Tesla’s Model 3 lost a coveted recommendation from Consumer Reports, dropping its brand from the top 10 of the magazine’s closely watched annual ranking.
The magazine said owners have complained about issues including loosefitting exterior parts and defective glass, casting doubt on the Model 3’s reliability and costing the car its recommendation. The sedan’s fall from grace contributed to Tesla’s dropping to No. 19 in Consumer Reports’ brand rankings, down 11 spots from last year and its lowest ever.
Tesla’s stock fell 3.7 percent to $291.23 Thursday.>
Consumer Reports’ dropped recommendation follows two Model 3 price cuts this year to partially offset lower federal tax incentives. The moves have raised concern among some investors about demand for the vehicles keeping pace after deliveries surged in the second half of last year.
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“All three Tesla models have below-average reliability, and we don’t recommend any of them,” said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at the magazine published by the nonprofit group Consumers Union. Consumer Reports has built up the credibility of its ratings by refusing carmakers’ advertising dollars and restricting the companies from using its recommendations in marketing campaigns.
Tesla pushed back on the magazine’s assessment. “Not only are our cars the safest and best-performing vehicles available today, but we take feedback from our customers very seriously,” the company said in an emailed statement.
The top brand in Consumer Reports’ 2019 auto issue is Subaru, which rose six spots from a year ago and bested several premium-car lines to lead the rankings for the first time. The magazine recommends seven of Subaru’s eight vehicles sold in the U.S., including the new Ascent sport-utility vehicle. It earned the “top pick” designation among midsize SUVs.
In 2018, Consumer Reports ranked Tesla eighth out of 33 brands, making it the top American marque and the only one in the top 10. This year, Tesla fell behind Ford s Lincoln and General Motors’ Buick.
The magazine rates brands based on owner-satisfaction surveys and its own road tests and reliability predictions.
“While most Tesla Model 3 owners are very happy with their cars, they’re also having problems with them,” Fisher said. That kind of love-hate relationship isn’t uncommon for iconic vehicles with persistent quality issues, such as the Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Corvette, he said.
Trouble with the Model 3 includes rear windshields that are susceptible to stress fractures, which won’t be fixable with a software patch, so Fisher said another re-rating in the near term is unlikely. He said Tesla told Consumer Reports it’s remedied problems on its Model 3 production lines, but that doesn’t help cars already sold with glitches.
Tesla said the vast majority of these issues have been corrected and noted Consumer Reports’ surveys show its vehicles rank among the highest in customer satisfaction.
Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury brand, took second place after Subaru in the ranking, slipping from No. 1 last year. The others in the top five also are premium marques: VW’s Porsche and Audi, followed by Toyota’s Lexus. The lowest-ranked brands are Jeep, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Jaguar and perennial bottom-dweller Fiat.
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