Best and worst older cars for reliability: best brands

How dependable are cars as they get older? Here’s what the owners of cars between five and 20 years of age have told us about how reliable their brand is...

Car being serviced

What Car? says…

Three cars stand out as the most dependable buys among cars from five to 20 years old: the previous generations of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 and Yaris Hybrid. Each scored a 100% reliability rating, with owners telling us their cars hadn’t suffered a single fault in the previous 12 months. The 2006-2012 RAV4 wasn’t far behind, either, even though it’s one of the oldest models in our survey.

The performance of the RAV4s helped Toyota to rank third overall in the brand league table. However, it’s Toyota’s more upmarket offshoot, Lexus, that takes top spot as the most dependable brand overall. Its CT family hatchback and IS executive saloon performed outstandingly well in the category for electric cars and hybrids.

A score of 92.7% puts Kia in second place overall, with the likes of the Picanto city car proving that you don’t have to splash out on an expensive car to get one that will be reliable.

Seat and Volvo are the only European brands to make it into the top 10. The dependability of the diesel Leon helped the former, while the latter was lifted by the V40 hatchback and V70 estate.

At the bottom of the table is Land Rover, dragged down by the performances of the Discovery and Discovery Sport. And the ratings for the likes of Fiat, Nissan and Renault indicate that although their older cars are mostly cheap to buy, poor reliability is likely to make them costly to run.

Reliability by brand for cars aged five to 20 years old

Rank Brand Number of Responses Rating
1 Lexus 106 96.0%
2 Kia 110 92.7%
3 Toyota 204 92.2%
4 Suzuki 50 91.9%
5 Honda 230 91.6%
6 Mitsubishi 35 91.2%
7 Seat 85 90.7%
8 Hyundai 112 89.2%
9 Subaru 26 87.8%
10 Volvo 147 84.7%
11 Mazda 148 84.6%
12 Skoda 206 83.5%
13 Mercedes 320 83.0%
14 Audi 302 82.9%
15 Ford 311 82.8%
16 BMW 501 82.5%
17 Citroën 83 81.3%
18 Porsche 88 78.4%
19 Peugeot 96 78.2%
20 Mini 104 78.0%
21 Volkswagen 393 77.5%
22 Jaguar 142 77.2%
23 Vauxhall 177 75.8%
24 Fiat 38 74.6%
25 Renault 61 72.6%
26 Nissan 132 70.4%
27 Land Rover 182 66.3%

The 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey is now open. Tell us about your car here

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