The most reliable family cars on sale - and the least

Families need dependable cars. Pick one from our top 10 most reliable and it shouldn't let you down.....

Family cars have to be tough.

Most and least reliable family cars

They need to cope with transporting children and all their equipment, and they need to be dependable because nobody wants to be stuck at the roadside with stressed out little ones.

Luckily the What Car? Reliability Survey can help you pick a car that won't let you down. We asked more than 18,000 people to tell us about any faults their cars had suffered in the previous 12 months, how long each problem had kept their car off the road and how much it had cost to be fixed.

The models with the least problems and lowest repair costs gained the top ratings in the study, while those that spent days on end in the garage and chalked up hefty repair bills gained the lowest scores. The cars in this round-up are all aged between one and five years old. Let’s take a look at the best in ascending order, an then look at the three cars that did less well:

10. Ford Focus (diesel) 2011-2018

Ford Focus (petrol)

Score 96.5%

Diesel versions of the previous-generation Focus are proving more durable than petrols. The latter lie in 17th place in our family car chart with a score of 93.6% and only 12% of diesels had a fault, compared with 17% of petrols. The only areas to suffer faults were the gearbox and sat nav. Most cars could still be driven, two thirds of them were put right under warranty and repair bills ranged from less than £50 to £750. 

9. Audi A3 2013 on

Audi A3 Sportback - 62-plate car

Score 96.7%

Owners told us 13% of Audi A3 hatchbacks suffered a fault with the most commonly affected areas being the brakes and exhaust, followed by air-con and the engine. More than half of affected cars could still be driven, though, and most repair work was carried out for free with only a small percentage of owners paying out around £200 for faults to be rectified. 

=7. Mini Clubman 2015 on

Mini Clubman Estate

Score 97.0%

Just over 11% of Mini Clubmans had a problem and the issues were split evenly between the engine and exhaust. Two thirds of the affected cars could still be driven and were repaired the same day, and two thirds were put right under warranty, with the remaining cars costing between £100 and £200.

=7. BMW 1 Series (petrol) 2011-2019

Used BMW 1 Series 2011 - present

Score 97.0%

Petrol-engined 1 Series models are far sturdier than diesels – only 13% had a fault compared with 34% of diesels, which suffered a high proportion of engine problems. The most frequently cited issues on petrol cars were the bodywork, exhaust and interior trim. All cars could still be driven and two thirds were rectified the same day. The vast majority of repairs were done under warranty and only a few owners faced bills of £500 to £750.

6. Honda Civic 2012-2017

Honda Civic Tourer

Score 97.2%

Only 14% of Civic owners reported a fault with their car and those that did told us the issues only affected the battery, exhaust and non-engine electrics. All cars could still be driven and three quarters were fixed in less than a day. Almost all repair work was done for free, only a small percentage of owners had bills of between £500 and £750. 

5. Skoda Octavia 2013-2020

Used Skoda Octavia 2013-present

Score 97.3%

Petrol-engined Octavias are proving slightly more durable than diesels; 14% of petrol models had a fault compared with 16% of diesels. Problems were reported in a wide range of areas, including the battery, brakes, engine, engine electrics, gearbox, interior trim and sat nav. All cars remained driveable, but some took more than a week to put right. Most work was done for free and only a small number of owners shelled out between £100 and £200 on repair bills. 

4. Kia Ceed 2012-2018

Used Kia Ceed

Only 14% of Ceed owners reported a fault on their car, with the issues concerned split evenly between engine and non-engine electrics and interior trim. Three-quarters of affected cars could still be driven and were repaired in less than a day. Virtually all work was done under warranty; only a small number of owners had to pay for repairs and their bills ranged from £100 to £200.

3. Hyundai i30 2012-2017

Hyundai i30 (2012-2017)

Score 97.7%

The previous Hyundai i30 is proving reliable as it ages. Although 14% had a problem, all repairs were done for free and all cars were back on the road the same day. The most common problem area was the exhaust system, ahead of the battery and non-engine electrics.

2. Toyota Auris 2013-2019

Toyota Auris front three quarters

Score 98.2%

Only 6% of Toyota Auris owners reported a fault on their car, with the areas concerned split evenly between bodywork and steering. Again, all cars were fixed for free, but some took up to a week to get back on the road.

1. Skoda Rapid 2012-2019

Skoda Rapid Spaceback front

Score 99.4%

The Skoda Rapid isn't a common sight on our roads, but it must be even rarer in Skoda’s service departments, because just 5% of the cars we were told about had a problem in the previous 12 months. Those that did were afflicted by only minor issues with exterior trim. All were fixed the same day for free under warranty.

What about the least reliable cars, according to our survey?

3. BMW 1 Series (diesel) 2011-2019

Used BMW 1 Series 2011 - present

Score 87.0%

Petrol BMW 1 Series models are pretty durable, but 34% of diesels had trouble, mainly with the engine. One in five were undriveable and took more than a week to fix, with some costing owners up to £500.

2. Nissan Pulsar 2014-2018

Nissan Pulsar

Score 86.6%

Almost as many Nissan Pulsars (39%) had a fault, the majority to do with the battery. Nearly half couldn’t be driven, but all their faults were rectified the same day. Three-quarters of the necessary work was done under warranty, but a quarter of owners paid bills ranging from £101-£300.

1. Vauxhall Astra (diesel) 2015 on

Vauxhall Astra cornering front three quarters

Score 82.3%

Diesel Vauxhall Astras have a 10% lower reliability rating than their petrol siblings; nearly twice as many went wrong. Nearly a quarter of issues were with the braking system, and one in five were with the engine or gearbox/clutch. Nearly a third of the affected cars took more than a week to fix, but at least all the work was done under warranty.

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