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What Car? Reliability Survey: Most and least reliable car brands

In our annual Reliability Survey, we ask readers to rate the dependability of cars aged up to five years old. Here we rank the most and least reliable car manufacturers in the UK...

Lexus brand reliability winner 2024

If you've decided on a specific car class or model, it will be helpful to check how well they rank for reliability in their respective sectors, but if you're not sure which one to go for, checking the brand rankings is a good place to start. 

You may think that all fairly new cars have great reliability ratings, but the data collected for the annual What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy, shows just how different they can be. 

Toyota and its premium brand Lexus top our dependability charts, and Cupra and Alfa Romeo sit at the other end of the spectrum, with a difference of more than 15% separating the best from the worst. 

Read on to find out which are the best and worst car brands for reliability.  

The 2024 What Car? Reliability Survey is live, tell us about your car now

How the survey was conducted

The What Car? Reliability Survey is open for responses from all drivers and car owners for six months, and it is sent out to whatcar.com readers and subscribers. 

Anyone who reports a fault on their car in the previous 24 months is asked to rate the seriousness of the issue by telling us how much it cost to repair and how long it kept the car out of action. We also ask what area of the car was involved, giving people 14 different categories to choose from. 

The data on cost of repairs and time off the road is collated for each model to create a unique reliability rating, and this is used to rank cars. The latest survey gained 21,732 responses and that enabled us to report on 178 models up to five years old from 32 different brands. 

The most reliable car brands

1. Lexus

Lexus NX 450h+ front cornering

Reliability rating 98.3% 

The luxury brand of Toyota has topped our dependability chart for seven years in a row, partly because its cars rarely go wrong, and also because when they do, its dealers fix the problems for free. 

Its star performer is the 2014-2021 Lexus NX family SUV, which has a reliability rating of 99.8%. The second and third most reliable family SUVs are also Lexus models: the current Lexus NX scores 99.4% and the Lexus UX 99.3%. 

Its previous generation luxury SUV, the 2016-2022 Lexus RX, is also a great bet if you want problem-free driving. It scored 98.6% and has a fault rate of 8%. 

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2. Toyota

Toyota RAV4 front cornering

Reliability rating 97.4% 

Toyota's presence in second place shows that dependability isn’t the preserve of premium brands. In fact, some of its smallest, most affordable models are the highest achievers. The 2011-2020 Toyota Yaris scored 99.3% and just 3% of its owners said their cars had gone wrong. The current Toyota Yaris isn’t far behind, with a rating of 98.6% and the Yaris Cross small SUV gets 98.0%. 

Larger models, such as the Toyota RAV4, which scored 98.8%, are also a sound choice if you’re after a hybrid family SUV.  

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3. Mini 

Mini Electric 2023 driving

Reliability rating 97.2%

Mini is the highest rated European car brand for reliability, posting strong performances across its line-up. Overall, 10% of the Minis we were told about went wrong, but three-quarters of them were in and out of the garage in less than a week. The car maker paid for 94% of repairs, and owners who had to pay were charged less than £100 per fault.

The 2015-2024 Mini Clubman is its most reliable model, with a score of 97.9%, and the Mini Electric fares well, too; with a rating of 97.6% it’s the highest-scoring electric car in our survey. And if you’re after open-top fun, the Mini Convertible shouldn’t let you down with its reliability rating of 97.1%. 

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4. Suzuki 

Red Suzuki Vitara front cornering

Reliability rating 96.9%

Only 8% of Suzuki models owners told us about had any issues, and 44% of issues were resolved in a day or less and three-quarters of faulty cars were fixed for less than £200; 25% of them were put right for free. 

With a score of 96.7%, the Vitara is its most robust model, followed by the Swift on 99.5% and the Ignis on 99.4%. 

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5. Mitsubishi 

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV RHD front left cornering

Reliability rating 96.2%

It’s a shame you can no longer buy a Mitsubishi new, but its cars continue to prove sound secondhand prospects. Only 9% of the cars reported on had any problems, with the most common causes of concern the 12-volt battery, bodywork and engine electrics. Half of the cars that went wrong were back on the road within a day.   

At model level we only have enough data to report on the 2014-2021 Outlander Plug-in hybrid, which has a fault rate of just 6% and a reliability rating of 97.2%. 

6. Honda 

Red Honda Jazz front cornering

Reliability rating 95.9%

Honda used to top the charts for reliability, but it has been outstripped by other Japanese brands for the past couple of years. It’s still producing dependable cars, though, such as the previous generation 2015-2020 Honda Jazz, which gains 98.5% and the newer Jazz Hybrid, which achieves 98.4%. 

Overall, 15% of the Honda cars in the survey had a problem, with the air-con system and non-engine electrics the main culprits. Virtually all faulty cars could still be driven and 40% were in and out of the garage in a day or less. Even better news for owners is that Honda covered the cost of 86% of remedial work. 

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7. Hyundai 

Hyundai i10 front right driving

Reliability rating 94.3%

Hyundai just pips its Korean sibling brand, Kia, partly thanks to the robustness of the petrol and hybrid versions of the Ioniq, which gained 99.2%, and the 2015-2020 Hyundai Tucson, which has a rating of 98.8%. 

The brand’s smallest model, the i10, is almost as good as the larger motors; the current i10 scored 98.4% and the 2014-2020 Hyundai i10 did even better on 98.6%. 

Overall, 16% of Hyundais went wrong and 87% were fixed for free by the car maker.     

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8. Kia 

Kia Niro EV front cornering

Reliability rating 93.8% 

Although the same proportion (16%) of the Kia models in our survey went wrong, the car maker covered the cost of 92% of repairs. However, getting cars fixed was a slower process than for Hyundai owners; 53% of Kia cars were out of action for more than a week. 

Hybrid versions of the Niro family SUV were the least troublesome, with just 5% of owners reporting a fault and the model gaining an impressive score of 98.8%. The Niro EV has been dependable too, with a reliability rating of 94.7%. The Picanto city car also fared well; it scored 97.5% and only 10% of the cars reported on had a problem.  

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9. Volvo 

Volvo XC40 front cornering

Reliability rating 93.7% 

Although Volvo has a high overall fault rate of 20%, most problems are sorted out quickly and at little or no cost to owners, minimising the disruption. Around 50% of faults were resolved in a day or less and Volvo paid for 94% of the work. The  XC40 and XC60 were the brand’s best models, with plug-in hybrid versions of the XC40 the highest scorers at 99.0% with a fault rate of 7%, and petrol and hybrid XC60s almost as good with a rating of 98.0% and fault rate of 14%. 

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10. Tesla 

Red Tesla Model Y front cornering

Reliability rating 93.6% 

The American EV brand has achieved a huge turnaround in the quality and reliability of its cars. It’s jumped from 19th place in last year’s survey to 10th position. The Model S still lags behind with a score of 83.9% and a fault rate of 41%, but the Model Y is up there with the best electric cars with a rating of 97.4% and Model 3 looks good too, with a score of 94.0%. 

Owners told us they got a great level of service when things went wrong, with 97% of remedial work done for free and 60% of cars fixed in a day or less. 

See the latest Tesla deals >

Least reliable car brands

1. Cupra

Cupra Formentor front cornering

Reliability rating 82.4%

Cupra, Seat’s sporty offshoot brand, came in last place in this year’s reliability survey. Only two Cupra models – the Cupra Formentor, the brand’s sporty family SUV, and the electric Cupra Born – featured in our survey, with the Formentor proving the more troublesome of the pair. More than half of Formentor-owning respondents suffered a problem with their car, compared with 18% of Born owners.

In better news, the vast majority of Cupras remained driveable, and all repairs were carried out under warranty.

2. Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Giulia right driving

Reliability rating 85.6%

The results for Alfa Romeo were even more mixed; the Alfa Romeo Stelvio achieved a decent overall reliability rating of 95.8%, while the Giulia managed just 77.3% – one of the lowest scores in the executive car class.

How come the Alfa Romeo Giulia performed so poorly? Well, 44% of owners suffered faults with their cars, and a third of them had to wait more than a week for their car to be fixed. To add insult to injury, 11% of owners reported receiving bills of more than £1500 for a single repair.

3. Vauxhall

Green Vauxhall Mokka Electric rear left driving

Reliability rating 86.9%

Vauxhall finished just above its Italian sister brand this year, with major faults and high repair costs causing headaches for many owners. The worst offender was the Vauxhall Mokka Electric, which received a reliability rating of 60.6%, making it the least reliable electric SUV featured in the survey.

Indeed, one owner told us that their Mokka Electric needed around £8500 of repairs just two days after they got it. Thankfully, that particular bill was footed by Vauxhall, but 10% of owners reported that they’d been charged more than £1500 for a single repair.

4. Jaguar

Jaguar I-Pace front cornering

Reliability rating 87.4%

What does Jaguar have in common with Vauxhall? Its least reliable model is also an electric SUV – the Jaguar I-Pace. While it did perform significantly better than the Mokka Electric, 42% of respondents’ I-Paces had problems relating to everything from electrical systems to the bodywork and interior trim.

By contrast, the 2010-2019 Jaguar XJ was the second-most reliable luxury car, with a high overall rating of 95.8%. All XJ repairs were carried out under warranty, as were the majority of repairs across the rest of the Jaguar range.

5. Land Rover

Range Rover Evoque 2023 long-term urban driving

Reliability rating 87.6%

It comes as little surprise that Land Rover fared so similarly to sister brand Jaguar in this year’s reliability survey, given how long the two have shared a parent company. None of the Land Rover models that featured in our survey excelled in terms of reliability, although the Range Rover Evoque does stand out as the most problematic car in the range.

Many owners of both the current car and the 2011-2019 Range Rover Evoque had faults to report, around half of which took more than a week to put right. Fortunately, Land Rover paid to fix things in most cases.

6. Subaru

Subaru Outback

Reliability rating 89.0%

Reliability is typically a strong suit for Japanese car makers – a theory that the top of this list supports – but Subaru is the exception to that rule.

A small proportio of fifth-generation Subaru Outback owners reported having to shell out more than £750 to fix electrical issues, which rendered cars undriveable and took more than a week to sort out. Some problems were also highlighted by Subaru XV owners, although these were typically less serious, and all XVs were fixed under warranty.

7. Audi

Audi A3 front cornering

Reliability rating 89.1%

Audi just pipped Subaru in this year’s survey, although the reliability you can expect from your Audi is highly model-dependent. The Audi A3 Sportback proved most problematic, with more than half of the A3s in our survey suffering a fault in the past year (most of which related to the infotainment system).

Conversely, the Audi TT performed brilliantly; with a reliability rating of 98.4%, it topped our list of the most reliable sports cars. Unfortunately you can’t buy a TT new any more, but if you’re in the market for one there are plenty of used Audi TTs for sale.

8. MG

Orange MG4 EV front right driving

Reliability rating 89.2%

With the exception of the MG5 and MG ZS EV, all the other MG models in our survey performed poorly in their respective categories. The MG4 proved to be the least reliable of the bunch, with a rating of 76.1%.
Bodywork and non-motor-related electrical issues were the main sources of complaint, and one in five owners of faulty MG4s paid more than £1000 to get their car fixed.

9. Mercedes

Mercedes A-Class rear cornering

Reliability rating 89.8%

Although Mercedes performed better in the latest survey than Audi, both premium German brands fell far behind rivals, such as BMW and Volvo.

Diesel versions of the Mercedes A-Class family hatchback let their owners down more often than any other of the brand’s models; more than a third of owners experienced issues with their A-Class, and most faults took more than a week to put right.

10. Renault

Renault Arkana right tracking

Reliability rating 90.0%

A fifth of the Renaults that featured in our survey went wrong, but the majority of faulty cars did at least remain driveable once a fault had occurred. Most were repaired under warranty, while those that weren’t cost their owners between £100 and £1000.

The Renault Arkana was the least reliable of the five models we heard about, while the first-generation Renault Captur came out on top. Reliability ratings for the two models were 86.5% and 95.9% respectively.

Brand reliability for cars aged up to five years old

Rank Brand Score
1 Lexus 98.3%
2 Toyota 97.4%
3 Mini 97.2%
4 Suzuki 96.9%
5 Mitsubishi 96.2%
6 Honda 95.9%
7 Hyundai 94.3%
8 Kia 93.8%
9 Volvo 93.7%
10 Tesla 93.6%
11 Dacia 93.1%
12 BMW 93.0%
13 Mazda 92.8%
14 Citroen 92.3%
15 Fiat 92.0%
16 Skoda 91.4%
17 Ford 91.4%
18 Seat 90.9%
19 Nissan 90.7%
20 Porsche 90.7%
21 Peugeot 90.5%
22 Volkswagen 90.2%
23 Renault 90.0%
24 Mercedes 89.8%
25 MG 89.2%
26 Audi 89.1%
27 Subaru 89.0%
28 Land Rover 87.6%
29 Jaguar 87.4%
30 Vauxhall 86.9%
31 Alfa Romeo 85.6%
32 Cupra 82.4%

To read the reliability data for other car classes follow these links:

Most reliable cars in the UK
Most reliable small cars
Most reliable family cars
Most reliable executive cars
Most reliable luxury cars
Most reliable small SUVs
Most reliable family SUVs
Most reliable large SUVs
Most reliable seven-seaters
Most reliable electric cars
Most reliable electric SUVs
Most reliable sports cars
Most reliable diesel cars

What's the most dependable car by fuel type? 

If reliability is your priority, you’ll be best off buying a hybrid. Just 17% of the plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) in our survey went wrong, while 18% of regular hybrids had a glitch.

Petrol models as a whole were only slightly less dependable, with a fault rate of 20%. Diesels and electric cars proved to be the least reliable, with a joint-highest fault rate of 26%. Hybrids will generally cost you the least to repair, too. All of the PHEVS and 94% of the regular hybrids we were told about were fixed for free; only 1% of hybrid owners had to pay more than £1500 to get their car put right.

Eighty percent of faulty petrol and electric models were fixed for free, and only 2% of owners had to pay more than £1500. Only 70% of diesels cost owners nothing. And they’re the priciest to repair; 4% of owners had to find more than £1500 to get their cars back on the road.

Genesis GV70 at petrol station

Which models cost the most and least to repair?

The good news is that 83% of the cars in our survey had their faults fixed for free, but on the flip side, 2% of owners faced bills that exceeded £1500 for each issue.

When it comes to costly repairs, it’s the diesel versions of the current BMW 3 Series that are the worst: 42% of the examples in our survey cost more than £1500 to repair.

That’s a higher proportion of large bills than for the previous-generation 3 Series (2012-2019) – 30% of those who own petrol and diesel models built from 2012-2019 paid more than £1500 to fix faults.

A third of Jaguar F-Type owners were also charged more than £1500 to get their cars back on the road, and 31% of Skoda Karoq diesels cost this much too.

In contrast, many car makers fixed every fault with certain models for free. These include the Audi A1, the BMW 1 Series, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, the 2013-2021 Lexus IS and the Lexus NX, the Porsche 718 Boxster and Porsche 718 Cayman, the Suzuki Swift, the Tesla Model Y, the previous and current Toyota Yaris and the Volvo XC60.

Toyota Yaris front left tracking

Which cars take the longest to fix?

When a faulty car needs to be taken to a garage for repair work, some are in and out on the same day, while others linger there for a week or more.

The worst model for lengthy repairs was the Subaru Outback (2014-2021) – all the examples we were told about were rendered undriveable by their faults and were out of action for more than a week.

Likewise, all faulty examples of the Audi TT, the Lexus UX, the Porsche Cayenne and the Renault Captur were in dealerships for more than a week.

What's the most dependable type of gearbox?

Automatic gearboxes – whether they be conventional or the dual-clutch gearbox type – gave very few problems for the owners of cars fitted with them, with a fault rate of just 1% in that area.

Manual gearboxes and clutches were a bit more troublesome generally, with a fault rate of 3%.

Surprisingly, the gearbox type that proved the least reliable was the single-speed automatic found in most electric vehicles (EVs) – 14% of EV owners reported an issue in this category.

About the author

Claire Evans has been a motoring journalist for more than 30 years with a focus on consumer issues for much of that time. She was the advice columnist for Carweek magazine in the 1990s, and also spent six years working on motoring content for Which?.

Claire launched the What Car? Reliability Survey in 2017, and since then has helped thousands of buyers choose the most reliable new cars and SUVs, as well as the most dependable used cars.

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