Which Car Brands Make the Best Vehicles?

Our annual report card ranks the brands based on Overall Score

Car Brand Report Cards

Our car brand report card this year saw some significant reshuffling as some brands rocketed up the rankings and others fell. Big moves can usually be attributed to changes in predicted reliability for individual models within a brand’s lineup. We determine reliability by asking our members in surveys to report on problems they’ve experienced with their vehicles.

2021 AUTOS SPOTLIGHT

Mazda, Subaru, and Porsche were again among the top brands.

Honda showed the most improvement, increasing 10 spots into the Top 5, aided by improved reliability. (All but two Hondas now have average reliability or better.) BMW also rose this year into the Top 5. A pair of gainers—Chrysler and Buick—made it into the Top 10 because of incremental improvements in their product lines and downward movement by rivals. The luxury brands Genesis and Lincoln registered the biggest drops, each because of subpar predicted reliability.

We compile the report card by looking at the Overall Score for each model, factoring in road-test performance, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. Then we average all of them to come up with a brand Overall Score.

Brands that rise to the top tend to have the most consistent performance across their lineup. However, it is important to research the individual models when shopping because every brand has a range of product performance. 

To be included in our report card, a brand must have at least two models that we’ve tested. Fiat, Maserati, and Ram didn’t have the minimum number this year. Fiat was the lowest ranked brand last year. Alfa Romeo now holds that last spot.

How We Rank the Car Brands

The Overall Score for individual models is based on four key factors: the road test, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety.

For the Road-Test Score, we put the vehicles we buy through more than 50 tests and evaluations.

Predicted Reliability ratings are based on the problems reported by members in 17 trouble areas in CR’s auto surveys.

Owner Satisfaction predictions are based on whether CR members say in our surveys that they’d buy the same vehicle again, if given the chance.

Safety includes an assessment of crash-test results and extra points awarded for vehicles that come with proven safety features standard on all trims. 

Green Choices reflect how many tested vehicles from a brand earned the Green Choice designation for being among the cleanest, lowest-emitting passenger vehicles.

Learn more about how Consumer Reports tests cars.

If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. But if you haven’t signed up, click below and become a member to access this list and all our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test.

          
Rank
Change

          
Overall
Score

          
Predicted
Reliability

          
Owner
Satisfaction

          
Road-Test
Score

Models Tested/
Recommended/
Green Choices

1 ⬆3

Mazda

80

5

4

74

7/7/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 7/7/0

2 ⬆6

BMW

78

3

3

87

12/10/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 12/10/1

3

Subaru

76

3

4

87

7/5/2

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 7/5/2

4 ⬇3

Porsche

76

3

4

88

4/3/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 4/3/1

5 ⬆10

Honda

75

4

3

78

10/8/7

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 10/8/7

6 ⬇1

Lexus

75

4

3

75

8/7/2

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 8/7/2

7 ⬆5

Toyota

74

4

4

73

19/15/12

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 19/15/12

8 ⬆10

Chrysler

74

3

4

85

2/1/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 2/1/1

9 ⬆10

Buick

72

4

3

74

3/2/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 3/2/0

10 ⬇3

Hyundai

71

3

3

74

9/6/5

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 9/6/5

11 ⬇5

Audi

71

3

3

88

8/4/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 8/4/1

12 ⬆2

Infiniti

70

3

2

77

4/2/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 4/2/0

13 ⬆4

Nissan

68

3

2

74

12/6/4

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 12/6/4

14 ⬆7

Dodge

67

3

4

79

3/2/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 3/2/0

15 ⬇13

Genesis

66

2

4

82

2/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 2/0/0

16 ⬇5

Tesla

66

2

5

88

4/1/4

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 4/1

17 ⬇7

Mini

66

3

4

81

2/1/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 2/1/0

18 ⬇2

Volkswagen

65

2

3

82

7/2/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 7/2/1

19 ⬇10

Kia

64

3

3

75

11/4/3

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 11/4/3

20 ⬆2

Volvo

64

3

3

75

5/2/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 5/2/0

21 ⬇1

Mercedes-Benz

62

2

3

78

9/3/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 9/3/0

22 ⬆7

Cadillac

62

2

3

78

5/1/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 5/1/0

23 ⬆1

Acura

59

2

2

70

3/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 3/0/0

24 ⬆1

Chevrolet

58

2

3

73

13/2/2

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 13/2/2

25 ⬇2

Ford

57

2

3

70

8/3/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 8/3/1

26

GMC

57

2

3

73

6/1/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 6/1/0

27 ⬆1

Jaguar

54

2

3

74

3/0/1

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 3/0/1

28 ⬇15

Lincoln

53

2

5

78

4/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 4/0/0

29 ⬆2

Jeep

48

3

3

58

6/1/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 6/1/0

30 ⬆2

Mitsubishi

46

3

2

48

3/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 3/0/0

31 ⬇1

Land Rover

46

1

3

68

7/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 7/0/0

32 ⬇5

Alfa Romeo

44

1

4

72

2/0/0

Models Tested/Recommended/Green Choices 2/0/0