Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Some cars rarely end up in a garage between services and others can't stay away. The What Car? Reliability Survey reveals the shining stars of the automotive league and the brands that constantly...

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Best and worst cars for reliability

People may have many reasons for replacing their car, from changing jobs to starting a family. But when it comes to why people stick with the same brand year after year, there’s one factor that has the biggest influence: reliability.

You're unlikely to remain loyal to a brand that regularly leaves you stranded by the roadside. To save you from finding out the hard way, we asked the owners of 14,208 cars to tell us if their vehicles had suffered from any faults in the past 12 months.

Read the full What Car? Reliability Survey results

We classified the faults into 14 groups: battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, exterior lights, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering, suspension and other.

For each fault, we asked the owner to identify time spent off the road, using categories ranging from less than one day to more than a week. We also asked how much the repairs cost, from being fixed under warranty for free to more than £1500. This information was weighted according to the severity of the fault; those that cost the most and kept the car off the road the longest were penalised the heaviest.

The data has been used to create our What Car? reliability rating table, which ranks 32 brands and 169 models aged up to three years according to how dependable they are.

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Lexus CT200h

1. Lexus

Score 92.1%

The luxury arm of Toyota claims the top spot for reliability, with the CT 200h family car and IS executive saloon outperforming rivals in their respective classes. Owners of CT 200h models aged up to three years reported no faults with their cars, while only 12% of IS cars had a fault.

Read our full review of the Lexus CT 200h

Read our full review of the Lexus IS

Get a great deal on a Lexus

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2. Mitsubishi

Score 90.8%

Mitsubishi's diesel and hybrid Outlander SUVs are complex cars, but they're almost faultlessly reliable, according to their owners. Less than 10% of cars we were told about had suffered from a fault in the previous 12 months.

Read our full review of the Outlander diesel

Read our full review of the Outlander PHEV

Get a great deal on a Mitsubishi

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Toyota Yaris

3. Toyota

Score 89.6%

It's partly thanks to the stellar performances of its smaller models that Toyota sits in third place in our reliability table. The Aygo city car gained a perfect 100% score, with no owners reporting faults on their cars, while the larger Yaris wasn't far behind with a rating of 94.2%, with the only problems being minor bodywork issues.

Read our full review of the Toyota Aygo

Read our full review of the Toyota Yaris

Get a great deal on a Toyota

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Suzuki Swift

4. Suzuki

Score 86.6%

Small cars are Suzuki's forte – it produces six of them, along with the evergreen Vitara small SUV. One of its smallest, the Swift, is fun to drive and dependable, and gained a reliability rating of 87.7%, with only a few owners reporting minor issues. The Vitara wasn't far behind, scoring 84.2%.

Read our full review of the Suzuki Swift

Read our full review of the Suzuki Vitara

Get a great deal on a Suzuki

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

5. Alfa Romeo

Score 85.8%

Alfa Romeo isn't known to build the most robust cars, but our survey shows that they are fairly reliable when they are new. The Giulietta scored a respectable 82.6% reliability rating.

Read our full review of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Get a great deal on an Alfa Romeo

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Honda Civic

6. Honda

Score 84.9%

Honda has long been known for producing dependable motors. Its finest contender in our survey was the Jazz, which scored a perfect 100% reliability rating. The Civic wasn't far behind, claiming the second spot in the family car category with a rating of 94.5%.

Read our full review of the Honda Jazz

Read our full review of the Honda Civic

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Hyundai i30

7. Hyundai

Score 84.8%

Hyundai is a relative newcomer, but its vehicles are proving well built. The i30 gained 91.7% for reliability, with only 15% of cars reported with faults. The bigger Tucson wasn't far behind, with a score of 86.6%.

Read our full review of the Hyundai i30

Read our full review of the Hyundai Tucson

Get a great deal on a Hyundai

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

MG ZS

8. MG

Score 83.4%

MG doesn't sell a huge volume of cars, but those who buy its models seem a pretty contented bunch. The MG 3 hatchback came out well in our survey, with owners reporting mostly minor problems that were all fixed for free under warranty.

Read our review of the MG 3

Get a great deal on an MG

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Ford Kuga

9. Ford

Score 82.1%

Ford had a trio of strong performers in our survey: the B-Max and C-Max took the first and second spots in the MPV class, while the Kuga claimed number two in the small SUV table.

Read our full review of the Ford B-Max

Read our full review of the Ford C-Max

Read our full review of the Ford Kuga

Get a great deal on a Ford

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Subaru Impreza

10. Subaru

Score 81.8%

The Forester large SUV put in a strong performance, gaining a reliability score of 81.8%. The Outback kept owners happy, too – only a very small percentage reported faults and no cars had any serious issues.

Read our full review of the Subaru Forester

Read our full review of the Subaru Outback

Get a great deal on a Subaru

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Kia Picanto

11. Kia

Score 81.3%

The smallest Kia model was rated most highly by owners; the Picanto gained a reliability score of 89.6%. Hot on its heels was the Soul, with a rating of 88.9%, and the Sportage with 87.7%.

Read our full review of the Kia Picanto

Read our full review of the Kia Sportage

Get a great deal on a Kia

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Audi A3 Sportback

12. Audi

Score 80.4%

Audi's A3 range proved a hit with owners. The A3 saloon scored a perfect 100% reliability rating, while the A3 Cabriolet wasn't far behind with 92.5%. Some models dragged its overall score down, though, notably the TT – 31% of owners reported a fault with their cars.

Read our full review of the Audi A3 saloon

Read our full review of the Audi TT

Get a great deal on a Audi

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Skoda Citigo

13. Skoda

Score 80.1%

Two Skoda models stood out from the rest: the Citigo, which had a reliability score of 88.5%, and the Yeti (which is no longer on sale); it bettered the Citigo with 92.7%. Quite a lot of owners reported faults, but most were fixed for free under warranty.

Read our full review of the Skoda Citigo

Read our full review of the Skoda Yeti

Get a great deal on a Skoda

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Mini Countryman

14. Mini

Score 79.6%

Mini sits in the middle of the reliability league. The strongest performer in its line-up was the petrol hatchback, which scored 85.9%, followed by the Countryman, which gained 81.3%.

Read our full review of the Mini hatchback

Read our full review of the Mini Countryman

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Porsche Boxster

15. Porsche

Score 78.3%

Porsche doesn't quite manage to keep all its buyers happy, resulting in a mid-table ranking in terms of reliability. The Boxster is the fifth most reliable sports car, with owners reporting a small number of faults, affecting the engine and associated electrics.

Read our full review of the Porsche Boxster

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Mazda MX-5

16. Mazda

Score 77.9%

Mazda's reliability record is a mixed bag, with the 2 and 3 hatchbacks proving largely dependable, but the latest MX-5 letting the side down, with owners reporting faults on 32% of cars.

Read our full review of the Mazda 2

Read our full review of the Mazda MX-5

Get a great deal on a Mazda

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

BMW 2 Series Cabriolet

17. BMW

Score 77.6%

The standout models for BMW were the i3, which gained an impressive rating of 88.5%, and the 2 Series Coupé and Convertible, which scored 90.8%. The 5 Series didn't fare so well – 34% of cars had problems across a wide range of areas.

Read our full review of the BMW i3

Read our full review of the BMW 2 Series Convertible

Get a great deal on a BMW

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Vauxhall Insignia

18. Vauxhall

Score 76.4%

The Insignia didn't suffer from a huge amount of faults and most were minor issues. However, not all cars were fixed under warranty, leaving owners to foot bills of up to £300.

Read our full review of the Vauxhall Insignia

Get a great deal on a Vauxhall

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Dacia Sandero

19. Dacia

Score 75.9%

The Sandero put in an average performance for reliability, achieving 82.2%, but the Duster could only muster 72.3%, dragging down Dacia's overall rating.

Read our full review of the Dacia Sandero

Read our full review of the Dacia Duster

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Renault Clio

20. Renault

Score 75.4%

While petrol versions of the Clio were rated highly for reliability (with a score of 90.1%), diesel models were not so good (86.4%). The worst of the French brand's small SUVs was the Captur – petrol models only gained 66.7%.

Read our full review of the Renault Clio

Read our full review of the Renault Captur

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Seat Ibiza

21. Seat

Score 75.2%

Seat's larger hatchback, the Leon, was rated as reasonably dependable by owners, but its smaller brother the Ibiza didn't manage to match it, scoring a lowly 68.0% for reliability.

Read our full review of the Seat Ibiza

Read our full review of the Seat Leon

Get a great deal on a Seat

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Volkswagen Golf

22. Volkswagen

Score 74.7%

A number of Volkswagen models appeared towards the bottom of their classes for reliability, including the Up (29% of cars had problems). Both the Polo and Touran had reports of faults on 20% of cars.

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Polo

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Touran

Get a great deal on a Volkswagen

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

23. Mercedes-Benz

Score 70.4%

The newer version of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class didn't perform as well as the previous model, with 24% of cars reporting a problem. The most common issue on both was electrical faults.

Read our full review of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class

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Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Fiat Panda

24. Fiat

Score 70.2%

Both the Panda and 500X lingered close to the bottom of their categories. Pandas suffered engine and suspension troubles, while electrical gremlins bugged the 500X.

Read our full review of the Fiat Panda

Read our full review of the Fiat 500X

Get a great deal on a Fiat

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Volvo V40

25. Volvo

Score 62.3%

Almost half of the Volvo V40s we were told about reported a fault, with the most commonly affected areas being the engine and exhaust system. Even more (52%) XC90 owners had problems, mostly with non-engine electrics.

Read our full review of the Volvo V40

Read our full review of the Volvo XC90

Get a great deal on a Volvo

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Jaguar XF

26. Jaguar

Score 61.9%

Jaguar's XF didn't put in a terrible performance, with only 20% of cars suffering from a fault, but half of the cars were undriveable and a third took more than a week to fix. The XE had more faults (44%), but all were fixed for free in less than a week.

Read our full review of the Jaguar XF

Read our full review of the Jaguar XE

Get a great deal on a Jaguar

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Peugeot 308

27. Peugeot

Score 56.7%

The 2008 put in a sterling performance, gaining a reliability rating of 86.1%, but the 308 scored a lowly 66.6%, placing it close to the bottom of the family car league table.

Read our full review of the Peugeot 308

Get a great deal on a Peugeot

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso

28. Citroën

Score 55.2%

Some Citroën models proved sturdy and dependable, but others did not. The C4 Cactus scored a credible 76.3% with owners, while the C4 and Grand C4 Picasso only managed 56.8%.

Read our full review of the Citroën C4 Cactus

Read our full review of the Citroën C4 Grand Picasso

Get a great deal on a Citroën

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Nissan Qashqai

29. Nissan

Score 52.7%

Electrical issues afflicted Nissan's Pulsar, with many owners reporting faulty sat-navs. Even worse was the performance of the Qashqai, with a woeful 56% of cars suffering a fault – batteries, bodywork and electrics topped the list of problem areas.

Read our full review of the Nissan Pulsar

Read our full review of the Nissan Qashqai

Get a great deal on a Nissan

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Tesla Model S

30. Tesla

Score 52.4%

Nearly 38% of Model S owners reported a fault on their car, with issues split evenly between bodywork, interior trim and the electric motor. Owners also reported broken door handles and problems with exterior lights.

Read our full review of the Tesla Model S

Get a great deal on a Tesla

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Land Rover Discovery Sport

31. Land Rover

Score 50.6%

More than 40% of Discovery Sports had a fault; the most serious area was the engine. The Range Rover Sport has an even worse reliability record, with 60% of owners reporting faults on their cars. There were Issues with the gearbox, the drivetrain, the engine and suspension.

Read our full review of the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Read our full review of the Range Rover Sport

Get a great deal on a Land Rover

Best car brands for reliability (and the ones to avoid)

Jeep Renegade

32. Jeep

Score 42.1%

Jeep takes the wooden spoon for reliability. Owners told us that 43% of Renegades had suffered from a fault; the most serious problems were related to the engine, engine electrics and the braking system. Some cars were off the road for more than a week.

Read our full review of the Jeep Renegade

Get a great deal on a Jeep

Read the full What Car Reliability Survey

Complete the 2018 Reliability Survey and you could win £250


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