The Least Reliable Cars of 2020

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

It’s the list nobody wants to find their car on. Just as there has to be the most reliable cars of 2020, Consumer Reports has also compiled a list of the 10 least reliable cars on dealer lots.

Domestic models faired poorly here, with American brands occupying 60 percent of the bottom 10. They bookend the list, leaving the middle ground to imports. Well, they’re imports by brand: all but one of the cars on this list is constructed in North America. The outlier? An Alfa Romeo.

It’s important to note that Consumer Reports bases the predicted reliability of models on things like the model’s history in addition to polling owners. That helps paint a clearer picture of what buyers can expect when it comes to newer models—though most of the models on this list have been around in their current forms for a few years.

From the most reliable to the least, here’s the full list:

10. Chevrolet Traverse

We begin with the Bow Tie’s biggest crossover. The Traverse is a three-row model with front-drive architecture, an entirely different proposition from the similarly-sized, truck-based Tahoe and Suburban. It sells roughly as many examples as those two combined, enough to make it the third-best selling Chevrolet so far in 2019—second only to the Silverado and Equinox.

But popularity doesn’t help the Traverse in CR’s scoring. It manages an 18 out of 100 rating. A generation change in 2018 could be the culprit.

09. Chrysler Pacifica

We have a bit of a soft spot for the Pacifica here at AutoGuide. Forget the current Grand Caravan, a bargain-basement model that first debuted before Obama took office: the Pacifica is the latest evolution of the minivan concept Chrysler pioneered. It’s a shape that was ubiquitous for a whole generation of kids, which is arguably why it’s so shunned these days—even though it’s still the most functional for family use.

SEE ALSO: 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Review

A family vehicle needs to be reliable though. The Pacifica’s rating of 16 out of 100 slots it into 9th on this ignominious list. Like the Traverse, it’s quite new, having debuted in 2016.

08. Tesla Model X

Before it decided the world needed a Total Recall truck, Tesla explored the realm beyond three-box car shapes with this, the Model X. The Model 3 and S regained Consumer Report’s recommendation this year, but this bulky, falcon-doored people mover remains a blemish on the brand’s record.

According to CR, it’s those unique doors that carry some of the blame. Noises and leaks are another concern, along with in-car electronics.

07. Acura MDX

Acura took a bit of a fall on the CR lists in general this year. Bringing up the back of the pack was its larger crossover, the MDX, with a score of 15 out of 100. The MDX features the familiar Honda 3.5-liter V6 combo that sees duty in everything from the Odyssey to the Ridgeline pickup, which makes its appearance here all the more unexpected.

It also bucks a trend, though not in a good way: it’s the second-oldest Acura in the current lineup. Typically older models perform better than new ones in CR’s reliability lists, thanks to extra time for automakers to work out the kinks.

06. Volkswagen Tiguan

The Tiguan is the first of two consecutive showings from Volkswagen this year. The (fractionally) smaller of the two, the second-generation Tiguan appeared on the scene for the 2018 model year. Essentially a Golf on stilts, it offers either front- or all-wheel drive, a 2.0-liter turbo engine, and an eight-speed transmission.

Compounding the issue here is that the Tiguan is now Volkswagen’s best-selling model in America. The second model from the Peoples’ Car maker is quickly catching up to it too…

05. Volkswagen Atlas

The Atlas, the other current Volkswagen crossover, slots in right above its sibling. It too offers three rows of seating—across the range, not just on certain models—plus a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The familiar 2.0-liter turbo is on offer here too, plus the eight-speed automatic. The Atlas does offer its own 3.6-liter V6 engine however.

The Atlas was a brand-new model in 2018, tailored to the unique tastes of the American market. It’s built at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which only began producing cars in 2011. The plant is scheduled to begin building of two electric cars over the next few years: the production versions of the ID Crozz and ID Buzz concepts.

04. Alfa Romeo Giulia

Oh, Alfa Romeo. The source of a million jokes about breaking down and what it means to be an auto enthusiast. The Giulia landing in fourth on this list—with a score of 13/100—will likely do little to change that.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Review

We still consider the Giulia a sweet-steering, good-looking ride. And no, not just in laugh-out-loud, hope-someone-else-pays-for-gas Quadrifoglio guise. Even the regular models feel special. Alfa recently announced updates for the 2020 model, which may pull the Giulia up the ranks.

03. Jeep Wrangler

We’re in the podium positions now, and the Giulia’s distant FCA relative, the Jeep Wrangler, occupies the third step. Completely redone for the 2018 model year, the Wrangler is an icon, no doubt about it. It occupies a unique position on the Venn diagram between CR reliability score and a recent survey on cars that best hold their value. Despite locking out the results on that survey, the Jeep is the only model of that list to also wind up here, with a reliability score of 12/100.

For 2020 the Wrangler will add FCA’s desirable diesel engine into the mix.

02. Chevrolet Camaro

Ouch. On the plus side, the Camaro is the only two-door car on the list, so we’ll chalk that up as a win for sporty cars. On the other hand, it has plenty of clear air between it and the Wrangler, scoring an abysmal 5/100 from Consumer Reports. Yes, five.

Reliability issues aside, the Camaro remains an affordable, fun-loving muscle car with a variety of performance options. From a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder right through to the barking mad, 6.2-liter supercharged V8 ZL1, few cars can match the Camaro’s sheer bang-for-buck ratio.

01. Chevrolet Colorado

Just sneaking ahead of its muscle car sibling, the Colorado scores the ignominious honor of this year’s least reliable vehicle. It does so with a score of just 4/100 from Consumer Reports readership.

The Colorado—and its GMC Canyon twin—comes in a variety of cab/bed configurations, rear- or all-wheel drive, and a brace of engine options: four cylinder gas, six cylinder gas, or four-cylinder turbodiesel.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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