Auto writers aren’t necessarily known for their humor, but there is one funny joke that used to rattle around the workplace. It went like this:
Writer 1: What are you working on today?
Writer 2: Well, it’s Friday, so I have to prep a story about the next Fiat Chrysler recall.
As recently as 2015, you could set your calendar by the fact that a new Chrysler Group vehicle would get recalled, and it’s only a small exaggeration to say it happened every week. FCA showed improvements in its total number of recalls for 2016, but that legacy of below-average reliability persists.
The Consumer Reports brand rankings from 2016 illustrate what a tough time FCA has had in recent years. When the testing agency examined data from its road tests, consumer surveys, and safety rankings, Fiat Chrysler brands fared terribly. Fiat (worst), Jeep (second-worst), and Chrysler (fifth-worst) dominated the list of underachievers. Meanwhile, Dodge ranked sixth among the bottom of the auto industry barrel.
Consumer Reports 2016 reliability ratings suggest these results were no fluke. Any way you break down the stats (i.e., by all vehicles, by segment, by brand), a Fiat Chrysler nameplate underperformed most of the competition. Here are the 10 FCA vehicles that ranked worst-in-class among new models in the 10 non-luxury segments.
1. Dodge Grand Caravan
Consumer Reports could hardly rate Dodge Grand Caravan worse. The testing agency considered it inadequate as a family road-trip machine on several fronts. Everything from its “lousy” fuel economy to its “thin, low, and uncomfortable seats” and poor safety ratings doomed the Grand Caravan. As the worst in reliability among every model in the minivan class, consumers have far better options available. You might start with the well-reviewed Chrysler Pacifica.
2. Jeep Renegade
While the subcompact SUV class continues growing, Fiat Chrysler has the two least reliable models of the bunch. We’ll start with Renegade, the Italian import that ranked much worse than the competition. Consumer Reports testers did not like the “jittery” ride, weak powertrain, or uncomfortable seating with this one. If the brand’s previous models are any indication, you can expect recalls at some point down the road.
3. Ram 2500
There was plenty of positive stuff written about Ram 2500, but Consumer Reports offered up a laundry list of trouble spots for the heavy duty truck. Testers found issues with the power equipment, emissions controls, four-wheel-drive components, and other sensors. Steering vibrations were also common during the tests. Among pickup trucks on the U.S. market, Ram 2500 was the worst in terms of reliability.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee
All things considered, Jeep Grand Cherokee had many great features when Consumer Reports weighed in on the latest model. However, because of its “well-below average” reliability — worst overall in the midsize SUV class — it is not recommended to any new car buyer. Overall, it didn’t score as poorly as Jeep Renegade, but it was close enough. Jeep buyers should be handy with a wrench (or know someone who is) if they choose any of the brand’s models new.
5. Dodge Charger
Like some of the other Fiat Chrysler cars Consumer Reports panned for reliability, Dodge Charger got a decent review from testers. Yet once you spend a year or so with it, you start encountering its flaws on a regular basis. According to the data, Charger was well below the best examples of the large sedan class. (Hyundai Azera scored highest in reliability.) Avoid this one if you hate visits to the repair shop.
6. Jeep Cherokee
While Grand Cherokee had its pluses to go along with the minuses, the smaller Jeep Cherokee rated poorly almost across the board. Consumer Reports thumped the small SUV for its “unrefined” character, its terrible fuel economy, “jittery” ride, and “not very responsive” auto transmission. Oh, and it has problems that start appearing from the day you drive it off the lot. Reliability ranked worst in the compact SUV class.
7. Fiat 500X
While the Fiat brand ranked worst overall in reliability, there was only model that took last place in its segment. (Fiat only has four vehicles available in America.) That honor belonged to 500X, the bloated crossover that starts at around $20,000. You might need those initial savings to keep this car on the road, apparently. Consumer Reports found issues with 500X’s “idle vibration,” poor visibility, “touchy” brake system, among many other problems. Only Jeep Renegade, which it shares a platform with, was worse in reliability for the subcompact class.
8. Jeep Compass
As the worst-rated compact SUV Consumer Reports tested (a score of 47), you should not expect decent performance in any area from a Jeep Compass. It scored much worse than the competition in the reliability department while getting demerits for its noisy engine and “unimpressive” handling. Add in a “claustrophobic” cabin and poor visibility and you have a terrible report from the testing agency. Compass’s profile does not do it any favors, either.
9. Chrysler 200
Just about every reviewer who tested the Chrysler 200 had something bad to say about it, and consumers slammed it in the JD Power Initial Quality Study, too. When Consumer Reports devoted a paragraph to this lemon, the staff came out swinging: You’ll read about its “clumsy” handling, “rough and unsettled” ride, “underwhelming” four-cylinder engine, and status as “a reliability albatross.” (No, tell us how you really feel.) As the worst rated sedan in the midsize class, the 200’s poor reliability was just one of its problems.
10. Jeep Wrangler
Though it’s hard to miss, we’ll point out that this list contains a Jeep model every other entry. The total tally is five of the 10 least reliable vehicles available in America. Jeep Wrangler, like so many other models produced by the brand, scored “much worse than average” in reliability. Consumer Reports described it as “uncivilized,” “unsettled,” and “seriously outdated” while pointing out its “clumsy” handling and “uncomfortable” ride character. It’s also among the worst in crash-test scores. A new model is en route for 2018 — we’ll see if it can improve on the Wrangler’s current situation.
Source: Consumer Reports