One of the biggest advantages of buying a brand new car is the warranty, but once it ends – you’re left hoping you have a reliable car.
Some drivers replace their car right after its warranty expires, but reliability is key if you plan to own a vehicle afterwards. Fortunately, service, warranty, and history records help to find out which cars had the least problems and are less likely to break down.
We’ve scoured the net for research into the reliability of various car models to come up with a list of the best ones. Any of these cars are a good bet if you’re looking for something that will last!
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How we made this list
Some institutions collect information from insurance companies and repair shops to determine how often various cars break down.
We’ve analyzed data from Consumer Reports, What Car, Carbuyer, and ADAC (among others) to find out about technical and electrical issues. We’ve also looked for damage records in carVertical history reports – if the car has been damaged in the past, suspension, bodywork, and automatic transmission issues are more common.
As a result, we’ve picked the 15 most reliable cars.
Note: While it’s an effective way to compare reliability of different models – road conditions, driving habits, and past accidents also affect a vehicle’s longevity. So make sure to check a car’s history before buying!
Top 15 most reliable cars
Japanese manufacturers dominated “most reliable cars” lists for years. Today, South Korean, American, and even German manufacturers also offer trustworthy models that don’t break the bank after their warranty expires.
15. Volkswagen T-Roc
- Most problematic areas: engine electrics, air conditioning system
- Base price: $36,990
The T-Roc received a 4 out of 5 star reliability rating from What Car, which isn’t extraordinary. However, most of the issues are minor – related to electronics, the brake system, and insignificant engine problems.
People were excited about Volkswagen’s newly introduced concept T-Roc in 2014. Unlike most VW models, this concept was expressive, brave, and appealing to those seeking style and sportiness. While the official T-Roc ditched many concept design features, it still was a major hit.
This model is still in production. It features fuel-efficient and reliable engines and transmissions. The Volkswagen T-Roc weighs 1,555 kg at most and is also available with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
14. BMW i3
- Most problematic areas: Range extender (REx), steering
- Base price: $44,450
Production of the i3 began in 2013. It’s an electric supermini, high-roof hatchback with an optional two-cylinder range-extending engine. Since the model’s inception, BMW has made many improvements during the production years to match the competition.
While the early i3 models suffered from reliability issues due to the never-before-seen engineering solutions, BMW has fixed most of these over the years, making the i3 one of the most dependable EVs on the market. It’s offered with an additional range extender for those who don’t trust electricity alone. Ironically, the gas-powered range extender is the most sensitive bit in pre-2016 models, as some owners complain about performance and fuel vapor leak issues.
If the car’s design and base price of $44,450 suits you, the BMW i3 is a safe and efficient choice. BMW took their time to polish this model to perfection, providing up to 200 miles (322 km) of range (with the range extender included).
13. Mazda MX-5
- Most problematic areas: Paint job, leaking roof
- Base price: $26,830
Most new Mazda models have proven to go strong without expensive issues or annoying niggles. The sporty MX-5 isn’t an exception – both reliability and owner satisfaction ratings are high. While some owners complain about its limited trunk space and headroom, or the noisy cabin when the top is down, these issues don’t affect reliability. With that said, older models tend to leak water through the roof and their bodies are prone to corrosion.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been a common choice for those seeking fun and affordability. Consumer Reports claims that the new Miata is “much more reliable than the average new car,” awarding it with a 5 out of 5 stars predicted reliability rating.
The 2022 Mazda MX-5 starts at $26,830 and comes with 1.5 l or 2.0 l four-cylinder engines, featuring up to 181 hp. Remember that the car weighs only about a ton before judging its power.
12. Audi Q5
- Most problematic areas: Transmission, noisy panoramic sunroof
- Base price: $44,100
Audi suffered from various car reliability issues in the 2000s and early 2010s, but the latest models prove to go longer without additional expenses. The Audi Q5 often appears among the most dependable cars mainly due to its refined TFSI and TDI engines.
However, this is a luxury SUV, so we couldn’t place it higher – the average maintenance costs are more significant than in budget models.
Unlike the older Q5, this newer version comes with a more economical and cheaper front-wheel-drive system, leaving the optional all-wheel-drive Quattro system unnecessary. Paired with the DSG or 8-speed ZF 8HP automatic transmission, the new Audi Q5 is quick yet fuel-efficient.
11. Cadillac XT5
- Most problematic areas: Non-engine electronics, steering
- Base price: $43,995
The appearance of the luxury crossover Cadillac XT5 among the most reliable cars is surprising. Some XT5 owners have reported minor electronic issues, but there weren’t any major problems. The latest model doesn’t suffer from expensive transmission and engine problems like early models did, and the interior build quality has improved.
Cadillac has been producing this model since 2016, selling over 130,000 units in 2017 alone. The XT5 boasts classic Cadillac-style vertical headlights and taillights, and there’s no shortage of luxury touches inside the cabin. Many of these SUVs come from the United States, so if you’re buying in Europe, check the car’s history to ensure it hasn’t had any significant accidents.
10. Hyundai Kona
- Most problematic areas: Transmission, electronic steering
- Base price: $21,150
Hyundai knows how to make reliable vehicles and proves that by providing them with a five-year warranty. According to a Car Buyer survey from 2020, only 4.5% of the Kona’s owners have reported any faults, with most being minor issues. However, out of all analyzed Hyundai Kona vehicles on carVertical databases, almost 45% have historical damages, so used car buyers should be extra careful.
Hyundai introduced the Kona in 2017 – a subcompact crossover available with engines starting from a 1.0 l three-cylinder petrol version. You won’t feel many emotions once you get behind the wheel. The atmosphere inside the cabin is depressing due to the dark, minimalistic design, cheap materials, and driving is neither sporty nor comfortable. It’s probably the blandest car on this list.
However, the Kona has great safety features, such as collision-avoidance assist, smart cruise control, blind-spot collision warning, lane following assist, and more. On top of that, it isn’t its first time on this list.
9. BMW 2 Series
- Most problematic areas: Suspension, engine electrics
- Base price: $37,345
After years of major engine timing issues, problematic transmissions and other costly problems, the new BMW 2 Series is free of these nightmares. The new BMW 2 Series also proves to go strong without any common issues. Packed with superb powertrains and plush features, the 2022 model boasts great predicted reliability and ownership scores. The car comes with B48, B58 petrol and B47 diesel engines and all of them are huge improvements over their predecessors.
The 2 Series is a subcompact executive car only available as a 2-door coupe. The older model came in many different body types, so the variety of this model may also expand soon.
When the new 2 Series coupe came out in 2021, many fans criticized its odd design but were pleased with the handling. It’s a proper sports car experience without hefty maintenance costs.
8. Mazda CX-5
- Most problematic areas: Lighting, non-engine electrics
- Base price: $25,370
The new Mazda CX-5 received a 5 out of 5 star predicted reliability, and 4 out of 5 predicted owner’s satisfaction ratings from Consumer Reports. While older models were prone to minor light, brake, engine, and electrical issues, the new CX-5 doesn’t suffer from any common problems or recalls.
Unfortunately, a big part of Mazda CX-5 cars have had an accident at some point – 46.6% of cars analyzed by carVertical have been damaged in the past. Always check the car’s history before buying it to avoid safety issues and additional expenses.
The Mazda CX-5 surprises with affordability and premium quality. Thanks to the smart layout, metal accents, and stitched leather on the dash, center console, and even door trims, the interior is cozy and posh. The CX-5 has been one of the most reliable family SUVs on the market since its release in 2013.
7. Audi A1
- Most problematic areas: S-Tronic automatic gearbox
- Base price: $33,200
Most of the common problems in Audi cars are related to electrical systems and transmissions. However, the A1 is the smallest member of Audi’s family, featuring basic engines and features, which makes it the most reliable new Audi at the moment. Carbuyer gave it a 4.5 out of 5 star reliability and safety rating.
The Audi A1 works great when VW Polo or Škoda Fabia isn’t exciting enough – a sporty hatchback from the supermini class. Audi launched it in 2011 as an addition to its rapidly growing lineup. The second generation was released in 2018, available with engines up to 200 hp – enough to reach 60 mph in under 6 seconds due to the car’s weight of about 1.3 tons.
Audi A1 is plain and simple compared to other models in Audi’s lineup – no large engines, complicated transmissions, and unnecessary electronics. It’s not the cheapest hatchback on the market, but it’s a fun and dependable choice for city commuting.
6. Lexus NX
- Most problematic areas: Paint job, electrical system
- Base price: $37,950
The 2014-2021 Lexus NX scored 91 of 100 points for reliability, according to Consumer Reports. It’s the most reliable hybrid SUV at the moment but some owners have experienced minor infotainment, climate control, and body hardware issues. These are usually quick issues to fix.
The NX is a compact luxury crossover that shares the platform with the Toyota RAV4. But don’t be mistaken – the NX is much fancier and nearly twice as expensive.
The 1.8-ton SUV comes with a great selection of engines, from a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder one to turbocharged and hybrid versions. However, since it isn’t a performance-oriented SUV, the NX lacks diesel engines.
You’ll be pleased with the comfort and safety features of the NX: a high-quality media display, birds-eye view camera, lane departure warning, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, front cross-traffic alert – the list goes on. You can’t go wrong with this SUV if you have the money for it.
5. Toyota Prius
- Most problematic areas: S-Tronic automatic gearbox
- Base price: $37,950
The latest Prius models have proven to be very economical and dependable cars thanks to their refined 1.8-liter 2ZR engine and robust electric motors. Some owners complain that the engine is too noisy and experts often remind us that the oil pumps sometimes break due to delayed oil changes, especially in 2010-2013 models.
Not everyone’s a fan of the Toyota Prius image since it has always been a boring and slow family compact car. However, those who look for an affordable, economical, and dependable family car don’t think long before picking a Prius.
All models in this series are available with hybrid systems, providing superior fuel economy. Toyota also seeks the best safety for their customers, and the Prius is a great example of that – its excellent performance during crash testing awarded the Prius with a 5/5 star safety rating.
4. Škoda Kodiaq
- Most problematic areas: Interior quality, air-conditioning system
- Base price: $39,000
The annual Car Buyer Driver Power survey reveals an impressive 97.19% reliability result for the Škoda Kodiaq, placing this SUV near the top. Owners have faced some minor issues, such as creaking door handles or inaccurate front parking sensors, but the powertrain, electrical systems, and other essentials tend to hold well.
The Czech automaker released the Kodiaq in 2016. It’s their biggest SUV and competes with the Kia Sorento, VW Tiguan, and Peugeot 5008. The Kodiaq is very popular in Europe and has even received the 2016 “Best Family Car in the World” award from Top Gear Magazine.
The Kodiaq is available with 9 four-cylinder engine configurations, ranging from the basic 1.4-liter petrol to 2.0-liter diesel found in the performance model vRS. The car looks big, but it only weighs around 1.5 tons, so even the weakest engines will provide enough power for daily driving. Don’t expect many posh features because Škoda promotes even three-zone automatic climate control and a multifunctional steering wheel as optional extras.
3. Kia Niro EV
- Most problematic areas: Software, charging system
- Base price: $39,990
Only “11.9% of Niro owners reported at least one fault during the first year of ownership” – according to Carbuyer. Some owners complained about the range dropping too quickly, but regular software updates fix these issues most of the time.
When electric vehicles started to kick off about a decade ago, most people were convinced that these would be much more reliable than cars with internal combustion engines. But as you can see, most vehicles on this list aren’t electric because they often suffer from software and build quality issues. Kia Niro EV/e-Niro would beg to differ.
The design of the first-gen Niro EV is dated, but Kia did a great job with the new model as they got rid of old-fashioned blue exterior accents and installed fully redesigned lighting.
2. Toyota Aygo
- Most problematic areas: Door/hatch seals, weak starter motor
- Base price: $18,450
The Aygo is one of the cheapest and most reliable cars you can buy today. It uses small yet robust 1-liter and 1.4-liter engines, which don’t have any known issues. A few owners of older Aygos has complained about fuel tank and steering column issues, but these don’t appear in recent models.
The Toyota Aygo is one of the best cars you can get for city commuting if showing off or packing more than 168 liters of luggage is irrelevant to you. The Aygo is a city car that weighs less than a ton, and features only three-cylinder engines. Combine that with Toyota’s reliability, and you’ll get a brand-new city car that is cheap to buy and own.
1. Lexus GX
- Most problematic areas: Airbags, suspension
- Base price: $55,425
Surprisingly, a huge, posh, and powerful SUV takes the top spot on our list. This year, the Lexus GX has received a perfect 100/100 reliability score, making it the most reliable vehicle you can buy in 2022. Owners didn’t report any issues or have complaints about the dependability of the GX.
With a starting price of $55,425, the GX is also the most expensive vehicle on this list, and a few additional features will easily shoot the price above the $60k mark. But even the base version of this luxury off-roader comes with triple-beam LED headlamps, voice command, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, parking assist, and much more.
What are the most reliable car brands?
Making a reliable car can be a one-time case for some manufacturers, like the Cadillac XT5. But some automakers prioritize reliability, ensuring no electrical or mechanical systems develop issues. Here are the 7 most reliable car brands at the moment:
- Lexus. This brand stays at the top, year after year. Lexus is a luxury vehicle division of Toyota, combining top-notch features with reliability.
- Toyota. Many Toyota models are among the most popular cars worldwide because they are affordable, dependable, and easy to maintain.
- Mazda. They offer relatively cheap cars with premium build quality and features.
- Kia. A South Korean manufacturer that provides practical and safe cars for a low price. carVertical history reports reveal that only 38.25% of analyzed Kia cars have had accidents in the past.
- Honda. This brand is known for great motorcycles and dependable cars, the most popular being the Honda Civic, CR-V, and Accord.
- Buick. A new guest among the most reliable automakers. Recent Buick models have very few common issues, making Buick the most reliable American car brand.
- Hyundai. Another South Korean brand providing stylish and affordable cars with fine safety systems and robust engines.
All manufacturers have their ups and downs, mixing up these lists each year. However, while South Korean and American automakers got there recently, Lexus, Toyota, and Honda have been the icons of reliability for decades.
What makes a car reliable?
Even the slightest engineering mistake can lead to premature problems. For instance, undersized brake rotors may warp under pressure, and weak suspension elements wear out too quickly. The 2022 Volvo XC90 is one such example – it’s among the least reliable currently available SUVs due to common transmission, climate control, and brake system problems.
Why are some cars able to avoid weak spots, and what makes them reliable?
Nowadays, automakers gain huge profits from selling spare parts. However, if the car breaks down during the warranty period, they must cover the expenses. Every part of the car matters, and engineers have to make sure that it will last at least through a warranty period.
Various review sites and consumer organizations gather data from repair shops, MOT agencies, and user surveys.
For example, Consumer Reports collects data from large-scale surveys, dividing it into 17 trouble spot categories, including major and minor engine problems, cooling systems, transmission, fuel system issues, etc. Europe’s largest motoring association ADAC predicts the car’s reliability by looking at the most common causes of breakdowns for ADAC road patrol operations.
Every new vehicle undergoes various tests to make sure all systems are flawless. However, the intensity and variety of checks depend on the manufacturer and its priorities.
Even the most reliable cars can drain your wallet without proper maintenance. Regular oil changes slow down the overall engine’s wear, clean filters prevent contamination, and you’ll avoid cooling system corrosion by flushing the coolant every 30,000 miles. A good rule of thumb is to fix it before it gets worse.
Most people buy used cars and, unlike new car buyers, they have to make sure the vehicle is in good condition. While taking a car to a mechanic is a good way to reveal some flaws, the car’s history also strongly affects its condition.
Fake mileage and past accidents are common reasons cars develop unexpected issues like worn engines, damaged wiring, body corrosion, and bad wheel alignment. Always get a history report before buying a used car to discover possible risks.
To learn more about any used car, check its VIN on our VIN Decoder page!
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How long do modern cars last?
A typical passenger car should last about 200,000 miles (320,000 km). The lifespan of modern vehicles seems to be way shorter than it was a few decades ago.
Why don’t all automakers produce reliable cars?
Because of different priorities. While manufacturers like Toyota and Honda mass-produce affordable and dependable cars, posher brands like Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover focus on providing luxury and comfort while sacrificing maintenance costs or dependability.
Why are modern cars so expensive to fix?
Most systems in modern cars are computerized and complex. However, even the simplest systems were new at some point, and only professionals had the knowledge and tools to deal with them.