What are the most reliable car brands to own in 2020?


While cars don’t have a ‘best before’ date, there’s no doubt that some models appear to expire far earlier than others.

To understand which brands produce the longest-lasting vehicles, What Car? polled almost 13,000 UK drivers about the reliability of their motors – even those that are up to 20 years old. 

The study rates the manufactures from best to worst, with Japanese and Korean makers dominating the top performers – and Land Rover limping behind the pack.

Will you car endure the test of time? Rankings of the most and least reliable older cars has been revealed

The consumer website and magazine surveyed a total of 12,892 car owners earlier this year.

Each driver was asked if their vehicle had gone wrong in the past 12 months, how long it had spent off the road and how much it had cost to repair. 

Using its own algorithm, What Car? collated the feedback to produce a unique Reliability Rating percentage for each model.

The data is then extrapolated and determines the order of the most and least reliable brands with an overarching score for each maker.

The rankings revealed are for motors between five and 20 years of age.

This not only helps existing owners understand what problems they might encounter further down the line but also gives second-hand buyers an idea of which brands and models they can count on keeping running for the foreseeable future. 

Surprisingly, despite the age of the cars featured, 17 per cent of all faults highlighted by owners were said to be fixed for free, while nearly a fifth were fixed for less than £200. 

Car brand reliability for older models (aged 5 to 20-years-old)

1. Lexus: 96.0%

2. Kia: 92.7%

3. Toyota: 92.2%

4. Suzuki: 91.9%

5. Honda: 91.6%

6. Mitsubishi: 91.2%

7. Seat: 90.7%

8. Hyundai: 89.2%

9. Subaru: 87.8%

10. Volvo: 84.7%

11. Mazda: 84.6%

12. Skoda: 83.5%

13. Mercedes-Benz: 83.0%

14. Audi: 82.9%

15. Ford: 82.8%

16. BMW: 82.5%

17. Citroën: 81.3%

18. Porsche: 78.4%

19. Peugeot: 78.2%

20. Mini: 78.0%

21. Volkswagen: 77.5%

22: Jaguar: 77.2%

23. Vauxhall: 75.8%

24. Fiat: 74.6%

25. Renault: 72.6%

26. Nissan: 70.4%

27. Land Rover: 66.3%

Source; What Car? survey of 12,892 car owners. 

Reliability Score for cars 5-20 years old

Lexus has the best reliability record for older cars, boosted by the durability of models like the CT200h pictured

Lexus has the best reliability record for older cars, boosted by the durability of models like the CT200h pictured

Unfortunately, for five per cent of owners, repair costs exceeded £1,500; the most common issues were related to the suspension, non-engine electronics, brakes and battery. 

Electric and hybrid cars were found to be the most reliable models in general, with an average rating of 96 per cent across their class. 

The poll was particularly positive for Japanese and Korean brands.

They collectively occupied eight out of the top ten positions for the most reliable manufacturers, with Lexus coming out on top with an average score of 96 per cent. 

However, it wasn’t great news for Nissan, which produces cars in Sunderland.

Of the 27 brands, it placed 26th with a 70.4 per cent Reliability Rating and the Qashqai SUV – both old and current – scoring badly with owners.

In fact, the survey highlighted that 4X4s are causing the most issues for drivers in general, with luxury SUVs in particular being problematic and pricey to keep running, managing an average 63.1 per cent Reliability Rating.

Land Rover continues to lag behind the pack with owners giving the brand the lowest rating of 27 brands, according to What Car?

Land Rover continues to lag behind the pack with owners giving the brand the lowest rating of 27 brands, according to What Car?

Unsurprisingly, given its production of pricey SUVs and renowned long-running difficulties with dependability, Land Rover was the worst performing brand in the What Car? survey.

Owners of the British manufacturer’s motors reported an array of expensive faults and repeating issues, with the maker given a Reliability Rating of just 66.3 per cent.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport, for instance, was the worst rated used large SUV, with a score of just 51.4 per cent.

Claire Evans, consumer editor at What Car?, said: ‘Our research highlights the importance of doing your homework when buying a used car. 

‘While some models make excellent used buys, others can set new owners back hundreds or even thousands of pounds in repairs.

‘With one-in-five older used cars breaking down last year, buyers can avoid some nasty pitfalls simply by spending a bit of time reviewing and researching their next used buy.’

To help second-hand buyers identify which particular models are lasting the test of time better than others, What Car? listed the top and bottom three performing models for reliability in ten vehicle categories, from small cars to premium SUVs.

Here are the most and least reliable cars in each class… 

Most and least reliable models in each vehicle category 

USED SMALL CARS 

MOST RELIABLE

The 2011-2017 Kia Picanto is the most reliable used small car

The 2011-2017 Kia Picanto is the most reliable used small car

1. Kia Picanto (2011 – 2017): 98.5%

2. Honda Jazz (2008 – 2014): 98.0%

3. Mini hatchback petrol (2014 – present): 97.3% 

 LEAST RELIABLE

This Vauxhall Corsa, with a 73% Reliability Rating, is the least dependable model

This Vauxhall Corsa, with a 73% Reliability Rating, is the least dependable model

1. Vauxhall Corsa (2005 – 2014): 73.0%

2. Seat Ibiza (2008 – 2017): 82.0%

3. Ford Fiesta diesel (2008 – 2017): 82.3%

USED FAMILY CARS

MOST RELIABLE

The recently-replaced Seat Leon is the most reliable used family car

The recently-replaced Seat Leon is the most reliable used family car

1. Seat Leon diesel (2013 – 2020): 98.7%

=2. Volvo V40 (2012 – 2019): 95.6%

=2. Honda Civic (2012 – 2017): 95.6%

 

LEAST RELIABLE

The Skoda Octavia launched 14 years ago is proving least reliable

The Skoda Octavia launched 14 years ago is proving least reliable

1. Skoda Octavia (2004 – 2013): 54.4%

2. Mercedes-Benz A Class (2005 – 2012): 56.3%

3. Volkswagen Golf diesel (2009 – 2013): 74.9% 

USED SMALL AND FAMILY SUVS

MOST RELIABLE 

Audi's previous-gen Q3 SUV has been ranked the most reliable used small SUV

Audi’s previous-gen Q3 SUV has been ranked the most reliable used small SUV

1. Audi Q3 (2011 – 2018): 96.5%

2. Vauxhall Mokka petrol (2012 – 2019): 95.2%

3. Mini Countryman (2010 – 2017): 87.1%

LEAST RELIABLE 

The original Nissan Qashqai has the worst reliability record of all older small SUVs

The original Nissan Qashqai has the worst reliability record of all older small SUVs

1. Nissan Qashqai (2007 – 2014): 45.6%

2. Nissan Qashqai (2014 – present): 46.3%

3. Volkswagen Tiguan (2007 – 2016): 61.0% 

USED LARGE SUVS

MOST RELIABLE 

The Honda CR-V 2012-18 has a flawless reliability record

The Honda CR-V 2012-18 has a flawless reliability record

=1. Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018): 100.0%

=1. Toyota RAV4 (2013 – 2019): 100.0%

3. Toyota RAV4 (2006 – 2012): 95.7%

LEAST RELIABLE 

Land Rover's relatively new Disco Sport is a disappointing owners

Land Rover’s relatively new Disco Sport is a disappointing owners

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport (2014 – present): 51.4%

2. Ford Kuga: (2008 – 2013) – 81.9%

3. Volvo XC60 (2008 – 2017): 87.5%

USED SPORTS AND LUXURY SUVS

MOST RELIABLE 

The big BMW X5 2013-18 has the best reliability record of all used luxury SUVs

The big BMW X5 2013-18 has the best reliability record of all used luxury SUVs

1. BMW X5 (2013 – 2018): 86.1%

2. Range Rover Sport (2013 – present): 76.5%

3. Volvo XC90 (2002 – 2015): 75.0%

LEAST RELIABLE 

The Porsche Macan is proving troublesome to owners, says What Car?

The Porsche Macan is proving troublesome to owners, says What Car?

1. Porsche Macan (2014 – present): 40.4%

2. BMW X5 (2007 – 2013): 42.6%

3. Land Rover Discovery (2004 -2017): 45.7% 

USED EXECUTIVE CARS

MOST RELIABLE 

Ford's much-overlooked current Mondeo has a 97.7% Reliability Rating

Ford’s much-overlooked current Mondeo has a 97.7% Reliability Rating

1. Ford Mondeo (2014 – present): 97.7%

2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2014 – present): 93.9%

3. Mazda 6 (2013 – present): 93.4%

LEAST RELIABLE 

VW's old Passat - launched 15 years ago - is starting to show its age

VW’s old Passat – launched 15 years ago – is starting to show its age

1. Volkswagen Passat (2005 – 2015): 57.9%

2. Mazda 6 (2007 – 2012): 63.5%

3. Ford Mondeo (2007 – 2014): 64.8%

USED LUXURY CARS

MOST RELIABLE

The previous-generation Mercedes E-Class is the best used luxury car

The previous-generation Mercedes E-Class is the best used luxury car

1.  Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2009 – 2016): 94.0%

2. BMW 5 Series (2010 – 2017): 82.6%

3. Jaguar XJ (2003 – 2009): 82.0%

LEAST RELIABLE

The earlier E-Class isn't faring as well as its successor, according to the rankings

The earlier E-Class isn’t faring as well as its successor, according to the rankings

1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2002 – 2009): 74.9%

2. Jaguar XF (2007 – 2009): 76.5%

3. Audi A6 (2011 – 2018): 76.7%

USED ELECTRIC AND HYBRID CARS

MOST RELIABLE

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid might be almost a decade old but is still going strong

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid might be almost a decade old but is still going strong

1. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2011 – 2020): 100.0%

2. Lexus CT (2011 – present): 98.0%

3. Lexus IS (2013 – present): 97.6%

LEAST RELIABLE

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is popular but also the least dependable used hybrid

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is popular but also the least dependable used hybrid

1. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2014 – present): 87.3%

2. Nissan Leaf (2011 – 2017): 88.4%

3. Lexus RX (2009 – 2016): 96.8%

USED MPVS

MOST RELIABLE

The Ford C-Max, on sale since 2011, has a proven track record of reliability

The Ford C-Max, on sale since 2011, has a proven track record of reliability

1. Ford C-Max (2011 – present): 91.3%

2. Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017): 83.0%

3. BMW 2 Series Active/Gran Tourer (2002 – 2015): 78.3%

LEAST RELIABLE

This generation Zafira is infamous for fires and a generally poor dependability record

This generation Zafira is infamous for fires and a generally poor dependability record

1. Vauxhall Zafira (2008 – 2015): 60.6%

2. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (2014 – present): 61.7%

3. Volkswagen Touran (2003 – 2015): 63.3%

USED CONVERTIBLES, COUPES AND SPORTS CARS 

MOST RELIABLE

The previous-generation Boxster and Cayman have a near-flawless record

The previous-generation Boxster and Cayman have a near-flawless record

1. Porsche Boxster/Cayman (2012 – 2016): 94.7%

2. BMW Z4 (2009 – 2017): 94.1%

3. BMW 4 Series Coupe/Convertible (2014 – present): 93.9%

LEAST RELIABLE

The 997-generation 911 is getting long in the tooth and showing its age

The 997-generation 911 is getting long in the tooth and showing its age

1. Porsche 911 (2004 – 2011): 71.9%

2. BMW 6 Series Coupe/Convertible (2011 – 2018): 73.7%

3. Porsche Boxster/Cayman (2004 – 2012): 86.5%

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