Consumer Reports finds hybrid cars are more reliable than gas-only models

EVs and plug-in hybrids still have problems, though.


Hybrid cars aren't just valuable for their fuel efficiency, apparently. Consumer Reports has published annual reliability survey data indicating that hybrids are generally more reliable than their gas-only equivalents. Hybrid cars were the most reliable among vehicle types, with their SUV siblings ranking third. Certain models were stand-outs, including the Ford Maverick pickup, Lexus NX luxury SUV and Toyota Corolla sedan — they all had above-average reliability on top of major fuel savings.

That trustworthiness doesn't always extend to other electrified cars. The publication found that plug-in hybrids aren't as reliable. Toyota's Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime are less reliable than their conventional hybrid versions, and the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid was one of the most unreliable vehicles in the survey. EVs continue to struggle, too. While there are some exceptions, such as the "outstanding" reliability of the Kia EV6, the category is still plagued with glitches — and not just Tesla's build quality issues. Ford's Mustang-Mach-E dipped to below average due to its electronics flaws. Only four out of 11 models with enough survey data had average or better reliability.

A straightforward hybrid isn't always the best choice, either. Consumer Reports warns that BMW, Mercedes, Ram and others offer "mild" hybrids that don't offer much in the way of fuel savings, and are sometimes focused more on adding power. These vehicles weren't included in the hybrid reliability rankings.

The greater reliability of hybrids isn't a total surprise. While they offer improved fuel economy, they're ultimately based on familiar model lines using well-established combustion engine technology. EVs are more likely to be brand new models based on young electric motor systems and don't have years of refinement.

Automakers will have to improve their safety tech if they want to stay in Consumer Reports' good graces, whatever powertrain they're using. As of November, the outlet will penalize models that don't include pedestrian-aware automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. CR will also stop handing out bonus points to vehicles that only have blind spot warnings (they'll need rear cross traffic warnings as well) and forward collision alerts. This will theoretically push car creators to strengthen their default safety packages and potentially save lives.