Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

Tesla Model 3
Miles Branman/Digital Trends

The Tesla Model 3 figures on the list of cars stripped of their coveted Recommended rating by Consumer Reports. The publication polled Model 3 owners across the United States and cited declining reliability as the main factor behind its decision.

Consumer Reports doesn’t focus exclusively on Tesla. It sent thousands of new car buyers a survey in 2018 to gain insight on which models are the most reliable, and which ones are the most problematic. Motorists were asked about the problems they encountered with their car, and how often it has been in the shop since they bought it. The 500 Model 3 owners it polled weren’t thrilled with their purchase. They notably reported finding loose body trim and discovering glass defects.

The problems that plagued early examples of the Model 3 were well documented online. Owners reported paint blemishes, the trim problems cited by Consumer Reports, and touchscreen failures, among other issues. Engineering consultancy firm Munro and Associates went as far as comparing the Model 3’s build quality to Kia’s during the 1990s; anyone that has driven a Sephia will tell you that is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Many analysts and owners agreed Tesla improved the 3’s build quality considerably in late 2018 as it increased production in its Fremont, California, factory so the electric sedan may fare better in 2019. Until then, Tesla lost 11 spots in Consumer Reports’ car brand rankings.

“We’ve been in touch with Tesla. They’ve told us that they’ve been addressing these specific issues and they won’t affect new buyers. If that turns out to be true, it’s possible it will be reflected in our future surveys, but it’s also possible that other problems will arise,” Consumer Reports told Digital Trends. We reached out to Tesla and received a similar reply.

“We’re setting an extremely high bar for Model 3. We have already made significant improvements to correct any issues that Model 3 customers may have experienced that are referenced in this report, and our return policy allows any customer who is unhappy with their car to return it for a full refund. This new data from Consumer Reports comes from their annual Owner Satisfaction survey, which runs from July through September, so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data,” a spokesperson told Digital Trends via email.

The Model 3 isn’t the only car that got bumped off the Recommended list. Consumer Reports also downgraded the Chrysler 300 after owners complained about problems with the in-car electronics and the eight-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler dropped by 11 spots, too, and the firm is also confident its rating will go back up in the not-too-distant future.

“We address all issues we see in our quality indicators, and the issues referenced by Consumer Reports have already been identified and resolved. The 2019 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger represents the best iteration of the vehicles ever,” a spokesperson said in a statement sent to Digital Trends. “With the improvements we’ve made, we’re confident 300 and Charger will both regain their recommended status in the future,” the company added.

The Acura RDX, the BMW 5 Series, the Volkswagen Tiguan, and the cop-friendly Dodge Charger (which rides on the same basic platform as the 300) also lost their Recommended rating due to reliability concerns.

Consumer Reports isn’t solely the bearer of bad news. The industry watchdog elevated the BMW X3, the Genesis G90, and the Lincoln Nautilus (which replaces the MKX) to Recommended status after feedback from real-world owners revealed they have become more reliable.

Updated 2-21-2019: Added statement from Tesla.


Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Volkswagen wants more high-performance R models — even electric ones

Though Volkswagen won't sell the T-Roc R in the United States, it wants to expand its lineup of high-performance cars over the coming years, and one of the new additions could join the Golf R in American showrooms.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.

2020 Cadillac CT5 luxury sedan gets turbocharged power, chiseled looks

The 2020 Cadillac CT5 replaces the CTS in the General Motors luxury brand's lineup. Cadillac will unveil the CT5 at the 2019 New York Auto Show in April. Until then, it's keeping most details under wraps.