You might expect a new car to work perfectly and be completely reliable, but despite manufacturers’ best efforts, breakdowns, glitches and problems can still occur. We’ve compiled a list of the most reliable cars on sale using 2017’s JD Power data to help you pick a car that shouldn’t leave you stranded by the side of the road.
Cars are ranked in 177 different categories to find out how reliable components such as the engine and gearbox are. The survey also includes bodywork, handling, interior build quality and how well technology such as the infotainment system works.
The most problematic areas in 2017 were car exteriors, including any scratches and light bulbs not not working. Next on the list were interior and technology-related problems – infotainment and Bluetooth troubles are all too common.
The brands that have topped the reliability chart this year are Kia, Volvo and Skoda, while Land Rover, Audi and BMW occupy the bottom three places. This suggests these manufacturers are the least reliable, but because they’re premium brands it could be that buyers are more likely to expect the cars to be faultless and could report issues more frequently.
Most reliable city car – Peugeot 108
The Peugeot 108 is one of the most stylish city cars, but it shows that you don’t have to choose style over substance even in this sector. It shares its underpinnings with the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1, has smart looks and is well equipped, all with the assurance that it won’t cause you too many problems with reliability.
Second place – Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10 has a good amount of standard safety kit and it’s very comfortable. Despite the interior not being quite up to the same standard as some rivals, the i10 is a very good small car – especially because the JD Power survey puts it in second in this category.
Third place (tied) – Kia Picanto
The new Kia Picanto is well-equipped for a city car and represents good value. Its boot is about 50 litres smaller than the Volkswagen Up and the interior is plasticky, but the Kia claws some points back with its leading seven-year warranty, efficient engines and solid reliability.
Third Place (tied) – Volkswagen Up
The Volkswagen Up is one of the very best city cars, with a refined driving experience, lots of interior space and nice styling. It is one of the most expensive cars of this size, but the reliability of the Up is another point in its favour.
Most reliable small car – Skoda Fabia
The most reliable small car is the Skoda Fabia. It also features a spacious interior, a chassis that provides a refined and capable driving experience and quite a lot of standard technology. It beat the Volkswagen Polo that it’s based on, and also has one of the biggest boots of any small car.
Second place – Suzuki Swift
The latest Suzuki Swift is more spacious than its predecessor, as well as being better looking and still fun to drive. That makes it one of the best cars to drive in its class, and the 2017 JD Power results suggest it’s one of the most reliable cars on sale too.
Third place – Hyundai i20
The Hyundai i20 is a genuine rival for the best superminis on sale, with the added bonuses of being cheaper and having a longer warranty. It’s good to drive, spacious and well-equipped, even though the interior isn’t as well-built as the class-leading VW Polo.
Most reliable compact car – Volvo V40
The Volvo V40 has been around for a little while now, but it’s still one of the safest and the most reliable compact cars on sale. It’s more stylish than the Ford Focus, is comfortable for long drives and is reasonably fun to drive. Despite the many buttons, the interior is a calm and premium-feeling place to sit.
Second place – Mazda 3
The Mazda 3 is a viable alternative to the usual family hatchbacks. It looks sporty, comes with lots of standard equipment, and even has a five-star safety rating. It’s not the most practical car, but it could well be worth considering if you’re after a car of this size.
Third place – Toyota Auris
The third most reliable compact car is the Toyota Auris – an affordable hatchback that makes a decent family car thanks to its spacious interior, good standard equipment and low running costs. It doesn’t boast particularly eye-catching styling and isn’t the most exciting car to drive but, in terms of reliability, it edges ahead of rivals from Ford, Volkswagen and Kia.
Most reliable small MPV – Vauxhall Meriva
Despite recently being discontinued, the Vauxhall Meriva is still the most reliable small MPV among cars that are between one and three years old. It has clever doors to allow easy access to the rear seats, and provides a comfortable and practical package that’s a good choice for small families.
Second place – Ford B-Max
Ford’s B-Max has a lot going for it. It comes with a lot of standard-fit safety equipment, it handles almost as well as the fun little Fiesta and reliability is outstanding. It also has clever sliding rear doors that make getting into the back seats really easy.
Third place – Honda Jazz
If you’re after a practical, economical small car, the Honda Jazz should be on your shortlist. It’s far better than the old model in terms of fuel economy, interior quality, size and reliability.
The J.D. Power reliability survey requires four or more models to have a 67% share of the market to be able to present an award. In 2017 this didn’t happen in the Compact SUV market, but the 2016 winners should still be very reliable.
Most reliable compact SUV 2016 – Skoda Yeti
The Skoda Yeti Outdoor serves up a tempting blend of good build quality, decent practicality and impressive off-road ability in a dependable package. Its chunky styling and sturdy interior will appeal to families, as will the fact it tops the SUV tables in terms of reliability.
Second place – Volkswagen Tiguan
The previous-generation Volkswagen Tiguan proved reliable enough to take second place in the compact SUV category. It’s worth noting this score was achieved by the previous generation model but bodes well for the new Volkswagen Tiguan.
Third place – Vauxhall Mokka
The Vauxhall Mokka can’t quite match class-leading compact SUVs in terms of refinement or efficiency, but scores particularly well in terms of reliability. This high-riding SUV gets an excellent safety record and takes an impressive third place in its class.
Most reliable mid-size car – Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport takes top spot as the most reliable mid-size car currently on sale. Not only can it be specified as a saloon or a practical estate, but its interior is well-built and it represents good value for money. The Insignia makes a capable motorway cruiser, too, thanks to its quiet cabin and efficient diesel engines.
Second place – Volkswagen Passat
The VW Passat is a sensible saloon with impressive interior quality. At this price, the VW has one of the best cabins on the market, with lots of soft-touch materials and a smart, simple-to-use touchscreen. The new Passat is bigger inside than the old model and the diesel engines are economical.
Third place – Mercedes C-Class
Third place in the mid-size car class goes to the Mercedes C-Class – a premium-feeling and luxurious saloon that’s good enough to recommend over the BMW 3 Series thanks to a posher-feeling cabin and more comfortable driving experience.
Most reliable luxury car – Jaguar XF
The Jaguar XF is not only the most reliable luxury car on sale in the UK, but also one of the most stylish, fun to drive and cheapest to run. As a result, it’s a serious player in the executive car class.
Second Place – Mercedes E-Class
The new Mercedes E-Class has lived up to the previous generation by being one of the most reliable luxury cars in the UK. In terms of refinement and cabin quality, the new version easily pulls ahead of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.
Third place – BMW 5 Series
The new BMW 5 Series has only recently been launched, but it continues to be as reliable as its predecessor. Its interior is special, the engines are economical yet characterful and it won’t embarrass itself down a twisty B-road. It’s still one of the very best executive cars.