What Car?’s annual Reliability Survey has become a gold standard in the automotive industry for evaluating vehicle reliability. With feedback from 21,732 British drivers, the poll spans 32 mainstream brands and a vast array of 178 different car models up to five years old. While Japanese automakers Lexus and Toyota nabbed the top spots, Tesla managed to edge its way into the Top 10. However, it sits at the 10th position with a reliability score of 93.6%, just trailing Volvo by a mere 0.1%.

The Reliability Landscape

The survey calculated reliability ratings based on the experiences of owners over the past two years. Factors like repair time and costs were considered, with the overall score expressed as a percentage. Japanese brands dominated the reliability landscape, with Lexus and Toyota scoring 98.3% and 97.4%, respectively. European brand Mini also made a strong showing at the third spot with a 97.2% reliability rating.

Tesla found itself at the bottom of the Top 10 list, just below Volvo which scored 93.7%. While the electric vehicle maker’s inclusion in the top bracket is noteworthy, it was a close call.

Hybrids Versus Electric Vehicles

The survey revealed a surprising result: hybrids are more reliable than their all-electric counterparts. Despite their complex drivetrains that combine combustion engines with electric motors, just 17% of plug-in hybrids reported any fault over the past two years.

In contrast, electric vehicles, including Tesla models, had a joint-highest fault rate of 26%. This is despite electric cars having fewer moving parts, typically a selling point for less maintenance. According to What Car?’s consumer editor Claire Evans, “in many cases it’s not the electric motors or battery banks that prove troublesome, it’s other electrical items such as infotainment systems, digital instrument panels, and driver assistance systems that have given owners the biggest headaches.”

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1. Lexus: 98.3%

2. Toyota: 97.4%

3. Mini: 97.2%

4. Suzuki: 96.9%

5. Mitsubishi: 96.2%

6. Honda: 95.9%

7. Hyundai: 94.3%

8. Kia: 93.8%

9. Volvo: 93.7%

10. Tesla: 93.6%

1. Cupra: 82.4%

2. Alfa Romeo: 85.6%

3. Vauxhall: 86.9%

4. Jaguar: 87.4%

5. Land Rover: 87.6%

6. Subaru: 89.0%

7. Audi: 89.1%

8. MG: 89.2%

9. Mercedes-Benz: 89.8%

10. Renault: 90.0%

What Holds Tesla Back?

Although Tesla’s electric drivetrains have been largely reliable, it’s the ancillary features that seem to affect its overall score. A common issue among electric vehicles, also cited in the survey, is the reliability of the infotainment system—something Tesla is heavily reliant on for most in-car controls.

Key Takeaways for Potential Tesla Buyers

If you’re considering a Tesla or any electric vehicle, you might want to dig deeper into the reliability ratings specific to different aspects like drivetrains, infotainment systems, and auxiliary features. Tesla’s position in the Top 10 list signifies a level of reliability, but the closeness of the competition should not be ignored.

Navigating the Future

Tesla’s entrance into the Top 10 most reliable cars list is an accomplishment, albeit by a narrow margin. While the brand has work to do in catching up with industry leaders, it’s a signal to consumers and competitors alike that electric vehicles can offer dependability alongside innovation. Whether Tesla can climb higher on this list in the coming years remains a key question and could significantly influence consumer choice in an increasingly electric future.

So, is Tesla’s glass half full or half empty? Depending on your perspective, it’s either a commendable achievement or a call to action for improvement. Either way, it’s a topic worth keeping an eye on.