Manufacturers spend countless hours and millions of pounds ensuring their cars are as reliable as possible. Despite their efforts, unforeseen breakdowns can still occur. Using data from JD Power we’ve put together a list of the most dependable cars across a range of categories – from city cars to luxury saloons – to help you avoid getting too acquainted with the hard shoulder.
Entrants are ranked by how well they perform in 177 separate categories designed to judge the reliability of everything from their engine and gearbox, to bodywork, handling, infotainment and interior build quality. Cars selected for these tests were all between one and three years old.
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Most reliable city car – Kia Picanto
The Kia Picanto is a cheap and cheerful city that’s available with either three or five doors, a pair of efficient petrol engines and Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranty. It might not be as comfortable as the platform-sharing Hyundai i10 and its 200-litre boot can’t quite match the Volkswagen Up’s 251-litre load bay but, if you’re looking for a reliable runabout with a well built interior and sharp styling, the Picanto is hard to beat.
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Second place – Suzuki Alto
The Suzuki Alto is both cheap to run and manoeuvrable but many rivals offer a better blend of boot space, build quality and everyday usability. It has, nevertheless, been ranked as the UK’s second most reliable city car.
Third Place – Volkswagen Up
The Volkswagen Up has a spacious interior, clean modern looks and scores a respectable third place in the J.D. Power survey. It might be more expensive than some rivals but it offers a surprisingly refined driving experience for such a small car.
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Most reliable small car – Skoda Fabia
The Skoda Fabia is the most reliable small car currently on sale in the UK – beating the Volkswagen Polo on which it’s based. It boasts both a spacious cabin, good levels of standard equipment and an accomplished chassis that rides well with good refinement. Additionally, its 330-litre boot is one of the largest in the small car class.
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Second place – Volkswagen Polo
The Volkswagen Polo is similarly sized to the Skoda Fabia but loses out on first place to its Czech rival. The Polo does, however, offer a range of economical engines and a high-quality cabin with plenty of equipment as standard.
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Third place – Nissan Juke, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa
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Most reliable compact car – Toyota Auris
The most reliable compact car honour goes to 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.
Second place – Skoda Octavia
The Skoda Octavia secures second place in this list. Its well-built interior, impressive boot space and decent standard equipment make it an excellent family car, especially when paired with an efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine – this unit can return fuel economy of 88mpg.
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Third place – Hyundai i30
Not only is the Hyundai i30 a great value family hatchback with stylish looks and decent levels of refinement, but it has also proved to be one of the most reliable cars in the UK. As an added bonus, it’s available with Hyundai’s impressive five-year unlimited mileage warranty, too.
Most reliable small MPV – Ford B-Max
The Ford B-Max is a practical MPV with a clever sliding rear door that offers unrivalled access to the rear seats. It’s slightly more expensive than its main rivals but it does come with a raft of safety equipment as standard, surprisingly enjoyable handling and a class-leading reliability score – an important consideration for many families.
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Second place – Nissan Note
The Nissan Note’s main selling points are its selection of efficient engines – including a diesel capable of returning 80mpg – and its spacious interior. Its handling isn’t quite class-leading but it’s smooth, comfortable and quieter behind the wheel than many rivals.
Third place – Honda Jazz
The latest Honda Jazz is an economical small car that boasts numerous improvements over the old model. It’s not just larger, but offers better fuel economy and a smarter interior than the car it replaces.
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Most reliable compact SUV – Skoda Yeti
The Skoda Yeti serves up a tempting blend of good build quality, decent practicality and impressive off-road ability in 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. A more rugged version, dubbed the Yeti Outdoor, is offered for drivers looking for even more focussed off-road ability.
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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 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan.
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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 midsize car – Vauxhall Insignia
The Vauxhall Insignia takes top spot as the most reliable midsize 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.
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Second place – Mercedes C-Class
Second place in the midsize car class goes to the Mercedes C-Class – a luxurious saloon that’s given the previously class-leading BMW 3 Series a bloody nose with its superior cabin and more comfortable driving experience.
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Third place – Ford Mondeo
The latest Ford Mondeo offers both better build quality and a selection of more efficient engines than the old model. It costs approximately the same as a Volkswagen Passat or Mazda 6 but top-spec models make a cheaper alternative to the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4.
Most reliable luxury car – Mercedes Benz E-Class
The all-new Mercedes E-Class has recently gone on sale but the old model was crowned the most reliable luxury car in the UK. It’s too early to tell if the new model can live up to its predecessor’s dependable reputation but, in terms of refinement and cabin quality, the new version easily pulls ahead of its BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 rivals.
Second Place – Jaguar XF
The Jaguar XF is not only the second most reliable luxury car on sale in the UK, but it offers sharp styling, enjoyable handling and cheap running costs. As a result, it’s a serious player in the executive car class.
Third place – BMW 5 Series
An all-new BMW 5 Series will be launched in 2017 but the current 5 Series is one of the most reliable large cars on sale today. Its blend of economical engines, a well built interior and fun handling make it a great executive car, too.
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