By on October 25, 2016

2016 Ford Focus

Headlining 2016’s Consumer Reports annual reliability rankings were the dreadful results of four Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ brands. Bringing up the rear in uninterrupted fashion were Dodge, Chrysler, Fiat, and Ram. Jeep was only three spots ahead of Dodge.

Not coincidentally then, two of the five least reliable new vehicles on sale in America are also FCA products. All five are domestics, though they’re not all built in the United States.

Still, poor reliability does not necessarily correspond to poor marketplace performances. Three of the five least reliable vehicles in America are sales leaders in their respective categories; another is a steady top-tier player.

And one of the least reliable new vehicles on sale today has failed so badly in the marketplace that its days are numbered. 

(We’ve also examined the list of the five most reliable vehicles on Consumer Reports’ list and checked out the marketplace performance of those vehicles.)

CHRYSLER 200
Complaints in Consumer Reports’ survey stemmed largely from the 200’s oft-criticized nine-speed automatic transmission. Consumer Reports doubles down on the Chrysler’s bad news by labeling it as not only the least reliable midsize car you can buy, but also the midsize car with the worst Consumer Reports’ road-test score.

2017 Chrysler 200C Platinum

The 200, of course, is not long for this world. While not an outright sales flop, the 200’s momentum was merely kept alive by steep discounts. Absent the incentives, 200 sales went into free-fall mode over the last two months, and the 200 hasn’t looked back.

Year-to-date, 200 sales are down 65 percent as Americans turned their backs on FCA’s sole remaining midsize nameplate. The 200’s share of the midsize market stands at just 3.0 percent in 2016, down from 7.6 percent a year ago.

2017 Chevrolet Suburban and Yukon XL

CHEVROLET SUBURBAN/GMC YUKON XL
Unlike the Chrysler 200, GM’s biggest SUVs are far from marketplace failures. Like the Chrysler 200, complaints that landed the Suburban/Yukon XL twins on the list of Consumer Reports’ Least Reliable Cars list related to the automatic transmission, this time an eight-speed unit. Although CR praises the SUVs’ fuel economy, interior, and infotainment unit, the reliability survey revealed trouble spots related to that infotainment unit as well as the four-wheel-drive system.

Through the first nine months of 2016, General Motors sold 63,395 copies of the Suburban and Yukon XL. In a segment dominated by their smaller siblings — GM has sold 105,325 Tahoes and Yukons this year — the two long-wheelbase brutes own 27 percent of the full-size, volume brand, SUV category. Sales of both the Suburban and Yukon XL are expected to rise to a nine-year high in 2016.

FORD FOCUS
Consumer Reports‘ own adage says that buyers should avoid vehicles in the first model year of a new generation. We’re now entering the 2017 model year, the sixth year for the current Focus, and it’s still one of the five least reliable new cars you can buy. The main trouble spot? Ford’s dual-clutch automatic transmission.

U.S. sales of the Ford Focus, a global powerhouse, will decline for a fourth consecutive year in 2016. After climbing to nearly 246,000 units with the launch of a new generation in 2012, Focus volume slid 5 percent in 2013, 6 percent in 2014, 8 percent in 2015, and are down 15 percent so far this year. Ford now owns less than 9 percent of the U.S. compact car market, down from more than 12 percent in 2012. Many compact cars are less popular; four are distinctly more popular.

2017 Jeep® Renegade Limited

JEEP RENEGADE
“Hood release and lower body trim falling off,” one Consumer Reports complainant said. The transmission is a problem, too, not surprising for those familiar with most reviews and reliability studies involving FCA’s nine-speed automatic transmission.

But the Jeep Renegade is nevertheless the best-selling subcompact crossover in America. True, if you combine the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax twins from General Motors, Jeep slides to number two. Renegade volume, however, has risen 74 percent in the last seven months. One out of every five subcompact crossovers sold in America is a Jeep Renegade.

2017 Cadillac Escalade

CADILLAC ESCALADE
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the tiny, affordable Jeep is the huge and hugely expensive Cadillac Escalade, the least reliable new vehicle in Consumer Reports’ 2016 survey. Multiple wholesale transmission replacements, four-wheel-drive systems that won’t disengage four-wheel drive, an unresponsive CUE, and leaky roofs sound like reliability woes from a prior era. The key difference separating the Escalade from its platform partners that also appear on this list is the Escalade’s eight-speed automatic. The transmission is standard across the Escalade lineup, not just as an optional upgrade as it is in other parts of GM’s full-size SUV family.

Regardless, Americans are snapping up Cadillac Escalades at a furious rate. Combined, the Escalade and Escalade ESV outsell all other full-size luxury SUVs. The short-wheelbase Escalade is on track for its best sales year since 2008; the Escalade ESV is selling at its best rate since 2007. Total Escalade sales are up 6 percent, year-over-year, to 26,687 units, equal to 22 percent of total Cadillac U.S. volume.

[Images: FCA, Ford, GM]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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120 Comments on “Big Hits, Massive Flops: These are Consumer Reports Least Reliable Vehicles for 2016...”


  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Hmm, transmissions issues in pretty much all of them. Another reason to save (or bring back!) the manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      kogashiwa

      Escalade with a three-on-the-tree!

    • 0 avatar
      matt3319

      I agree 100%. Imagine a Chrysler 200S AWD with a 6 speed manual!!!!

      I actually enjoyed my ’15 200S AWD that I had for 15 months. I really never had any serious issues with the 9 speed other than some jerkiness. That was fixed with a re flash of the computer.

      Then I traded for a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. The 9 speed worked flawlessly there.

      I think reliability is a flip of the coin. Sometimes bad cars are good and good cars are bad.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Early failures of the multi-speed transmissions found in today’s cars are not surprising. With far more internal parts than the TurboHydramatic 400 in your grandpa’s Electra, there is more to fail.

    Additionally, shift maps are skewed towards scoring high on the EPA mileage tests, rather than for real-world driveability. The result is that these transmissions are constantly hunting for the optimal gear.

    So we have ended up with transmissions that have too many gears that do too much shifting while they feverishly spin themselves to an early grave.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      With far more internal parts than the TurboHydramatic 400 in your grandpa’s Electra, there is more to fail.

      Sigh… back when transmissions simply worked.

      GM, bring back the THM, add a Gear Vendors Overdrive – BOOM – 6 speed transmission. Got to be more reliable than what you are building now.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I like the Turbo 400, and they worked great, but asking one to go 150,000 miles is asking a lot. But, that was in the era of the 100,000 mile car. With the better materials, metallurgy and manufacturing technology today, they might last considerably longer.

        But yes, eight-, nine-, and ten-speed automatics are ridiculous. Do you really need more than six in a passenger car, pickup truck, or SUV?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @duke, dear old Dad got his license in 1971 and owned many cars from the early to mid 60s during those high school days. He was a GM fanatic and although I heard of many a rebuilt engine on those tired old beasts (and even oddly a front suspension A-arm that SNAPPED) never heard of a single rebuilt transmission. They were all Powerglides and various members of the THM family.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            These old 2 and 3 speed units were developed over many years and by the late 60s were well sorted out. There has been a big rush to get into 8 and 9 speeds for fuel economy ratings, resulting in complex designs that probably will take another 5 years to approach a high level of reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          Johnster

          I had a ’69 Chevy Townsman wagon, 350 V-8 with a 4-barrel and 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic(I think it was a THM 400, but I suppose it could have been a THM 350). Aside from changing the fluid a couple of time, I never did anything to the transmission. I rebuilt the carb a couple of times and it ran for 265,000 miles until the timing chain broke. By that time it was a “beater” and not worth repairing.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenn

          “Do you really need more than six in a passenger car, pickup truck, or SUV?”

          I certainly don’t, but I’d say it’s not what WE need – it’s what the manufacturer needs in order to squeeze out another fraction of a mile-per-gallon using ever-more overdrive gears. Then, they sell the supposed benefits to us.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        “back when transmissions simply worked”

        And that’s why every town used to have at least a couple of specialized transmission-only shops?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      I’ve been meaning to ask, as I lack the knowledge to figure this out on my own… Does the trend of locking up the torque converter so much negatively affect reliability and durability? I mean, isn’t the rest of the unit bearing more stress?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        No, locking up the torque converter is usually a good thing, because it keeps the fluid cool.

        The issue is really very aggressive efforts to keep the more complex transmissions light, that sometimes go too far. Plenty of manufacturers had similar issues in the early days of the transition from 3- and 4-speeds to 5- and 6-speeds.

        The Toyota RWD eight-speed, which has been a completely bulletproof transmission since the day it was introduced in 2006, shows that it’s possible to get these right.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The majority of the heat in a torque converter automatic is generated by the torque converter when it is converting torque. Once you lock it up the heat generation goes down significantly.

          Now a lot of vehicles don’t fully lock up the torque converter instead modulating the clutch to allow some slippage and that can generate as much or more heat as leaving the clutch fully disengaged.

          So as often is the case the correct answer is it depends.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Lockup torque converters CAN result in more torsional vibration and shock transmitted downstream. This is particularly important in diesels. So they may have some implication in certain trans failures. But no across the board issues I don’t believe.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      It’s interesting that when new(er) equipment has problems everyone pines for the good old days. But when a car company sticks with the tried and true the same group of people deride them for not keeping up with the times!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Are they failing, or is it just people complaining about how they work?

      I had a rental Focus that put the “power-slip” reputation of that transmission in very clear view, but it never felt like it was going to fail or anything. It just felt like the computer was just learning to drive a stick!

      Similarly, I find it hard to call issues with the ever more complex “infotainment systems” reliability issues. If it starts and gets you where you are going, it’s reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        People are complaining about how they work. They have a point, but current units aren’t failing. The drivability is just trash.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenn

        I had a rental Focus, as well, for a week. No, I didn’t think it was about to fail, but I’d be plenty angry if it were a car I had bought and had to live with, long-term. I can just imagine owners returning to the dealer, again and again, expressing drivability problems, to be told “We fixed the problem, now” (until they finally give up and realize they’ll have to live with it).

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Or just bring back 5 or 6 speed automatics.

    • 0 avatar

      5 speeds seem to be about the magic number. A well geared 4-5 speed unit is magic, the 4 speed unit in my 04 Rendezvous is not, and is a gear or two shy of decent as its really easy to catch it flat-footed despite its decent power from the 185hp 3.4.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Once you go to 5 gears everything is in place to make it 6. The vast majority of 5 and 6 speed transmissions are just dual range 3sp units or to put it another way a 3sp with OD. Instead of just applying OD once the trans is in top gear the shift sequence becomes. 1st, 2nd, 2nd OD, 3rd, 3rd OD for a 5sp and 1st, 1st OD, 2nd, 2nd OD, 3rd, 3rd OD for a 6sp. Of course you need to carefully select the gear ratios so that those 1st and 2nd OD combinations fall in the right place to be useful. Unlike some of the original 5sp transmissions where 2nd OD was not used except in a deep forced down shift where they kept OD engaged and shifted the main section to 2nd to provide that 5th rarely used ratio.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Those old GM 4T60/4T65 trans-axles were often lauded as one of the smoothest shifting in the business back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. They were certainly better than most of Ford and Chrysler were putting out at the time. Too bad they didn’t add one more gear to it to reduce that chasm from second to third gear. Notice that the same 3400 V6 with 185 HP performs better in the 2005 on up Equinox with the Aisin 5 speed unit.

        Of note none of my 4T60/4T65 trans-axles ever failed, even with 200k miles on the clock and they always shifted very well as I always properly maintained them. The same could never be said about friends with Ultra drive and Ford AXOD/AXOD-E units.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This, this, a thousand times this.

      DCTs are wonky and CVTs suck.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sounds like the basic Suburban LS or Yukon XL SLE RWD 6A is the way to go.

    It’s odd to me that Ford never axed the Powershift for a conventional auto or CVT. The DCT has been hurting them in reliability and owner satisfaction ratings for years.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Yeah, that’s been a bad look. The DPS6 isn’t necessarily unreliable in a way that it breaks and strands people. It just shifts like sh!t forever and customers get dealerships to go down the list of things that may make it better. But none of it is going to make it better because it’s always going to shift like sh!t.

      They should have figured out a way to adapted the HF35 eCVT in the C-Max to conventional use or used something else off the shelf.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        There are plenty of plain old CVTs out there that would be easily adaptable to the Focus platform and would solve the problem.

        I’ve been surprised every year to not hear that a CVT replaced the PowerShift.

        Dual-clutches in general are IMO only suitable for enthusiast cars. They’re rougher in city use and more maintenance-intensive than either CVTs or conventional automatics.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          You and me both, dal. It’s just another reason to buy a C-Max instead of a Focus hatch.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            For my money, the acceptable products from the Focus platform are the C-Max (both variants), the Focus Electric, the manual Focus hatch, and the ST/RS. The Escape would be on that list too if it could manage its powertrain reliability issues.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        How would you make the eCVT operate w/o the battery pack? The range MG needs a source of electricity. Of course the battery pack would need a source of electricity too and while there are cases where the range MG can generate instead of motor they are limited. So now we need a Traction motor to provide the power to recharge the battery or directly power the Range MG once the battery is in the target SOC range.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          It can’t. I know the design is hybrid only.

          I think they need a traditional CVT for the Focus/Fiesta. I’m sure there are some components they could share and make a non-hybrid version.

          Anything is better than what they have now. Ford must think that 6F is too expensive for use on the Fiesta/Focus and they need to get their money out of the Getrag partnership.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The differential is about the only thing I can think of that could be used in a conventional torque converter planetary automatic.

            If they are stuck on an dual clutch automated manual I think they should add a torque converter. That will make it act like a “normal” automatic at low speeds calming most of the complaints. It will also reduce problems with the clutch pack as it no longer has to slip at any time.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        To heck with CVTs altogether. The only way they become livable is with a paddle shifter.

        And the DCT in the Focus is also far better with paddles.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I dunno – I have had 4-5 rental Foci since they came out. Only one (the most recent) had any real issues. They shift “differently”, but until this latest one I would not have called it bad. But this latest one was genuinely FUBAR.

        There is no way to adapt what is in the CMax (or a Prius, same idea) to a conventional gas engine only. That setup requires two electric motors to work. It is basically a differential with three inputs and one output.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          As a rule, the DPS6 is a pretty trash transmission when it comes to drivability. I’ve driven over a dozen Foci equipped with the transmission. Shift quality ranges from “I guess this transmission is okay” to “set this car on fire in the ditch”.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The C-Max/Fusion Hybrid’s eCVT is magical. Perfectly modulated, perfectly linear power delivery. Until it starts making horrible noises and fails, if you’re the lucky winner of one built with bad MG2 bearings.

        To make sure I miss mine while it’s being repaired, Ford has rented me a Chrysler 200 with the 9-speed automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Am I the only one who also kind of hates the engine it’s hooked up to? I think I even like the 1.8 EcoTech a little better.

      I’m grateful to Ford for proving that there exists a market for what are essentially mid-sized hatchbacks. But I’m even more glad that now Honda and GM will sell them with some grunt and a more useful back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      Part of the tune I got for my ’13 Focus dealt with the PowerShift DCT’s inconsistency and lack of refinement. The difference is night and day. It shifts smoother, sharper, and more logically now. I still miss driving a manual, but having this “Electronically shifted manual transmission” shift similarly to how I would with a true manual is sufficient for my daily (and often congested) commute.

      Funny how a professional tuner could iron out the issues but Ford couldn’t. I’m really surprised they didn’t axe the PowerShift. It’s the one thing about the car I’m worried about being unreliable and I feel like it’s the only thing responsible for the staggeringly low resale value of these cars. One day I’m going to want to trade my car in or sell it private party, and the $12,000 I paid over a year ago already seems like a bad deal. If only I was in the financial position for a Mazda 3 or 6…

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    When it was announced that Fiat was returning to the US, commenters here noted that the old “fix it again Tony” canard was based on a decades-old stereotype. Fair enough, a manufacturer deserves to be judged on their current performance. Unfortunately the results are in and it looks like things are pretty much the same. If it wasn’t for the Jeepyness of the Renegade the whole Fiat brand would be a total failure.

    Oh well, Sergio promised the Feds that he would introduce a high MPG compact in return for being handed Chrysler. He never promised that people would want to buy them. So the brand will continue for a few more years and then get the Scion treatment. Hence the Fiat experiment will have served its purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Except that having owned a Fiat 500 for two years, I have to say the Fiat does NOT live up to the CR numbers and is instead significantly better, as do many other Fiat owners who have responded on other TTAC articles trying to push that viewpoint. CR is being strongly questioned by real owners as to their impartiality in their reports.

      Meanwhile, I just purchased one of those 9-speed Automatic Renegades and by no means is it starting out with any kind of noise or other issue other than the simple fact that it just ‘feels’ different. Maybe I’m gearhead enough to understand the transmission better than most but I’m willing to keep an eye (and an ear) on that transmission over the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      jpolicke,

      Technically, there isn’t a Fiat on this list. The two FCA products on the list suffer from a rough-shifting German transmission built in the US.

      How does that tie-back to some lame joke from the 1960s? It really doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “Technically, there isn’t a Fiat on this list. The two FCA products on the list suffer from a rough-shifting German transmission built in the US.”

        So what you’re saying is that the 9-speed transmission is built in the US, shipped to Italy for installation then shipped right back to the US under a large percentage of their SUVs. I admit I don’t know exactly where all of FCA’s transmissions are built, but that to me sounds like a waste of money.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          It’s cheaper than running two factories.

          All cars use components from all over the world. The shipping costs are probably only a few dollars per transmission. They are going via container, not FedEx.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        You do know the Renegade is built in Italy, right? I was referring to yesterday’s article highlighting the 500L’s shortcomings. Also the less than stellar reputation of the 500, Vulpine’s good luck notwithstanding.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          The 500 is just fine in terms of reliability. It got low scores thanks to the Microsoft-developed “Blue&Me” radio, which sucked in every way imaginable (and which was replaced last year), but there’s nothing wrong with the 1.4 or with the transmissions.

          A senior FCA tech told me all they ever do on those is oil changes and the occasional squeak or rattle. The powertrain and suspension have been faultless. Owners love them (haters hate them, of course), and he’s serviced several that have over 100,00 miles (160,000 km) already.

          I think people get confused because it’s a tiny car form a weird brand, so they naturally assume it must be junk, but it hasn’t turned-out that way.

          The 500L had transmission drivability issues before they switched transmissions. The Abarth is an absolute blast, and the 500X hasn’t sold enough to tell.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            I love the Blue & Me radio! It syncs seamlessly with multiple phones, it never crashes, and if you have a 500 Lounge or 500e, it comes with terrific-sounding Alpine speakers. It doesn’t have a touch screen, but I take the giant dot-matrix display as a retro styling cue, like the two giant faux knobs.

            But now it’s gone in favor of a free upgrade for all buyers. YOU get Uconnect! YOU get Uconnect! Hope you enjoy yelling at the stereo to stop playing your iPod every time you plug your phone in to charge, no matter how many times you try to switch it back to the radio.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Here’s my wife’s experience with Blue & Me.

            It takes about 10 minutes to read a phone any time you plug it in.
            It randomly turns on, often at full volume.
            It only plays USB drives in shuffle mode.
            It doesn’t recognize most playlists.
            If you are listening to something on USB and turn the ignition off, it switches to the radio, at full volume. Bluetooth stops working as well, even if you have a call on the go.
            The steering wheel controls stop working when the ignition is switched off (and the radio is screaming at full volume…).
            Many of the advertised features just don’t work: reading a phone’s address book, displaying SMS messages, etc. Maybe they worked for the 12 customers who bought Windows phones, back in the day, but not with Android phones.

            On top of that, it doesn’t sound all that great, although part of that is because it’s a small car with very little sound insulation.

            The fact that it turns on by itself is just funny. It was aggravating at first, but then she figured it was just haunted by a harmless ghost.

            Overall, it’s about as good as Windows Vista and Windows 8. Maybe it was done by the same team.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Heh. Emojis not recognized. Ok, Two thumbs up to HH’s statement.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It just shifts like sh!t forever…

    The same thing that many folks have said about 4-speed Ford RWD automatic transmissions. (Including this satisfied owner of an old F150.)

    Sorry, meant to be a reply to Adam.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s nice to see the wisdom of crowds disproven, at least when it comes to ATs. You’d think that CVTs would have epidemic failure levels, but they seem more or less to be reliable. I personally find them pleasant, while most modern ATs up and down gears disturbingly often.

    I’m also a little pleased to be vindicated by the ratings of the 200 after catching some flack about it: it really is a nice-looking car that isn’t all that reliable and, frankly, also isn’t that good.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      My big problem with CVTs isn’t that I expect them to be uniformly unreliable, it’s that I find their characteristics decidedly unpleasant.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’m not sure they’re unpleasant, but they are different. I did a long drive in a 2016 CR/V recently and really appreciated the lack of gear-hunting shift-thumps that multi-speed ATs are wont to do.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        +1 to ajla.

        A good six-speed automatic is WORLDS better to drive than the best CVT. The only CVT applications I’ve found to be workable are the ones where you can paddle shift. Otherwise, they pretty much suck.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It depends on what you want from the vehicle.

        A good CVT is far smoother than any traditional automatic, and if you want smoothness it’s the way to go. On the other hand, you do give up some responsiveness. So the CVT is best in comfy cruiser applications and not in enthusiast cars.

        People also hate the sound of the engine staying at the power peak when asking for maximum acceleration. I don’t get that part; it seems to me like if you want maximum power then you should get maximum power. But I got used to the sensation driving hybrid buses for a living.

        I hate paddles or artificial step ratios on a CVT. It’s the worst of both worlds. You don’t get the smoothness or willingness to accelerate gently at very low rpm of a proper CVT, and you still don’t really get the responsiveness of a transmission with fixed gears.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Believe it or not, Dal, I agree with you. Most of the people who dis on CVTs either try to run them at maximum power all the time, typically burning out the belt and contact plates on the cones causing them to fail or simply don’t like the feel of it under normal driving conditions. As yet, automotive CVTs simply don’t seem built to handle the high-torque applications which would be the only reason they actually fail with any frequency. Doing forced stepping with the paddle-shift concept kills the smoothness the transmission offers and tends also to result in poor overall performance as well.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I swear that Murano I drove had two settings. Under normal acceleration the CVT was gliding up and down smoothly.

          I pushed it hard up a ramp, then it shifted like a traditional automatic.

          Did I imagine this, and just the normal acceleration “shifts” were so smooth I didn’t notice?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          They just don’t feel “natural” to me, dal. Can’t put it better than that. I HATE the wavering sensation that you get in traffic. At least if you have paddle shifters you can control it somewhat.

          Maybe I’m just a control freak?

        • 0 avatar
          wstarvingteacher

          I can’t believe I am saying something in defense of a CVT transmission, but I am. I have been driving really close to 60 years now and have driven all sorts. Still have an old chevy with a powerglide out in the pasture.
          The only really bad luck I had with transmissions were the electronically shifted (4L60e?) in an Olds Bravada (the rest of the car was crap also) and one MT5 in the first year Saturn Vue. I resisted the CVT in the Nissan because of the early failure rate but eventually relented because my wife developed knee problems. We traded a 2010 cube (MT6) for a 2013 with a CVT and …..surprise, I liked it better. It is ridiculously limited. Can’t install a roof rack or luggage tray on the back without voiding the now long gone warranty. The rated payload is 800 pounds. There is a lot of seating room but 4 widebodies exceed the payload.

          I would not have one on a truck at the current stage of development. I remember my dad speaking the same way about the new (at the time) powerglide in the early fifties. Some things never seem to change. I have a 5MT in my 4runner and love it. The cube is a people mover that has now passed 105kmiles and I trust it to the extent that I just let my wife go from Houston to Austin without me. We will see how it goes for the long haul but it drives as well as any automatic I have driven

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            The MT5 in the Saturn Vue you owned; do you remember the specifics of that tranny? The reason I ask is that I had the “sport” transaxle and managed over 120,000 on the original clutch plates and the tranny was flat-out reliable during the full 10 years I owned that ’02 Vue. On the other hand, I broke two pedal-return springs on the clutch pedal itself before deciding to ignore it–with no detrimental effect on clutch performance or reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            wstarvingteacher

            @ vulpine: Sorry can’t help you there. The salesman said it was the same as the 5speed used in the Saab sport sedan. GM parts bin I guess. What I can tell you is that the trannie was not the only thing to go. There was an expensive repair of the slave cylinder (because they had to tear everything out to get to it) during which I asked them to note the clutch. They said it was fine until it wasn’t. Then an even more expensive changeout of the clutch within months. I lost the AC compressor and 3-4 computers. Finally, it threw a timing chain with no warning. Comments here on TTAC indicate that there was an oiling problem for the timing chain on the 02/03 models.

            With all that trouble I still loved that car when it ran. It would pull a light tool trailer (btw that was done after I inherited it from my wife/post trannie change), it would pull about 30mpg on the freeway, fwd meant it seldom got stuck. I thought about getting another when I got my last truck but just couldn’t pull the trigger. I would love to have an SUV that ran like the vue and was dependable like my 4runner has been. I do not know what sort of unicorn that would be.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            By chance did you have the 6-cylinder version? I never saw anything close to that with my ’02 4 cylinder.

          • 0 avatar
            wstarvingteacher

            It was one of the very first produced. Should have kept on driving the SL I had which was a great small car. Just had to have the shiny hub caps I guess. It was a 4 that I think was very well thought out. Exhaust on the rear meant the heat was removed from the intake. Sort of a tri Y header design. Wanted to love it but got a lemon. Anecdotal, I know but real for me and my wallet. The wife drove it till the clutch started developing problems at +- 75k miles. Bought her a 2007 with Honda drive train (automatic). No problems in about 100k miles.

            I guess if I had been more patient and bought a 2004 or later (or your 2002) Ii might still be driving it. As I remember though there were other problems. It was a car so that’s to be expected. Sunroof that leaked no matter what, cladding that was falling off. Fit my needs to a T when it ran. Expensive German engineering when it broke. I know that this contradicts your experience but it’s real. Contradicted my common sense as well. Glad I wasn’t on a fixed income at the time.

            Now if you want to talk about a GM car that just kept ticking I will be happy to nominate the Saturn S series. Made in Tn and designed to be worked on. Ran forever and we owned several of them. Did not know I was buying an Opel when I got the vue. Not enough TTAC at the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No arguments, teach. It was a couple of friends of mine who each had S-models that convinced me to try it out. Guess I got lucky because my initial order was for SVT and when they abandoned that for issues they gave me the option of a sport stick or automatic. I took the sport stick and never regretted it. I will admit that I knew it was an Opel driveline though. The body was built in Tennessee.

    • 0 avatar

      I find it interesting that the CVTs that are most unreliable are those used in big Nissan SUVs (Pathfinder and QX…60?). This being interesting because Nissan has been doing it the longest, but still struggles to get it right. Also, having driven them, they produce arguably the worst CVT (operationally speaking) of the whole Japanese crowd.

  • avatar

    Man, it must be so frustrating to work for Fiat Chrysler right now. They get quite a few things right (good infotainment tech, some good engines, good looking designs, most products are properly aimed at their market segments…with the major exception of the 200 and Dart), but then the quality issues continue to rear their ugly heads over and over again. Some of these products have been on the market for years, and yet the issues persist. It’s sort of frustrating to watch, so I can’t imagine what its like to work in.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      From a Fiat owner’s point of view, most of those Chrysler product issues are simply perceptual and not all that actual. The Daimler-owned Chrysler products were far worse than the FCA versions.

      • 0 avatar

        Vulpine, I’ve seen you posting all over the boards.

        The reality is that these issues are not perceptual, they are actually happening. Every single data-based site recognizes this, and as much as you want to neigh say CR, they have a pretty well-established process when it comes to representing reliability issues without bias.

        Hell, I’ve driven thousands and thousands of kilometers in all manner of almost brand new (or actually brand new) Fiat Chrysler products over the last few years (Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, Patriots, 200s, 300s, etc.) that I`ve generally liked and even I could see the quality issues in most of them. I have driven the 9-speed that so many complain about, and it’s not great.

        It’s time to face the facts, Vulpine. It’s fine that you bought a Fiat Chrysler product, it’s fine that you like it, its fine that your friends like theirs, but statistically they are less reliable and have more quality issues than other brands. It’s that simple.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “It’s time to face the facts, Vulpine. It’s fine that you bought a Fiat Chrysler product, it’s fine that you like it, its fine that your friends like theirs, but statistically they are less reliable and have more quality issues than other brands. It’s that simple.”

          Re-read that statement and try to figure out where you made your mistake. Start with the words, “it’s fine…”. Yes, I admit I like the FCA products I’ve owned but the REASON I’ve liked three of the four is that they weren’t going into the shop multiple times per year for repairs like those other brands. My ’08 JKU was the only exception and FCA went out of its way to take care of issues once I got around the dealership refusing to acknowledge there might be a reason I needed four complete brake jobs inside of two years because of their previous “partner’s” cost cutting on specific parts before Fiat bought them out. And yes, I definitely complain about dealership service ‘consultants’ who don’t do the ultimate in discovering the causes of repeating problems.

          The point is that Chrysler corporation and FCA have NOT demonstrated the unreliability CR claims is rampant, though I would accept that they’re roughly average. This is from my experience AND other owners. Did you pick up on my clue yet? It’s not “friends” I’m agreeing with, it is the numerous, completely independent people across the country who own FCA products like the Fiat 500 series, Jeeps and others who say CR is wrong–that they’re not going to the shop any more and very probably less than most other brands.

          Consumer Reports used to be a magazine/service I could rely on; I used to accept their reviews without question. After having owned products that they claimed were good yet died on me in short order and other products (after I let my subscription lapse) that served me well yet they claimed were bad, I began questioning their methods and their impartiality. Now I check their review to set a starting point, then check multiple other review sites which frequently refute CR’s conclusions in real-world use.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Funny thing on the GM trucks is that not one person I have asked had any transmission, AWD or infotainment issues that CR speaks of. No the real issues these trucks seem to have along with the pickup trucks is vibration related with many owners complaining of transient vibrations felt while driving on the highway that wheel balancing, tire and rim replacement and AWD/rear axle replacement did not solve. Looking on various GM truck and or enthusiast forums seems to support this with very little mention of the things CR says. Perhaps it was the Escalade they were referencing since most issues I heard about seem to revolve around the GMC and Chevy versions of the 900’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      I’m on my 5th GM trucks and they’ve all been very reliable with good resale value. I drive them hard and tow stuff often. However they’ve all been Avalanche or Silverado models; which aren’t on this list. Perhaps there’s some unknown differences?

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    As with the entirety of the current campaign season, nobody’s mind is being changed by CR’s mostly predictable results (how do you eff-up anything GMT?).

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    It never ends. Remember how problematic the 700R4 was when new? I’m sure Trans-Go will find a solution for these late transmissions, if they haven’t already. Trans-Go is the only brand of shift kits I use and recommend.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “We’re now entering the 2017 model year, the sixth year for the current Focus, and it’s still one of the five least reliable new cars you can buy. The main trouble spot? Ford’s dual-clutch automatic transmission.”

    So THAT’S what was wrong with the horrible Focus we rented last month at the Tampa airport! The car ran, but always felt something was deeply wrong with it somewhere. It was exceedingly sloppy starting out and changing gears.

    I’m keeping my wonderful 6-speed, 3.6L Impala forever! ( I hope… )

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I always said, made in Italy is a nice wrapper with little practicality. furniture, shoes, clothes, cars. the story is the same.

    • 0 avatar
      kogashiwa

      “Never trust anything made in Italy” has been a good motto for me.

      The exception is Campagnolo bicycle parts. Nothing else is as durable or shifts as well.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    With regards to the different FCA brands being at the bottom, at least FCA is doing it as a team.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Proof that Man was not meant to build a slushbox with more than five gears.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      Sort of like Henry Ford’s aversion to any engine with more than 4 cylinders. Early on he said a car shouldn’t have any more cylinders than a cow has teats.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    How is the Focus with a manual transmission?

    It’s probably not a big enough car for my next ride, but it is tempting since they seem to be fairly priced.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      The 5-speed manual makes the Focus much better. It is the old school MTX-75 that has been around since the 90s.

      The best non-performance Focus to buy new is the SE Sport Package with the 5-speed. You can find new ones for under $17K if you are lucky.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Test drove one several years ago. I thought the tranny was exceptionally smooth-shifting and clutch operation was o.k. The engine’s lack of low end torque required a little more rev and throttle at engagement than I was used to with my Z3 3.0, but that shouldn’t have been a surprise.

  • avatar
    Chan

    How much of the Ford Focus DCT problem is a matter of people who don’t understand what a DCT is and how to use it?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It’s a butt transmission. I had two DCT vehicles in the garage while I owned a Focus. The wet clutch VW DSG was so much better (it is also way more expensive to maintain). Ford has had a [email protected] of a time programming that Getrag box. It’s a decently robust unit, but it’s drivability is trash. It’s been bad since the introduction of the 2011 Fiesta.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        My sister’s husband had a Fiesta with this, and the DCT had something wrong with it, according to him. The dealer said “that’s what they do,” and wouldn’t try to fix it.

        So he paid too much for a CPO Sonata which was a smoker’s vehicle, because he didn’t ask me none for my help. x.x

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I very well understand what a DCT is and how to use it. The two rental Focuses I have had were pretty bad, especially at parking lot speeds where you’re waiting for the clutch to engage. Actually, accelerating with some verve makes the DCT feel better.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Please GM can you not ruin an entire generation of GMT vehicles with a crap transmission?! The 5.3 is fine and old, and the transmission prior WAS fine.

    It’s a little unclear to me from Wiki when exactly the 6L80 was put into production on the GMT900 versions, but it seems like only selected models had it. Now with the K2XX, they all do.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      The 6L80 went into production for 2009 model year vehicles across the GMT900 line. Any 2010 Silverado V8, Tahoe/Suburban, or Avalanche had it. The K2XX uses the 6L80 and 8speed (8L80?). The complaints here stem from the 8 speed, not the 6 speed.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    So, should I sell my ’15 Sierra 6.2 with the 8-speed tranny that has 46K miles on it, about 30+K towing my Airstream? I faithfully use tow/haul mode when towing. That holds first gear until 3000 rpm engine speed, even if you’re accelerating pretty gently. The transmission is programmed to lock up the torque converter pretty aggressively. Occasionally, under light or no load situations, this will produce a clunk — which doesn’t bother me driving a truck but might if I were driving an Escalade. Under load, accelerating briskly is quite smooth. And I have observed no objectionable gear hunting at any speed, while towing or not. Occasionally the drivetrain will do interesting things like deactivate 4 cylinders at a higher rpm (~2500) rather than shift to a higher gear and drop to below 2000 rpm with all 8 cylinders. According to the instant fuel economy gauge, this will produce slightly better fuel economy. And, on rolling hills, the drive train will sometimes shift in and out of 4 cylinder mode rather than shift the transmission up and down.
    Manual does recommend “transmission service” at 50K miles with my kind of usage. I’m going to find out what that means, exactly.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My recent rental Focus had an appallingly bad transmission, with only 22k miles on it. I don’t know exactly what type it was, and I nearly returned it thinking it would fail.

    It would wind up very high, then bang so hard I thought an engine mount was broken.

    The only CVT I ever drove (14 Versa Note) was very pleasant and responsive – second only to an EV.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With FCA using the ZF 9-speed automatic so widely, I wonder how much it will cost them in future recalls and/or warranty work.

    I’ve seen balky transmissions (manual and automatic) last a very long time, but *usually* a bad-behaving transmission only gets worse with age.

    Just think of all the 200s, Renegades, Cherokees, 500Xs, and Pacificas out there.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    My 1972 Oldsmobile Toronado with the TH425 transmission has not failed in 44 years!

  • avatar
    MWolf

    I see a lot of comments saying how great the old 4 speed transmissions were (automatics, that is). A lot of new transmissions make me a little uneasy, but lets not forget there were a lot of crappy ones. The A4LD from Ford! That thing was great. They put it in the Explorer, which was one of the primary reasons the first gen Explorers got a reputation as unreliable. Had one die on me. It decided 2nd gear wasn’t cool anymore, it’d just wait for third.

    Chrysler couldn’t make a 4 speed to save their lives in the early 90’s, nor could they decide on the correct fluid to put into it. No matter maybe it’ll shift, maybe it won’t. Maybe it’ll slip scarily when you go up a hill! That’s fun.

  • avatar
    jonathanok100

    The Chrysler 200 doesn’t have reliability issues. Neither do the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Sierra, or Cadillac Escalade -all of which, by the way, are the exact same car, so the fact that they’re scattered about this list only serves to discredit the entire thing even more. Actually the only ‘unreliable’ thing in this article is Consumer Reports’ “tests”– or lack thereof. Seriously, has nobody else on this site realized by now that Consumer Reports is incredibly biased against American cars -especially FCA- and incredibly biased toward Japanese brands, especially Toyota? It’s a well-known and well-documented fact that they consistently fabricate their results to align with the cars they *want* to be the best. Whenever they can’t come up with an excuse to bash a domestic car, they play the “unreliable” card and make zero effort to try to substantiate their claims. That’s why they use nebulous circles instead of quantitative data to convey their scores. They know their readers aren’t the type of people who would know or care enough to do real research when buying a car- they just want a nice little article that makes them feel better about the Toyota they already mindlessly bought without ever looking at the alternatives. People who are actually interested in comparison shopping avoid Consumer Reports altogether; it’s the Fox News of product review organizations. And, as such, this article has no credibility whatsoever. If you want a real list of least reliable cars, go to any independent car review site. You’ll find their quantitative results to be much different than the unfounded opinions that Consumer Reports tries to pass off as reviews.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “It’s a well-known and well-documented fact that they consistently fabricate their results to align with the cars they *want* to be the best.”

      Feel free to reveal said documentation.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I will agree with everything you say here, jonathan. Neither my Fiat 500 nor my brand-new Jeep Renegade appear to suffer from ANY of the issues supposedly reported by CR or by many other reviewers who seem to have an obvious bias against anything FCA-related.

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