Here's 10 cars you’ll want to avoid if long-term dependability is high on your shopping list.
In previous posts we’ve highlighted the cars and pickups/SUVs/minivans that rated the highest for powertrain reliability in the latest JD Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (based on powertrain ratings for over 35,000 surveys conducted among original owners of three-year-old cars), and confirmed to a large extent by Consumer Reports.
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We now take a look at the other side of the proverbial coin and present a short list of 10 cars that all received rock-bottom rankings in powertrain durability (two out of five “power circles”) from JDP. Since we found many contradictions between the two sources in this regard, we further whittled down the below rogue's gallery according to those models that also ranked below-average in predicted reliability according to CR’s subscriber surveys.
Not that we're keeping score, but six of the ten cars on the least-reliable list hail from Fiat-Chrysler, though three of them are being or have been discontinued. Consider that group a warning for used-car shoppers, then.
1. Cadillac ATS
The smallest Caddy is a BMW 3 Series competitor, and while it has its merits – especially in its high-powered and high-priced ATS-V variant – it still falls short. It gets the lowest scores for powertrain dependability and for overall dependability and for feature/accessory issues from JD Power. While Consumer Reports gives it good marks in the magazine’s road tests, it receives a rock-bottom one-out-of-five score for projected reliability.
2. Chrysler 200
Now out of production, with the remaining inventory being sold off in its final model year, the midsize 200 sedan gets low marks nearly across the board from JD Power for reliability based on the 2014 model, except in the feature/accessory department where it gets a four out of five. The 200 was redesigned for 2015 as a much more stylish sedan (shown above), but seems to not fare any better, as Consumer Reports gives it a rock bottom rating for projected reliability, and cites it as among the 10 worst cars for 2017.
The midsize Avenger was last sold in 2014, and like the above Chrysler 200 with which it was mechanically related, JD Power gives it rock-bottom ratings for reliability except for features/accessories. Consumer Reports maintains no historic information on its reliability, though you’ll find few reviews that had much in the way of praise for this below-average sedan, especially with regard to its dismal base four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission.
Enthusiasts might drool over the full-size Challenger coupe’s rip-roaring SRT versions, especially the hellacious Hellcat and the new-for-2018 Demon, but it gets JD Power’s lowest scores across the board for dependability. Consumer Reports likewise gives it a one out of five rating for predicted reliability.
The four-door version of the Dodge Challenger is also among the most fun to drive cars in its 700-plus horsepower SRT Hellcat edition, but doesn’t otherwise fare much better than its two-door relation, getting both JD Power’s lowest dependability scores in all categories, and a one-out-of-five reliability rating from Consumer Reports.
6. Dodge Dart
The Dart was heralded as being Dodge’s long-overdue return to the compact car segment when it debuted for 2013, but it was dropped from the lineup last year because of poor sales and Fiat-Chrysler's need to expand its more-profitable truck and SUV production. The 2014 edition upon which JD Power’s survey is based receives low scores across the board for dependability, and in the only model year for which Consumer Reports weighs in (2013) the Dart receives the magazine’s lowest rating for reliability.
7. Fiat 500L
The larger four-door wagon-like alternative to the Fiat 500 coupe, the 500L stumbled out of the gate with a problematic automatic transmission and overall poor marks. It gets JD Power’s lowest scores for dependability in all categories. Consumer Reports not only gives the Fiat 500L a one out of five score for predicted reliability, it gets the lowest overall score among all current vehicles it’s tested and places it on its list of the 10 worst cars for 2017.
8. Ford Fiesta
Car fans might be enamored with the feisty Fiesta ST for its rally-car like performance, but the rest of the line gets JD Power’s lowest scores for most areas of dependability (save for body/interior, where it’s ranked highly), and gets a one-out-of-five rating for predicted reliability from Consumer Reports, which also gives it low overall marks.
9. Ford Focus
The compact Focus actually ranks a hair worse in terms of dependability from JD Power, getting its lowest scores in every category except body/dependability, where it gets a just-average rating of three-out-of-five. Consumer Reports gives the Focus a one out of five for predicted reliability, ranking it near the bottom of the compact car segment, overall.
The least-expensive Mercedes-Benz sedan proves that sometimes one can pay too little for things. This subcompact luxury sedan gets the lowest marks in most areas of JD Power’s dependability study, with the exception of features/accessories, where it’s just average. Consumer Reports gives the CLA a below-average rating for predicted reliability, ranking it dead last, overall, among entry-level luxury cars and placing it on the magazine’s “10 worst” list for 2017.