Every year, carmakers are expected to release new, updated models of every vehicle they produce. This constant demand for improvement has benefits, like ensuring that consumers can access the latest and best safety features quickly. However, it also has an important downside: sometimes, the changes auto manufacturers decide upon actually make their vehicles worse.
This is more common than you might assume. When manufacturers release new vehicles annually, some are inevitably duds. Still, the last thing you want when purchasing a brand-new car or truck is to end up stuck with an unreliable or dangerous model.
That’s why advocacy group Consumer Reports (CR) performs in-depth research and testing every year on the most (and least) reliable vehicles released in the U.S. CR uses two years of data to determine the reliability of cars according to 17 different criteria, from minor aesthetic problems to major issues like fires, recalls, and transmission failures. Vehicles are given a score out of 100, where higher scores are considered safer and more reliable overall. According to their data, the following five cars and trucks are the least reliable American-made vehicles you can buy new in 2023.
5. Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500: 19/100
Coming in at seventh-worst overall and fifth-worst of the American brands is the Chevy Silverado and its higher-end cousin, the GMC Sierra. While the Sierra has more luxurious trimmings, the two trucks are functionally identical under the hood. That’s a problem because they’re both functionally disappointing.
These trucks received just 19 out of 100 on the CR reliability report. They frequently suffer from engine problems, especially faults within the engine lifters. These lifters are responsible for helping the vehicle conserve fuel by turning off cylinders when possible, but when they fail, the engine can stall without warning. Furthermore, the Duramax engines many Sierra and Silverado models come with are prone to bent camshaft wheels, preventing the vehicle from starting. Considering the high price tags for Chevy trucks, it’s best to avoid them.
4. Chevrolet Bolt: 17/100
Next on the list is the Chevy Bolt, with a reliability score of just 17 out of 100. The Bolt is Chevrolet’s attempt to make an affordable hatchback vehicle for consumers, but it’s missed the mark. While the trimmings and ride quality are reportedly nice, Consumer Reports states it’s much less reliable than the average new car.
In fact, the 2022 model has already been subject to two serious safety recalls. The Bolt’s original battery tends to catch fire when charged to full or nearly full levels. Owners of affected vehicles were instructed not to charge them indoors overnight or above 90% and not to deplete the battery to less than 70 miles of range. The other recall was for the airbags, which had faults that could cause them not to deploy in a crash, putting passengers at serious risk of injury.
Additionally, owners report frequent transmission, engine sensors, and electrical system issues. If you’re looking for a reliable electric vehicle, look elsewhere.
3. Ford Explorer: 16/100
At fifth-worst overall and third for American vehicles, the 2022 Ford Explorer receives just 16 out of 100 for reliability. This popular SUV year model has been recalled seven times since being released. These recalls were issued for problems affecting the following:
- Power Train: Three power train recalls have been issued for problems like disconnected driveshafts and park systems that do not put the SUVs into park. These issues can lead to rollaway accidents regardless of whether the vehicle is in operation.
- Fuel System: Two recalls addressed the vehicle’s tendency to leak gas, putting owners and passengers at risk of serious fires.
- Engine Structure: One recall addressed faulty engine rails. The fault could cause more severe injuries during a crash or even fail while the vehicle is in operation and contact the road, leading to accidents.
- Back Over Prevention: Faulty backup cameras can make it difficult or impossible for drivers to see behind the vehicles when in reverse.
Even long-time Ford customers should think twice before purchasing a new Explorer this year.
2. Lincoln Aviator: 8/100
The Lincoln Aviator is Ford’s luxury alternative to the Explorer and is even less reliable. The Aviator is not worth its luxury price tag at third on the list and the second-worst American model. Along with many of the same recalls as the Explorer, Aviator owners report struggling with problems like:
- Shaky transmissions that cause vehicles to shudder or hesitate before shifting gears
- Faulty regenerative brakes that do not respond when the pedal is pressed, particularly when the car is in reverse
- Clunky stops and starts make the vehicle uncomfortable to drive in the city
While the luxurious interior may be nice, Consumer Reports has found it’s probably better to go with literally any other SUV if you want reliability.
1. Ford F-150 Hybrid: 4/100
Coming in dead last out of all vehicles sold in the U.S. is the Ford F-150 Hybrid, with a shockingly low 4 out of 100 for reliability. To get a score this low, the truck had to receive almost no points in any of the 17 reliability categories Consumer Reports tests.
Problems range from structural issues like faulty transmissions and batteries that are quick to die, to functional problems like the barely functional center console software, to aesthetic issues like the easily-breakable hard plastic interior. The trucks just aren’t built “Ford Tough.” With three of the top five unreliable cars coming from Ford, it may be best to steer clear of the brand entirely.
Talk to Our Expert California Lemon Law Attorneys
If you’ve already bought one of the models listed above, you may unfortunately have purchased a lemon. The manufacturing defects that make these cars unreliable could be covered under your warranty, though. If your 2022- or 2023-year model car has been in the shop for more than 30 days already, you may be eligible to file a lemon claim. Learn more about how these claims can help you get your money back in California by scheduling a consultation with Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys.