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Tesla car reliability lower than the average in a study debut as Lexus takes top spot

Tesla owners report more issues than the industry average (image: Tesla)
Tesla owners report more issues than the industry average (image: Tesla)
Tesla has made it into the storied J.D. Power vehicle reliability report for the first time, but the good news stops here. With 242 issues per hundred vehicles reported, it sits way above the industry average of 186 problems and can actually be ranked 28th out of the 32 brands tested.

Recently, a Consumer Reports vehicle reliability study had Tesla cars break into the top 20 rank among brands sold in the US for the first time, marking EVs as the second least reliable category overall. Following the Consumer Reports (CR) study, Tesla has now also broken into 2023's famous J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study edition for the first time, too. J.D. Power actually ranked Tesla as a side note with the score only, as Elon Musk's electric car maker doesn't allow it "access to owner information in the states where that permission is required by law," hence it doesn't fully cover the study's criteria.

"The study examines how 2020 model-year vehicles are currently performing in terms of quality, component replacement and appeal - including those vehicles with new technology - and helps automotive manufacturers design and build better vehicles to stand the test of time and promote higher resale value," informs J.D. Power. The criteria is the number of problems reported per hundred vehicles, and the participating brands also underwent an Initial Quality Study in the first 90 days of ownership.

In the current long-term reliability study, however, which stretches to three full years of ownership, Tesla cars in aggregate would've occupied 28th out 32 places in total with 242 issues per one hundred vehicles reported in the period. Compare this to the 133 issues found with Lexus - the top performer - or the 144 of Hyundai's premium brand Genesis. Tesla doesn't even size up with the industry average of 186 reported problems and is somewhere towards the tail end of the ranking among slackers like Ford. There are some anecdotal reports by owners dissatisfied with the quality of their expensive Tesla cars, one of which swapped their Model S with a 300 V8, for instance. According to the ever credible Sandy Munro's teardown analysis, however, Tesla cars are built no better or worse than the industry average when it comes to parts and assembly quality.

Tesla vehicles, however, are now ranked among premium cars based on their average price, and most premium brands also showed reliability well below the industry average. According to Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, "it is typical in the automotive industry to roll out concepts and features by putting them in premium vehicles first," and all that experimenting takes a toll on reliability. Of course, that didn't prevent Toyota's Lexus brand which also won the Consumer Reports vehicle reliability study, from snatching the first place in J.D. Power's report as well. Here's the list of America's top 10 most reliable car brands:

  1. Lexus - 133 problems reported per hundred vehicles
  2. Genesis - 144
  3. Kia - 152
  4. Buick - 159
  5. Chevrolet - 162
  6. Mitsubishi - 167
  7. Toyota - 168
  8. Hyundai - 170
  9. MINI - 170
  10. Nissan - 170

Another notable is the presence of Buick in the top 5, as Buick also shined in the CR study with a couple of very reliable models. As usual, the most problems were reported with that perennial annoyance of a car feature - the infotainment system - as the study's criteria were revamped last year to include new technologies that increasingly get baked into vehicle production. "Six of the top 10 problem areas in the study are infotainment-related, including built-in voice recognition (7.2 PP100); Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity (5.5 PP100); built-in Bluetooth system connectivity (4.0 PP100); touchscreen/display screen difficult to use (4.0 PP100); not enough power plugs/USB ports (3.8 PP100); and navigation system inaccurate/outdated map (3.3 PP100)," says the report.

On the other hand, overall vehicle reliability improved compared to the initial study of the pandemic 2020 when parts were missing and assembly lines were idled. Moreover, 63% of the vehicles studied required less part replacement runs than in last year's report. Speaking of models, the Lexus RX series and the Toyota C-HR were found to be the most reliable cars sold in the US as per the 2023 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, while RAM, Volvo, and Nissan showed the biggest improvement since the last such report.

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The 2023 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study ranking
The 2023 J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study ranking

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 02 > Tesla car reliability lower than the average in a study debut as Lexus takes top spot
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-02-10 (Update: 2023-02-10)