Consumer Reports Deems Tesla a Reliable Brand -- Again

When Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) started selling its first vehicle, the Model S sedan, Consumer Reports magazine put the car through its paces and breathlessly awarded the Model S a score of 103 out of a possible 100. Jump ahead two and a half years to 2018 when the Model 3 sedan became widely available and Consumer Reports dropped the brand from its list of reliable nameplates.

On Thursday, Consumer Reports returned the Tesla brand to its list of reliable vehicles and named the Model 3 as Tesla’s most reliable vehicle. The Model X is the brand’s least reliable and the Model S returns to the magazine’s list of reliable models. As a whole, the brand ranks 23rd out of 30. Rankings are based on the magazine’s annual survey of its subscribers.

For Model 3, owners reported fewer problems with stuck latches and malfunctioning doors and Model S owners reported fewer problems with paint and trim quality. Owners also singled out improvements in power equipment including cruise control, cameras and warning lights.

The Model X SUV continues to suffer from complaints about the falcon-wing doors, noise, and leaks.

In-car electronics remain a weakness in all three Tesla models as owners note problems with displays screens freezing or suddenly going blank while the car is in motion. Some owners even report random reboots of the cars’ electronics.

Of 12 luxury compacts rated, the Model 3 ranks fifth, just below the Audi A3 and above the Acura TLX and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Model S ranks second in Consumer Reports’ ultra-luxury class, just behind the Genesis G90.

Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports, commented:

The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand. But as the production stabilized, we have seen improvements to the reliability.

The report on the Model 3 and the Model S also notes that the vehicles have consistently scored well on the Consumer Reports road tests, but that the annual surveys “sometimes have shown inconsistent reliability from year to year.” That about sums it up.