Every year Consumer Reports asks its members about problems they’ve had with their vehicles in the previous 12 months. This year, the group gathered data on over 330,000 vehicles, from the 2000 to 2023 model years, with a few early-introduced 2024 model years.
You might be asking yourself already... "Why would a consumer-focused report matter to my fleet?" Consumer studies on vehicle reliability are important for commercial fleets because they provide valuable insights that can help fleet managers make informed decisions. Reliable vehicles can reduce costs associated with maintenance and repairs, minimize downtime, and extend the lifespan of the vehicle. They can also improve driver satisfaction, enhance brand reputation, ensure safety, and facilitate compliance with regulations.
By analyzing consumer study data, fleet managers can identify patterns and trends in vehicle reliability, predict maintenance needs, and choose models that best suit their operational requirements. This information can also be used to negotiate better deals with manufacturers, secure favorable financing options, and optimize fleet operations.
So, what are the most reliable trucks? Take a look at the most recent results highlighting a few areas of specific interest to commercial work truck fleets.
How Does the Reliability Study Work?
Consumer Reports evaluates 20 different areas of a vehicle’s performance, ranging from minor issues like squeaky brakes and broken interior trim to major problems like engine, transmission, EV battery, and EV charging issues that can be expensive. This information is used to determine the reliability ratings for every major mainstream model.
The severity of each type of problem is considered to create a predicted reliability score for each vehicle, which ranges from 1 to 100. This score is then combined with data collected from track testing, owner satisfaction surveys, and safety data to calculate each test vehicle’s Overall Score.
This year, Consumer Reports has also included three new trouble areas to address the increasing number of electrified vehicles produced by automakers. These areas are electric motors, EV/hybrid batteries, and EV charging. CR studies 20 trouble areas, from nuisances—such as squeaky brakes and broken interior trim—to major bummers, such as potentially expensive out-of-warranty engine, transmission, EV battery, and EV charging problems. We use that information to give reliability ratings for every major mainstream model.
We weigh the severity of each type of problem to create a predicted reliability score for each vehicle, from 1 to 100. We use that information to give reliability ratings for every major mainstream vehicle. (The reliability rating is then combined with data collected from our track testing, as well as our owner satisfaction survey results and safety data, to calculate each test vehicle’s Overall Score.)
This year, Consumer Reports also addressed the rapidly growing number of electrified offerings that automakers produce: hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and electric vehicles (EV). As a result, we added three new trouble areas: electric motor, EV/hybrid battery, and EV charging:
- Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles have 17 potential trouble areas.
- EVs can have up to 12 trouble areas. Traditional ICE problems, such as engine and transmission problems, are not included.
- Hybrids have 19 potential trouble areas: 17 from ICE vehicles and electric motor and EV battery.
- Plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) can experience all 20 trouble areas: 17 from ICE vehicles, electric motors, EV batteries, and EV charging.
Commercial Vehicle Highlights from the 2023 Consumer Reports Vehicle Studies
According to Consumer Reports, where the vehicle's are built makes an impact. A few highlights include:
- Asian automakers are still leading reliability by a wide margin, with an overall reliability average score of 63 for the region on a scale of 1 to 100. Seven of the 10 most reliable brands are from Asian automakers.
- European automakers are in second place at 46, with three brands filling out the rest of the top 10 most reliable brands.
- Domestic brands trail both with an average score of 39.
- Looking at domestic brands, both the Ford Edge and Maverick scored above average this year.
- Cars maintain their ranking as the most “reliable” vehicle type with a rating of 57. SUVs scored 50, minivans scored 45, and pickup trucks scored the lowest rating at 41.
- A majority of Toyota models have above- or well-above-average reliability. The brand is topped by the 4Runner SUV, among the most reliable models in the survey. But the brand’s full-sized pickup truck, the Tundra, remains among the less reliable vehicles in the survey.
EVs Struggle in Reliability Ratings
Consumer Reports noted that hybrids have 26% fewer problems than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines when looking at reliability by powertrain.
A few standouts include the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
But, when looking at pure electric offerings, the reliability scores start to drop, with electric SUVs hitting a reliability score of 43.
According to the study, “As more EVs hit the marketplace and automakers build each model in greater numbers, we are seeing that some of them have problems with the EV drive system motors, EV charging systems, and EV batteries (which are different from the low-power 12-volt batteries that power accessories).”
The Ford Lighting F-150 was among the vehicles with reported issues.