Toyota was in second place with a 97.4% brand reliability
A poll has revealed which are the most and least reliable cars in the UK.
The survey by What Car? polled a total of 21,732 owners, covering 32 mainstream brands and 178 different models based on cars up to five years old.
Owners were asked if their vehicle had suffered any faults in the previous 24 months.
Those that had gone wrong over the last two years were given a calculated rating based on how long repairs took and how much they cost, with the overall score expressed as a percentage.
Overall, 21% of all owners said the car had experienced issues in the past two years, although 83% of repairs were carried out for free.
While most repair bills cost less than £500, two per cent of owners had to pay more than £1,500 to get their cars fixed and back on the road.
Here are the most and least reliable brands as well as the models you should be considering when looking for your next car.
Which is the Most Reliable Car Brand?
At 98.3%, Lexus achieved the highest brand rating.
This is bolstered by its SUV NX model (2014-2021), which scored 99.8%, and the RX (2016-2022), which was rated 98.6%.
Toyota was in second place with a 97.4% brand reliability, with its RAV4 (2019-present) having a 98.7% dependability rating.
While many of the most reliable car brands are Japanese, Mini has infiltrated the order with a 97.2% manufacturer score for reliability.
This is partially helped by solid showing from its Mini Electric hatchback (2022-present) with a 97.6% mark.
On the other hand, Cupra received the lowest brand reliability score of 82.4% with many owners complaining their cars had been plagued by a range of electrical issues that had left them in the workshop for more than a week.
Most Reliable Car Brands
- Lexus: 98.3%
- Toyota: 97.4%
- Mini: 97.2%
- Suzuki: 96.9%
- Mitsubishi: 96.2%
- Honda: 95.9%
- Hyundai: 94.3%
- Kia: 93.8%
- Volvo: 93.7%
- Tesla: 93.6%
Least Reliable Car Brands
- Cupra: 82.4%
- Alfa Romeo: 85.6%
- Vauxhall: 86.9%
- Jaguar: 87.4%
- Land Rover: 87.6%
- Subaru: 89.0%
- Audi: 89.1%
- MG: 89.2%
- Mercedes-Benz: 89.8%
- Renault: 90.0%
High Hybrid Scores
Across the different fuel types, hybrids came out on top.
Just 17% of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and 18% of self-charging hybrids surveyed a fault in the last two years.
Hybrids were also the cheapest type of car to repair – all PHEVs were fixed for free, along with 94 per cent of conventional hybrids.
Petrol models were only slightly less reliable, with a fault rate of 20%, while electric cars and diesels had the joint-highest fault rate of 26%
This is despite the fact EVs have far fewer moving mechanical parts.
That said, most issues with electric cars involved touchscreen systems and other electrical problems inside the cabin.
Claire Evans, consumer editor for What Car? said:
“These results demonstrate that the complexity of a hybrid powertrain is not a barrier to reliability.
“Conversely, electric models, with their simpler set-up can let their owners down.”
“However, in many cases it’s not the electric motors or battery banks that prove troublesome, it’s other electrical items such as infotainment systems, digital instrument panels and driver assistance systems that have given owners the biggest headaches.
“If you’re thinking of switching to a pure electric car, check its reliability rating before you buy to ensure you get a dependable model.”
That said, some EVs are proof that battery cars can be very dependable.
For example, the Ford Mustang Mach-E achieved a perfect reliability rating of 100% and the BMW iX3 was a close second at 99.3%.
Small & Value Cars – 95.1%
Suzuki Swift (2017-present): 99.5%
Just four per cent of Swift owners said their car had a reliability problem in the last two years.
And this is mostly due to interior trim issues. Fixing them was quick and free of charge.
Audi A1 (2018-present): 87.3%
The A1 is a model at the steeper end of pricing for superminis but that does not guarantee it will be reliable.
In fact, a quarter of A1 owners said their cars had gone wrong in the last 24 months and the problems were not easy or cheap to fix.
Although half of the repairs were carried out for free, a quarter of them cost between £201 and £500, and the other 25% exceeded £1,500.
Family Cars – 90.1%
BMW 1 Series (2011-2019): 100%
For second-hand buyers in particular, the previous-generation 1 Series will make a solid used car option.
That’s because not a single owner responding to the survey reported their cars as having suffered any faults at all over the previous 24 months.
Audi A3 Sportback (2020-present): 71.8%
On the other end of the spectrum is the current Audi A3 Sportback.
Fifty-nine per cent of A3 owners’ cars went wrong over the past two years, the majority of faults concerning the infotainment and other electrical systems.
Seven-seaters – 90.4%
Volvo XC90 (2015-present): 94.8%
Despite 25% of XC90 owners saying their car had a fault in the previous two years, none of the issues they faced were costly or time-consuming to repair.
In fact, half of the problems were fixed within a day and all were covered under warranty or repaired free of charge.
Seat Tarraco (2018-present): 85.3%
More than two in five owners of Seat’s biggest model said their Tarraco had encountered a problem in the last 24 months, though 76% of issues were fixed within a day of being identified.
Of the 31% of drivers who said they had to cover the cost of repair, none had to find more than £200.
Small SUVs – 94.4%
Suzuki Ignis (2016-present): 99.4%
Just five per cent of Suzuki Ignis owners said their car had encountered a problem.
And although issues with the gearbox and clutch could be serious, they were resolved swiftly and cheaply.
Citroën C3 Aircross (2017-present): 84.3%
Just under 30% of Citroen C3 Aircross owners reported a problem over the course of a 24-month period, though the French brand covered the cost of 71% of repairs, 14% had to pay up to £500 for their cars to be fixed.
For another 14%, the bill came in at over £1,500.
Repairs took a while too, 43% of examples spent up to a week in the workshop and the rest were in there for longer.
Family SUVs – 92.6%
Lexus NX (2014-2021): 99.8%
Lexus’ hybrid NX has almost perfect reliability credentials.
Just two per cent of the previous-generation NXs reported suffering any problems, and all issues were resolved in a day or less by dealerships at no cost to owners.
Skoda Karoq diesel (2017-present): 80.8%
Diesel-engined Skoda Karoqs are slightly less reliable than petrol engines – 23% of oil burners having issues compared to 22%.
But diesels are costlier and take longer to fix.
Only 56% of diesels were fixed for free while 93% of petrols were.
A third costed owners more than £1,500. Half of the faulty diesel Karoqs were in for repair for more than a week, too.
Large SUVs – 92.9%
Toyota RAV4 (2019-present): 98.7%
Toyota’s RAV4 is one of the more frugal family SUVs with a combustion engine under the bonnet.
But in an added boost, they are reliable too, with only two per cent of owners saying theirs had gone wrong in the last 24 months.
That said, half of the faulty cars took up to seven days to put right and a quarter were out of action for more than a week. Three-quarters of the work was done for free, but the remainder cost owners up to £200.
Ford Kuga diesel (2013-2020): 85.0%
Diesel Kugas have encountered more problems than petrols (28% versus 20%), and take longer to fix.
Almost three in ten (28%) of diesel Kuga were off the road for more than a week when being repaired, whereas all petrols were fixed within seven days.
Four per cent of diesel owners also had to fork out up to £1,500 on garage bills.
Executive cars – 91.1%
Lexus IS (2013-2021): 98.0%
Out of the Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus, the latter is the most durable choice.
Only 12% have had problems in the last two years – all fixed for free by Lexus. The faults appear to have been minor because all cars could still be driven and half were in and out of the garage the same day.
Audi A6 (2017-present): 76.3%
The current A6 saloon has been blighted by a range of electrical issues.
Two in five have had a fault in the last 24 months with two-thirds of these being concerning engine and non-engine electrical woes.
Although 83% could still be driven, almost half took more than a week to put right.
Luxury cars – 90.3%
Porsche Cayenne (2018-2023): 98.7%
Given that the luxury car class is now dominated by SUV models, this segment of vehicles has also been mixed in with the traditional saloon types.
And that’s good news for the previous-gen Porsche Cayenne, which comes out on top with a near-perfect reliability record.
Only six per cent went wrong, and all remedial work was done for free.
Mercedes-Benz GLE (2019-present): 87.6%
Another hulking luxury SUV, Mercedes’ GLE has a higher fault rate than you’d want from an expensive motor, with 44% of owners completing the survey saying they suffered at least one glitch.
Every affected car could still be driven and half of the issues were fixed in a day or less, but 42% of faulty examples spent more than a week in the garage.
At least all necessary remedial work was carried out for free.
Coupés, convertibles and sports cars – 92.6%
Audi TT (2014-present): 98.4%
The Audi TT goes out of production at the end of the year – a sad reality for many sports car fans.
For those who already have one of the current-generation cars, just seven per cent of the cars reported on had any issues – all relating to the air-conditioning.
These problems were fixed at no cost to owners.
BMW 4 Series Coupé/Convertible (2014-2020): 83.0%
The 4 Series is not particularly prone to problems but when they do occur, they are often pricey and take a long time to put right.
Around 58% of owners faced bills of up to £1,500 and eight per cent paid even more than that.
Overall, 21% of cars went wrong. Half took more than a week to put right.
Electric cars – 90.6%
Mini Electric (2020-present): 97.6%
The Mini Electric is proving just as dependable as the brand’s petrol-powered models.
Only seven per cent of survey respondents reported issues with their cars, with none being serious enough to render any of them undriveable.
Mini covered the cost of all remedial work, and although no cars were fixed in a day, all were back on the road in less than a week.
Porsche Taycan (2019-present): 66.5%
The Taycan may be one of the fastest, and most expensive, electric cars you can buy right now, but it’s not one of the most reliable.
Of the cars in our survey, a hefty 46% have encountered reliability issues in the last 24 months, with owners citing air-con and infotainment systems as the most common gremlins.
Two-thirds of the stricken cars were out of action for more than a week.
Electric SUVs – 90.5%
Ford Mustang Mach-E (2020-present): 100%
Ford’s first attempt at a “from-the-ground-up” EV, the Mustang Mach-E, has the best reliability score of all-electric SUVs in the 2023 poll.
In fact, it’s faultless. Of the owners who responded to our survey, not a single one reported an issue with their car, making the Mustang Mach-E the brand’s most dependable model.
Vauxhall Mokka-e (2020-present): 60.6%
Slow and sometimes costly repairs were the main issues for the 13% of Mokka-e owners whose cars went wrong.
Of that group, two-fifths of cars were rendered undrivable, and half were out of action for more than a week.
Although 90% of cars were fixed for free, the remaining 10 per cent of owners were charged more than £1,500 in garage bills.
In the pursuit of finding the most and least reliable cars in the UK, we’ve delved into a complex landscape where various factors intertwine to shape the ownership experience.
Reliability, a pivotal aspect of any vehicle, impacts our daily lives, our wallets, and the environment.
First and foremost, it’s evident that no single automaker or model reigns supreme when it comes to reliability.
The automotive industry is marked by constant innovation and fierce competition, resulting in fluctuations in brand rankings and the need for manufacturers to continually improve their products.
While some brands consistently produce reliable vehicles, others may experience ups and downs, emphasising the importance of researching specific models rather than relying solely on brand reputation.
The reliability of a car is a multifaceted concept influenced by various factors, including design, manufacturing, maintenance and usage.
Our exploration has unveiled that diligent car maintenance, regular servicing and responsible driving habits significantly contribute to a vehicle’s reliability.
Therefore, car ownership entails a shared responsibility between manufacturers and owners, with both parties playing crucial roles in ensuring a car’s longevity.