In association with MotorEasy
Most and least reliable used cars and SUVs
We name the most dependable – and most troublesome – secondhand cars and SUVs aged from six to 20 years old, based on owners’ experiences...
Used car prices are still at record high levels, and that means it’s more important than ever to choose your second-hand car wisely. Reliability is a crucial factor in keeping costs down – especially if you’re buying an older car that’s no longer covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
That's where the annual What Car? Reliability Survey can help because it reveals the used car models that are paragons of dependability, and the ones that could end up as costly money pits.
Compiled in association with MotorEasy, the latest survey contains data on 21,732 cars that span 178 models from 32 different brands. Each model and each brand are given a reliability rating based on how much they cost owners in repair bills and how long they spent in the garage getting fixed.
To enhance the breadth of the information we can give car buyers, we also ask them to let us know which components caused the most grief. Our used car reliability data covers cars aged from six to 20 years old.
The most reliable used cars
=1. 2016-2021 Kia Sportage
Reliability rating 100%
What went wrong? Nothing
The 2016-2021 Kia Sportage is one of the models that led the brand’s revival in the past few years. No wonder, because it’s an attractive and practical family SUV that comes with the backing of Kia’s comprehensive seven-year warranty. However, none of the Sportage owners who completed our survey needed to rely on this because all of their cars were faultlessly reliable over the previous 24 months. That’s why the Sportage sits at the top of our used reliability chart.
=1. 2014-2021 Lexus NX
Reliability rating 100%
Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota, and it has just as strong a reputation for dependability as its more mainstream sibling. Unlike most other older large SUVs, which have diesel engines, the 2014-2021 Lexus NX was never offered with a diesel engine. Instead buyers could choose from petrol or hybrid versions, and the hybrid was by far the most popular option.
The NX is the most reliable large SUV you can buy. Not a single car reported on in our survey had any problems at all.
=1. 2005-2013 Porsche Cayman / 2004-2012 Porsche Boxster
Reliability rating 100%
The 2005-2013 Porsche Cayman coupe and 2004-2012 Porsche Boxster roadster are both ageing well. In fact, the pair are the most robust used coupe and open-top models you can buy. Owners of both models told us their cars performed perfectly over the preceding 24 months, giving them no reason for complaint.
They’re also likely to be happy with the performance of their mid-engined sports cars, which have amazing agility and poise.
=1. 2013-2019 Renault Captur
Reliability rating 100%
The 2013-2019 Renault Captur is no larger than a Clio, but it’s taller and has rugged SUV styling. It’s also impressively refined and well equipped, and according to owners it’s a great choice if you’re after a small SUV that won’t let you down. That’s because not a single owner who completed our survey reported any issues at all with their cars.
=5. 2013-2021 Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Reliability rating 99.4%
If you’re after a small SUV with decent handling, the option of four-wheel drive and plenty of kit, the 2013-2021 Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is worth a look. It’s also pretty bulletproof when it comes to things going wrong, too, which means it shouldn’t land you with lots of big repair bills.
Just 5% of the SX4 S-Cross cars in our survey suffered a fault, and they were only minor issues with the bodywork that were fixed in a day or less and at no cost to owners.
=5. 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Reliability rating 99.4%
Don’t be put off by the diminutive stature of the Yaris, because it's pretty roomy for a small hatchback, and is well equipped and loaded with safety features. The hybrid version of the 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris is also the most dependable small car you can buy, with just 5% of the examples in our survey having any issues. The only area to cause concern was the 12-volt battery and all cars were fixed at no cost to owners and back on the road within a day.
7. 2011-2022 Lexus CT
Reliability rating 99.0%
The 2011-2022 Lexus CT is a small premium family hatchback with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain that gives it great economy around town. It’s not the most inspiring model to drive, but if dependability is your priority it should be high up on your wishlist. According to those who’ve driven the model for the past 24 months, only 4% of their cars had any problems. Minor electrical issues were the bugbears, and while some owners had to pay up to £100 to get their cars fixed, most were repaired for free. All remedial work was done in a day or less.
8. 2013-2019 Toyota Auris
Reliability rating 98.7%
The second-generation Auris performs slightly better than the original model when it comes to reliability. Engine issues were the only concern of the 3% of owners who reported a problem with their 2013-2019 Toyota Auris. All cars could still be driven and their issues were put right within a day. The only fly in the ointment was that owners had to pay up to £300 to get the work done.
9. 2007-2013 Toyota Auris
Reliability rating 98.6%
If your budget won’t stretch to a second-generation Auris, don’t worry, because the older version is almost as dependable. Like the car that replaced it, the 2007-2013 Toyota Auris is practical, comfortable and well built. It’s durable too, with just 4% of the cars reported on suffering a fault. The air-con system was the only area that went wrong. The good news is that all cars could still be driven, all remedial work was done in a day or less, and no owners paid out more than £200 to get their cars fixed.
10. 2012-2020 Mercedes SL
Reliability rating 98.4%
It’s often the case that cars that are loaded down with high-tech kit suffer more problems than basic little models. The 2012-2020 Mercedes SL bucks that trend, though, with a fault rate of only 6%. Electrical issues with the components surrounding the engine were the only complaint, and all of these were put right in a day or less. Even better, repair bills were small, with nobody paying more than £100 to get things put right.
11. 2010-present Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Reliability rating 98.2%
An stylish alternative to mainstream small hatchbacks, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has distinctly retro exterior styling, with an offset numberplate and hidden rear door handles. It’s also a sound choice if you’re after a dependable small car because it suffers far fewer faults than larger Alfa models. According to our survey, non-engine electrical issues affected 5% of Giuliettas. Although all affected cars could still be driven, they all took more than a week to fix. However, no owners had to find more than £100 to get their cars back, though.
12. 2015-present Suzuki Vitara
Reliability rating 98.1%
The Suzuki Vitara was the first Suzuki off-roader to major on decent on-road manners as well as the practicality of a small family SUV. Non-engine electrics and the sat-nav/infotainment system were the main gripes of the 10% of owners who told us their Vitara had gone wrong. However, all cars could still be driven and they were all fixed for free by Suzuki dealers. The brand covered the cost of two-thirds of repair work, and those who had to pay didn’t have to find more than £200 per fault.
13. 2009-2016 Lexus RX
Reliability rating 97.9%
Large and luxury SUVs are often the most problematic cars to own, suffering a plethora of problems. Not so the 2009-2016 Lexus RX. It’s the third generation of the brand’s large 4x4, and it's the sturdiest of them all. Owners told us that only 5% of their RXs had any issues and only the 12-volt battery gave cause for concern. Although owners had to pay up to £300 to get their cars fixed, all the necessary work was done in a day or less.
14. 2012-2018 Lexus GS
Reliability rating 97.3%
If you prefer ultra-reliable executive class travel over driving an SUV, Lexus still has a model that may suit your needs. The 2012-2018 Lexus GS is a well-equipped, frugal hybrid alternative to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. It’s also far less prone to problems than these German rivals. Brake issues were the only headache for the 7% of the GS owners who reported a fault. They could still drive their cars, though, and the cars were in and out of the garage in a day or less. The only slight downside is that they had to pay up to £300 to get the work done.
15. 2009-2015 Hyundai i20
Reliability rating 96.8%
The 2009-2015 Hyundai i20 may not be as recognisable as the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but it’s a no-frills small hatchback with a lot to offer. It’s good value for money and loaded with plenty of kit. We were told that 17% of i20s had problems, with three areas involved: the battery, bodywork and interior trim. No cars were fixed the same day, but all were back on the road in less than a week, and two-thirds remained driveable. Although Hyundai covered the cost of two-thirds of repair bills, and nobody paid more than £100 to get their car fixed.
=16. 2013-2021 Lexus IS
Reliability rating 96.5%
In a very forward-thinking step Lexus ditched diesel power and only offered petrol and hybrid options when it launched the 2013-2021 Lexus IS. Although the model didn’t beat German rivals in the popularity stakes, it did outshine them for reliability. Only 7% of the IS models in our survey went wrong, and the battery and brakes were the only headaches for owners. Two thirds of cars were back out of the workshop in a day or less and the rest were fixed in less than a week. Although Lexus didn’t pay for any remedial work, bills were small, ranging from £51 to £300.
=16. 2014-2020 Mercedes GLA
Reliability rating 96.5%
Based on the same underpinnings as the 2013-2018 Mercedes A-Class, the 2014-2020 Mercedes GLA is a roomy SUV big enough to transport families in comfort. It was a popular choice when new, with buyers impressed with its practicality, ease of use and competitive pricing. That means there are plenty of used examples to choose from, and it should be a dependable option.
The battery, brakes and non-engine electrics were the problematic areas among the 14% of GLAs that went wrong. While two-thirds of repairs were done for free, the remaining owners had to pay up to £300 to get their cars fixed. All cars could still be driven, but a third spent more than a week in the garage.
18. 2012-2017 Hyundai i30
Reliability rating 96.3%
A genuinely good alternative to the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, the 2012-2017 Hyundai i30 has attractive exterior styling, a plush interior and lots of equipment as standard. It’s also far more robust than these rivals, with only 6% of the examples reported on in our survey having any glitches. The brakes were the only area to give any grief, and getting things fixed took up to a week and cost up to £500.
19. 2015-2020 Honda Jazz
Reliability rating 96.2%
The Jazz is a stalwart of reliability league charts, and the 2015-2020 Honda Jazz upholds that reputation with a 10% fault rate. Owners only reported issues with the brakes and non-engine electrical systems, and half of these were fixed in a day or less. Although Honda didn’t pay for any repairs, half of owners had to pay less than £50, and the rest up to £500.
20. 2014-2022 Ford Mondeo
Reliability rating 96.0%
There’s much to admire in the 2014-2022 Ford Mondeo. Although it’s been usurped by SUVs, this family-friendly executive hatchback is spacious, comfortable and engaging to drive. It’s also proving pretty robust, with a 10% fault rate. The battery, bodywork and gearbox were the areas highlighted as problematic by owners. Only 20% of cars were fixed in a day or less and 40% spent more than a week in the workshop. However, four out of five cars were fixed for free, and the remaining owners paid out less than £300 each.
21. 2013-2019 Toyota RAV4
Reliability rating 95.7%
Older examples of the 2013-2019 Toyota RAV4 aren’t quite as robust as the newer cars - the current RAV4 is the top rated large SUV for reliability. That said, the older car’s 10% fault rate isn't high, making it a good option if you’re looking for a roomy, economical secondhand large SUV. Owners told us their cars had problems with the air-con, brakes, non-engine electrics and suspension. Most were minor and were put right in a day or less. While Toyota covered the cost of 33% of repairs, half of owners paid out up to £100 and an unlucky 17% had to find up to £1000 to get their cars fixed.
22. 2014-present Audi TT
Reliability rating 95.5%
The Audi TT has long been a favourite with What Car? because it has excellent handling, it’s superbly designed inside and out, and it’s effortless to live with. Part of the reason it’s so good to live with is its dependability. Only 12% of the cars we were told about went wrong, with issues with their air-con, brakes and bodywork. Although Audi didn’t pay for any repairs, bills were reasonable with nobody paying more than £500. Two-thirds of cars were fixed and back on the road in a day or less, and the rest were sorted out in less than a week.
23. 2012-2018 Honda CR-V petrol
Reliability rating 95.4%
The petrol 2012-2018 Honda CR-V is a better secondhand proposition than the diesel because it goes wrong less and it costs less to fix. Owners told us 14% of petrol CR-Vs had faults, compared with 23% of diesels, and 50% of petrol examples were fixed for free, while only 25% of diesels were. The main troublespots on the petrol CR-V were the interior trim and non-engine electrics. Half of faulty cars were sorted out in a day or less, but the rest spent more than a week in the garage.
24. 2010-2017 Suzuki Swift
Reliability rating 95.2%
The 2010-2017 Suzuki Swift might not be the most biggest-selling small car, but it’s got a lot going for it, including great driving manners, a reasonable amount of space and a high rating for safety. Like other Suzuki models, it’s also fairly bulletproof, even as it ages. Only 11% of the Swifts in our survey developed a fault, and the air-con system and the battery were the only components affected. All cars could still be driven, half were fixed in less than a day and the rest in less than a week. Although 50% of bills cost owners less than £50, the rest cost up to £1500.
25. 2014-present Mini Hatchback
Reliability rating 95.1%
The third generation of the Mini Hatchback is a great bet if you want a small car that’s fun to drive, economical and stands out from the crowd. It’s pretty dependable, too, with a fault rate of 12%. Areas of concern for owners included the various electrical systems, the gearbox/clutch, interior trim and suspension. Most faulty cars could still be driven and two-thirds were fixed in a day or less. While most repair bills came to less than £200, a small percentage totalled up to £1500.
The most unreliable used cars
3. 2004-2017 Land Rover Discovery
Reliability rating 44.6%
The 2004-2017 Land Rover Discovery is the ultimate all-rounder. It’s a practical luxury SUV with space for seven adults that will also take you to the summit of a small mountain if needed. However, it’s hampered by a high percentage of faults - 43% of the cars we were told about had a problem, and 19% of them were with the engine. There were also lots of reports of issues with electrical systems and the suspension. While the majority of cars were fixed in less than a week, 40% sat in the garage for longer than this. More than 50% of faulty cars cost upwards of £500 to fix, and 11% cost more than £1500.
2. 2004-2013 Skoda Octavia diesel
Reliability rating 43.6%
Half of the diesel-engined 2004-2013 Octavias reported on in our survey had a problem, most commonly with the air-con, brakes, engine and suspension. Although half of the faulty cars were repaired in a day or less, around 20% took more than a week to fix. No cars were fixed for free, 50% of repair bills exceeded £300 and 25% cost up to £1500.
1. 2009-2016 Peugeot 3008
Reliability rating 41.8%
A whopping 61% of the 2009-2016 Peugeot 3008s we were told about suffered a fault, with the brakes, gearbox/clutch, sat-nav/infotainment system and the suspension all cited as problematic. Although the majority of cars remained driveable, a third took more than a week to put right. And, although Peugeot covered the cost of 15% of remedial work, many owners paid up to £500, and 15% had to find more than £1500 to get their cars fixed.
How we compiled our ratings
Our reliability survey went out to whatcar.com readers and subscribers, and was open between December 2022 and 30 June 2023. We asked car owners to tell us if their car had broken down in the previous 24 months. To highlight the most common fault areas for each model, we asked all those who said yes to tell us which of 15 different areas of the car required attention: air-con, battery, bodywork, brakes, clutch/gearbox, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, fuel system, infotainment/sat-nav, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering, suspension and other.
And, to measure the seriousness of each fault, we also asked how long their car took to be repaired and how much the remedial work cost. The worst offenders – cars that were off the road for more than a week and cost more than £1500 to fix – receive the lowest reliability ratings. Those with minor niggles that were fixed for free gain higher scores. Our data encompasses 178 models from 32 brands.
What are the most reliable used car brands?
Lexus tops the league for dependability among older cars with an extremely high reliability rating of 96.7. Five of its models are in our top 25, giving used car buyers plenty of options if they want a very robust vehicle. Demonstrating that you can opt for an affordable model and still get good reliability, Suzuki takes second place with a score of 91.6%. It's followed by Toyota, with 90.4%; notably some of this brand's cheapest models are the highest scorers.
At the other end of the scale, Citroen is in last place, with 47.2%; its score is pulled down by the poor performance of diesel versions of the 2013-2018 C4 Picasso. With vehicles that can suffer a high number of faults, Land Rover is second from last, with a score of 57.9%. And the troubles suffered by the Tesla Model S have pulled this brand's rating down. It's third from the bottom with 66.3%.
Are used cars getting more reliable?
While the reliability of some car brands has improved in the past year, others have got worse. Suzuki, Toyota and Lexus topped the brand chart last year, just as they do this year, but Lexus has gone up by five percentage points. Another notable improver is Alfa Romeo, which is in sixth place this year with 86.3%, up from 12th place and a score of 82.7 last year.
In the middle of the table, BMW and Volvo have both dropped down. BMW has gone from 16th to 23rd place, with a score of 78.5% this year, and Volvo is down from 13th to 24th place and its rating is 76.2%. And the same three brands sit at the bottom of the chart: Citroen, Land Rover and Tesla. but all three have gained lower scores this year.
About the author
Claire Evans has been a motoring journalist, focussing mainly on consumer issues, for more than 30 years. She was an advice columnist for Carweek magazine in the 1990s, and she spent six years working on motoring content for Which?, co-ordinating the running of the charity's annual used car reliability survey.
Claire launched the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2017, and since then has helped thousands of buyers choose the most reliable new and used cars. The survey data is also shared with car makers, who use it to find out more about issues with models and the areas where they could look provide better customer service.
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