The reliability of a vehicle matters a lot. It is a consistently overlooked factor that should be considered more carefully by drivers who are in the market for their next vehicle. In fact, the reliability of a certain vehicle should make or break any driver’s decision to purchase that vehicle model. Reliability can mean the difference between driving a less reliable car that only starts every other day and is constantly in the shop versus driving a more reliable car with an engine that runs consistently and that experiences very few problems throughout your ownership of it. More reliable vehicles are more likely to serve you well on the road for a longer period of time, and they also have much higher resale value than less reliable vehicle models. You may be surprised about the 2021 Chevy Bolt EV scoring higher for reliability than the Tesla.

More reliability is always better, and that’s why reputable nonprofit consumer organization Consumer Reports—which advocates for consumers and performs reliable scientific testing on a wide variety of products, including vehicles—dedicates one of the annual surveys they send out to their members to the reliability of various vehicles that are available for purchase on the mainstream auto market. 

Consumer Reports rates each vehicle that is included in the survey on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of its reliability. The least reliable vehicles are given a rating of 1, while the most reliable cars earn a rating of 5. Vehicles that score 2, 3, or 4 out of 5 are somewhere in the middle between the least and most reliable models available on the mainstream auto market. 

Keep reading to learn more about this reliability survey and how two of the top-rated all-electric cars for the 2021 model year—the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the 2021 Tesla Model 3—compare in terms of reliability. 

How Does Consumer Reports Determine Vehicle Reliability? 

How do Consumer Reports determine the reliability of any given vehicle and rate it on a scale of 1 to 5? How accurate are the reliability determinations that Consumer Reports makes? The short answer is that Consumer Reports’ reliability ratings tend to be extremely accurate. 

In order to gather enough data to make an informed rating regarding the reliability of a specific vehicle model, Consumer Reports sends out an annual Auto Survey to their members. Consumer Reports received responses for more than 300,000 vehicles from their 2020 Auto Survey. These vehicles ranged in model years from 2000 to 2020. 

Survey respondents are asked to check boxes marked with 17 different vehicle problems. They are asked to check off any of those problems that their vehicle has experienced within the past year. 

Respondents are also given the chance to write about the problems their vehicle has experienced in the past year in their own words—these responses are also used by Consumer Reports in this organization’s calculation of reliability scores for various vehicles. 

2021 Chevy Bolt EV vs. 2021 Tesla Model 3 for Reliability 

The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the 2021 Tesla Model 3 are both top-rated, best-selling electric vehicles for 2021. These two models are very similar. They are both all-electric compact car models with similar battery ranges and are available at similar price points—although the 2021 Chevy Bolt EV has a lower starting price and narrower price range than the 2021 Tesla Model 3.

2021 Chevy Bolt EV More Reliable Than Tesla

2021 Chevy Bolt EV More Reliable Than Tesla

According to the results of Consumer Reports’ annual Auto Survey, both the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the 2021 Tesla Model 3 tied for first place as the two highest-rated all-electric vehicles of 2021. Their overall scores were based on Consumer Reports’ own tests as well as drivers’ ratings of these vehicles in the areas of road performance, safety, reliability, and overall owner satisfaction. 

Despite their tie in overall quality, however, the 2021 Chevy Bolt EV and the 2021 Tesla Model 3 received very different ratings from Consumer Reports in the area of reliability. The 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV received a 5 out of 5 reliability rating from Consumer Reports, whereas the 2021 Tesla Model 3 was only rated 3 out of 5 in reliability on the same scale.

While the Chevy Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3 for the 2021 model year may be very comparable in many other areas, the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV comes out on top as the clear winner between these two all-electric compact cars in terms of reliability.