Two of the three Tesla models - Model 3 and Model S sedans - restored the Consumer Reports recommendation because of increased reliability based on the results of an annual survey of CR members.
Improved reports from owners of the Model 3 and Model S were enough to convince Consumer Reports to once again recommend both vehicles.
According to a new Consumer Reports survey, Tesla, which is accused of sacrificing quality as it ramps up production of the Model 3, started producing more reliable cars.
“The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at CR. “But as the production stabilized, we have seen improvements to the reliability.”
“What we’ve seen with the Model 3...they’ve worked those problems out,” said Jon Linkov, deputy auto editor at Consumer Reports.
CR members reported fewer body hardware problems for both models. This is not the first time that CR recommends Model 3 and Model S. Vehicles have consistently shown good results in their extensive road trials.
This study asks participants about any problems they have had with their cars in the past 12 months. This year's survey collected information on 420,000 vehicles, including about 4,000 Tesla vehicles. CR uses the survey results from the previous three years as the basis for predicting future reliability for any model they test.
The Model 3 is now the fifth most reliable out of 12 luxury compact cars in CR’s ratings of predicted new-car reliability, just below the Audi A3 and above the Acura TLX and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Model S is the second-most reliable out of four ultra-luxury cars, just below the Genesis G90. It’s predicted to be more reliable than either the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the Lexus LS.
Jon Linkov said that Tesla still has many opportunities to improve the quality of the S, X and 3 models, but it is clearly improving.
“They’ve worked through the problems, they’re much better than many other vehicles,” he said.
Among those ranking below Tesla are some major brands that have historically done better in Consumer Report’s reliability survey, including Chevrolet, Acura and Cadillac, which ranked dead last .
“Cadillac has had a lot of various infotainment and electrical issues going on,” said Jon Linkov.
"It can take time for any manufacturer to work out reliability problems with new parts," - Jake Fisher says.
The undoubted advantage is that Tesla also can change performance characteristics or add functions through over-the-air software updates throughout the year.