Consumer Reports 5 Most Reliable Vehicles For 2016 Are Mostly Niche Models You Won't Buy

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Buick grabbed much of the limelight when Consumer Reports released its 2016 reliability survey results yesterday, earning the best-ever brand ranking of any domestic marque. But atop the leaderboard, Lexus and its Toyota parent brand continued the automaker’s reign.

Not surprisingly, three of the five most reliable vehicles in America are therefore Lexus and Toyota products. With the Lexus GS and Toyota 4Runner, the top 10 list is half-filled with Toyota products. Only one vehicle in the top ten is a domestic, the eighth-ranked Chevrolet Cruze.

They may be reliable, but do Americans actually want these vehicles? We took a look at the five least reliable vehicles in America and realized that, yes, in some cases, Americans do want them. In fact, the vehicles on the least reliable list account for 2.7 percent of the U.S. new vehicle market.

When it comes to the five most reliable vehicles in Consumer Reports’ survey, less than 1 percent of the market’s buying habits are represented.

LEXUS GX


Closely related to the increasingly popular Toyota 4Runner, the Lexus GX has seen its sales fall 2 percent in a growing SUV/crossover market in 2016. The other three-quarters of Lexus’ utility vehicle lineup — flagship LX, surging new NX, most popular RX — are up 13 percent to 118,047 units this year.

U.S. sales of the extremely reliable GX460 are on track to fall below 24,000 units in 2016, the second-best year of the last decade but well off the pace from 2004, when more than 35,000 were sold.

AUDI Q3


Not launched until the third quarter of 2014, the Audi Q3 is nevertheless an entry-level Audi crossover based on an old Volkswagen Golf platform that was developed more than a decade ago. Apparently, that was more than enough time to work out the kinks.

Through three-quarters of 2016, the Audi Q3 has already produced more sales volume than in all of 2015. But in the nascent and still rather small subcompact luxury crossover category, the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA both sell more often than the Q3, America’s 68th-best-selling utility vehicle.

INFINITI Q70


One of many forgotten members of a category dominated by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, Infiniti Q70 sales have fallen 29 percent in 2016’s first nine months (to only 4,495 units) after climbing to a three-year high in 2015.

Infiniti sold more than 25,000 copies of the M, the Q70’s predeccessor, a decade ago. Reliability is not remotely enough to stir up demand for the six-year-old Q70 now.

LEXUS CT


According to Consumer Reports, the Lexus CT200h is the most reliable vehicle from the most reliable automobile brand in America.

With few changes, Lexus has sold the CT200h since 2011. Related to the now replaced third-gen Prius, the CT200h is likely to generate fewer than 10,000 U.S. sales in 2016, down from an average of nearly 16,000 over the previous half-decade.

The CT may be the most reliable Lexus, but it only accounts for 3 percent of the Lexus brand’s U.S. volume.

TOYOTA PRIUS


Consistently ranked high in Consumer Reports’ reliability surveys, the Toyota Prius grabbed the top spot in 2016 despite being the kind of all-new model that typically performs poorly in Consumer Reports’ surveys.

Yet with fuel prices low and far more competitors than the Prius faced even five years ago, sales of the new Prius are falling fast. Year-over-year, sales of the Prius are down 9 percent to 78,372 units through 2016’s first nine months. That puts the Prius on pace for slightly more than 100,000 sales in 2016, enough to be one of America’s 20 best-selling cars but still the lowest-volume year for the core member of the Prius family since 2004.

Including the C and V, total Prius family sales are on track to fall to a five-year low.

[Images: Toyota, Infiniti, Audi]

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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  • Brn Brn on Oct 25, 2016

    Our Infiniti dealer had the busiest garage of all our dealerships (worse than our Nissan dealerships, which came in second). Makes it difficult for me to believe they made anything reliable. Then there's VW....

    • See 1 previous
    • Brn Brn on Oct 25, 2016

      @Corey Lewis When I say "our Infiniti dealer", I mean the dealer owned by the company I worked for. It's dozens of dealerships over several years. Infiniti (one dealer) was on the bottom, followed by Nissan (two dealers). Even the shop supervisor wouldn't recommend a Nissan product (in private). Does it represent national averages? I can't say. It is, however, more than one data point.

  • FOG FOG on Oct 26, 2016

    Making a few purchases based on the sage advice of Consumer Reports only to have the quality of their choices fall short of terrible. I don't take them seriously regarding anything.

    • Old Man Pants Old Man Pants on Oct 26, 2016

      Well, *I* have no problem accepting your informational equivalent of a spat hocker.

  • CFS I can’t believe these comments aren’t 100% in favor of CarPlay/Android Auto. They don’t add much for music and other audio that you don’t get with just a Bluetooth connection, but they make navigation so so much better. Why is it better? Because inputting the destination address is so much easier. And I don’t need to think about updating my car’s maps. Plus, I can switch between Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, or whatever else seems best suited for my trip. Hands-free calling features are OK, but not such a big deal for me.
  • TheEndlessEnigma I've owned a VW in the past and learned my lesson. Any kind of repair was absurdly expensive which I understand is typical of VW nowadays.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Interesting how Stellantis (and can we take a moment to acknowledge how piss-poor a company name this is - it invokes....what....MBA marketeers failing at their job) is pursuing cuts to reduce costs instead of, oh I don't know, designing-building-marketing vehicles people *WANT* to buy? What has Stella done with what was Chrysler? Suck off the cash flow generated by Chrysler brands, essentially kill the Chrysler brand by cancelling successful models, eliminate any market advantage Dodge had by killing successful models (G Caravan was the #1 minivan until it was killed, Charger & Challenger *were* profitable, etc,) and progressively and continually neuter Jeep all this while ignoring component and build quality. What's done in return? Push Fiat as the new and exciting brand then watch as it fails in North America (did you know ONLY 603 Fiats were sold in the US in 2023). All new Stellantis releases in North America are Euro designs......that then fail in North America because they are not design for our market. The Stellanis solution? Fire Fred, Hank, and Jim and replace them with Apu, Jose and Bernardo. Yup, that will work.
  • 3-On-The-Tree To say your people are total monsters is an unfair statement. You can judge the Japanese government but to say the citizens are culpable or responsible is wrong. That’s like saying every Caucasian person in the U.S is responsible for slavery or the civil rights era of violence and discrimination against African Americans and are benefiting from it. That’s 79 years ago, the average Japanese citizen born during WWII has nothing to do with what happened. Even my Japanese grandmother who was living in Yokohama whose home was firebombed was just trying to survive with 3 kids and a husband fighting in the war. Just like every war the citizens suffer, I saw it in Iraq. You can’t judge the people from the misdeeds of their government, my mom was born after the war, you really think she is responsible for what happened?
  • Irvingklaws Was a must have for my wife's new car. After years of windshield mounts, trying to keep the sun off the phone, wires running across the dash, etc...it's been a welcome upgrade. Don't have it in my current (old) car, just a stock stereo with the aforementioned windshield phone mount and wires...which is fine enough for me. But if I upgrade the radio with an aftermarket unit, the first thing I'm looking for, after separate volume and tuning KNOBS, is Carplay. Note, I've yet to find an aftermarket head unit meeting these basic qualifications. The infotainment in my '17 GTI had both of these and was near perfect, I'd be happy with that unit in any car.
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