Expensive doesn't always mean quality.
Reliability is a tricky issue. What the general public mostly knows about brands and cars when it comes down to reliability tends to be based on reputations made or broken years or decades ago. BMW and Honda are good examples. Honda has an age old reputation for reliability yet, based on research, modern Honda places 15th out of 29 brands for reliability. Whereas, BMW who had a rough patch at the turn of the century and still has a reputation for unreliability despite being in 8th place on the same list. Ford, who still has its die-hard brand fanatics, is down in 18th place. As does Chevy, the brand in 23rd place.
Consumer Reports is one of the best sources on reliability studies for being both objective and conducting their own comprehensive surveys that dig into actual issues over a substantial amount of time. It surveys the first year of ownership, and gets 200-300 samples for each model year. It also weighs overall scores so a major mechanical issue has a larger effect than a piece of trim falling off. What we noticed though, is how many cars on the least reliable car models list for 2019 are premium vehicles. Or, more precisely, how they all are:
The Atlas, a 3-row crossover from Volkswagen, should be a given for reliability. It’s the last ingredient on what is a well-designed vehicle with a decent drivetrain and a premium level ride and infotainment system. However, Consumer Reports survey fillers found large enough problem areas in the climate, steering, and suspension that it gets a thumbs down for reliability.
Cadillac is a brand we want to see doing well. Cadillac has a rich history of big comfortable cruisers and the modern ability to build sedans and an SUV to rival Europes finest across the spectrum of comfort, sophistication, and performance. Given the level of engineering being applied to modern Cadillacs, there shouldn’t be enough problems with the powertrain and climate systems to be on this list. There are also other things we would like to see Cadillac do to improve the CTS.
It’s an Alfa Romeo, and you knew at least one would be on this list. It seems the Italian brand can’t pull itself out of the last century in terms of reliability. Enthusiasts may claim that its worth the relentless hassle of an Alfa going wrong just to own an Alfa and enjoy the performance and style. But, it's 2019 and there’s just no excuse for an engine to have so many issues, let alone the in-car electronics. They've become affordable on the used market, but reliability is a big caveat.
Living on the edge of being a premium car is Kia’s Cadenza. Like Toyota’s also oft forgotten Avalon, it’s a large, roomy, comfortable cruiser. Unlike the Avalon though, it has problems with the cooling and emissions systems as well as the climate control.
The Escalade should be so much more than a status symbol. It should ride better, and not need buyers to opt for the ESV trim to get a comfortable third row and decent storage. It should also not have a perplexing infotainment system or a climate control system prone to failure. It shouldn’t have transmission issues either, as it’s got a monster of a V8 and is supposed to be able to tow 8,300 lbs in its top-level configuration. We just wish Cadillac would put the effort into playing with the sales figures into making sure things don't fail instead.
We weren’t kidding about Cadillac, and there’s a reason they are number 28 in a list 29 brands rated for reliability. The CT6 impresses in driving dynamics but doesn’t impress when it comes to the same thing the other Cadillacs suffer from, including climate control, in-car electronics, and transmission issues. Although, it does add another to the list. Enough people complained about minor issues it has shown up in the ratings. Hopefully the money generated from the price hike on the CT6 gets spent on making it more reliable.
If you need to move something heavy then either the Silverado or GMC HD will do the trick. JD Power gave the 2018 Silverado 2500 HD its Power Quality Large Heavy Duty Pickup award. However, Consumer reports tell people to be wary of problems in the fuel and emissions system, the drive system, and the suspension.
Recently, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation of the Tesla 3 after identifying a number of problems with the body, paint, defects in the glass, and touchscreen. The Model X has also yet to score well due to problems with the doors and hardware. The biggest problems identified also includes noises and leaks. The good news for Tesla owners is that the drivetrain has rarely been an issue due to its simplicity.
Buick’s flagship model has been getting decent reviews, and there is very little to dislike about the Enclave. However, problems occur with minor transmission issues, noises, leaks, and power equipment. It’s a shame because, like Cadillac, Buick is a brand we would like to see rise again to the heights we’ve previously seen.
Not quite to the level of Alfa Romeo, but Jaguar has a history notorious for unreliability. The old joke suggests that the Lucas electric system parts Jaguar used were the world's first automotive anti-theft devices. Nowadays, it’s the in-car electronics causing issues, as well as the drive system, leaks and noises, and power equipment that haunt the F-Pace. Like the CT6, the F-Pace has just got a price hike and we hope that extra money is going into fixing the common issues.