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Tesla Model S re-earns Consumer Reports’ recommendation on improved reliability


Consumer Reports really likes the Model S.  Last year, it somehow managed to place both first and second in their “best cars of 2015” list, and the P85D broke their rating system by scoring 103 out of 100 points – beating the previous 85kWh model which had previously been described as the “best car ever” when it scored 99 out of 100 on the same scale.  That’s right, not the best EV ever, but the best car ever.  It has also topped their list with the highest owner satisfaction ratings ever seen in multiple surveys of their subscribers, as well as the highest satisfaction for repairs and service.

So last year, when Consumer Reports rescinded their recommendation, it was big news.  But today, Consumer Reports has reversed that decision based on new reliability ratings, and now that the Model S is back in “average” reliability range, it means that Consumer Reports can once again recommend that consumers buy it.

Consumer Reports doesn’t only recommend cars based on their road test or consumer satisfaction scores, but also on their reliability ratings.  If a car is below-average in reliability, Consumer Reports will not recommend it.

Last year, Tesla found an issue with its early drive units and many cars had to come in for drive unit replacements.  While the fix ended up being fairly easy and not very costly for Tesla or time consuming for owners, the number of repair visits exceeded Consumer Reports’ threshold for “average” reliability, which resulted in Tesla dropping from their “recommended” list.

But after Tesla’s fixes, reliability issues decreased by 50%, which was enough for the Model S to earn its way out of the “below average” reliability category.

Consumer Reports has not yet rated the Model X with a road test, but they have issued a warning about reliability of early models.  The report today mentions many problems with the falcon wing doors, which were a significant part of early Model X production delays and poor reliability on the first delivered cars.

Consumer Reports generally waits a while before issuing road test and reliability scores, so as to not be overly affected by the problems of a few early models, so it will be interesting to see how the data works out once they issue a formal recommendation for the Model X.

It is likely that a similar story will play out as with the Model S – the car is fantastic, owners love it, but early reliability problems may stop Consumer Reports from recommending the car until later models achieve better reliability.  Even those early reliability problems do not seem too cumbersome to owners, though, given that Tesla has earned the aforementioned top marks for service and repair.

The Model X first entered production officially in September 2015, but volume production really only started in mid-2016. Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla hiring Apple’s Reliability Director to scale up production with iPhone-like dependability.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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