Tesla Model S reliability
Tesla Model S at the track

Conventional wisdom in car-reviewing circles is that consumers should stay away from brand-new models or models that have a significant update. There are simply too many glitches that need to be worked out in the first year, so it’s best to wait for the following year. Or more.

Regarding reliability, industry expert Consumer Reports says, “The problems don’t always surface right away and, in a phenomenon we’ve dubbed ‘the sophomore slump,’ might not show up until well into the second year after a new model is introduced.” This can be difficult for many early adopters who love to have a vehicle with the newest look, technology, or set of features. This is the kind of person who may embrace hybrids and/or electric vehicles. If this type of person is you, then you may want to look into Consumer Reports’ December 2017 issue that explores reliability and has a focused study in new or redesigned models.

EVs Are … Normal

There are hybrids and EVs that are on the comprehensive list of vehicles that have three or more years of data. Consumer Reports lists the Tesla Model X and Model S; Toyota’s Prius, Prius V, Prius C, and Prius Prime; and Chevrolet’s Bolt and Volt. For the list of redesigned or entirely new 2018 models, Consumer Reports looks at the Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, the Nissan Leaf, the Toyota Mirai, the Smart ForTwo, and Tesla’s Model 3.

I love poring over these lists, and in case you do too, I won’t spoil all of it. But there were a couple of interesting bits to share here. First is that the Prius V and Prius C did really well in the overall reliability category. Also interesting is that the Tesla Model X scored among the worst. But wait! You may think (as I did before reading the article) that it’s an issue with maybe the charging system or the electric motor. It’s not. The Model X scored badly due to “body hardware, paint and trim, climate system.” This makes me excited because all that stuff is par for the course for any other vehicle. I’m not saying you should go out and buy a Model X anyway; I’m saying that it’s exciting that the actual motor and drive systems aren’t problematic. As long as that’s the case, hybrids and EVs can keep working the ancillary kinks out like any other OEM does.

Get That Green Dot, EVs

CR’s list of Reliability Predictions for Redesigned or Entirely New 2018 Models doesn’t provide many details in the magazine and relies largely on data of previous generations, overall brand reliability, and “shared components.” These scores are kind of a ballpark measure but should be heeded nonetheless.

In any case, it’s great to see that hybrids and EVs are making their way in the market and that even if the ones on the bottom of the list work hard and make necessary changes, they too can have a green dot by their name.—Sara Lacey

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