The reality of electric vehicle reliability: Consumer Report’s annual auto reliability survey

Yonkers, NY — Consumers are buying electric vehicles in growing numbers, but poor reliability remains an issue, according to the latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey data from Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit research, testing, and consumer advocacy organization. Electric pickups in particular are the least reliable category of vehicles. 

On average, new EVs have 79 percent more problems than ICE vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) fare even worse with an average of 146 percent more problems. Hybrids, on the other hand, continue to be a bright spot. They experience 26 percent fewer problems than ICE vehicles on average, according to CR’s survey. 

“EVs are still in their relative infancy as mainstream vehicles, so it’s really not surprising that manufacturers, by and large, are still working out the kinks,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports. “That said, we are seeing signs of movement in the right direction. And as our data has consistently shown, reliability-minded consumers would be best served by forgoing brand new vehicles in their first model year.”

CR’s survey findings were announced today at an online news conference in collaboration with the Detroit-based Automotive Press Association.

The most reliable auto brands are headquartered in Asia. Lexus and Toyota take the top two spots in CR’s brand level rankings for 2023. Five other Japanese or Korean brands are in this year’s top ten, joined there by the German trio of Mini, Porsche, and BMW. 

Other highlights from CR’s influential annual report include:

  • Charging and battery issues are bedeviling EVs, but Tesla is bucking that trend with comparatively fewer issues in those categories. Two of its four models, the popular Model Y and Model 3, are  Recommended by CR. The Model 3’s reliability has been average in recent years.The Model Y improved to average this year. 
  • Full-sized pickup trucks remain near the bottom of CR’s brand ranking but aren’t the least reliable category. Midsized and electric pickups are worse for reliability. 
  • This has been a challenging year for domestic manufacturers. Buick ranks highest among the domestic brands, at 12th overall. All the rest are in the bottom half of the brand rankings; Chrysler is dead last.

Every year, CR asks its members about potential trouble areas they’ve had with their vehicles in the previous 12 months. This year’s survey covers 20 problem areas including engine, electric motors, transmission, in-car electronics, and more. CR uses that feedback from consumers to predict reliability ratings for new cars from every major mainstream model. This year, CR gathered data on more than 330,000 vehicles from the 2000 to 2023 model years, with a few newly-introduced 2024 models.

“Even with monumental shifts in the auto marketplace, what matters most to consumers remains the same: finding safe, reliable cars,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “Our annual auto reliability report guides car buyers to the best, most cost-effective choice for their lives. It’s data you can trust to pick the car you can rely on.”

The number of new hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs being introduced is steadily increasing. Just in the past five years, the percentage of vehicles that CR purchases for its test fleet that are hybrids and EVs has grown from 12 percent in 2018 to 56 percent in 2023. As a result, CR this year added three new individual trouble areas to its reliability survey for electrified vehicles: Electric motor, EV/Hybrid Battery, and EV Charging.This will allow for a clearer picture of the problems with these distinct drivertrains. 

  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles still have 17 potential trouble areas.
  • EVs can have up to 12 trouble areas, where traditional ICE problems such as Engine and Transmission are not included.
  • Hybrids have 19 potential trouble areas; 17 from ICE vehicles, as well as Electric motor and EV Battery.
  • PHEVs can experience all 20 trouble areas; 17 from ICE vehicles, as well as Electric motor, EV Battery, and EV Charging.

The predictions for 2024 models are based on each year’s overall reliability for the past three years, provided that the model hasn’t been redesigned during that time. If there is insufficient data on a model in any given model year, CR uses the brand reliability score to supplement that model’s new car prediction. Due to the changes in this year’s survey questions and methodology, direct comparisons to previous years’ brand reliability data cannot be made. 

Consumer Reports’ analysis of new car reliability is a key element of CR’s Overall Score, which is a holistic ranking that helps consumers find the vehicles that deliver on their promises and last. The Overall Score also includes road-test performance, owner satisfaction survey results, whether a vehicle comes standard with key active safety systems, and results from crash tests, if applicable.

CR Moves Forward with Changes to Overall Score to Impact Safety 

Starting with model year 2024, CR is deducting two points from the overall scores of vehicles that don’t come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Bonus points will still be given on a sliding scale based on a vehicle’s performance in IIHS’s vehicle-to-pedestrian AEB tests. 

In addition, model year 2024 vehicles that are equipped with active driver assistance (ADA) systems will lose one point if they don’t have an adequate direct driver monitoring system (DDMS). This means a vision-based sensing system that effectively and directly detects the driver’s eye and/or head movement. If the system senses the driver is not paying attention, it should provide escalating warnings to elicit driver engagement. If the driver does not respond to warnings, the ADA system should stay engaged and slow the vehicle in a safe and controlled manner. Bonus points will continue to be given to models with adequate DDMS.

“We continue to believe in the clear safety benefits of ADA systems, but there are also dangers that should not be overlooked, namely driver overreliance and overestimation of the capabilities of these systems,” Fisher said. “Adequate DDMS is a critical safeguard, and we hope to nudge automakers toward making them standard the same as they’ve increasingly been doing with other key safety systems like AEB with pedestrian detection.”

Different EVs Experiencing Different Problems

The growing pains that have been plaguing EVs are still apparent in CR’s latest survey. Electric cars, electric SUVs, and electric pickups all rank among the least-reliable vehicle categories.

Tesla Motors, the market leader in EV sales, continues to have issues with body hardware, paint and trim, and climate system on its models, but are not as problematic for motor, charging, and battery. At number 14, Tesla is the second-highest ranked domestic automaker in CR’s brand rankings. The Model 3 and Model Y have average reliability while all the other Tesla models–the S, and X–are all below average.

Some EV models from other manufacturers had fewer reported problems related to build quality, but higher rates of powertrain, battery and charging issues. This suggests that legacy automakers need more time to work out the kinks under the hood of their EVs, while Tesla faces above the hood issues. One bright spot is Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, which has shown enough improvement in its EV battery and charging system to now be rated average for predicted reliability, and is eligible for CR’s recommendation.

Hybrids Shine, PHEVs Not So Much

This year’s CR survey shows that hybrids are becoming more reliable, but plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are less so. On average, hybrids are 26 percent more reliable than vehicles with only an internal combustion engine, but PHEVs are 146 percent less reliable. PHEVs combine conventional engines with an electric drive. The added complexity means that there’s more that can go wrong with them.

“Hybrids continue to surpass EVs and ICE vehicles for reliability even though hybrids are more complex with gas-powered engines supplemented by an electric drive system,” Fisher said. “This is because hybrid technology is now over 25 years old and is offered mainly from the most reliable automakers.”

The Toyota Camry and Toyota Highlander SUV are among the most reliable of all vehicles in CR’s survey, and their hybrid versions also land near the top of the list. Conversely, several PHEVs are less reliable than their conventional counterparts, such as the below-average Audi Q5 and Chrysler Pacifica PHEVs.

Lexus and Toyota are Cream of the Crop in Strong Showing for Asian Brands

Of the top ten most reliable brands, seven are headquartered in Asia, with Lexus and Toyota in the top two spots. Acura ranks fourth this year, followed by Honda in fifth. Subaru ranks sixth, Mazda is seventh, and Kia rounds out the top 10.

Only one Lexus model, the NX, has just average predicted reliability, due to some minor transmission, electrical accessory, and in-car electronics issues reported by owners. The NX Hybrid, ES, ES Hybrid, RX, and RX Hybrid are all above average, while the UX is well above average.

Toyota’s 4Runner is the most reliable model in CR’ survey. The only Toyota with a below-average rating is the Tundra, with owners reporting body hardware, paint & trim, in-car electronics, and brake issues. The Crown, new for 2023, is average, along with the Sienna and the bZ4X EV. The redesigned Prius and Prius Prime are well above and above average, respectively. All other Toyotas are above average and the Camry Hybrid, Camry, and RAV4 Prime are well above average.

Fourth-ranked Acura’s RDX and TLX both have above-average reliability, and the MDX and Integra—which are recent redesigns—are both average. MDX owners reported issues with the in-car electronics and paint & trim.

Most Hondas score average, including the Passport, Pilot, Odyssey, CR-V Hybrid, Ridgeline, Accord, and Civic. The Accord Hybrid and CR-V are above average, and the HR-V is outstanding. Pilot owners reported issues with body hardware and paint & trim, while Odyssey and Passport owners reported in-car electronics and electrical accessories issues.

Subaru, ranking sixth, hit some snags with its Solterra EV. Owners say they experienced problems with charging, while the Outback and Legacy have in-car electronics issues, and the Ascent SUV has climate system and brake problems, though all rate average for reliability. The BRZ, WRX, Forester, and redesigned Crosstrek score above-average. 

Mazda, in seventh, has all of its models in the above-average predicted reliability category, including the MX-5 Miata, 3, CX-50, CX-30, and CX-5.

All Kia (10th place) models score average or better. The Sportage Plug-in Hybrid is well-above average, and the Carnival, Forte, Niro, and K5 are all above average. The EV6 is average, as some owners reported issues with EV charging, while Sorento and Soul owners noted some transmission problems. All other Kia’s are average.

Most of 11th-ranked Hyundai’s models are average or above average. But the Ioniq 5 EV scores below average, with owners reporting trouble charging, along with EV battery and climate system problems. The Palisade, Ioniq 6, Tucson, and Elantra are above average. The Venue, Santa Cruz, Elantra Hybrid, Tucson Hybrid and PHEV, and Sonata are average.

Infiniti’s (13th place) Q50, QX50, and QX60 all scored average predicted reliability.

Nissan lands in the number 17 spot, and has two below-average models, the Pathfinder and Frontier. The new Ariya EV is above average, and the Kicks, Altima, Murano, Leaf, Rogue, and Sentra are all average. The Pathfinder and Frontier have reports of build quality issues, along with transmission problems for the Frontier.

Number 18 Genesis is a mix, with the GV80 and GV70 SUVs scoring below average while the GV60 EV, G70, and G80 are all average. GV70 owners told CR about fuel system, drive system, and body hardware problems.

Mixed Bag for Europe

Mini is this year’s most reliable European brand, ranking third overall. Both the Cooper and Cooper Countryman scored above average reliability. BMW, its corporate cousin, ranked 9th. The X5 is one of the 10 most reliable models in the survey. The X3, 4 Series, and 2 Series are above average. All other models are average, including the i4 and iX EVs, X5 Plug-in Hybrid, the 3 series, X1, and X7. BMW i4 is average, although some owners reported EV charging issues.

Porsche landed in the number eight spot. The Cayenne and Macan SUVs, both score above-average.

Nineteenth-ranked Audi’s A5 scored above average, while the A3, Q7, Q4 E-Tron, Q8 E-Tron, A6, Q3, Q8, Q5, and A4 are all average. The Q5 PHEV is below average, and has problems with the EV motor and EV charging, along with climate system issues.

Volvo’s (25th place) XC60 and XC90 remain below average, joined by the XC60 PHEV. However, the XC40 and S60/V60 have average reliability. XC60 owners had issues with the brakes, in-car electronics, climate system, and electrical accessories. XC60 PHEV owners reported most of those, along with EV battery and charging system problems.

Volkswagen landed in 27th place. Every model in its lineup has below average predicted reliability. The Taos is one of the least-reliable vehicles in the survey, with owners noting issues with the brakes, electrical accessories, transmission, engine, electric system, in-car electronics, and noises & leaks.

Mercedes-Benz is the lowest-ranked European brand, in 29th place. All its models are predicted to be below or well-below average. The GLE has climate system and build quality issues, including body hardware, electrical accessories, and noises & leaks.

Few Bright Spots for Domestics

In 12th place, Buick is the highest ranked domestic automaker. The Enclave, Encore GX, and Envision are average, with body hardware issues. The Encore GX also has climate system and in-car electronics problems.

Ram lands in the middle of the pack at number 15. Its 1500, 2500, and 3500 have average predicted reliability. Owners of the 1500 reported in-car electronics issues, and some CR members with heavy duty 2500 trucks mentioned transmission and electrical accessory issues.

All Cadillac (16th place) models in CR’s survey score average reliability. Of note, XT5 owners reported problems with the brakes and exhaust.

Chevrolet’s (20th place) Blazer, redesigned Colorado, Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado 1500 have below-average predicted reliability. The Corvette, Equinox, Trailblazer and 2500HD/3500HD trucks are all average. Silverado 1500 owners reported major engine problems with the lifters, some paint & trim, and in-car electronics issues.

Dodge is 21st in this year’s brand ranking. The Durango is rated average.

Twenty-second ranked Ford’s scores cover a wide range. The Maverick and Edge are above average, while the F-150, F-150 Lightning, Escape, Bronco, Bronco Sport, and Explorer are all below average. The F-150 Hybrid is among the least reliable models, scoring well-below average. F-150 Lightning and Hybrid owners noted issues with their EV/Hybrid batteries, while F-150 Hybrid owners also had transmission, drive system, and exhaust problems.

Lincoln ranks 23rd. The Aviator is below average, and the Corsair is average, with owners noting body hardware problems and noises & leaks.

GMC’s (24th place) Sierra 1500, Yukon, Yukon XL, and redesigned Canyon are below average, while the Sierra 2500/3500HD trucks and Terrain are average. Sierra 1500 owners also report major engine issues with the lifters, as well as paint & trim and in-car electronics.

The Compass is the only Jeep (26th ranked) with average reliability. The Gladiator, Renegade, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee L are below average. Grand Cherokee owners reported problems in the areas of suspension, electrical accessories, drive system, in-car electronics, body hardware, and noises & leaks.

The R1T and R1S from EV automaker Rivian (28th place) both score below average. R1T owners told CR about issues with the drive system, climate system, body hardware, and EV charging.

Chrysler lands in last place in this year’s rankings in 30th place. The Pacifica is average, but the Pacifica Hybrid is the least reliable car on the list, with owners reporting problems with the electric/hybrid battery, electric charging, drive system, and in-car electronics.

CR had insufficient data to create brand rankings for Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lucid, Maserati, Mitsubishi, and Polestar.

For more information on CR’s 2023 #CRCarReliability findings, visit CR.org/reliability or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @consumerreports.

About Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Surveys

The latest Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Surveys gathered information from car owners on over  330,000 vehicles from model years 2001 to 2023 and early 2024. CR’s reliability predictions are based on overall reliability for the past three model years, provided the vehicle has not been redesigned. One or two years of data will be used if the model was redesigned in 2023 or 2022. CR bases its reliability predictions on data gathered from car owners each year about problems they had with their vehicles in the past 12 months. CR’s team of statisticians, researchers, and testers then analyzed trouble areas and created an overall reliability score for each model and year. Serious problem areas that can lead to expensive repairs are more heavily weighted. More information can be found at www.CR.org.

About Consumer Reports

Founded in 1936, CR has a mission to create a fair and just marketplace for all. Widely known for our rigorous research and testing of products and services, we also survey millions of consumers each year, report extensively on marketplace issues, and advocate for consumer rights and protections around safety as well as digital rights, financial fairness, and sustainability. CR is independent and nonprofit.