Tesla Model 3 and Model S Regain Consumer Reports' Recommendation, Not Model X

Both sedans now have a reliability rating of "average."

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The Tesla Model 3 and Model S have once again made their way onto Consumer Reports’ recommended vehicle list after falling off earlier this year over what the publication called "declining reliability." The Model X, however, did not due to numerous problems that plague the SUV and its controversial doors.

Director of auto testing at Consumer Reports Jake Fisher said, “The Tesla Model 3 struggled last year as the company made frequent design changes and ramped up production to meet demand.” The Model 3, which is being made under a tent outside of the actual factory building in California, moved up four spots to number 23 out of 30 brands in the U.S. market that Consumer Reports ranks. Both the Model 3 and the more expensive Model S now have expected reliability ratings of “average.”

Some of the issues with the Model 3’s reliability rating stem from the fact that Tesla makes running changes to its production processes throughout the year, instead of holding back changes to be made all at once like most automakers. This has resulted in inconsistent build quality with small and large components alike, and even with major parts like electric motors and suspension components. Fisher says that constantly introducing new parts makes it hard to work out reliability problems.

As far as the controversial Model X, which has been plagued with poor reliability and issues with its Falcon doors since launch, did not join its sedan siblings on CR's recommended list. "Model X owners reported numerous problems, ranging from its balky falcon-wing doors (that open vertically) to noises and leaks, and it has worse-than-average reliability," reported the publication.

Other brands made big moves on the reliability list this year as well. Dodge moved up 13 spots to number eight, making it the highest-ranking U.S. brand. Meanwhile, the F-150 (the best-selling car in America) lost its spot on the reliability list due to reported issues with the trucks' transmission, four-wheel-drive system, and infotainment system. 

The Consumer Reports survey asks owners about problems they’ve had with their vehicles in the last 12 months. Questions cover 17 potential problem areas that range from engine issues to weird noises and fluid leaks. The 2019 survey received responses on about 420,000 vehicles, nearly 4,000 of which were Teslas.