Consumer Reports: the 10 most (and least) reliable cars of 2020

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Model 3 on the road... and with the rest of the Tesla family.

Want a reliable car? A little patience could pay off.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the latest redesigned car model may not hold up as well on the road as versions that come out a year or two later when the early kinks have been worked out.

That's one of the takeaways from the annual Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey in the US, which features many models also on sale in New Zealand.

Genesis, Hyundai's luxury brand, shows Korea is now on par with long-established premium marques for quality.
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Genesis, Hyundai's luxury brand, shows Korea is now on par with long-established premium marques for quality.

Though redesigned vehicles and brand-new models often fetch headlines and social media buzz, the old stalwarts are typically more likely to hold up well on the road.

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"When you redesign a new vehicle, often you get better fuel economy, better safety, potentially better features," said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports.

Tesla Model 3 has risen in Consumer Reports' estimation as time has passed and problems have been rectified.
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Tesla Model 3 has risen in Consumer Reports' estimation as time has passed and problems have been rectified.

"But if you want... reliability, your best bet is to wait a year or two until those initial growing pains have been worked out."

Case in point: Tesla. The company's best-seller, the Model 3 electric compact car, earned the coveted Consumer Reports recommendation this year after failing to earn that status previously.

That recommendation comes "with an asterisk," though, Fisher said. 

While it's good now, Consumer Reports says Tesla Model 3 could inherit bugs from wireless updates.
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While it's good now, Consumer Reports says Tesla Model 3 could inherit bugs from wireless updates.

Since Tesla regularly updates its vehicles that use wireless technology, customers could experience unforeseen bugs in the future.

In the Consumer Reports brand reliability rankings, Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus, and its namesake brand ranked first and third, respectively. Mazda was second.

Korean brands Genesis, Hyundai and Kia, all part of the same parent company, ranked fifth, sixth and ninth, respectively.

Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus both in top three for reliability. Prius Prime (pictured) number two for 2020 reliability projection.
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Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus both in top three for reliability. Prius Prime (pictured) number two for 2020 reliability projection.

They topped rival Japanese brands Nissan (11th), Honda (12th), Infiniti (13th) and Acura (28th).

"There is no gap any more between the Korean manufacturers and the Japanese," Fisher said. "Their reliability is equal."

General Motors luxury brand Cadillac ranked last among the 30 brands included in the survey. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand Alfa Romeo was second to last.

Mazda brand was second in reliability rankings, and the MX-5 tops the Most Reliable of 2020 projections.
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Mazda brand was second in reliability rankings, and the MX-5 tops the Most Reliable of 2020 projections.

The study was based on surveys of owners of more than 400,000 current-generation vehicles made within the past three years.

Those owners evaluated safety systems, vehicle infotainment, engine performance and other aspects of the cars and trucks.

Consumer Reports crunches the data to make predictions about 2020 models.

10 most reliable models of 2020, according to Consumer Reports

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius

Lexus GX

Hyundai Kona

Mazda CX-3

Lexus NX

Toyota 4-Runner

Mazda CX-9

Lexus GS

10 least reliable models of 2020, according to Consumer Reports

Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon (same body style, different badging)

Chevrolet Camaro

Jeep Wrangler

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Volkswagen Atlas

Volkswagen Tiguan

Acura MDX

Tesla Model X

Chrysler Pacifica

Chevrolet Traverse

How automotive brands ranked for reliability

1. Lexus

2. Mazda

3. Toyota

4. Porsche

5. Genesis

6. Hyundai

7. Subaru

8. Dodge

9. Kia

10. Mini

11. Nissan

12. Honda

13. Infiniti

14. Audi

15. Lincoln

16. Ford

17. BMW

18. Buick

19. Chrysler

20. Mitsubishi

21. Mercedes-Benz

22. GMC

23. Tesla

24. Volvo

25. Chevrolet

26. Jeep

27. Volkswagen

28. Acura

29. Alfa Romeo

30. Cadillac

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