Best and worst older family cars for reliability

Family cars need to be dependable; after all, who wants a car that breaks down with children aboard? Here, we reveal the most and least reliable family hatchbacks from four to 10 years old...

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Claire Evans
03 May 2019

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Having a family isn't cheap, so you're not going to have much spare cash to keep your car going. And that means you need a model that's durable as well as practical.  

The good news is that you don't have to pick a premium brand to get a dependable family car; most of the ones in our top 10 are affordable models from mainstream brands. Our data is based on information supplied by more than 18,000 car owners across the UK, so the 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey can help you pinpoint the best car for you. 

Looking exclusively at the results for used cars aged four to 10 years old, we've rated all the city cars and small cars we were told about. Those with more faults and costly repair bills get a lower score than those that provide problem-free motoring. Here, we reveal the 10 most reliable and the 10 that are best avoided. 


Top 10 older family cars for reliability

=9. Honda Civic 2006-2012

Used Honda Civic Hatchback (06 - 12)

What Car? reliability rating 89.0%

Only 18% of Civics had a problem, with the most frequently cited area the battery.  but suspension was the culprit 10% of the time. Next up was the air conditioning, accounting for 10% of faults, followed by the brakes and suspension (8% and 6% respectively). Although half of cars were rendered undriveable, most were fixed the same day, and some took more than a week to repair. Some cars were fixed for free, but a small proportion of owners faced bills of more than £1500.

Read our full review of the used Honda Civic

See how much you could save on a new Honda Civic


=9. Volkswagen Golf petrol 2013-present

2013 VW Golf GTI review

What Car? reliability rating 89.0%

Fewer petrol-engined Golfs had a problem than diesels: 26% compared with 30%. The biggest issue for owners was suspension, followed by the engine, fuel system, brakes and bodywork. Virtually all cars could still be driven and many were fixed the same day; a third of cars were fixed under warranty, but a small percentage of owners were landed with repair bills of up to £500.

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Golf

See how much you could save on a Volkswagen Golf


8. Kia Ceed 2007-2012

Deal of the Day: Kia Ceed Sportswagon

What Car? reliability rating 89.3%

Only 23% of Ceeds had a fault, with the gearbox the most commonly reported problem area. Other issues concerned the brakes, battery, engine and suspension. Although half the cars became undriveable, the same number were back on the road the same day. Nearly half of cars were fixed under warranty and no repair bills exceeded £500.

Read our full review of the used Kia Ceed

See how much you could save on a new Kia Ceed


7. Toyota Auris 2007-2013

Toyota Auris: driven

What Car? reliability rating 91.3%

Only 20% of Auris owners reported a fault on their car, with the battery and interior trim the only areas concerned. A third of cars could still be driven and were fixed in less than a day. Repair bills ranged from less than £50 to £500. 

Read our full review of the used Toyota Auris

See how much you could save on a new Toyota Auris


6. Hyundai i30 2012-2017

Used Hyundai i30 Hatchback 12-17

What Car? reliability rating 91.5%

Just 17% of i30s developed a problem, with the biggest areas of concern the brakes, followed by engine and non-engine electrics and the suspension. All of the cars could still be driven and all were fixed the same day. None of them were repaired under warranty, but no repair bills topped £500.  

Read our full review of the used Hyundai i30

See how much you could save on a new Hyundai i30


Next: the top five family cars for reliability >

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