Consumer Reports took a decidedly more negative view of Tesla in this year’s rankings of vehicles.
The Model 3, which had been its top pick among EV models, lost that distinction to the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Model 3 now has the third best ranking among EVs, behind the Mach-E and the Kia Niro.
Tesla plunged seven spots to No. 23 in the overall ranking of best car brands. The drop was mainly due to the difficult-to-use yoke steering wheel the automaker recently debuted on the updated version of those models. Consumer Reports said the steering wheel was enough of a problem to lower their road-test scores.
The Model 3 remains the lone Tesla model that is CR recommended. Tesla also makes the Model Y small SUV, Model X large SUV, and Model S large sedan.
“Make no mistake, the Model 3 is still a great choice, and Consumer Reports recommends it,” said its article on rankings. “It shines with the latest technology, a long range, an impressive charging network, and a driving experience closer to a high-performance sports car than a sedan. But the Mustang Mach-E is also very sporty, plus it’s more practical and easier to live with. The Ford is also quieter and rides better.”
Consumer Reports had once been among Tesla’s biggest fans. It judged the Tesla Model S as the best car it ever tested when the product-testing publication first reviewed it in 2013 with a score of more than 100.
But questions about reliability, based on ownership surveys, hurt the car’s rankings in the not-for-profit rating services’ rankings and scores for Tesla.
The Mach-E has been winning critical praise elsewhere as well, including Car and Driver’s first EV of the Year award last year. It actually had a slightly lower score than the Kia Niro in Consumer Reports’ rankings of vehicles, but spokesperson James McQueen said the top pick in each category is based on numerous factors beyond the straight score.