Which Cars Are the Most and Least Reliable?

By Lesley Green
cars standing in the showroom-min.jpg
  • Mazda tops the best brands for reliability.
  • Lincoln tops the least reliable brands.
  • Prius drivers say it’s easy being green (and they save on fuel too).

Steady as she goes. There’s something to be said for reliability.

Buying a new car can be costly, and when forking over that type of cash, most drivers expect to be happy with their wheels for years to come. However, not all new cars are trouble-free. Some vehicles have transmission troubles, make weird noises, squeak, leak, or require more than their fair share of maintenance.

With so many auto manufacturers and vehicles to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which dealership is worth visiting. However, a recent ranking of the most and least reliable vehicles by Consumer Reports (CR) might help.

Based on a survey of their subscribers, CR has identified the vehicles they say are more likely to be trouble-free from day one, as well as those that may give you a headache further on down the road.

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Let’s start first with the car brands we all know and love (or hate).

CR’s most and least reliable car brands

Rank Most Reliable Rank Least Reliable
1. Mazda 1. Lincoln
2. Toyota 2. Tesla
3. Lexus 3. Volkswagen
4. Buick 4. Mini
5. Honda 5. Ford (tie)
Cadillac (tie)

Beyond the brands: The most and least reliable vehicles

CR further identifies the specific vehicle make and models they deem the most reliable and least reliable. That is important because "a vehicle's reliability can seriously affect how satisfied you'll be with a car over the years, and it can significantly influence resale value when you're ready to replace the vehicle."

Rank Most Reliable Rank Least Reliable
1. Toyota Prius 1. Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500
2. Lexus NX 2. Subaru Ascent
3. Buick Encore 3. Volkswagen Atlas
4. Lexus GX 4. Jeep Compass
5. Honda HR-V 5. Volvo XC90
6. Toyota Prius Prime 6. Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
7. Hyundai Kona 7. Tesla Model S
8. Audi A5 8. Jeep Wrangler
9. Audi A4 9. Ford EcoSport
10. Mazda CX-5 10. Volvo XC60

In the market to buy a new car this year?

Knowing about a vehicle's reliability is certainly one component of making a better buying decision, but so too is knowing how much that vehicle will cost you to insure. Year after year, for the lifetime that you own the vehicle, you'll need auto insurance, and you'll want to factor this cost into your buying decision as well.