Tesla Model S downgraded in annual Consumer Reports ranking, Lexus takes top spot

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany.
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015 file photo, a Tesla Model S is on display on the first press day of the Frankfurt Auto Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. Michael Probst / File / AP Photo

Bad news for Tesla.

Consumer Reports magazine has dropped its ranking for the luxury vehicle from average, to below-average. The magazine’s annual report, 2015 Most Reliable Car Brands, was released Tuesday.

The report gathered feedback from 1,400 Model S owners, with many saying the pricey electric vehicle is not all that reliable.

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This comes just months after Consumer Reports gave the Model S P85D a beyond-perfect score of 103, making it the top-rated car in the magazine’s history.

The magazine’s auto test director Jake Fisher said in a video explaining the downgrade that while the cars got high marks in road tests, “its predicted reliability is another matter.”

Owners of the car’s past three model years reported display screen freezing, sunroof leaks and full replacements of their car’s electric motors, among other issues.

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“Owning a Tesla will likely mean less than average reliability,” said Fisher. “As a result, the Model S will not receive Consumer Reports recommended designation.”

Despite the problems, Tesla’s owner satisfaction remains highest in the industry at 97 per cent, Fisher said.

In an emailed statement to Global News a Tesla spokesperson touted that high satisfaction rating, and said the company is quick to address issues.

“Close communication with our customers enables Tesla to receive input, proactively address issues, and quickly fix problems. Over-the-air software updates allow Tesla to diagnose and fix most bugs without the need to come in for service. In instances when hardware needs to be fixed, we strive to make it painless.”

Tesla’s stocks took a blow after the report was released, diving nearly 10 per cent Tuesday before somewhat recovering.

Lexus claims top spot

Lexus took the top spot when it came to vehicle reliability, with sister company Toyota coming in as runner up for the second year in a row. Audi came in third among all brands.

Subaru, Kia and Mazda all placed well, with Honda and its luxury brand Acura falling down the ranks.

Honda models with continuously variable transmission (CVTs) were “troublesome” according to the magazine’s autos editor, Mark Rechtin. Acura lost points for issues with its eight-speed dual clutch and nine-speed automatic transmissions in newer vehicles, and “headaches” with its AcuraLink infotainment systems.

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Nissan CVT systems also scored poorly, as did Infiniti’s In-Touch infotainment system.

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MINI, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche finished in the middle of the ranking, with Mercedes Benz barely coming in above the bottom-third ranked vehicles.

Buick was the only domestic brand to rank in the top 10, while Ford showed improvement.

GMC, Chevrolet and Cadillac placed in the bottom third of the manufacturer rankings. In particular, Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system appears to be an ongoing source of frustration for owners.

Ram, Fiat and Jeep ranked as the bottom three among the magazine’s subscribers, with none able to achieve even an average score. Transmission issues remain the “biggest problem” for the Fiat Chrysler group.

The annual report is based on a large-scale survey of responses from more than 740,000 vehicle owners.