Most reliable car brands

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Most reliable car brands

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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.

 

To see the car manufacturers behind the scores in the table, try Which for £1. If you're already a member, you can log-in to unlock the table.

2016 Car brand reliability league table
RankCar manufacturerCustomer scoreReliability
1Medium car logo88%
2Medium car logo84%
3Medium car logo88%
4Medium car logo90%
5Medium car logo82%
6Medium car logo86%
7Medium car logo86%
8Medium car logo99%
9Medium car logo80%
10Medium car logo79%
11Medium car logo88%
12Medium car logo80%
13Medium car logo84%
14Medium car logo85%
15Medium car logo83%
16Medium car logo81%
17Medium car logo80%
18Medium car logo80%
19Medium car logo89%
20Medium car logo81%
21Medium car logo92%
22Medium car logo73%
23Medium car logo80%
24Medium car logo73%
25Medium car logo78%
26Medium car logo79%
27Medium car logo84%
28Medium car logo77%
29Medium car logo71%
30Medium car logo81%
31Medium car logo84%
32Medium car logo74%
33Medium car logo68%
34Medium car logo86%