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What are the Most Reliable Car Brands?

By Autolist Staff | January 7, 2020

When it comes to buying a new car, everyone has their criteria. Some buyers want a safe vehicle, others wish for added performance for a specific purpose, and still, others want a new car with the latest technology. However, most people want reliable vehicles that they won't have to be taking to the shop continually. There's no doubt that some brands are more reliable than others. J.D. Power rates the most reliable vehicles using a one-to-five scale.

Consumer Reports tracks the most reliable car brands. According to that publication, Toyota and Lexus are consistently among the most reliable car brands.

JD Power Noteworthy Brand Rankings for 2018

Lexus

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The brand that consistently sits atop the Consumer Reports rankings with its top vehicle listed as the Lexus GX. It achieves a 4.5 average reliability score, and only a few vehicles drop below four out of five. Some of the higher ranked Lexus vehicles include the ES, RX and NX.

Porsche

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Also achieving a 4.5 out of five average reliability score, Porsche is on the Consumer Reports list as well at number 11. The most reliable model there is listed as the Porsche 911. Porsche only sells a small stable of vehicles with only six on the market for 2018. According to U.S. News, these vehicles sit in the top for cars in their respective markets. None of the Porsche vehicles scored lower than four.

Lincoln

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Also competing in the luxury realm is Lincoln, and the American brand manages a solid 4.0 in average predicted reliability. None of the Lincoln vehicles fall below four in the J.D. Power rankings, but they tend to be outranked by higher performing competition.

Toyota

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Although known for years as one of the most reliable car brands, Toyota only manages a 3.9 as an average score. However, it is listed on the Consumer Reports list at number two with the Prius being the most reliable vehicle. Regardless of this score, Toyota has long been associated with vehicle dependability and is often the brand buyers turn to when they want a reliable new car.

Mercedes-Benz

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Mercedes gets an average reliability score of 3.9, but it is not in the Consumer Reports top-15 list. However, the automaker has a reliable cadre of vehicles with most of them scoring four out of five from J.D. Power.

Buick

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Also sitting at 3.9 is Buick with several premium vehicles to choose. Buick is not on the Consumer Reports top fifteen top reliability list, however. Some of the highest ranking cars for Buick include the Cascada and the Enclave.

Kia

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The Korean automaker is well-known for its strong warranty with its basic one at five years or 60,000 miles and the powertrain at 10 years or 100,000 miles. The average reliability for Kia is 3.8, which puts it slightly above Honda. Consumer Reports puts Kia in at number five on its list with the Kia Sedona as the most reliable model. The Kia Soul is also a top-ranked vehicle, having earned the US News Best Compact Car for the Money award for the 2017 model year. One of the vehicles bringing Kia's score down is the Sedona, which J.D. Power ranks at 2.5 out of five.

BMW

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Just a smidgen above Honda is BMW with an average reliability score of 3.7. BMW also sits at number 8 on the Consumer Reports list with its most reliable vehicle being the BMW i3. All of BMW's vehicles score above average. Among the highest ranked is the 4 Series and the X6 midsize SUV.

Honda

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Ranking slightly above Chevrolet with an average reliability score of 3.6, Honda is also listed at 15 in the Consumer Reports list of the most reliable car brands. According to that publication, the most reliable Honda model is the Fit. Bringing Honda's score down is the Odyssey minivan, which ranks only 2.5 out of five. On the higher end of the rankings is the Honda Ridgeline pickup, which ranks 4.5 and is considered one of the top trucks on the market.

Chevrolet

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Upon averaging the individual reliability scores of Chevy vehicles, the brand achieves an average of 3.5 out of five. That makes the Chevy brand above average for reliability. For example, the Corvette's reliability is about average, but the subcompact Sonic brings the rate up with a four out of five reliability score.

Consumer Reports Top 15 Brands for 2018

Every year, Consumer Reports releases a comprehensive list for the most reliable car brands and the vehicles within. It's a handy guide for car buyers who are looking for the most reliable brands. Lexus and Toyota have been at the top of the list for six straight years including 2018. Lexus was given an average reliability score of 78 out of 100 while Toyota got 76. Mazda jumped the highest in the reliability rankings to sit at third place. , and they also hold a total of 11 out of the top 15. There are no American brands in the top 15 of this list, and nine brands are among the 10 least reliable. The following is the full list of Consumer Reports top 15 most reliable brands with reliability scores out of 100:

  1. Lexus - 78
  2. Toyota - 76
  3. Mazda - 69
  4. Subaru - 65
  5. Kia - 61
  6. Infiniti - 61
  7. Audi - 60
  8. BMW - 58
  9. Mini - 57
  10. Hyundai - 57
  11. Porsche - 54
  12. Genesis - 52
  13. Acura - 51
  14. Nissan -51
  15. Honda - 50

In the case of Nissan and Honda, the luxury brands from these companies score higher than their flagship brand. It's easy to see why Toyota and Lexus hold their reputation for being extremely reliable vehicles. There is almost a 10 point difference between second-place Toyota and third-place Mazda.

Ten Least Reliable Brands

According to Consumer Reports, the following vehicle brands are the least reliable brands on the market:

  1. Lincoln
  2. Dodge
  3. Jeep
  4. Chevrolet
  5. Chrysler
  6. GMC
  7. Ram
  8. Tesla
  9. Cadillac
  10. Volvo

When it comes to American automakers, Ford is the highest ranked by Consumer Reports, sitting at the 18th spot overall.

2018 Most Reliable Vehicles

In addition to ranking the most reliable brands, Consumer Reports also has data on the most reliable individual vehicles, including these top ten:

  1. Lexus GX
  2. Toyota Prius C
  3. Toyota Prius Prime
  4. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  5. Toyota Corolla
  6. Lexus NX
  7. Toyota Prius
  8. Honda Fit
  9. Kia Sedona
  10. Toyota Highlander

With this list, it's easy to see why Toyota and Lexus dominate the top spots with so many reliable vehicles. Combined, the brands also take six out of 19 total categories from J.D. Power.

2018 Least Reliable Vehicles

Along with the lowest ranked brands, Consumer Reports lists the least reliable vehicles as well. The ten worst cars include:

  1. Honda Odyssey
  2. Volkswagen Atlas
  3. Buick Enclave
  4. Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD
  5. Kia Cadenza
  6. Chevrolet Traverse
  7. Honda Clarity
  8. Cadillac ATS
  9. Tesla Model X
  10. Ram 3500

It's worth noting that J.D. Power ranks vehicles by category, so some of the vehicles that win categories there may still belong to the lowest rated brands in terms of overall reliability. For example, the Odyssey is the top performer in the minivan category there despite being ranked as one of Consumer Reports least reliable vehicles.