DETROIT -- When it comes to reliability, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have improved their performance ratings among drivers while General Motors has slipped. Still, GM's Buick is the only U.S. brand to make Consumer Reports' latest top 10 list of most reliable brands. The new Chevrolet Bolt electric car was GM's most reliable model, scoring "above average" in the influential reliability survey.
Fiat Chrysler's improvement in the study released on Thursday was welcome news after poor ratings in recent years.
Overall, however, the Detroit Three automakers received low scores from the independent nonprofit organization known for its trusted analysis.
Drivers reported "growing pains" for new models across the industry. "These new technologies can add features and improve fuel efficiency, but are more prone to have issues. More often than not, our data suggests it's prudent for consumers to wait for the technology to mature," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
However, Fisher added, "Detroit should be encouraged." Core models including the wildly popular Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 pickup trucks improved their reliability.
Jeep moved up three spots in the brand rankings from last year, a significant improvement, even as the Grand Cherokee and Renegade remain "below average."
Consumer Reports found major improvements in the Chrysler brand, which moved up 10 places on the list, thanks to the new Pacifica minivan's performance, despite minor transmission issues. The only Dodge model that did not rate "below average" was the Grand Caravan. Even with improvements in the Ram 1500, the brand is dragged to the bottom by the Ram 2500 and Ram 3500, the survey said.
Meanwhile, GM was saved by Buick, with its "much better than average" reliability of the Encore, the "better than average" reliability of the Cascada convertible and Envision compact SUV. The Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC brands landed in the bottom third of the survey. The redesigned Buick LaCrosse full-size luxury car debuted with "well-below average" reliability. The Volt plug-in hybrid remains "below average" and the Cruze compact car, which debuted with "well above average" reliability just one year ago, "plunged to below average" this year.
GMC and Cadillac are at the bottom of the brand rankings. The Acadia SUV debuted at "well below average" is among the 10 least reliable new models. Its issues involve problems relating to infotainment systems, drive systems, climate control and power equipment. All of Cadillac's models had "below average" reliability.
At Ford, the F-150 improved to "average" reliability but the Focus compact car and Fiesta subcompact car remain "well-below average" with ongoing clutch and transmission problems.