Annual Reliability Survey
Consumer Reports, an 85-year-old consumer testing and recommendations organization, has released its annual Auto reliability Survey, which surveyed over 300,000 of its members about issues they’ve had with their vehicles during the previous 12 months. The survey, which has been running for decades, touches on engines, transmissions, brakes, to things like electrical systems, noises, leaks, and paint and trim issues – up to 17 different problem areas.
In 2022, there was plenty of good news for hybrids, as well as conventional fuel-efficient sedans, but plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles fared less well. Indeed, some high-profile vehicles like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagen ID.4 had their reliability numbers drop, and have been removed from Consumer Reports’ recommended vehicle lists.
Great News For Hybrids
Every year, Consumer Reports receives more data on hybrid models as they sell in greater numbers, with consumers attracted by their improved fuel economy and flexibility. This year, the survey showed that hybrids have reliability that is as good as – or even better – than their internal-combustion counterparts.
For instance, owners of the conventional 2022 Ford Escape reported some problems with the brakes, but drivers of the hybrid version saw no such issues. Drivers of the non-hybrid escape also reported issues with rough shifting from the eight-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid’s CVT was immune from such challenges.
Of course, hybrid vehicles have a lot more that makes them appealing than just reliability. They are more fuel-efficient and thus cheaper to run than their non-hybrid counterparts, and can also be less expensive than plug-in hybrid or full-electric alternatives.
Problems With Plug-Ins and EVs
As electric cars sell in greater numbers – and as less-expensive electric cars become more widespread – more respondents to the survey reported problems with EV-specific systems like batteries, charging systems, and drive motors.
Indeed, some of the best-selling EVs in the country, including the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Kona Electric and Volkswagen ID.4 were all ranked as having below-average reliability. Owners reported challenges with charging and other electric-specific features. On top of that, these EVs, which all feature high-tech touch-screen interfaces, had high rates of problems with their infotainment systems and other in-car electronics – something that they share with internal-combustion vehicles.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles were the subject of similar issues for many owners. The Toyota Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime had lower reliability scores than their conventional hybrid and gasoline-powered (in the case of the RAV4) counterparts. And Consumer Reports notes that the plug-in Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid was one of the least reliable vehicles in the survey.
Conventional Sedans Still Most Reliable
Even as consumers continue to migrate to SUVs and pickups for personal transportation, sedans remained the most reliable type of vehicle, according to Consumer Reports. Vehicles like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata – all of which offer exceptional economy and are also available in hybrid versions – had an average predicted reliability score of 58 on a scale of 0 to 100, followed by SUVs at 51.
Pickups were at the lowest end of the ratings, with an average score of 39 out of 100. The new Toyota Tundra, available as a hybrid, dropped to below-average reliability in its first year. The Hyundai Santa Cruz, Nissan Frontier, Jeep Gladiator, and full-sized GM and Ford pickup trucks were also rated as below-average.
Bright spots included the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Honda Ridgeline. The new compact Ford Maverick, which comes as standard with a hybrid drivetrain, was also rated highly.
If you’re looking to save on fuel costs, Consumer Reports’ full listing includes a number of fuel-efficient and hybrid vehicles which we have covered here on GreenCars. The Ford Escape Hybrid, one of the top-selling hybrids, is also one of the most reliable. If you want a larger SUV, the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is rated highly. And if you want a small car for the city, consider a Mini Cooper.