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Most (and least) reliable car brands

There can be a massive difference between car brands when it comes to durability and dependability, so we reveal the most and least reliable...

Most and least reliable brands 2021

Whether you’re a serial switcher and go for a different brand every time you renew your car, or a stalwart loyalist who sticks with the same make through the decades, you probably have good reasons why you pick certain brands and avoid others.

Reliability is one of the most important factors to many car buyers, and to help inform your choices we conduct our annual What Car? Reliability survey in association with MotorEasy.

To find out which are the most dependable brands, and which are most likely to let you down, we asked more than 16,000 readers if their cars went wrong in the previous 12 months and, if they did, how severely, and how much they cost them in repairs.

Here we take a deep dive into the data to reveal the most and least reliable car brands for cars aged up to five years old. While most lived up to their reputations – good and bad – there were also some big surprises.

The 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey is now open. Tell us about your car for the chance to win a great prize in one of our monthly draws >>


The most reliable car brands

10. MG

MG HS 2021 front right tracking

Reliability rating: 95.7%

MG’s main selling point is value for money, so it’s a good thing that their cars don’t spoil that by going wrong. The examples of the HS large SUV we were told about were almost completely faultless, earning it a reliability rating of 99.0%. Although the ZS family SUV was slightly less robust – in both petrol and electric form – it was also one of the more dependable options in its classes.

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9. Kia

Kia Niro Hybrid

Reliability rating: 95.8%

You might be tempted by Kia’s seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, but the reality is that you’re unlikely to need it. For example, petrol and diesel versions of the previous-generation Soul small SUV were completely faultless over the past year. Other models such as hybrid versions of the outgoing Niro were also impressive, but the Stinger executive saloon blighted what was an otherwise-stellar record.

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8. Mazda

Mazda CX-3 front driving

Reliability rating: 95.9%

One of the six completely faultless cars over the past year was a Mazda; none of the CX-3 small SUVs we were told about set a foot wrong. The same can’t be said for the Mazda 3 family car, which let the side down in contrast to the rest of the dependable line-up.

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7. Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Reliability rating: 96.9%

A decline in the dependability of the Outlander PHEV large SUV means that Mitsubishi has slipped five places compared with last year. Only the perfect reliability record of the Eclipse Cross family SUV mitigates that slide.

Toyota RAV4 PHEV 2021 front cornering

Reliability rating: 97.0%

Toyota’s reputation for reliability held true this year, in large part due to the RAV4 large SUV earning a rating of 99.1%. The rest of the range was also fairly solid, with the previous-generation Yaris small car and the current Corolla family car standing out in their classes as especially robust options.

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=5. Mini

Mini Convertible 2021 front right tracking roof down

Reliability rating: 97.0%

Mini’s score improved over the past year, with its Convertible recording a perfect record for dependability. The Countryman small SUV and the Hatchback small car were also fairly reliable, but they weren’t the best in their classes by some margin.

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=3. Suzuki

Suzuki Swift CC

Reliability rating: 97.1%

The Suzuki Swift small car has long been a favourite of young drivers because of its zesty performance and low cost, and now reliability can be added to the list thanks to its score of 99.3%. The Vitara family SUV was also solid, but the outgoing SX-4 S-Cross prevented Suzuki from climbing any higher up this list because of its mediocre record for dependability.

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=3. Hyundai

Hyundai Ioniq

Reliability rating: 97.1%

Despite sharing many parts with sister brand Kia, it was Hyundai which came out better this year. All of its petrol and diesel models proved to be exceptionally solid, but the complex Kona Electric was a detractor from its overall score, recording a measly 87.6%. That makes it one of the least dependable electric cars on sale.

Dacia Sandero

Reliability rating: 97.3%

The good thing about building simple cars using proven technology is that it means all the creases should have already been ironed out. That much is true for Dacia, which generally repurposes Renault parts to great effect. All examples of its previous-generation Sandero small car which we were told about didn’t go wrong at all over the past year, and its Duster small SUV also recorded a good rating of 97.2%. 

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1. Lexus

2014 Lexus NX300h Luxury review

Reliability rating: 98.7%

You might be tempted to think that luxurious, high-tech SUVs of Lexus’ ilk are bound to go wrong, but that’s simply untrue. The previous-generation NX large SUV was a popular choice in our survey, yet went wrong for so few owners that it scored 99.8%. Furthermore, the UX family SUV graded at 98.4%, far surpassing the average model in its class for dependability.

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