The Tesla Model S was once the darling of Consumer Reports, garnering high ratings in the magazine's initial tests.

But more recently, Consumer Reports has found fault with the initial build quality of the Model X crossover, and criticized Tesla's Autopilot system.

That build-quality problems meant Tesla's first appearance as a brand in the magazine's reliability rankings was not an auspicious one.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Autopilot 8.0 better, still needs improvement, says Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports requires at least two models with sufficient data in order to include an auto brand in its rankings, though it will publish ratings for individual models regardless of whether a brand is ranked.

The Model X was introduced too late in 2015 for Tesla to be considered in that year's rankings, so 2016 marked the Silicon Valley carmaker's first appearance as a brand.

The results were not impressive: Tesla was ranked 25th on reliability out of 29 brands surveyed.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

The magazine reported numerous problems with the Model X around the time of its launch, including malfunctioning "falcon" doors, its climate-control systems, and the infotainment screens.

Consumer Reports noted some improvement in Model S that predicted reliability, but not enough to offset the issues it found with the Model X.

In 2014, the magazine declared the Model S P85D to be the best car it had ever tested.

ALSO SEE: Tesla Model S: Too Many Problems To Recommend, Consumer Reports Says (Oct 2015)

But last year, Consumer Reports said it could no longer recommend the Model S, because its predicted reliability was below average.

In the 2016 reliability survey, Consumer Reports said the Model S had "gained ground," and the magazine now rates its reliability as "average," four years after it launched.

Reliability rankings are based on responses from Consumer Reports subscribers who own the vehicles being surveyed.

2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

The complete survey covers more than 300 different vehicles, from model years 2000 through 2017.

Respondents are asked to report their experiences over the past year in 17 areas, covering everything from engines and electronics to noises and issues with paint or rust.

The brand rankings are based on an average of the scores of individual models for each brand.

MORE: 2016 Tesla Model X electric SUV: so about those falcon doors ...

Lexus and Toyota finished in first and second place, respectively, for the fourth straight year.

But more attention this year may well be focused on Buick's third-place finish.

This is the first time in more than three decades that a U.S. carmaker has earned a spot among the top three, Consumer Reports said.


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