In association with MotorEasy
25 most unreliable SUVs
While some cars motor along for years without missing a beat, others are afflicted by fault after fault, so here's our countdown of the most problematic SUVs...
They might all look like they can cope with anything, but in reality some SUVs are far more dependable than others. But how do you know which ones are more likely to suffer problems?
Well, that’s where the annual What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy, comes in. We asked more than 16,000 readers if their cars had any issues over the past year, how long any faults kept their cars off the road, and how much they were charged for repairs.
We compared SUVs in four different classes: small SUVs, family SUVs, large SUVs and luxury SUVs, and overall they were fairly reliable, earning an average reliability rating of 92.3%. However, this score was dragged down by specific makes and models.
Here, then, we reveal the least dependable SUVs, based on data for cars aged up to five years old.
25. Volkswagen Tiguan diesel (2016 -present)
Reliability rating: 91.3%
Diesel-powered versions of the current Volkswagen Tiguan went wrong for 30% of owners, and this was usually because of a fault with the non-engine electrics, bodywork, or brakes.
These tended to be fairly serious faults, too, causing 16% of cars to break down, and 24% requiring more than a week to repair. Furthermore, 28% of owners had to pay for remedial work, leaving 8% with bills between £301 and £500.
24. Nissan Qashqai petrol (2014-2020)
Reliability rating: 90.7%
We crowned the Nissan Qashqai our Car of the Year back in 2014, in large part because of the value for money it offered. Seven years later that’s mostly true of used examples, but not all of them. Issues cropped up with most areas of the Qashqai, but these were most often with the non-engine electrics or the battery, leading to almost one in five (18%) going wrong.
These issues were often fairly serious, too: 35% of cars took more than a week to be repaired, and at a cost of between £1001 and £1500 for 4% of owners.
23. Volvo XC90 (2015-present)
Reliability rating: 90.6%
If you’re looking for an upmarket car to ferry around your children and all the luggage you could ever need, the Volvo XC90 is a fine option – as long as you don’t mind its rocky reliability record.
More than a third (35%) of non-hybrid XC90s went wrong over the past year, with an alarming number developing issues with the engine and the electrical systems. Furthermore, 26% of cars with issues spent more than a week with mechanics, and 15% broke down. On the brighter side, nobody was billed for repairs, despite Volvo’s three-year/60,000 mile warranty having lapsed on earlier cars.
22. Range Rover Velar diesel (2017-present)
Reliability rating: 90.3%
The name Velar comes from the Latin word velare, which means ‘to hide or cover’, and was used by Land Rover when developing the original Range Rover. Unfortunately, this newer addition to the line-up has a reliability record that Land Rover might want to overlook. Twenty-one percent of diesel-powered versions of the Velar ran into issues, which were most often to do with faulty bodywork and engines.
Despite the faults, 56% of cars could still be driven to a mechanic, but once they arrived 44% were stuck there for more than a week. Worse still, 11% of owners had to pay for remedial work, to the tune of more than £1500.
21. Volkswagen T-Cross petrol (2019-present)
Reliability rating: 90.0%
If you’re scratching your head wondering whether to buy a Volkswagen T-Cross or the very similar T-Roc, question it no longer, because we’d recommend going for the latter on the basis of reliability.
Electrical issues (both related to the engine and otherwise) plagued the T-Cross over the past year, contributing in large part to its 30% failure rate.
These were serious faults, too, causing breakdowns for 14% of vehicles, and lead times of more than a week for repairs for 29%. To make matters worse, 14% of owners were billed between £1001 and £1500, even though Volkswagen’s three-year/60,000 mile warranty won’t yet have lapsed.
20. Volvo XC40 petrol (2017-present)
Reliability rating: 89.5%
The Volvo XC40 is such a great all-rounder that it won our Family SUV of the Year award at the 2021 What Car? Awards, which makes its appearance on this list all the more disappointing. At face value it seems fairly dependable because only 19% went wrong, which is less than SUVs with a better reliability rating. Furthermore, a significant number of these faults were with non-critical areas, such as the bodywork.
However, there were also lots of non-engine electrical issues, and 35% of cars were rendered undriveable and needing more than a week to repair. Moreover, slightly less than a quarter (24%) of the remedial work wasn’t covered by warranty, which left 7% of owners with bills exceeding £1500.
19. Audi Q5 petrol (2008-2017)
Reliability rating: 87.8%
In large part due to failures of their 12-volt batteries and non-engine electrics, 27% of previous-generation Q5s went wrong over the past year. Despite these faults, 89% were still driveable, although 67% needed more than a week to be fixed, indicating they had serious issues. However, owners were spared any financial burdens, because all repairs came at zero cost.
=17. Seat Tarraco (2018-present)
Reliability rating: 87.5%
Most areas of the Seat Tarraco went wrong, with a large proportion running into issues with the bodywork, engine, and exhaust, contributing to its 33% failure rate. Additionally, 16% of owners were charged for repairs, with half of these paying up to £50, and the other half between £501 and £750.
It wasn’t all bad though because no cars broke down, and a quarter (25%) were returned to owners on the same day they went to a mechanic.
=17. Vauxhall Grandland X (2018-present)
Reliability rating: 87.5%
A variety of mechanical issues plagued the outgoing Grandland X, but bodywork problems were by most common, contributing significantly to its 30% fault rate. Two-thirds (67%) of cars could still be driven to a mechanic for repairs, but a third were stuck in the garage for more than a week while they were being repaired.
Softening the blow of the Grandland X’s poor reliability, however, is the fact that none of the owners surveyed had to pay for remedial work.
16. Volvo XC60 diesel (2017-present)
Reliability rating: 87.4%
A shocking 44% of diesel versions of the Volvo XC60 suffered a fault over the past year, which were most commonly with the non-engine electrical systems, and non-critical areas to the car’s driveability, such as the bodywork and interior trim.
That’s the worst of the news for the diesel XC60 though, because 87% could still be driven despite any issues, and 63% were repaired within the same day they were taken to a garage. Furthermore, 94% were repaired at no cost to owners, though the remainder were left with bills between £201 and £300.
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