No one expects to have to give their car a trim after taking delivery, but one Tesla TSLA customer reported finding hair in the paint of a new Tesla Model Y. That was only one example of poor workmanship on Tesla’s newest model consumers reported in the 2020 Consumer Reports Vehicle Reliability Study.
Tesla’s overall poor performance in the annual study placed it second to last among the 26 ranked brands. Ford’s Lincoln brand was dead last, while the Ford brand was dragged down by struggles with its Explorer and Escape.
The biggest surprise was Mazda’s ascension to the top spot, besting perennial leader Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus, which came in second and third, respectively.
In presenting results of the study to a virtual meeting of the Automotive Press Association, Jake Fisher, Senior Director Automotive Testing at Consumer Reports, attributed Mazda’s success to its aversion to overloading its vehicles with technology, noting it’s producing new vehicles without even touch screens.
“They are not throwing technology willy nilly,” said Fisher. “By utilizing proven engines, proven platforms, reusing them, and just kind of adding technology piecemeal, and slowly, has really paid off that they can make compelling vehicles that are also reliable.”
Also showing marked improvement was Buick, which jumped 14 spots to fourth—the biggest improvement of any brand, and the highest rated domestic brand in the survey. The news for GM, however, was mixed with the GMC Sierra 1500 pickup below average and the Chevrolet brand wallowing at number 17 in the brand rankings.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also saw mixed results, especially with its Ram and Jeep brands. Ram sat at number seven but could have ranked higher if not for its 1500 pickup truck which was plagued with electronics issues, while the heavy duty 2500 showed well-above average reliability.
It was a mixed bag for Jeep as well. The new Gladiator pickup, based on the Wrangler, did well, while steering and suspension issues dragged down the Wrangler to below average.
As for Tesla, Fisher related that Model Y owners said they enjoyed driving the electric SUV, but quality problems were maddening, including unexpected follicles.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of poorly fitting body panels, paint issues,” said Fisher. “Specifically we’ve had Tesla Model Y owners tell us the rear hatch fits so poorly they can’t even close it. The paint issues have been everything from mismatched paint to one owner explaining there was actually human hair in paint when they had it delivered.”
Indeed the only Tesla vehicle Consumer Reports could recommend is the Model 3, citing both physical and electronic issues in the Model X and Model S.
Dogging the Ford brand is a host of problems in its Explorer and Escape SUVs. “We’ve seen issues with transmission and car electronics, power equipment, other issues. Explorer, specifically, we’ve seen issues with transmission replacement,” said Fisher.
The Ford brand ranked 22nd overall, down six from last year’s survey.
Among other brands:
- Honda improved seven spots to number five
- Subaru was ranked eighth, but held down by multiple problem with its Ascent SUV.
- Porsche was the highest ranking European brand at ninth, but down five spots from last year.
- Audi was unchanged at 14th, but its Q8 SUV and electric e-Tron SUV were worse than average.