Consumer Reports released the 2014 Reliability Survey this week, with Fiat rated as the least reliable brand on the list.
According to the publication, the least reliable Fiat vehicle is the brand’s 500L crossover.
The 500L is a follow-up to the 500, a compact car that Fiat introduced to the U.S. market in 2010.
The biggest gripes about the 500L concern the car’s infotainment system and transmission.
“Fiat’s survey rating is really being hurt by its manu-matic transmission,” CR deputy auto editor Jon Linkov told Business Insider.
The Fiat 500L’s transmits power from the engine to the wheels using what it calls the “Euro Twin Clutch transmission” — essentially a manual transmission that shifts itself.
In theory, the manu-matic transmission should provide quicker shifts for increased fuel economy and acceleration.
However, reviewers complained about its sluggish and inconsistent shifting characteristics.
This — in addition to problems with the car’s Chrysler UConnect infotainment system — caused the 500L to finish last in the survey.
Other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands did not fare much better. Jeep finished second-to-last in the survey, followed by Ram and Dodge in third and fourth position from the bottom. Chrysler fared the best of the FCA brands, with a 22nd-place finish (out of 28 total)
Much of FCA’s poor performance in the survey — which includes data from more than a million car owners — can be attributed to the iffy reliability of the company’s highly rate UConnect infotainment system and the way the 8- and 9-speed ZF automatic transmissions change gears, according to Consumer Reports.
“The transmissions are generally not breaking down, ” said Linkov. “Drivers are taking the cars back to the dealership because they aren’t happy with the way the transmission shifts.”
Linkov believes some of these complaints may be due to the differences in driving style between American consumers and the European buyers that Fiat is more accustomed to.
FCA’s weak showing may have led to the resignation of the company’s head of quality control, Doug Betts. He stepped down on Tuesday.
Even its problems on CR’s reliability survey, Fiat Chrysler’s sales have been booming. Total sales are up 15% this year. The company’s Ram and Jeep are doing particularly well, with overall sales up 25 and 45% respectively.
Here’s is Consumer Reports’ review of the Fiat 500L.
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