The magazineâ€™s decision to withdraw its endorsement for the Tesla Model 3 less than nine months after recommending the electric sedan highlighted questions about quality that Tesla has faced since the vehicleâ€™s difficult launch. Tesla shares fell 3.4 percent to $292.19 in afternoon trading Thursday on the Nasdaq.
Low scores for the Model 3 hurt the brandâ€™s overall standing, knocking it down 11 spots to No. 19 out of 33 brands in Consumer Reportsâ€™ 2019 annual rankings.
Millions of prospective auto buyers consult the magazineâ€™s rankings, which are based on road testing, reliability, safety and owner satisfaction scores.
Despite reliability problems, Model 3 owners said they love their vehicles, said Jake Fisher, the magazineâ€™s senior director of automotive testing.
â€śWe have already made significant improvements to correct any issues that Model 3 customers may have experienced that are referenced in this (Consumer Reports) report,â€ť a Tesla representative said in an email, â€śand our return policy allows any customer who is unhappy with their car to return it for a full refund.â€ť
Earlier this month, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said during a call with investors that the company is focusing on improving customer service and quality.
Consumer Reportsâ€™ refusal to endorse cars that lack technology that automatically applies brakes disqualified a wide swath of popular brands and models, including General Motors Coâ€™s Chevrolet.
â€śWeâ€™ve been pushing for this feature for a long time because itâ€™s very good at preventing crashes,â€ť Fisher said in a phone interview. â€śWe have telegraphed for some time that this was coming.â€ť
A growing number of new vehicle models now include automatic emergency braking, often called AEB, as standard, including Subaru Corpâ€™s Ascent, Consumer Reportsâ€™ 2019 top pick for the midsize SUV category.
Subaru was ranked as Consumer Reportsâ€™ top car brand, followed by Hyundai Motor Coâ€™s luxury Genesis then Volkswagen AG units Porsche and Audi in third and fourth place, respectively. Toyotaâ€™s luxury Lexus brand ranked fifth.
GM, which constantly stresses it is aiming for â€śzero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion,â€ť did not respond to a request for comment.
This yearâ€™s top picks included several wins for Toyota Motor Corp, including for its full-size Avalon hybrid electric sedan and the Toyota Prius hybrid. Subaru won for its compact Forester SUV and its midsize Ascent SUV.
GMâ€™s Chevrolet brand was ranked 23rd, while the Cadillac brand ranked 26th and GMC 27th.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NVâ€™s Chrysler brand ranked 22nd, with its Dodge brand 25th and Jeep brand in 29th place.
The automakerâ€™s Fiat unit finished last among 33 brands rated.