Kane In Your Corner: A look at the annual Car Complaint Index
They're the vehicles owners love to hate. The Center for Auto Safety has released the 2015 Car Complaint Index, ranking vehicles by customer complaints per vehicle sold. And this year's top five features two luxury sedans, a fuel-efficient subcompact and two popular SUVs.
At No. 5 on the list is the Nissan Pathfinder, the only vehicle to make the top five for two years in a row. Sherri Gonzales, of Woodbridge, told Kane In Your Corner that she had no complaints about the car "aside from a few recalls it's had," but automotive consumer advocate Michael Sacks says some owners have complained about a "shudder" in the transmission that has proven resistant to repair efforts. Gonzales says she hasn't noticed that with her vehicle.
Another popular SUV, the Jeep Cherokee, checks in at No. 4. The larger Grand Cherokee also makes the top 15. Michelle Strauss, of Metuchen, says she loves hers. "I love the way it drives, I love the height of it," she says. "Even though I'm tiny, I'm smaller than 5 feet, it's easy to get in and out." But as with the Pathfinder, Sacks says some Cherokee owners have complained about transmission issues, including "problems getting out of gear, shifting, jumping, lunging (and) transmission warning lights coming on."
The Mercedes CLA checks in at No. 3 on the list. While Mercedes vehicles rarely generate a high volume of customer complaints, Sacks says the newly released CLA has drawn complaints about loss of power and deceleration, the kinds of "kinks and quirks" he says are common in any car that's "brand new on the production line."
At the No. 1 spot this year, there's a tie between two vehicles that could hardly be more different.
The Fiat 500L is a minicar for which the major selling point is great gas mileage, but some owners have complained actual mileage has fallen short of estimates. Others say the vehicle is prone to dead batteries, which can cause difficulty starting.
The Acura RLX is a luxury sedan with a base price near $60,000. It has drawn complaints about software glitches that caused warning lights to come on, as well as three recalls in 2014 alone.
Even if your car is on the list, that doesn't mean you're likely to have problems. Consumer advocates point out that cars today are generally built better than they were 15 years ago, so even a car that gets a lot of complaints today is likely better than one that got few complaints a generation ago.