Consumer Reports dropped its recommendation of Tesla’s flagship sedan, the Model S, after the organization performed its annual Auto Reliability Survey and found issues with the vehicle’s air suspension and main computer and touchscreen controls. Additionally, the Model Y contributed to a lowering in Tesla’s reliability from the magazine.
CNBC spoke to Consumer Reports’ Senior Director of Automotive Testing, Jake Fisher, who stated that the issues were enough to remove the recommendation that the product testing company once had on the vehicle.
“We see a variety of problems on that car. It’s wavered throughout its life cycle,” Fisher told CNBC. At one point, the Model S was CR’s top-rated vehicle and listed the P85D variant as the best car of all-time in 2015.
However, the removal of the Model S means that only the Tesla Model 3 remains as a “recommended” vehicle by CR. The Model Y never made it to the list, and Fisher added details regarding the all-electric crossover’s issues, which were spotted by CR.
According to Fisher, the Model Y had a number of misaligned body panels, and human hair was found “stuck in the paint,” according to Reuters. “I am surprised that we would see just basic paint and trim type issues and body panel fitment issues,” Fisher said. “Really disappointing when you spend this much money for a car, and hopefully they’ll be able to rectify a lot of these as time goes by.”
The Model Y was given a rating that was “much worse the average” after the examination.
Both Tesla and CR have had a tumultuous relationship with one another, and it is important to identify the relationship that CR has with Tesla.
CR has jostled with ratings of the Model S, Model 3, and Model X several times throughout the past few years. After adding, removing, and re-adding each vehicle several times, CR finally admitted that the Model S and Model 3 were recommended once again in November 2019, after “improved reliability” was reported by the company. A survey of 5,000 Model 3 owners, which revealed positive reviews in terms of the company’s build quality, had shown that Tesla had improved the vehicle’s status during the production process.
However, CR has continued to cast stones in the direction of Tesla: One in the form of a dismissive review of Smart Summon, another in a very one-sided critique of Autopilot, which stated it was a “distant 2nd” to GM’s Super Cruise.
Tesla has confronted the issues with the touchscreen controls on several occasions. The company recently announced that it would be offering warranty extensions on older infotainment systems on Model S and Model X vehicles.
CR has not always been negative toward Tesla, though. The company did list the Model 3 as the only American-made car in Consumer Reports’ Top Picks of 2020. Additionally, CR recognized that Tesla has industry-leading battery tech and energy efficiency.
Consumer Reports has had quite a tumultuous relationship with Tesla, but the issues recognized in the most recent Model S examination may cause the electric automaker to improve upon any identified issues. After improvements are made, the Model S and Model Y could join the Model 3 as “recommended” by CR.