Given that Consumer Reports is among the most influential sources of information for new cars, people tend to pay a lot of attention to its new press releases, whether they agree with the publication or not. Having released its list of the most reliable vehicle brands this week, USA Today dug a bit deeper to find out who fell at the other end of the spectrum — the least reliable brands, if you will. “Less-expensive European brands are having more problems,” says Consumer Reports’ testing engineer Jake Fisher. It raises the possibility that “they are trying to save money in these vehicles” by scrimping in ways that hurt reliability, USA Today adds.
That explains Volkswagen’s and Mini’s situations, but what about Ford (NYSE:F) and Lincoln? Fisher explained that the brand appears to have tried to make too many changes at once. Consumer Reports says of the 31 Ford models in its survey, only one was above average, the F-150 pickup with a 3.7-liter V6 engine. Typically, it appears that electronics tend to be a driving force behind reliability ratings. Interestingly, the general way people think about reliability seems to be changing. Of the 17 problem areas Consumer Reports asks about, the electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2013 models than for any other category.
This coincides with the exponentially more complex infotainment systems that are being implemented that feature data connections and far more components that can “go wrong.” Fisher even noted that this year’s results demonstrated that new cars are for the most part mechanically sound. For its survey, the Consumer Reports National Research Center looked at the experiences of drivers of 1.1 million vehicles, the Los Angeles Times reports, adding that Consumer Reports then uses the survey data to compile reliability histories on vehicles and predict the dependability of new models. Here are the 10 brands that sank to the bottom in that measure.