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The 10 least reliable cars

The odds are stacked against these vehicles

Last updated: October 31, 2014 08:00 AM

Fiat 500L

Among the myriad factors to consider when shopping for a new car is reliability—a key predictor for how a vehicle will hold up in the years ahead. Choose a model with a below-average reliability rating and you risk greater post-warranty, out-of-pocket expenses and the headaches associated with frequent repair shop visits. And there are more than a few cars that could steer you down that dark path.

In the latest Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey, data collected on more than 1 million vehicles across 10 model years provides great insights into the problems people have been experiencing, including their cost and severity. From this information, we’re able to predict how cars will hold up in the year ahead. While there are many cars with a promising outlook, there are also those with track records that are truly poor.

Of course, a model's below-average reliability rating does not mean that each and every example with suffer the same fate. Rather, it points to a notably greater chance of problems. And all things being equal, it is natural to gravitate toward a reliable model. In fact, Consumer Reports only offers its coveted recommendation to those models that have average or better predicted reliability and also performed well in our road tests and crash-test ratings, if performed by government and/or insurance industry.

This year, the 10 lowest-rated models for reliability all have predicted reliability scores calculated to be 125-percent below that of the average car—or worse. Looked another way, the lowest-rated model (Fiat 500L) is 16 times more likely to have a serious problem than the highest-rated model (Scion xB).

To make matters worse for those interested in Fiat, the 500L earned just a 50-point (out of 100 possible) overall road test score, and it is rated Poor in the IIHS small-overlap front crash test.

Clearly, it pays to do your homework before buying a new car, and these models are to be avoided if you prize reliability.

Least reliable vehicles

Listed in order of Ratings score starting with the worst score.

Make & model Percent below average Problems
Fiat 500L* 219% Navigation, backup camera/sensor, radio, rough-shifting transmission
Jeep Cherokee (4-cyl.)* 176 Bluetooth pairing, radio, rough-shifting transmission
Ford Fiesta 162 Rough-shifting and slipping transmission
Nissan Pathfinder 154 Transmission replacement, torque converter, slipping transmission, liftgate, windows
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250* 145 Audio system, squeaks/rattles
Chevrolet Cruze (1.4T) 143 Drive shaft/axle
Dodge Dart (1.4T)* 140 Rough shifting, transmission computer, oxygen sensors, stalling/hesitation
Jeep Grand Cherokee (diesel)* 134 Fuel system problems such as check-engine light and emission controls, navigation
Infiniti Q50* 127 Navigation, video screen, integrated controls, Bluetooth, power steering
Mercedes-Benz S-Class* 127 Windows, active suspension

* Data based on one model year only.

Click on the vehicles above to visit the model overview pages to see how they performed in our tests and also view a more-detailed look at reliability broken down by 17 potential trouble spots. (Model overview pages are available to online subscribers.)

—Jeff Bartlett

   

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