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According to Consumer Reports’ annual Auto Reliability Survey, hybrids are more reliable than plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Information from more than 740,00 vehicles was compiled for the recently released update, with consumer input on the powertrain, electrical system, suspension and about a dozen other categories used to estimate the reliability of each model.
Included in the list were reliability scores on 18 alternatively-fueled vehicles. It should be noted that this a fairly small sample size, leaving out vehicles like the VW e-Golf, Chevy Spark, Ford Focus EV and Kia Soul EV. When comparing the data, it’s also important to remember that these scores are estimates – not guarantees – on the actual durability of a specific vehicle.
Out of the five BEVs included in the report, only the Nissan Leaf was said to have average reliability. The inaugural BMW i3 suffered drive system issues, lowering its score, while the multitude of issues plaguing the 2015 Tesla Model S dropped the sedan to the lowest reliability score possible.
Only two plug-in hybrids, the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford C-MAX Energi, made the list; both were marked as having average reliability.
Hybrid models were the clear leaders in the alternatively-fueled category. Out of the 11 models rated by Consumer Reports, seven received excellent reliability scores, including the Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE and Lexus RX 450h. None of the included hybrids had less than average reliability.
Poor reliability didn’t directly correlate to a low satisfaction rating, however. The Tesla Model S, for example, held the highest score here (with 97 percent of owners saying they would buy the car again), even though editors reported that “Tesla owners chronicled an array of problems.”