Car reliability has improved dramatically since the 1990s, much less the dreadful 1970s and 1980s. But is it yet safe to buy a redesigned car in its first model year? Or do early buyers still serve as unpaid beta testers?
TrueDelta updates its reliability stats quarterly in part because this allows us to report on redesigned cars sooner. The latest update includes owner experiences through the end of June 2013 (scores elsewhere are about 14 months behind).
Among models that were redesigned or refreshed last fall, can you guess which group scored well, which has had a few problems, and which earned some (now rare) unhappy faces?
Group 1: Audi A4 (and related models), Honda Accord, Lexus RX, Nissan Pathfinder / Infiniti JX
Group 2: Acura RDX, Buick Enclave / Chevrolet Traverse / GMC Acadia, Dodge Dart, Ford Escape, Ford Fusion, Mazda CX-5, Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ
Group 3: Ford C-MAX, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Altima
Even in the unhappy group, most of the reported repairs involve minor problems (e.g. a vibration-prone mirror in the CX-5, a chirping fuel pump in the FR-S, and flaky power tailgate latches in two Fords). Few cars have serious problems during the warranty period.
This update also already includes the 2014 CX-5. It scored about the same as the 2013. Initial data on the 2014 Mazda6 and Subaru Forester suggest that both have enjoyed a smoother start than the CX-5.
The most consistently reliable model in the survey continues to be the Honda CR-V. Also worth noting: the current BMW 3-Series and 5-Series seem much more reliable than their predecessors, at least so far.
The next update, in November, will include more solid results for the early 2014s. The more people participate, the more models we can cover (for the past 15 model years) and the more precise these stats will be.
To view over 600 updated repair trips per year stats:
Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, a provider of car reliability, real-world fuel economy, and price comparison information.