Most reliable car brands
By Daljinder Nagra
Most reliable car brands July 2012
Reliability is critical factor for both new and used cars. With the ownership experience of 60,000 drivers, our reliability and satisfaction data is the most robust available.
While there are a number of brands that consistently enjoy a good reliability rating, there are always a few surprises. A premium purchase price is no guarantee of hassle-free ownership, either, and some very popular brands actually perform rather poorly.
Find out which cars excelled in both our survey and tests by heading to our Best Buy reviews.
This year’s winners
Japanese premium marque Lexus keeps its position at the top of the table, with a rock-solid five-star reliability rating. Four out of the five models that we received owner feedback on also received a full five-star rating, and generated relatively low repair bills in the few instances things did go wrong - cementing its position as the most dependable brand there is.
Its NX crossover was also this year’s overall most reliable model, with only two minor faults reported amongst 40 owners.
With such a solid reputation, it’s perhaps no surprise to discover that Lexus’ parent brand Toyota took overall second place for brand reliability. It had a strong showing in this year’s survey, with owners providing detailed feedback on 19 models.
Despite many of these cars being fitted with complex hybrid systems, not one scored less than four out of five stars for reliability, including the last two generations of the popular Prius family car, both of which were awarded full marks.
Making it a top-three dominated by Japanese manufacturers was Honda. Of the thirteen models surveyed, only one – the Honda Accord Tourer (2008-) – was awarded less than four stars for reliability. Repair costs across the board were generally relatively low, too.
…and the losers
Coming in as this year’s least reliable brand was Saab. Having left the UK market after filing for bankruptcy in 2011, the number of models on the road is diminishing, with just the ageing 9-3 Sportwagon estate receiving enough owner feedback for an accurate reliability score.
At two stars, it didn’t do well, and generated expensive repair bills, largely due to issues concerning electric windows and suspension springs.
Narrowly avoiding the bottom spot was Chevrolet, another brand that has withdrawn its UK presence in recent years. Too few owners gave feedback to give accurate reliability data for individual models, but enough faults were identified across the range to award the US brand a two-star reliability rating.
Completing the triumvirate of poor reliability was Smart, whose diminutive ForTwo city car saw the brand earn itself a lowly two-star rating, thanks to relatively high repair bills and a plethora of faults, including engine and electrical issues.
How we work out car reliability
The Which? Car brand reliability score is calculated from the number of breakdowns and faults suffered by all models in the past 12 months, reported to us through the annual Which? Car Survey.
Faults are weighted differently for seriousness - so the more severe the fault and the more time the car is off the road, the harder the model will be hit in our results.
The score for each of these areas are then combined to provide an overall reliability score for each manufacturer, which is represented by a star rating, with one star being the poorest and five the best.