Their survey collects data from Consumer Reports members about their experiences with more than half a million vehicles.
The survey released Wednesday found that readers are having more trouble with technology created to increase fuel economy than they are with electronic infotainment systems, long a bugaboo for automakers and vehicle owners.
"We're finding a pattern of poor reliability in these because the manufacturers simply haven't worked out all the bugs", says Consumer Reports' Mike Quincy. "I would be happy to not be able to pair my phone five times than get stuck on the side of the road once".
Top 10 auto brands by reliability: (1) Lexus, (2) Toyota, (3) Mazda, (4) Subaru, (5) Kia, (6) Infinity, (7) Audi, (8) BMW, (9) Mini and (10) Hyundai. The least reliable brands were Volvo, Cadillac, Tesla, Ram and GMC.
Seven of the top 10 are either Japanese or South Korean, while 11 out of the bottom 12 are United States brands.
The Ford brand fell three spots from previous year to land at No. 18 on the list, apparently pulled down by the Mustang and Explorer, which got "worse than average" ratings.
Buick had a decent showing in the 2017 survey but tumbled 11 spots in the latest report to land at No. 19. The highest-ranked make from an American company is Ford at number 18 out of 29.
The domestic brands largely were plagued by problems with newly introduced models, Fisher said. Tesla, for example, made air suspension and all-wheel drive standard on the 2017 Model S, and it affected the car's reliability.
"It's the complexities that have really dragged down Tesla", said Jake Fisher, the magazine's director of auto testing.
Tesla dropped six spots to No. 27, with the Model S getting a "below average" mark, thanks in part to reported suspension issues and problems with the extending door handles.
So which models are the most reliable? Consumer Reports said the biggest problems were with the redesigned Enclave SUV, where owners reported problems with a new nine-speed transmission.
The automakers that came out on top are Lexus and Toyota. "It can take a year or two for automakers to work out kinks with new technology".
The magazine gives more weight to mechanical and safety issues than minor problems like voice recognition or wind noise.