Mazda has been named the most reliable brand in Consumer Reports’ 2020 USA Auto Reliability Survey, marking the first time that the Japanese carmaker has ever ranked first in the annual survey. The survey is based on data collected from Consumer Reports members, who have collectively shared over 300,000 car ownership experiences, that have then been processed by the non-profit consumer organization.

Scoring a total of 83 reliability points, Mazda has effectively overtaken fierce rivals and traditional reliability champs Toyota and Lexus, who ranks second (74 points) and third (71) respectively.

According to Consumer Reports, Mazda’s success this year was largely due to its conservative model updates and redesigns, which limited its risks as there are no new powertrains and infotainment systems – both of which are common pain points in other carmakers’ new car line-ups.

In fact, the minor issues experienced by some owners of the Toyota RAV4 was one of the key reasons that brought Toyota down the pecking order. However, all of the brand’s models available in the USA still ranked average or better in terms of reliability.

The Toyota Prius even scored 93 points in total, earning it the title of the most reliable car. Oddly enough, dig deeper into the per-model results and you’ll see that many other cars – including the Mazda MX-5 – scored higher than 93 points. There were no reason given as to why the Prius won the title, but if we had to guess, it’s probably related to volume.

The same can’t be said for many other brands though; Honda (63) ranked fifth in this year’s survey – and while it gained seven spots from the previous year, points were deducted by models such as the Passport SUV and Odyssey MPV, which both had below-average ratings in terms of reliability.

Somewhat fortunately for Malaysians, the Honda HR-V, as well as the Insight Hybrid – which features the same powertrain technology as the upcoming Honda City RS e:HEV – is ranked “well above average”.

Hyundai (62) ranks sixth overall in this year’s survey, with the Kona ranking “above average”. The all-new Sonata, which was also just launched locally recently, was the South Korean carmaker’s least reliable vehicle, though still scored average. Meanwhile, its sister-brand Kia (45) dropped six places from last year, ranking fifteenth in this year’s survey.

Subaru (57) rounds up the top third of this year’s survey at eighth position, but most of its issues were found on the Ascent, which has “subpar reliability due to multiple problem areas”. For concerned Malaysians, you’ll be happy to hear that the Subaru Forester ranked above average.

European brands in general did not do too well in this year’s survey, with the top-scoring European brand, Porsche (55) ranking ninth – down five spots from the previous year. BMW (52) finished 12th, up five spots from last year with mixed per-model results, while Audi (46) remains unchanged at 14th.

Volvo (41) moved up to 18th this year, while Mercedes-Benz (40) ranked 20th overall, putting it into the lower third of the brand rankings. Volkswagen (36) ranked 24th in this year’s survey – just two spots higher than bottom-ranked Lincoln – with only the Golf scoring “well above average”.

It has to be said that Consumer Reports’ method of determining reliability perhaps isn’t the most reliable way of doing things. There are too many variables at play, not to mention the potential bias when it comes to self reporting from its members. The report also caters to those in the United States, so it’s hard to gauge how well these results translate over to us in Malaysia.

However, there should still be some takeaways here, given the sheer amount of data – so take it however you will. The full list of brands is available below, ranked from best to worst:

  1. Mazda, 83
  2. Toyota, 74
  3. Lexus, 71
  4. Buick, 70
  5. Honda, 63
  6. Hyundai, 62
  7. Ram, 58
  8. Subaru, 57
  9. Porsche, 55
  10. Dodge, 54
  11. Infiniti, 54
  12. BMW, 52
  13. Nissan, 51
  14. Audi, 46
  15. Kia, 45
  16. GMC, 43
  17. Chevrolet, 42
  18. Volvo, 41
  19. Jeep, 41
  20. Mercedes-Benz, 40
  21. Cadillac, 38
  22. Ford, 38
  23. Mini, 37
  24. Volkswagen, 36
  25. Tesla, 29
  26. Lincoln, 8

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Woon
Believes that a car is more than just numbers and facts, it's about the emotions they convey. Any car can be the right car for someone, but he'll probably pick a hot hatch over anything else.