The poor performances of Tesla and all three domestic automakers got the headlines in Consumer Reports magazine’s latest reliability survey, but there were other results that caught our interest.
Tiny Mazda notched the biggest gain among the 29 brands included in this year’s list, leap-frogging nine spots to No. 3. Buick, which was in the top 10 last year, fell 11 spots to No. 19, the biggest decline of any brand. And then there’s Volvo, a brand often vaunted for its quality and reliability, dropping six spots to dead last. What gives?
For starters, all three brands benefited or suffered in large part due to their relatively small portfolio of vehicles. So when raves or complaints rolled in for even one particular model, as was often the case, it weighed heavily on the entire brand. That’s especially true when it involves a relatively high-volume, hot-selling model such as the Buick Enclave (more on that in a moment). Mazda fared as well as it did despite the CX-3 losing Consumer Reports’ influential “recommended” status due to problems with its climate system, including leaks from the condenser and refrigerant unit that triggered a service bulletin from the automaker in late 2016. Deputy auto editor Jon Linkov said that scratch didn’t hurt the overall brand, since the CX-9 crossover and MX-5 Miata both jumped up to replace it on CR’s list of newly recommended vehicles, thanks to several back fixes Mazda made to both models.