Are The Newest Cars on The Market The Most Reliable?

Why buying later models might be a good strategy

There’s nothing like walking into a showroom chock-full of brand-new cars. It can make you feel like a kid in a candy store.

Consumer Reports has just released its exclusive new-car reliability report. Before you buy a brand-new or redesigned model, you might save yourself money and headaches if you wait a few years.

When a car model undergoes a redesign, the name usually stays the same but the body, engine, transmission, infotainment system, and other parts often get a significant update. And with those changes often come bugs or other problems.

After surveying its members, Consumer Reports analyzed reliability data on 420,000 vehicles that revealed potential problems car buyers should know about. The survey found that cars often have problems in the first year of a redesign because of the updates.

CR’s proprietary analysis shows that vehicles tend to be most reliable by the final year of any particular model run -- typically five to seven years -- when most of the kinks have been worked out.

So how do you know if the new car you’re about to buy is either a fresh redesigned model or a more seasoned veteran? CR says there are a few terms to keep a close eye on.

The term FRESHENING refers to minor updates that can occur in the middle of an existing model’s production run, and it could mean styling tweaks such as a new grille, headlight design, or paint color options. Some models might even get an updated engine or transmission.

ALL-NEW, when used properly, denotes a debut model never built before or reintroduced after having been taken off the market for years.

And REDESIGNED vehicles are updated versions of a model that has been sold before.

CR says if there’s a car you’re interested in that has been redesigned, ask the dealer whether there are any previous-generation models available. It could save you money and some frustrating trips to the service center.

Consumer Reports’ full list of this year’s most and least reliable vehicles is now available on its website.

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