Fiat, Jeep, Ram, and Dodge were all named least reliable. Right behind them on the least reliable side of things was the very affordable (ahem!) Mercedes Benz.
Next most unreliable was Ford. When I rent cars, I love the Ford vehicles I’ve been getting. They’re fun to drive and comfortable to be in. But reliability is a continuing sore spot for them. This is something Ford has got to get its arms around; car can’t just be fun if they’re going to be prone to reliability issues. My hope is they can get them to be reliable because they are a blast to drive.
The best new cars for reliability
Who is most reliable? Lexus is by far the most reliable of all brands sold in U.S. In second place was Toyota, which actually owns Lexus.
Then you have Mazda and Honda, followed by Audi. It’s unusual for a European brand to do well on the reliability scale, but Audi is the exception. Though I should note some models dip down into worse-than-average reliability, but as a whole the brand comes in fifth for reliability.
Following Audi is Buick, which is solidly reliable on all 6 models on which data was collected.
Next on the list is Subaru, which ranges from extremely reliable to very unreliable depending on model.
The full reliability list is available at ConsumerReports.org, where you can buy onetime access if you’re not a subscriber. Or check it out for free at your local library in the December 2014 issue.
Beware of long car loans
To change gears for a minute, I want to say a word about car financing. New data from Experian shows the length of car loans is at an all-time record high. One in 4 car loans are 6-7 years long. In fact, it’s not unusual for people to take out an 8-year car loan.
What a big change that’s been from what I can remember. For the first part of my adult life, the longest car loans you could do were 3 years! Automakers came out with new models every 3 years because they knew that was the loan cycle.
The sad reality is it’s financial disaster to take out a long term loan. If you can’t afford 42 months or less, it means you’re buying too much car and you should be looking used, rather than new.
ARTICLE: Best 2011 models for used car buyers