Top 10 most reliable cars to buy

Every car buyer wants a reliable car but how do you judge a car’s reliability before you’ve bought it? The Driver Power survey has the answer…


Modern cars go through strict development and testing processes before they go on sale to ensure that they’ll carry on working as they should for many years to come. Despite this, some cars still end up proving far more reliable than others, making reliability one of the most important factors for people buying a new or used car. If you’re looking for a reliable car our list, powered by first hand data from owners in the Driver Power survey, is a must read. 

Whether you’re buying new or second hand, large or small, expensive or cheap, the one thing everyone wants is a reliable car. No amount of technology, performance, luxury materials or drop-dead gorgeous design will help you if your new vehicle won’t start, breaks down with monotonous regularity or racks up painful repair bills. 

Reliability might seem a little boring but it’s absolutely essential if you’re going to get the most out of your car. The problem is that trying to discern which cars will be reliable and which won’t is far from easy. Car reliability is difficult to gauge until you’ve bought the car and are experiencing it first hand, unless you ask thousands of car owners who have already done the legwork for you. This is exactly what the Driver Power car customer satisfaction survey does every year. 

• Click here to take our Driver Power survey right now

How we found the most reliable cars

Once again motorists from across the UK have told us what they think about the cars they own in the Driver Power survey and we collect the information to equip our readers with the inside story on the most reliable cars on sale. Knowing which cars or car brands are vulnerable to electrical and/or mechanical faults is highly valuable. Even if you’ve already purchased one of the cars below, this list could prove vital in identifying potential faults that could save you money in the future.

Our most reliable new cars results are based on the latest Driver Power survey data for cars that are currently available to buy new. Owners were asked about their satisfaction with the standards of build quality and reliability in the cars they own and drive every day, making the resulting data an invaluable tool for car buyers.

When buying a new car, few expect there to be any issues at all but even with our top ten most reliable new cars, faults can still occur. That being said, it is usually around the three- to six-year mark (once the manufacturer’s warranty on most models has expired) that cars can develop more serious issues and buying a brand new car is a good way to side-step this more risky ownership period.  

Scroll down to find out the top 10 cars when it comes to reliability in reverse order…

The top 10 most reliable new cars

10. Volvo XC40 – 94.20%

First up in 10th place is the Volvo XC40. The small Swedish SUV was the number one most reliable car in the 2020 Driver Power survey and it has performed brilliantly once again, coming 10th for reliability and eighth in the survey overall. A 94.20% score for reliability shows that owners are more than pleased with their XC40s. The new CMA platform appears to be performing without issue, as do the wide range of powertrains available. Looking at the brand as a whole, only a fifth of Volvo owners have reported faults of any kind so any Volvo model you choose should prove to be dependable.

9. Kia Ceed 94.35%

Kia Ceed owners praise their cars for a whole range of different reasons, that’s why it placed as the best compact family car overall in the 2021 Driver Power survey, and reliability is one of its key strengths. With excellent overall quality and little to speak of in the way of faults, the Kia Ceed is a tough competitor in the family hatch market. With just 19% of Kia owners reporting faults, it seems that most Kias offer excellent reliability. 

8. Kia Rio 94.48%

Kia not only won the compact family car class in Driver Power 2021 with the Ceed, but owners of the Rio have also placed it higher up than any other supermini you can buy. Part of this success is down to the Rio’s reliability, although judging by its strong performance across all categories owners find it tough to pick a fault with this Korean supermini in any area. 

7. Peugeot 2008 – 94.53%

There was a time when French cars were a rare sight in the top spots of the Driver Power reliability rankings but the 2008’s seventh place shows those days are over. With an impressive 12th-placed finish overall, the Peugeot 2008 has made its owners more than happy to recommend their French crossovers and reliability appears to be an area it’s especially strong in, evidenced by a 94.53% score. Owners also praised the quality of the interior trim and finish of the materials on the small SUV. 

6. Skoda Karoq – 94.97%

The Skoda Karoq might still be a fairly new model line for the brand but this compact SUV utilises plenty of tried and tested parts from the VW Group so its performance in Driver Power shouldn’t come as a surprise. A sixth place finish for reliability confirms that owners have found little to complain about on that score and In terms of overall quality, the Karoq goes one step further as it placed fifth in that category. It all suggests that while it might be a more value-oriented vehicle than others in the VW stable, the Karoq, crucially, doesn’t feel like one. 

5. Volkswagen T-Roc – 95.02%

The Volkswagen T-Roc came a respectable 24th in the Driver Power 2021 overall standings, which is a respectable showing, but when it comes to reliability in particular there’s not much better out there. Owners think the small German SUV’s exterior quality could be a little better although the interior quality is rated highly. 

4. Lexus NX – 95.04%

Perhaps shockingly, Toyota misses out on any places in the top 10 most reliable cars in 2021. Fortunately for the car building giant, its luxury sub-brand Lexus is still flying the flag with the NX. Lexus’ strong reputation for reliability means that a fourth-placed finish for its NX SUV isn’t surprising, with just 9% of Lexus owners experiencing faults. Like Toyota, Lexus is no stranger to placing well in our reliability rankings and the NX can take home the coveted title of ‘most reliable premium medium SUV’ this time out. 

3. Mazda CX-5 – 95.64%

Taking the bronze-medal position in both the reliability category and the Driver Power survey overall is the Mazda CX-5. This family-friendly SUV scores well across the board but most importantly for owners it places high in the reliability section. Owners also praise the fit and finish of both exterior and interior as well as the materials used. Mazda’s fourth position in the overall best manufacturers list suggests reliability is but one of the Japanese firm’s attributes, too. 

2. Hyundai Kona – 95.75%

The Hyundai Kona’s strong reliability score of 95.71% has helped it come first in this year’s 2021 Driver Power survey overall. Owners pointed out that the build quality was brilliant and with no major faults to speak of, the Hyundai Kona is an easy crossover to recommend. 

1. Skoda Kodiaq – 97.19%

The Skoda Kodiaq has had a brilliant all-round performance in the 2021 Driver Power survey. A sixth-placed finish overall was certainly assisted by its win in the reliability category. With a first position in the overall quality section as well, it’s clear that owners are seriously impressed by this medium-sized SUV.

Most reliable cars 2020: 1-10

So there’s our most reliable cars top 10 in detail. Below you’ll find a table of the Driver Power 2021 reliability results with all of the top 10 plus their respective classes…

Ranking

Model

Class

Reliability Score

1

SKODA KODIAQ

Large SUV

97.19%

2

HYUNDAI KONA

Small SUV

95.75%

3

MAZDA CX-5

Mid-Size SUV

95.64%

4

LEXUS NX

Premium Mid-Size SUV

95.04%

5

VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC

Mid-Size SUV

95.02%

6

SKODA KAROQ

Mid-Size SUV

94.97%

7

PEUGEOT 2008

Small SUV

94.53%

8

KIA RIO

Supermini

94.48%

9

KIA CEED

Compact Family Car

94.35%

10

VOLVO XC40

Premium Small SUV

94.20%

Click here to take our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey right now…

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