Furthermore, tiebreakers are broken in pretty nonsense ways, and many suspect it's by whoever pays the most. For example, they crowned Buick the most dependable brand, but by their own ratings, both Lexus and Porsche scored higher.
If you rank by only mechanical dependability by their own numbers, the ranking is as follows (alphabetical w/in tiers):
10: Lexus, Toyota
9: BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche
8: Audi, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Mini, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo
7: Acura, Cadillac, Dodge, Fiat, GMC, Mitsubishi, Ram
5: Chrysler, Jeep, Land Rover.
So the old adage still holds true for mechanical reliability, Japanese > German/European > American/British.
Also, the luxury brand of an automaker falls pretty damn close to where the non-luxury brand lands: Lexus/Toyota, Buick/Chevy, Hyundai/Kia, Infiniti/Nissan, Audi/Volkswagen, Cadillac/GMC, Fiat/Dodge/Ram, Chrysler/Jeep. Which would make sense since they share mechanical parts, but not infotainment/luxury features. When infotainment/luxury features are factored into the dependability score, it leads to the conclusion the article is trying to draw.
Once you get beyond 10 years, any mechanic will tell you the European cars are absolute garbage. Especially BMW, Audi and Mercedes will self destruct at some point after 10 years. And those parts cost a heck of a lot more than non-luxury brands. Sometimes, they won't even sell you a part by its own piece so you have to buy the whole assembly for 1000$ even if all you need is a tiny part that's supposed to cost no more than 50$.
I have a 22 year old 3 and a 26 year old 5. Neither have ever been in the shop for anything but tires. It's not fair or accurate to lump this in the same bucket as vw or mbz. I have bought quite a few parts from the dealer that cost less than $1, like plastic rivets or clips that I broke in the process of getting to something else. Toyota and VW want almost ten bucks for these sometimes. GM won't sell them to you. But my coolant is cheapest at the mbz dealer.
Unlike japanese makes, for anything that people have a need to replace, the original parts are sold on the aftermarket at fair prices. For my toyota, if I want a ball joint, I have to pay three times what it should cost at the dealer parts desk, or deal with junk from the aftermarket - and it's all junk. Datsuns, honda, same boat. Mazda, you're lucky if they even support your car anymore.
Americans define "reliable" as "runs forever on zero maintenance". Germans define "reliable" as "runs forever as long as you stick to strict maintenance schedules".
Very tempting cars with some of the nicest tech you'll find anywhere for as long as it stays working..
I had it explained to me once by a MOT tester (a safety and emissions test in the UK that cars more than four years old must undergo annually) while my old Corolla was on the ramp that Toyota's process basically involves hardening parts from the last model for the most popular defects, with as little re-design work of the internal components between generations as possible. I have no idea if the chap knew what he was talking about or not but it would certainly seem to stand up to my own anecdotal scrutiny - the car is 18 years old and still drives like new (it stayed in the extended family), which is more than can be said for the Renault that replaced it >:-(
The other is a 1981 BJ42. For the first 35 years of its life, it was owned by a utility company which put more than 420k miles on it doing HV line inspections. Still just works. As long as I can keep the rust worm from taking hold, this thing will outlive me.
I'm in the process of buying a newer car/truck for a family member, and it's depressing. So many sensors, and computers that dealership mechanics barely comprehend.
I understand it's for emissions, but so many of those sensors are for comfort systems, and selling gizmos. The problem being is when they malfunction. A dealership mechanic will not tell a customer we are basically learning on your new computer on wheels, but they put that in the price to fix.
I went to automotive school in the ninties, and these new vechicles still scare me.
My trusty Snap-on Mt2500 is practically useless on newer vechicles.
And there will ge the guy whom claims, "I just plug a scan tool in, and that lovely system (CAN Bus system, and multiple computers), just spit out a PID, and the fix is found."
It's just so much more complicated.
On a positive note, my New Years resolution is trying to master these new electrical systems.
There's a market for a simple vechicle, like older Toyotas.
I don't see any company offering a simple vechicle? And yes, I understand emissions are a problem, but it doesn't seem like an impossible problem to get a manual four banger, with just the basics on the market.
And I won't get started on automatic transmission problems.
Sorry for the rant.
I've been quite happy with Ford also.
Chrysler products are the worst I've ever owned from a reliability standpoint, most of my issues with them have been electrical not mechanical though.
This is all the more impressive given that our roads are salted constantly in the winter months here.
The worst I've seen for it are mid-2000s Fords. It's like the frames aren't galvanized at all, but that may be a problem limited to UK models.
That said my (beloved) Nissan Leaf is starting to go orange underneath but thankfully it looks like surface rust rather than rot.
Older Toyotas rust horribly, especially the trucks
Generally speaking cheap disposable appliance cars are cheap and disposable. OEMs put much more effort into their flagship products and the products that define their brand image.
Also just a friendly reminder that owner demographics have a large effect on reliability over the kind of 5+yr timeline many commenters here seem to be talking in. The wealthier the owner the better the vehicle is treated (at a statistical level, we all know one or two rich guys who never change their oil). Rich people years vs poor people years is like highway miles vs city miles.
Corollas and Civics can last forever.
Buick/Chevy/Lincoln > Audi/VW > Mitsubishi/Acura
Electric batteries and drivetrains have their differences in reliability for sure (IIUC, the 1st generation Nissan Leaf lacked a battery temp management system). However the difference between the reliability of EVs isn't likely to be that big since EVs are much simpler machines.
A lot of the complexity that provides the luxury ICE driving experience (smooth, quiet drivetrain, strong acceleration) comes for "free" in an EV, even in mass market models. With that complexity gone, there's much less to differentiate cars from a reliability perspective.
Tesla is among the least reliable car brands at the moment:
But I think that says more about the relative immaturity of Tesla's manufacturing than it does about EVs generally.
It will be interesting to see how Volkswagen's modular MEB electric car platform goes in the long term. The MEB platform designed to be used across multiple VW brands (VW, Audi, SEAT, and Skoda) and Volkswagen is interested in licensing it to other manufacturers so it will be widely used.
> Tesla fell six spots from last year and now ranks third-worst (27 out of 29). The Model S dropped to “Below Average” this year, and its Overall Score is no longer high enough to be “Recommended” by CR. Owners reported suspension problems and other issues that included the extending door handle. (Please see chart below.) The Model X SUV remained “Much-Worse-Than-Average” for reliability, with ongoing problems including the falcon-wing doors and center display screen. On the flip side, the Model 3 sedan has “Average” predicted reliability based on owner feedback
Note that none of those issues appear to be related to the electric battery and drivetrain. They are design and manufacturing issues with systems that are present on ICE cars also. It's a demonstration that the goalposts of "reliability" are themselves shifting away from focus on the propulsion system.
Admittedly, ICEs have become incredibly reliable themselves over the last few decades. But there is an order of magnitude more complexity required to achieve that reliability in an ICE vs an EV.
I don't think it makes much difference what the failure is if the end result is that you can't sensibly drive the car.
If the display fails in a Tesla Model 3, for example, then that's a critical failure because you lose all dashboard information. In contrast, if the display failed in my car then I'd lose access to some features (like sat nav and the reversing camera) but I can otherwise safely drive the car.
If you can't drive the car safely then it doesn't matter how good the drivetrain is. You still need to fix the problem to make the car drivable.
That's a design issue with Teslas, not with EVs in general.
Toyota has a bunch of somewhat related experience with the Prius, so they might still come out on top in the end of these EV wars?
There is no inherent reason why a more-expensive car should
be better or worse in terms of reliability than a
less-expensive car, so my guess is they’ll track each other
fairly closely going forward.
High cost: more attention to detail, higher quality parts, more care with fit and finish, should yield fewer defects.
Low cost: simpler vehicle systems, fewer moving parts, fewer unproven features, mass production with consistent processes, should yield fewer defects.
Part of it seems to be that there aren't more features in luxury cars. If you look at the graph, we're seeing mass market cars getting fewer problems and luxury cars remaining relatively flat.
In the last 5-8 years there has been a DRAMATIC change in the way vehicles are tested and released. Everyone has become much more focused on electronic features - while at the same time almost everyone is completely outsourcing electronics design and firmware. Cars hit the lots with 10 new flashes waiting. When I started, it was a BIG DEAL if you had a lot held up somewhere in Detroit because of a pending flash.
I've worked with two of the big three, and right now, neither own their traction control, radio, trans, body, ignition, steering, etc controllers. Basically anything. Even engines are being outsourced. I don't just mean the module, but the code on it. One of the mfgs, their engineers can't even SEE radio code or anything much more than general documents. They used to have compiler access to most things, now it's extremely rare.
The mfgs wanted to outsource the development, and now when they need an adjustment to traction control it's a $50, 100, 250, 500,000 charge, BUT, they've also moved the responsibility to the mfgs like Bosch, ConTevis, etc.
Short version is everyone is playing the game to get hot new electronics in cars, to make them seem as advanced as phones - but the work is not being put in besides surface level customer view. I've found obvious glitches in zero mile vehicles this year, but none I can think of from 2000-2013
I would not purchase a 2019 anything right now. I'd allow for two-three years worth of flashes before considering a new car. And that doesn't mean you're "safe" with your old car. You think your 2001 Subaru Outback is going strong? Well, surprise, you're likely to fall victim to a different issue.
As to the article, yes, luxury cars are worse. Most people that don't realize you can't leave your touring Ferarri in the garage not hooked up to a trickle charger, or also picking on Ferarri that the LaFerarri when runs battery dead may require to be loaded on a truck and shipped to a dealer before it'll charge again, or that the new Range Rovers will attempt to void your battery and electronics warranty if they find a radar/laser detector hooked up because THAT is how finicky the electronics system is.
It's funny to me the amount of work that your average Toyota or Chevy vehicle gets relative to lux models that skirt by with less engineering and more features.
As to Cadillac and Lexus, those are just GM and Toyota, all the same things plus some. So fundamentally they're the same, but yes, add features add problem areas.
It seems every manufacturer or parent brand has their own infotainment system, NAV, etc. and you pay the price for it when you buy the car. And god forbid you want the upgraded safety features or leather seats, but don't want any of the other bells and whistles, because you can't have it without tacking on $4000 for the "technology" package.
My ideal car these days is one with the safety bells and whistles, limited luxury features (automatic and heated/cooled seats, climate control), but without any complicated infotainment beyond bluetooth/Android auto/Apple Car Play connectivity. There's no reason to have redundant technology built into cars by companies that aren't as good at it when we have perfectly capable, and generally more up-to-date mobile devices with us at all times.
Is anyone making reasonably well-appointed vehicles without throwing everything and the kitchen sink in there?
No. Honda, Toyota, Fiat, GM, everyone seems to have the same problem. For what it's worth, FiatChrysler and GM have at least had the sense to set higher requirements for vendor/suppliers than Toyota.
Specicially, after Toyota's "unintended acceleration" issues (mostly floor mats, some APPS/Pedal issues) it was discovered that their ECU taking accelerator pedal position (I'm not sure if it was the PCM/ECM specifically) had over 12,000 GLOBAL VARIABLES! Let that sink in for second.
After a code audit by iirc UPenn the bug was not found, but that wasn't a glowing review, it was ad admission it was impossible to prove/disprove.
Edit: I take that back. There are Chinese brands I drove in Malaysia and export-only Nissans that while being wholly illegal in the US or Europe are still barebones vehicles.
What if i tell you that a pretty big chunk of the cars on the road are running software which are using global variable as means to exchange data between modules ? Well, that's how it is done and it isn't less safe. The last SW i worked with had 20000 global variables and 60000 parameters that the calibration guys could fiddle with.
Serious suppliers are applying safety standard and methodology and are not rushing the FMEA. Countless times my customer cursed at the safety guys for postponing the SW because they were not finished with testing, but this very same customer never had to stand in court for a safety issue with the SW, and so are many other carmaker.
When the Toyota pedal issue came out, we just could not believe that Toyota did not have the gas pedal override by brake safety in their SW.
How many global variables do each of Toyota's competitors have?
I'd expect to see very little dynamic resource allocation, so you could probably put a permanent name to almost every byte of data in the system.
Remember, once it's compiled, everything's a global anyway, especially on chips small enough to not be set up with a strong multi-tasking and memory management model.
Toyota got caught with inexcusably bad software practices. There is a reason Chrylser, GM, Ford, and others are pushing it out of house to suppliers.
Same body controller guts in as an Alfa Romeo.
For reference, my wife and I bought a 2014 Mazda 6 Touring, which seems to be one of the few cars with a well-balanced mid-tier that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and still has good safety features (and did not come with heated/cooled seats).
But of course it also comes with a clunky and nearly useless nav system that costs a fortune if you look at the line-item cost. They only recently, finally, started supporting Android Auto.
I'm not sure about 2015 Mazda 3, but I know 2016 and later cars can be upgraded to support Android Auto for a fee at the dealer (I want to say ~$500, which may or may not be worth it).
As for foglamps, I have the factory foglamps on mine and they're completely useless; I can't see them at all. Maybe it's because my xenons are so bright, but regardless, I never use them.
It should be possible for you to swap in the factory xenons if you want, though you might have to set something with ForScan to allow it to work. Not really sure about that.
Sadly, I think "normal" cars will go extinct the way non-smartphones and non-smart TVs went extinct. It's impossible to buy a TV these days that is not infected with Internet of Shit.
Where's the 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser of today? The 70 series is still being made, it's just not sold in developed countries. Why can't they just make it emission compliant and sell that car in the EU and US? That's the car I want!
It's possible, they are just called monitors or commercial displays; there's a significant premium for them at typical living room TV sizes compared to things marketed as “TVs”, though.
But that is not all of it. Most monitors approximate (some better than others) sRGB, while TVs approximate (again some better than others) Rec. 709. Rec. 709 and sRGB share color primaries, so they have the same gamut, but Rec. 709 uses a different transfer function. If you use the (profiled) monitor with a computer that does color management, and use a color-managed video player, all is well, but if you use the monitor as a "TV", without a computers, there's no profiling and no color management, so the broadcast and movies will not appear colorimetrically correct.
But wait, now we have Rec. 2020. I don't know if Rec. 2020 TVs are common now, but they will become common soon enough. Computer monitors are very different than Rec. 2020, even wide gamut ones. You MUST use color management to display Rec. 2020 on a computer monitor. Without a computer involved, computer monitors can't display Rec. 2020 properly.
But that is not the final story still. TVs can generally do both 23.976 fps, and 24 fps. Computer monitors very rarely can do this, generally reserved for expensive models designed for professional media creation.
So even if you pay the huge "dumb monitor tax", you still can't get the same result.
If you buy an iPhone and it crashes, no big deal. Not the same for your car.
>Where's the 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser of today?
Wouldn’t pass emissions, homologation / pedestrian impact, safety, etc. Everyone loves regulations until they don’t. Jeep Wrangler is the closest you can get, and the new Wrangler has two or three microcontrollers in the steering wheel alone even on the base model.
I can see where this would complicate and slow delivery of bugfixes, but if you ask me who I'd rather have mucking around with my ABS firmware, a GM engineer or a Bosch engineer, that's an easy answer.
It's not as simple as you make it out to be. There are times I would want the system to be looked at holistically not just as components.
My 2013 (F30) BMW 3-series is similar in its parts sourcing. The turbo is made by Mitsubishi and the transmission is made by ZF (which is pretty much industry standard). Other than the engine, body, and maybe the steering components, everything else is again outsourced. So far it's been pretty damn reliable though.
That said, the best answer is clearly to ride bikes more! A lot better for the environment, your wallet, and your own health!
My Subaru's infotainment system has strange intermittent bugs with the Bluetooth system. I get annoyed that even if the developer fixes it, I'll never see an update without buying a new car.
It's one of the reasons I'm such a Tesla fanboy. They do software updates. What's really great too is that they're done over the air. You don't need to bring it to a dealer and pay a ridiculous fee for it.
It'd be really nice if the other manufacturers could get on that.
Are those updates for vehicle control software, or the entertainment/nav system? I would be surprised if you could, for example, change the engine control software or the ABS software, or the anti-collision safety system via OTA updates.
Updating the entertainment/nav console is more common. My 2018 Ford does that too.
My former employer had plenty of unpleasant experiences outsourcing firmware, which contributed to bringing it all back in house.
Best I can tell it's still going out, not pendulum back in.
Part of the issue, and the thing almost no one realizes about Carpocolypse 2008 is that all these suppliers are 100% dependant on supplying to 5 vendors and that if one stops buying X module for 6 months, they fold. Blame in on JIT strategy, or regulation, or whatever, but Johnson Controls would have folded if GM and Chrysler weren't bailed out. Ok, but that means no seats for Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. Very few people outside of Germany and Detroit realize what was really at stake there.
This was widely pointed out at the time, including, IIRC, by the CEO of Ford, who used it in pointing out why the bailouts, which Ford did not directly receive, were essential for Ford.
They didn't have to wait until 2008 to learn this lesson. They could have learned it in the 90s if they were watching.
This is exactly why it's so hard to source vehicle parts for old Chrysler products. Every time they go bankrupt their suppliers go bankrupt and 3/4 of the tooling winds up turned into tin cans.
The trend is for the carmaker to develop vehicle functions like start stop or cruise control, and give the object code to the supplier for integration.
Do you mean a model that is all new for 2019 or do you mean literally any car assembled in 2019?
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Toyota_Way , pay extra attention to section #2.
Volvo took a much more 'premium' route towards quality, starting with galvanized steel bodies and other such costly measures, as well as producing on less efficient lines than Toyota. Even so, their reputation until the Chinese take-over was excellent, since then the division is as far as I know profitable so maybe this is a happy medium between baked in quality and cost to produce. But it will never go back to the 'tank' status that their older line-up has, which in a way is good because the modern ones fare much better in the crash tests than the oldies, even against mid-range cars in head-on or side-on collisions.
On another note, given the history between the two countries I don't see the Japanese government ok'ing a take-over of one of their prime brands by the Chinese.
I drive a 2010 Toyota Corolla :') - the philosophy sounds great but the implementation is poor.
Hard launches are among the toughest thing you can do to an ICE car. Most cars with launch control can do a few launches and then something overheats and the car refuses to do any more for a while. A car journalist tried to launch a PDK 911 until it failed. He got bored after 50 straight launches and stopped.
If you look at CR's most reliable brands, it's Lexus, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru in that order. Funny coincidence that they're all Toyota affiliated.
Also, the fact that it's under warranty and the BMW dealership will give you a loaner makes you more likely to take it in for extended troubleshooting/repair.
"Toyotas and Chevys Are Holding Up Better Than Most Luxury Brands"
"Toyotas and Chevys Are More Reliable Than BMW and Mercedes, J.D. Power Finds"
Article content (paraphrasing):
"Lexus, Porsche top the list"
"Most German manufacturers lag behind US"
So which is it? Bloomberg doesn't appear to be trying too hard here.
Wear a timex, drive a toyota, compute with a thinkpad, listen to a yamaha and process with a cuisanart.
I spent a total of $1200(wipers, tires, engine oil) in 100k miles and still gives me 39 mpg on highways.
Love the car. My next Car is going to be either Japanese or a Korean.
Reliability variation between models > reliability variation between brands. Generally speaking cheap disposable appliance cars are cheap and disposable. OEMs put much more effort into their flagship products and the products that define their brand image.
Owner demographics have a large effect on reliability over the kind of 5+yr timeline many commenters here seem to be talking in. The wealthier the owner the better the vehicle is treated (at a statistical level, we all know one or two rich guys who never change their oil). Rich people years vs poor people years is like highway miles vs city miles. As vehicles get older they get cheaper they move down the economic ladder which tends to complicate things a little. In states with road salt wealthier people are much more likely to keep their vehicles in garages or wash them regularly.
When it comes to vehicles >8yo (or whatever the oldest banks will write a loan for at present) you see on the road is not necessarily what's reliable or what's popular. The dealership auction system tends to siphon off vehicles over a certain age and/or under a certain value to the South American (from North America) and African/Middle Eastern (from Europe) markets. This means that vehicles owned by the demographics that tend to trade in regularly (wealthier on average) will not stick around as well as the vehicles owned by people who don't or who tend to buy/sell private party (less wealthy on average). So the old vehicle you see driving around are not necessarily a 1:1 representation of what was or wasn't reliable or what was or wasn't popular back in the year they were sold. Different demographics keep vehicles for different amounts of time. People tend to get new vehicles at life milestones younger people are moving up in the world commuting, starting families and this prompts them to change vehicle more often. Grandpa bought a 'Vic in '94 and has been driving it since.
Replacement cost greatly effects a how long a vehicle is kept in service. Replacing a compact SUV is cheap compared to a 1-ton truck so at any point in time the owner of the big truck is much more likely to fix any problem that comes up rather than go looking for a replacement. Look at the 90s Fords you still see around. Ford sold a TON of Explorers yet 1st and 2nd gen Explorers are a rarity on the roads compared to F-series.
Also, just because you never see a particular make/model where you live doesn't mean they don't exist in large numbers elsewhere.
There's probably a few things I'm forgetting but people would do well to keep in mind all the things that aren't being controlled for when they read about vehicle "reliability".
If you are a W-2 worker you have to be at work at a certain time and you need a car that can start every morning so you can get to work on time.
Higher class people can afford multiple cars, take time off from work, take a cab, etc.
The Cadillac brand is appealing to many lower class Americans so you often see them in "bad" neighborhoods. Some would say the people there are not in a hurry to get anywhere.
It's a pattern. People with money will deliberately show they can spend more money. Those wide, droopy sleeves you sometimes see in historical shows? Rich people simply bought clothes that used more fabric, just so they could show they could afford it.
The Cadillac brand is appealing to many lower class Americans
According to the actress who played "Snoop" in "The Wire" the appeal of Cadillac in lower class urban neighborhoods was entirely gone by the 2000's, and replaced by the Lexus.
As far as I know it was to demonstrate that the owner of such clothes doesn't have to work. Because such clothes make it extremely difficult to perform any manual work.
That has nothing to do with being a "W-2 worker". Being a W-2 just means you're not an independent contractor. I'm a W-2 worker, and if my car breaks down, I can just send an e-mail to my team and tell them I'll be working from home.
My grandfather, a retired bricklayer who immigrated from Poland, would drive nothing but a Cadillac in the 1980s and he was by no means rich. Many people his age drove them, particularly if they were from populations attacked by Germans in WWII such as Italian, Jewish, etc. A similar prejudice existed towards Japanese cars in the U.S. and in parts of Asia violated by Japan.
That was good for Cadillac for a while, but it became associated with old people and objectionable people (like my uncouth neighbors or my relatives who get the beat down from time to time in bars or parking garages)
GM has busted their ass and has had some success at keeping Cadillac successful despite that.
Thus Cadillac is a good base for a "theory of luxury car marketing," and calling a "BMW" a "Cadillac" is a bit like calling a "Pepsi" a "Coke".
I realize none of those brands are useful for making unrelated demographic-based comments, however.
It's also worth noting that in the US, most families have had multiple cars due to the lack of alternative transit options, and so families of modest means buy lower cost vehicles as a result.
Only recently are multi-car households are seeing a big uptick in places like the UK , and in many developed urban areas of Europe, the car is used by families as a "weekend getaway" vehicle, not a daily commuter. When you only have to buy one car, you might be able to afford more luxury.
Over time I learned more about the inline 5 cylinder engines that are common in Audis and many special characteristics but before I overcome my ignorance I had a wrong idea of the brand.
And that is the difficulty of branding luxury cars. Few of us experience a wide variety of luxury cars, so our brand image consists of some old news stories, word of mouth, seeing them on the road, etc.
Some can, the rest of the higher class people literally just drive Camrys, Accords, and Fusions because they need to be places just as much as the next guy.