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The 10 Most Unreliable Car Models, According to Consumer Reports

Even when new, these models will have you spending time and money on fixes.

Women hand pressing the button on the remote to lock or unlock the carGOLFX/Shutterstock

What makes an unreliable car?

It seems simple. We want a car that’ll keep going and not have us stranded on the side of the highway in the middle of the night. It’s easy to think a new car will solve automobile troubles, but this isn’t always the case. Consumer Reports recently released a list of the most unreliable cars based on a buyer survey, ranking specific models based on 17 problem areas including:

  • squeaky brakes
  • broken interior trim
  • out-of-warranty transmission repairs
  • trouble with four-wheel-drives

Consumer Reports ranked each area based on severity and then scored the vehicles from there. While some car brands rank lower on customer satisfaction, there are models from makers across the board that will send you back to the dealership for tune-ups more often than you’d like.

La Nucia, Spain - 1 november 2015, detail logo of car brand VolkswagenSilvia Pascual/Shutterstock

10. Volkswagen Atlas

Users noted trouble with this SUV’s climate system, steering and suspension, and power equipment. While experts commended it for its spacious third row of seats and easy-to-use control system, they also said the vehicle has poor gas mileage as well.

TURIN, ITALY - JUNE 10, 2017: Cadillac logo on a car grillRoberto Lusso/Shutterstock

9. Cadillac CTS

While the Cadillac brand may be associated with luxury, drivers of this sedan say there are issues with the drive and climate systems, as well as its transmission. Consumer Reports notes that the entertainment and information systems are overly complex.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - MARCH 25, 2018: New Alfa Romeo logo on the front of a red Alfa Romeo Giulia sports car with the iconic front grilleparlanteste/Shutterstock

8. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo is another car manufacturer known for its flashy vehicles. But the Alfa Romeo Giulia won’t get you far, according to users who complained about its power equipment, engine, and in-car electronics. Despite the sports car feel, Consumer Reports said the controls, seat comfort, and infotainment system fell short. There are certainly better car options for less than half of this car’s nearly $50,000 price tag.

Vilnius, Lithuania - May 18: Kia Motor logotype on a car on May 18, 2018 in Vilnius Lithuania. Kia Motor Corporation is South Koreas second-largest automobile manufacturerastudio/Shutterstock

7. Kia Cadenza

Issues with engine cooling and the emissions/fuel system make this car rank low with users. Road testers commented that while easy enough to use, this car is better for those that drive long distances.

Auto Show Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USAGene J Puskar/AP/Shutterstock

6. Cadillac Escalade

While test riders complained of this fancy car’s cramped seating and stiff steering, owners found issues with the climate system, transmission, and in-car electronics, which Consumer Reports described as “confounding.”

Auto Show, Detroit, USAPaul Sancya/AP/Shutterstock

5. Cadillac CT6

Users reported similar issues with the CT6 as Escalade drivers had. Consumer Reports says the car does have an impressive driver assistance program to make sure the user is paying attention to the road, but these cars guaranteed to last over 250,000 miles may be more reliable than one with electronic and transmission issues.

Bangkok - December 28 :close up logo of Chevrolet on front grill - in display at Thailand international motor expo 2014 on December 28, 2014 in Bangkok ThailandRich Stock/Shutterstock

4. Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Don’t get swept up in the size of this truck. Users complained about its fuel/emissions and drive systems, as well as the steering and suspension.

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3. Tesla Model X

For all the company’s hype, it seems the Model X will send you to the auto body shop frequently over repairs to the paint and trim, noises, and leaks. Users also reported issues with the in-car electronics and the body hardware. You’d likely be better off with what Consumer Reports found to be the best cars of this year based on their reliability.

Washington, DC - January 28, 2018: A Buick is on display at the Washington Auto Show.Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock

2. Buick Enclave

Minor transmission problems, issues with the power equipment, and noise and leaks are some of the things you may encounter with this SUV. Test drivers at Consumer Reports said the gear selector is “fussy” and difficult to use when parking, a sure dealbreaker for some.

Jaguar car emblem. Meeting of veterans vintage cars in Prague, Czech Republic June 20, 2016.Petr Podrouzek/Shutterstock
1. Jaguar F-Pace

Users found this car takes the cake when it comes to unreliable vehicles. People reported trouble with the in-car electronics, drive system, power equipment, as well as noises and leaks. Consumer Reports said the ride is “stiff and choppy” and the touch screen for the entertainment system is “fussy.” Skip the trips to the mechanics and switch out the F-Pace for one of the most reliable cars instead.

Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.