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. To help you avoid these things, carwow has compiled the definitive list of the most reliable cars currently on sale, using the latest customer satisfaction survey from JD Power.
The study found that Hyundai is the most reliable manufacturer overall, with Suzuki and Kia nabbing the silver and bronze medals respectively. Meanwhile, the least reliable brands include Fiat, Audi and BMW. The most severe problem faced by car owners has been their engine failing to start (pretty major, right?), while connectivity issues with mobile phone mirroring systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among the most frequent.
Most reliable city car: Hyundai i10
The Hyundai i10’s reliability is simply top-notch, making it one of the best city cars currently on the market. Its cabin is roomier than alternatives like the Volkswagen Up’s, while it’s smooth and easy to drive in towns. It can be pretty noisy and jerky on the motorway, though.
Second place: Kia Picanto
The Kia Picanto is ideal if you want years of trouble-free motoring. Not only is it as reliable as a Swiss watch, but, even if something does go wrong, you get an industry-leading seven-year warranty to fall back on. The Picanto’s tiny dimensions make it ideal for the city, yet it’s also pretty practical. Unfortunately, its suspension can’t handle larger bumps and, like many city cars, the Picanto feels underpowered outside of towns.
Third place: Vauxhall Viva
Who would have thought that the humble Vauxhall Viva would be the third-most reliable small car you can buy? Its 1.0-litre, 74hp engine makes it – much like its alternatives – nippy in town, but rather gutless on the motorway. Also, while the Vauxhall is actually pretty well built, the cheap and hard-touch interior materials mean that it doesn’t necessarily feel it.
Most reliable midsized car: Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
If you want a car with all the kit, build quality and inoffensive looks of a premium saloon, but don’t want to pay premium saloon money, then the Vauxhall Insignia should be your port of call. Starting with a sub-£20,000 price tag, it’s superb value, balancing generous kit with reliability to make sure that your money goes as far as possible. Sadly, if you’re on the lookout for some good interior space, alternatives have it pipped.
Second place: Jaguar XE
The Jaguar XE is an alternative to sporty saloons, such as the BMW 3 Series, that’s fun-to-drive, good looking and – most importantly of all here – well-built. Whether you’re driving or just relaxing as a passenger, the Jaguar’s a class act – albeit one that goes without the high-tech kit you get in an Audi or BMW.
Third place: Ford Mondeo
It may not appeal to badge snobs, but the Ford Mondeo is a viable alternative to the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. It’s comfier and smoother than those German peers and – if you go for a diesel or 1.5-litre petrol engine – proves very cheap to run. It’s a sturdy, dependable hatchback that makes for a good all-rounder, but one that’ll never be as desirable as the flashy competition.
Most reliable compact car: Skoda Octavia
In terms of practicality and reliability, the Skoda Octavia is beyond reproach, especially when compared with such alternatives as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. It has an incredibly spacious cabin and feels very well-built. On the road, it’s cheap to run and, if you’re cruising on the motorway, soaks up miles with ease. That said, it is starting to feel a little dated on the inside.
Second place: Kia Ceed
The Kia Ceed may not be as fun as a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, but its user-friendliness more than makes up for that. The boot is generously sized, it has a good amount of standard equipment across the range and its 1.6-litre diesel engine is very economical. It’s not a laugh to drive, but it’s a very dependable car.
Third place: Hyundai i30
Inside and out, the Hyundai i30 is about as exciting as watching paint dry. However, don’t hold that against it – this is a comfy cruiser that, on the motorway, can hold its own against other small family hatchbacks. It’s ideal for the long term, too, with proven reliability and an all-around spacious cabin.
Most reliable small car: Peugeot 208
Cards on the table: the Peugeot 208 is not a fun car to drive, paling in comparison to such alternatives as the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. Still, this small hatchback redeems itself with a generous safety kit and an accommodating interior. The 208 is cheap to buy as well, ensuring that your money will go a very long way.
Second place: Hyundai i20
If you skip the entry-level S trim and shoot straight for the subsequent SE version, the Hyundai i20 is a safe, well-equipped, nippy and well-priced hatchback. Its long-term appeal is helped even further by a generous five-year warranty, which eclipses that of most alternatives.
Third place: Toyota Yaris
The Toyota Yaris is the last word in solid family hatchbacks. It won’t cost much to run, thanks to its hybrid system – very rare in this class. If you frequently commute through towns for work or school, this is the ideal car for you.
Most reliable compact SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan
The Volkswagen Tiguan costs a little more than its alternatives – which include the Peugeot 3008 – but, for the money, you get an SUV that’s roomy, practical, dependable and easy-to-drive. Its high driving position and generous visibility make it a capable vehicle in town, while the VW can also be bought with a 2.0-litre diesel engine that’s ideal for motorways and towing.
Second place: Hyundai Tucson
The Hyundai Tucson is a small SUV designed with day-to-day usage very much in mind. It has a ton of standard equipment, the cabin and boot are both spacious, and it feels comfortable to drive on the open road. The suspension is smooth on motorways and, in town, the height and visibility are very handy. It’s not quite as practical as a Skoda Kodiaq, though.
Third place: Nissan X-Trail
Since being updated in 2017, the Nissan X-Trail has enjoyed status as a practical and roomy alternative to the Skoda Kodiaq and Peugeot 5008. On the road, it isn’t as economical as some of its contemporaries, but it’s certainly adaptable. The 1.6-litre diesel engine can feel nippy in town and has enough strength for fast overtaking on the motorway.
Most reliable small SUV: Skoda Yeti
Despite being replaced by the Skoda Karoq, the Skoda Yeti remains a reliable choice for those looking for a used SUV. Its interior is both packed with kit – even on the entry-level trim – and spacious. Another pro is that its boxy body shape gives it a boot bigger than most alternatives’. That said, the Yeti’s 1.2-litre, 104hp engine isn’t the gutsiest and you’ll definitely hear it working hard on the motorway.
Second place: Vauxhall Mokka X
While the vast majority of small SUVs emphasise practicality over driving proficiency, the Vauxhall Mokka X is the polar opposite. It is an extremely easy car to drive, with lots of conveniences and kit, as well as nippy petrol engines. Although, you may struggle to get comfy inside. The back seats feel cramped and the boot doesn’t have the generous storage space of the alternatives.
Third place: Renault Captur
It’s give-and-take with the Renault Captur: inside, it’s practical and feels better built in places than alternatives such as the SEAT Arona. However, the SEAT feels more secure in corners. This is because, while the Captur is at home in towns, it suffers from wind whistle and tyre noise at higher speeds.
Most reliable large luxury car: Mercedes E-Class Saloon
The Mercedes E-Class Saloon is an exercise in pure splendour. With its universal comfort, well-built interior and smart technology, it has a sense of ceremony that outdoes even the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series. On the road, the E-Class is smooth and consistently pleasant to drive – even if it isn’t quite as fun as the alternatives.
Second place: Jaguar XF
The Jaguar XF is a high-end saloon that is – quite simply – just damn good-looking. That’s true of the exterior and the interior – the latter getting an excellent, but optional, infotainment system. It’s cool to drive, not only because of the luxury it offers, but because of its smooth suspension and quiet cabin. Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, you’d be hard-pressed to have a bad time in this car.