Buy At Your Own Peril: These Are Consumer Reports’ 10 Least Reliable New Cars

Even though brand new cars might be the way to go if you’re mostly worried about what can go wrong when it comes to overall reliability, things don’t always play out that way.

A number of new car buyers will always end up having to take the vehicle back to the dealer in order to fix certain issues (that’s what the factory guarantee is there for, after all) and this exclusive survey courtesy of Consumer Reports tells us exactly which models proved least reliable over the past 12 months.

The list counts down to the absolute worst car here in terms of reliability in the U.S. market, so without further ado… let’s see them.

#10 VW Atlas

If you’re looking for a non-premium, three-row SUV in the U.S. right now, odds are the Atlas is probably on your shortlist. It’s big, well-equipped, comfortable and surprisingly agile to drive, despite its size. However, it’s not the quickest SUV in its class and the V6 model’s combined 20 mpg (11.7 l/100km) fuel economy rating isn’t the best.

While this is technically a German automobile, the Atlas is built in the U.S. at the automaker’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee – and owners questioned by CR are clearly not happy about its reliability, which is why it ended up in 10th place.

Main issues: Climate system, steering, suspension, power equipment

#9 Cadillac CTS

Cadillac’s midsize premium sedan is assembled in Lansing, Michigan, and some say that it’s one of the sportiest models in its segment. However, negatives include the overly complex Cue infotainment system, rear seat room, trunk size and the refinement of the four-cylinder turbo and 3.6-liter V6 power units – described as not the best in class.

Main issues: Climate system, drive system, transmission

#8 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Our first import on this list, the Giulia remains a very attractive proposition in a segment that includes strong entries such as the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Volvo S60, Lexus IS and more.

According to owners, however, despite its sporty handling, beautiful exterior and decent interior, the Giulia struggles to absorb bumps as well as some of its rivals. It also has unintuitive controls, it’s not as quiet as some would like, its seating comfort isn’t the best and the infotainment system can be distracting to use. And if you look at its problems, they somehow manage to fit the Italian car stereotype.

Main issues: Power equipment, engine, in-car electronics

#7 Kia Cadenza

The Cadenza is shipped into the U.S. from Hwasung, South Korea and despite the fact that it can hold its own compared to the likes of the Chevy Impala and Toyota Avalon in most categories, it doesn’t boast the most advanced technology on board and to really have it stand out, you generally need to cross the $40,000 threshold. Which is serious money and makes overlooking its issues much less difficult.

Main issues: Engine cooling, emissions, fuel system, climate system

#6 Cadillac Escalade

If you ignore the Escalade’s popularity and projected image, you begin to see imperfections such as the stiff ride, loose handling characteristics, cramped third-row and so on. According to CR, a well-trimmed Chevy Suburban or a GMC Yukon XL would make for smarter purchases right now. Buying something like the Escalade, though, is hardly based on logic.

Main issues: Climate system, transmission (minor), in-car electronics

#5 Cadillac CT6

Technically, the CT6 suffers from pretty much the exact same faults as the Escalade. However, compared to the SUV, the CT6 is actually a lot more refined, more lively to drive and offers higher levels of overall comfort, despite lacking in cabin storage.

Main issues: Climate system, transmission (minor), in-car electronics

#4 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Like its GMC Sierra HD sibling, the heavy-duty version of the Silverado managed to raise major reliability concerns among CR members. Still, when it runs as it should, you’ll definitely enjoy its potent V8 petrol and diesel engines, solid off-road characteristics and high levels of active safety features like forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking assist.

Main issues: Fuel/emissions system, drive system, steering, suspension

#3 Tesla Model X

The all-electric Tesla Model X may be innovative, quick and striking to look at, especially with its rear “falcon wing” doors, but unlike most SUVs its size, it’s not tremendously practical inside, while overall ride comfort and noise isolation aren’t as good as in the Model S sedan – and those doors take forever to open and close.

Main issues: Body hardware, paint and trim, in-car electronics, noises and leaks

#2 Buick Enclave

On paper, the Enclave looks like a really good buy. It’s large, spacious, quiet and features a lively 3.6-liter V6 mated to a smooth nine-speed automatic. It can also tow an impressive 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg), has an easy-to-use infotainment system and plenty of connectivity features.

So what’s the problem? Well, the gear selector can prove unintuitive and fussy during parking maneuvers and build quality leaves something to be desired, thus its ranking as the second worst in this list.

Main issues: Transmission (minor), power equipment, noises and leaks

#1 Jaguar F-PACE

The “winner” and least reliable car on CR’s list this year is the Jaguar F-PACE. General grievances include the omnipresent engine droning from the supercharged 3.0-liter V6, stiff and choppy ride, subpar interior quality (at least compared to some top competitors), and the fact that the infotainment system isn’t as good as what you get with some of its rivals. Paying a premium price means you expect a high-end product, but Jaguar’s SUV clearly falls short of expectations.

Main issues: In-car electronics, drive system, power equipment, noises and leaks.

Knowing what you know now, which of these models would you still love to own, and which ones would you discard entirely from your shortlist?

  • salamOOn

    clearly they need to learn what is a reliability issue. ( because not that good infotainment, stiff ride or fussy gear selector are not )

    • charlotteharry57

      I’d have to agree with you, but I haven’t yet seen my hard copy issue. If it’s engine woes, which I suspect many are, then that’s another story.

    • eb110americana

      Right. Like, “Dang, my back seat is so small. What an unreliable car.”

      How are there not more German cars, especially VW on the list? And nothing from Dodge or Chrysler? What about Ford? I’m going to go ahead and say rating reliability based on consumer complaints about features in the first 12 months makes about as much sense as consulting a Ouija board.

      • Bo Hanan

        Dodge & Chrysler win by default because there designs haven’t changed in 15 years.

  • Rocket

    GM loading up another top ten list, and not in a good way. Hey Mary … how’s that cost-cutting working out for you?

    Cadillac: “Standard of the World.” Talk about setting the bar low.

    • charlotteharry57

      Yes, this woman (vermin) has got to go. She said when she started the job “no more lousy GM products” and all she’s done since then is try to please the shareholders. Not the customers. She’s a disaster in heels.

  • rover10

    I’ve heard numerous groans about Land Rover and Jaguar reliability and quality. Their current woes are not just a downturn in Chinese sales, but a failure to address the aforementioned. When Ford owned Jaguar it quickly turned the company around on so many fronts, including quality and reliability, but it appears the company has let that advantage slip away?

    • TheBelltower

      I’ve owned Range Rovers. They were two of the most unreliable vehicles I’ve ever experienced. Shockingly bad.

      • Momogg

        Only the Range Rover Classic is reliable. 😀

  • Bo Hanan

    This why Cadillac is going under. To think in 2019 they can’t produce a quality car. Even worse, all 3 have been around longer than 3 years.

  • Adilos Nave

    MAGA!! Go GM!!!

  • designer_dick

    I find it almost impossible to believe that any car on that list is less reliable than a Tesla Model X.

  • ace_9

    Or in other words: “a list of random 10 cars” 😀

  • FordMopar

    CR can fk themselves… if any car looks good to you, then get it!! Life’s too short to be GD scared of getting unreliable car! Lease then! Fully covered and then lease again with different car and enjoy it for rest of life instead of playing it safe and have boring life!

    • GPFan

      Couldn’t agree more, life is too short to drive a Camry!!
      Plus there’s not really any “bad” cars out there anymore, not like there was 20-30 years ago. Warranties are getting longer and like you said you can always lease

      • FordMopar

        Yea. True. Most of negatives from CR are touch screens, rear seats size, crap like that. It’s laughable. Like that’s gonna stop me and many others from getting certain cars.

  • Not surprised, the Altas (& Tiguan) already has 7+ recalls and some of them very serious and safety-related to brakes, fuel lines, leaky roofs and electrical issues.

  • javier

    the alfa cuz sporty

  • BlackPegasus

    So the Cadillac CTS made this list because of the CUE system’s userability and lack of rear leg room? I’d hardly call that a reliability issue. Anyway, I’d still love to own a CTS. I think it’s still a sporty sedan with elegant proportions.

  • TheBelltower

    Why don’t the listed “main issues” seem to have anything to do with the overview paragraphs? I’m not interested in CR’s opinion. I want an overview based on quantitative information.

    • Mr. EP9

      You’d have to go elsewhere for that. I doubt you’ll get it from CR.

  • Mr. EP9

    And I’d still buy the Alfa. I mean, the brand is kind of known for not being reliable anyways and no one expects that to change soon.

  • kachuks

    Silverado is most confusing. “Fuel/emissions system, drive system, steering, suspension” are reliability issues that truly matter especially in an HD.

    Yet, the description says how good a buy it is… if you find one that works??

  • Matteo Tommasi

    So the RELIABILITY issues are “in 12 months I still can’t use the infotainment”, the car is stiff (you bought a sporty sedan…), the trunk is small (!!!!!!).

  • Ronald Roman

    Yes, we are. Being a bad driver doesn’t make you a liar.

    • LeStori

      I am sure that if ask any bad driver, they will say they are a good driver. The road would be safer if all those other fools knew how to drive.

  • d’Aforde

    In my humble opinion, an unreliable new car is one like my early 2000s VW GTI, which had multiple engine failures in its first year. The problems were so bad that I turned the car in before the lease ended because the warranty was about to expire and did not want to face thousands of dollars in repairs and a car note. That’s unreliable. A cramped backseat and an nfotainment system that works but you cannot figure out? Not so much.

  • Bash

    What does the Tesla X leaks? whatever it is, that’s absolutely crazy, where is @S3XY when you need him.

    • Astonman

      Probably meant water leaking in.

  • Eric D

    When Afla Romeo Guilia, was launch in the states I indicated Alfa Romeo, has sh*t reliability and I was attacked (you would thought I said something about the Pope). I feel vindicated.

    • Thetruthísntalwayspopular

      “the Giulia struggles to absorb bumps as well as some of its rivals. It also has unintuitive controls, it’s not as quiet as some would like, its seating comfort isn’t the best and the infotainment system can be distracting to use”
      Not ONE of these points is about actual reliability. Don’t feel that vindicated lmao.

  • Marty

    Actually the problem here is Consumer Reports. Their article is full of general opinions instead of survey data about reliability.

    For example paragraphs like:
    “Seat comfort is compromised by a short cushion and limited range of adjustments, and the cabin isn’t as quiet as that of its peers”.

  • Thetruthísntalwayspopular

    Literally NONE of these complaints centre around actual reliability and more the fact that dumb americans can’t figure out the infotainment system. Consumer reports is the biggest load of garbage

  • SteersUright

    6 out of 10 are American cars and the worst offender is a Jaguar. Does this surprise anyone?

  • SgtBeavis

    The “winner” and least reliable car on CR’s list this year is the
    General grievances include the omnipresent engine droning from the
    supercharged 3.0-liter V6, stiff and choppy ride, subpar interior
    quality (at least compared to some top competitors), and the fact that
    the infotainment system isn’t as good as what you get with some of its
    rivals. Paying a premium price means you expect a high-end product, but
    Jaguar’s SUV clearly falls short of expectations.

    I used to own an Jag F-Pace and I agree with everything there, but what does any of that have to do with RELIABILITY? In the year I owned my F-Pace (and put 15K miles on it) I had ZERO issues. The interior was definitely cheap. The damn thing had HALOGEN headlamps. The infotainment had no support for CarPlay or Android Auto. That was true on the top level infotainment system as well. But all of it worked and never gave me a problem.

    The saving grace for it was that it was an absolute JOY to drive. Holy crap that supercharged V6 and aluminum body were awesome. I drove the curves around the Rocky Mountains pretty hard and the Jag too all of it like a champ.

    BTW, why isn’t the Jeep Wrangler on this list? Now that is an unreliable vehicle. I just replaced a leaky steering stabilizer on mine. The infotainment system reboots all the time. Many people have been experiencing death wobble on unmodified suspensions. There have been numerous recalls on the newest version. THAT is a real reliability issue. The only reason I keep mine is because it is DAMN FUN to drive. I’m anxiously awaiting the snow to melt on the mountains so I can go offroading again.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    Irrelevant? They literally have millions of subscribers, over 3 million to be exact.

    CR is far from garbage.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    It has nothing to do with the user being able to figure out the system, it has to do with the system itself freezing up so you can’t use it.

    Big difference.

  • DM

    JLR has beautiful cars, but I would never own one with no warranty.

  • Ron

    Anyone who believes anything from CR is a fool. The way they compile their results is a joke. Stick to reviewing toasters CR, its the only thing you are good at.

  • Ron

    And how many people who own a Jaguar F-Pace actually subscribe to Consumer Reports? They only use their subscribers for the results. You would have to be a brainless sheep to actually subscribe to their bogus magazine.

    • Astonman

      Couldn’t tell you Ron.

  • nellydesign

    In my day, poor reliability meant that things break down. Now, I guess it means there are some things that people with too much time on their hands complain about.

  • nellydesign

    Not really. Reliability to CR now correlates to TGW’s or “Things Gone Wrong”. This evaluation metric is the bane of car companies because it can be attributed to anything from a blown head gasket to a slightly slow infotainment system or stiff seat cushions. There is no discerning between them. If a customer takes the time to complain about it, it gets counted as a TGW.

    Ford was at the bottom of these lists for years because they were one of the first companies to experiment with full touchscreen interface and capacitive buttons. There were bugs and the system was laggy. Nothing mechanically unsound in the vehicles, but they were ranked below vehicles that had much more serious problems, but just not as many of them.

    You could have a car that has one TGW and that TGW is that the driveline disintegrates over 40 mph and it would be considered more reliable than a car that has a slow moonroof and small mirrors. 2 TGW’s. Less reliable.

    • Astonman

      I’d like to see the breakdown. Have you seen the report directly from Consumer Reports and the breakdown?

  • blunt-o

    Amazing! The majority of comments below about Consumer Reports are untrue, and by people who have never looked at the reliability data offered by CR. Who are you people? Illiterate used car salesmen?

    • Ron

      Consumer Reports survey asks for SUBSCRIBERS’ opinions about their cars. How many Jag or Tesla owners do you think subscribe to consumer reports, then actually takes the time to submit a survey? If 5 people take their bogus survey and 2 of them have something negative to say, do you honestly think thats a good representation of a cars reliability? Besides, if they subscribe to CR then they cant be very smart in the first place.

  • Super Rob

    “don’t like” and “reliability” are two different things. One is an opinion and one is a fact based on things breaking.

  • MayTheBestCarWin05

    Atlas owner here.

    We love it. Have had zero issues in 8 months of ownership. And that 6yr / 72k bumper to bumper warranty does wonders at lowering m concerns about VW’s reliability record.

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