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The most and least reliable car brands and models according to owners

With this month’s arrival of the new ’70’ number plate and dealers slashing prices of cars across their showrooms, plenty of drivers will be considering buying – or financing – a new motor in September.

One of the biggest factors for buyers will be whether the model they choose can last the test of time. Is it dependable, will it start first time every morning or ever leave them stranded by the side of the road and will it cost them an arm and a leg in repair costs?

Fortunately, What Car? has today published the results of its latest reliability survey based on the feedback of almost 13,000 UK owners. 

It found that hybrid cars are among the most dependable and expensive luxury SUVs most commonly have problems – which tend to be expensive to fix. 

Here are the brands and vehicles you should be considering and giving a wide berth this September.

What does a reliable car look like? Cast your eye no further than the super-dependable Toyota Aygo. It is one of three cars on sale today that owners say have a 100% reliability record

The poll asked the thousands of car owners if their motor had gone wrong in the past 12 months, how long repairs took and how much they cost.

An overall reliability score was then given to each brand and model, dictating where it stands in the reliability league table of the latest vehicles.

Only cars up to five years old were covered in the survey. 

This should give a clear indication of how manufacturers are currently performing for reliability and also help motorists choose which specific cars are worth taking a punt on – and those that aren’t.  

Hybrid models came out on top with an average class rating of 96.7 per cent.

The best performing hybrid was the recently discontinued Toyota Yaris (2011-2020), with a score of 99.5 per cent. 

The previous-generation Yaris is soon to be replaced by a new model; this means a potential reliable car bargain for buyers as dealers with existing stock are likely to do a deal on the petrol-electric supermini. 

The lowest ranking hybrid was also a Toyota – the Japanese brand’s current Prius (2016-on) had the worst result, but still received a score of 94.6 per cent.

Hybrids are the most reliable of car class and fuel type, with cars like the Toyota Yaris Hybrid receiving rave reviews from those who live with them day-to-day

Hybrids are the most reliable of car class and fuel type, with cars like the Toyota Yaris Hybrid receiving rave reviews from those who live with them day-to-day

SUVs didn't score so well in What Car?'s Reliability Survey, though not all are liabilities. Take the Porsche Macan for example - it scored a 96.9% reliability rating from its owners

SUVs didn’t score so well in What Car?’s Reliability Survey, though not all are liabilities. Take the Porsche Macan for example – it scored a 96.9% reliability rating from its owners

At the other end of the spectrum, luxury SUVs fared the worst – though still scored a fairly respectable 86.7 per cent overall, proving that not all of them will be a money pit of repair bills and breakdown recovery policy upgrades.  

For instance, the current Porsche Macan (2014-on) mustered a creditable 96.9 per cent, which is higher than the Prius.

However, it was the usual suspects from British brand Land Rover that anchored this segment to last place across all car classes.

The Range Rover Sport (2013-on) was the least dependable luxury SUV with a score of 74.2 per cent, closely followed by the Land Rover Discovery (2015-on) with a 77.9 per cent rating.

Familiar reading: It will come as little shock to petrolheads that Land Rover products are mired down at the bottom of the reliability standings. The Range Rover Sport was voted the least reliable off all models reported on in the poll

Familiar reading: It will come as little shock to petrolheads that Land Rover products are mired down at the bottom of the reliability standings. The Range Rover Sport was voted the least reliable off all models reported on in the poll

It wasn't just the Range Rover Sport that performed poorly for reliability. Owners of Land Rover Discovery models said they encountered plenty of issues too

It wasn’t just the Range Rover Sport that performed poorly for reliability. Owners of Land Rover Discovery models said they encountered plenty of issues too

Although hybrids have the best average reliability rating, some petrol-powered models were among the most reliable. 

The Skoda Citigo (2012-on) and Toyota Aygo (2014-on) were two of three cars to score a 100 per cent reliability rating. 

In third was the Ford C-Max, which bucked the trend for low scores among hard-working MPVs with its perfect score.

Of the 12,892 cars included in the study, 20 per cent of owners said they had experienced at least one fault, with the most common problem a non-electrical engine issue. 

Diesel cars went wrong the most: 33 per cent suffered a fault, compared with 24 per cent of electric cars, 20 per cent of petrols and just 16 per cent of hybrids.

This cemented the findings of a rival survey conducted by Which?. It also found that hybrid cars in general are the most dependable of all fuel types. 

Skoda's fun little Citigo is a cheap and cheerful city car. Owners said they suffered no issues in the last 12 months, giving it a 100% reliability score

Skoda’s fun little Citigo is a cheap and cheerful city car. Owners said they suffered no issues in the last 12 months, giving it a 100% reliability score

Parents were also glowing about the C-Max. While MPVs don't tend to stand up that well in dependability polls, the versatile Ford has been problem free for the last 12 months, say its owners

Parents were also glowing about the C-Max. While MPVs don’t tend to stand up that well in dependability polls, the versatile Ford has been problem free for the last 12 months, say its owners

 Which car brands are best and worst? 

At brand level, Lexus vehicles were found to be most reliable, with a 98.7 per cent reliability rating.

In second place was Mitsubishi, which announced earlier this year that it is pulling its operations from Europe and the UK due to a lack of demand for its latest vehicles.

In third overall was Toyota as Japanese and South Korean brands dominated the top 10 brand reliability rankings, occupying seven of the places. 

Car brands: Most and least reliable 

MOST RELIABLE

1. Lexus – 98.7%

2. Mitsubishi – 97.9%

3. Toyota – 97.7%

4. Mini – 96.8%

5. Skoda – 96.4%

6. Hyundai – 96.3%

7. Kia – 95.9%

8. Honda – 95.3%

9. BMW – 95.2%

10. Mazda – 95.2%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Land Rover – 78.2%

2. Renault – 87.6%

3. Tesla – 88.6%

4. Nissan – 90.1%

5. Vauxhall – 90.1%

6. Mercedes-Benz – 91.0%

7. Peugeot – 91.1%

8. Audi – 91.5%

9. MG – 91.5%

10. Porsche – 91.5%

Source: What Car? Reliability Survey 2020. Results are only for cars up to 5 years old

The worst brand for reliability was – unsurprisingly – Land Rover, with an 78.2 per cent rating, just below Renault.

What might come as shock to many – especially Elon Musk fans and electric-vehicle enthusiasts – is Tesla’s position near the bottom of the reliability league table.

This was heavily weighted by the Model S saloon, although the US brand’s new Model 3 received the highest rating of any executive or electric car reported on.

Commenting on the findings of the reliability survey, Claire Evans, consumer editor of What Car?, said: ‘With nearly 13,000 motorists telling us about their ownership experiences, the What Car? Reliability Survey demonstrates that it’s worth weighing up the desirability of a prospective purchase against its reliability record. 

‘Pick a dependable model that’s also great to drive and the smile it puts on your face will last for years. Pick one with dubious reliability and you’ll be wishing the finance deal would end sooner, so you can replace it.’

To help car buyers decide, we’ve listed below the three most and least dependable models in each vehicle category… 

Buying a new car in a specific class? These are the models that came top and bottom for reliability… 

VALUE & SMALL CARS – 95.5% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

=1. Skoda Citigo (2012-on) – 100%

=1. Toyota Aygo (2014-on) – 100%

3. VW Up! (2012-on) – 99.4%

LEAST RELIABLE

=1. Dacia Sandero (2013-on) – 85.9%

=1. Suzuki Ignis (2016-on) – 85.9%

3. Kia Picanto (2017-on) – 88.3%

FAMILY CARS – 93.0% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. BMW 1 Series diesel (2011-2019) –  99.2%

2. Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2010-on) – 98.6%

3. Skoda Octavia petrol (2013-2020) – 97.5% 

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Seat  Leon (2013-2020) – 82.7%

2. Peugeot 308 (2013-on) – 83.3%

3. VW Golf diesel (2013-2020) – 83.6% 

EXECUTIVE CARS – 93.6% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Skoda Superb petrol (2016-on) – 98.3%

2. Mazda 6 (2013-on) – 87.4%

3. Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017) – 97.8%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Mercedes C-Class (2014-on) – 87.3%

2. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport (2017-on) – 87.4%

3. Audi A4 diesel (2015-on) – 89.8%

LUXURY CARS – 91.5% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. BMW 5 Series (2010-2017) – 96.7% 

2. Mercedes E-Class (2009-2016) – 96.1%

3. BMW 5 Series (2017-on) – 95.2%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Audi A6 (2011-2018) – 70.6%

2. Jaguar XJ (2010-on) – 86.6%

3. Volvo S90 & V90 (2016-on) – 90.7%

SMALL SUVS – 94.4% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Mini Countryman (2017-on) – 98.3%

2. Mazda CX-3 (2016-on) – 98.0%

3. VW T-Roc (2017-on) – 96.0%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Honda HR-V (2015-on) – 90.2%

2. Suzuki Vitara (2015-on) – 92.8%

3. Nissan Juke (2010-2019) – 94.2%

FAMILY SUVS – 93.4% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. BMW X1 petrol (2015-on) – 98.1%

2. Skoda Karoq petrol (2017-on) – 97.7%

3. Vauxhall Mokka petrol (2012-2019) – 97.7%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Range Rover Evoque (2011-2019) – 82.8%

2. Nissan Qashqai (2014-on) – 87.0%

3. Jaguar E-Pace (2017-on) – 88.4%

LARGE SUVS – 91.2% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Ford Kuga (2013-2020) – 97.8%

2. Mazda CX-5 petrol (2017-on) – 96.9%

3. Skoda Kodiaq petrol (2016-on) – 96.5%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport (2014-2019) – 73.1%

2. Nissan X-Trail (2014-on) – 87.6%

3. BMW X6 (2014-2019) – 88.2%

LUXURY SUVS – 86.7% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Porsche Macan (2014-on) – 96.9%

2. Audi Q7 (2015-on) – 94.0%

3. Mercedes GLE (2015-2019) – 92.8%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Range Rover Sport (2013-on) – 74.2%

2. Land Rover Discovery (2015-on) – 77.9%

3. Range Rover Velar (2017-on) – 81.9%

ELECTRIC CARS – 93.4% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Tesla Model 3 (2019-on) – 99.4%

2. Hyundai Kona (2018-on) – 98.5%

3. BMW i3 (2013-on) – 97.9%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Tesla Model S (2014-on) – 85.7%

2. MG ZS EV (2019-on) – 89.4%

3. Nissan Leaf (2011-2017) – 95.6%

HYBRID CARS – 96.7% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Toyota Yaris (2011-2020) – 99.5%

2. Lexus NX (2014-on) – 99.3%

3. Toyota RAV4 (2019-on) – 99.2%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Toyota Prius (2016-on) – 94.6%

2. VW Golf GTE (2013-2020) – 94.8%

3. Toyota CH-R (2016-on) – 95.6%

MPVS – 91.9% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

1. Ford C-Max (2011-on) – 100%

2. BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Grand Tourer (2015-on) – 94.4%

3. Mercedes B-Class (2012-2019) – 93.1%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Seat Alhambra (2011-2020) – 70.8%

2. Ford S-Max (2015-on) – 86.5%

3. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso (2014-on) – 91.0%

COUPES, CONVERTIBLES & SPORTS CARS – 92.8% OVERALL

MOST RELIABLE

=1. BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible (2014-on) – 97.4%

=1. VW Arteon (2017-on) – 97.4%

3. BMW 4 Series Coupe/Convertible (2014-on) – 95.3%

LEAST RELIABLE

1. Porsche 718 Cayman (2016-on) – 82.5%

2. Porsche Panamera (2016-on) – 84.5%

3. Porsche 911 (2012-2019) – 90.1%

Source: What Car? Reliability Survey 2020. Results are only for cars up to 5 years old

Bracket dates signify years the vehicle was on sale with ‘-on’ dictating those currently sold in showrooms today

Unless a fuel type (petrol, diesel or hybrid) is identified after the model name, the reliability score is for all powertrains across the model range 

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