DETROIT – Mazda beat traditional winners Lexus and Toyota to win top honors as the most dependable auto brand in Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey.
Ford and its Lincoln luxury brand fell in the survey with Lincoln finishing last among 26 brands after introducing new SUVs. Electric car maker Tesla was second from the bottom with reliability troubles on three of its four models.
Mazda took top honors for the first time in the survey, which this year included Consumer Reports organization members who own more than 300,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2020.
The Japanese auto brand benefitted from being among the smallest and lacking capital to continually offer new multi-speed transmissions and infotainment gadgets, said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for the magazine and website.
“A lot of times new technology gives us trouble,” Fisher said. “They're a little bit conservative when it comes to new technology.”
Some Mazdas don't have touch screens, which often are a source of problems in the surveys, Fisher said. And the company still uses six-speed automatic transmissions while others have gone to more efficient but sometimes glitch-prone continuously variable or nine- and 10-speed transmissions, he said. Yet the company's cars and SUVs are still fun to drive, Fisher said.
After Mazda, Toyota, Lexus, Buick and Honda rounded out the top five brands. Following Lincoln and Tesla, Volkswagen, Mini and Ford were the five lowest-scoring brands.
Normally high-scoring Buick jumped two spots after canceling two unreliable cars, the Regal and Regal TourX, Fisher said.