Business / Corporate

Subaru tops Consumer Reports' annual auto brand rankings for first time

JIJI, Bloomberg

Automaker Subaru Corp.’s namesake brand topped U.S. magazine Consumer Reports’ annual rankings, released Thursday, for the first time.

“Subaru’s strong predicted reliability and owner satisfaction marks drove it to the head of the pack,” the magazine said. It rose from seventh in last year’s rankings.

Among other Japanese brands, Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus luxury brand came fifth, Mazda Motor Corp. sixth and Toyota’s flagship brand ninth.

The namesake brand of Honda Motor Co. was ranked 13th, while Nissan Motor Co. ranked 21st.

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co.’s Genesis luxury brand fell to second place from last year’s top spot, while German automaker Volkswagen AG’s Porsche rose to third from fifth.

Meanwhile Tesla Inc.’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 electric-carmaker’s shares dropped.

The magazine said owners have complained about issues including loose-fitting 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 dropping to No. 19 in Consumer Reports’ brand rankings, down 11 spots from last year and its lowest-ever ranking.

The 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.

“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.