Most reliable cars rated by JD Power UK

The cars least likely to let you down - according to the JD Power UK survey

BuyaCar team
Oct 25, 2017

It's rare for a modern car to break down entirely, but some do have more than their fair share of squeaks, rattles and electrical gremlins.

Fortunately, you don't have to rely on manufacturer claims of precision engineering and extensive testing to guess which car is likely to be most trouble-free. Customer satisfaction surveys give the best and earliest indications of how reliable a car is, taking into account small annoyances as well as major failures.

One of the most respected surveys in the country is the JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey. It's based on responses from more than 13,000 drivers of cars that are between one and three years old. Each one is ranked in three different areas: problems with the car's features (mostly electrical), from technology to ventilation systems; the interior and exterior fittings, which highlights issues including rattles, water leaks, paint finish and wind noise; as well as engine and gearbox issues.

An overall mark out of five is also applied. Under JD Power's system, it's possible to get five out of five without a perfect score in each category. You'll see the highest-scoring cars in different categories below

You can get a second opinion from Britain's other comprehensive car owner survey. The Driver Power report, which is published each year by our sister title, Auto Express. It uses a different method to assess and rank vehicles. There's a separate article on its ten most reliable cars.

Finally, if you're buying a used car, then opting for a checked and tested approved used model, which comes with a warranty - like all the vehicles sold by BuyaCar - offers peace of mind that it's in good condition.

Search for the latest new and used car deals


JD Power UK: best manufacturers

The most recent JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey was published in August and ranked car manufacturers on the average number of problems per hundred cars. These could range from a small squeak to a total engine failure, so most vehicles had at least one issue

Kia and Volvo were named the most reliable manufacturers, tied in first place with 83 problems reported per 100 vehicles in the survey. Skoda was next (89 problems), followed by Suzuki (92). Hyundai came fifth with 97 problems and Toyota was sixth with 105 problems.

The average car had 131 problems. Far below this figure was Fiat, with 165 issues per 100 cars. The reputation of German car makers took a hit, with Mercedes only scraping in at just above average - its cars suffered 129 problems per 100 vehicles. Even so, that's a considerably better result than its rivals, which were at the bottom. Audis had 187 problems per 100 cars and and BMW was last, by some distance, with 198.


JD Power UK: best cars

The survey identifies the most reliable cars in different categories that are set out by JD Power, but it’s important to note that the report only includes some of the most popular cars, missing out dozens of models that are already on sale. It’s useful to check the reliability of any model that’s included, but don’t dismiss a car if it’s not in the survey.


JD Power UK best city car

Peugeot 108

Overall dependability 5/5

There was a time when the chances of finding the Loch Ness monster were better than Peugeot winning a reliability survey but the French company has clearly transformed its quality control, sending the small 108 city car to the top of its class. The expensive bits of the car - engine and gearbox - are particularly durable, receiving the full five marks for reliability. The relatively small number of problems that did occur tended to focus around the in-car entertainment and ventilation systems but weren't serious enough to affect an overall mark of five out of five. The excellent reliability score, combined with the car's efficient petrol engines and low purchase price help to make the 108 especially cheap to run.
Read the Peugeot 108 buying guide

Also highly rated Hyundai i10 (4.5pts); Kia Picanto (4pts) VW up! (4pts)

Worst-rated Ford Ka (2pts)

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JD Power UK best small car

Skoda Fabia

Overall dependability 5/5

JD Power results suggest that you're in safe hands with Skoda. This is the second year that the comfortable and affordable Fabia has topped its class for reliability - and the second year that it has scored the full five out of five overall rating. It was particularly strong when it came to interior and exterior fixtures, where issues such as wind noise, rattles and paint finish were extremely low. But the Fabia did drop half a mark based on a few engine and gearbox problems, as well as another half mark for interior electrical issues. Neither factor was serious enough to affect its overall mark.
Reat the Skoda Fabia buying guide

Also highly rated Suzuki Swift (4.5pts), Hyundai i20 (4pts), Toyota Yaris (4pts)
Worst rated Dacia Sandero (2pts), Renault Clio (2.5pts) DS3 (2.5pts)

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JD Power UK best compact car

Volvo V40

Overall dependability 5/5

It's best-known for it's top safety rating, but the Volvo V40 also has class-leading reliability, according to the JD Power survey, which awarded the family-size Volvo hatchback five marks out of five for overall durability. Engine and gearbox dependability earned the highest five marks but the V40 did drop half a mark each for minor squeaks and rattles, as well as electrical glitches. Due to be replaced in just over a year, the current V40's interior looks a little dated, without the large touchscreen that's a centrepiece of more modern Volvos. Its safety, comfort and quietness are still on the pace though.
Read the Volvo V40 buying guide

Also highly rated Mazda 3 (4.5pts), Toyota Auris (4.5pts), Kia cee'd (4pts)
Worst rated Mercedes A-Class (2pts), Ford Focus (2pts)

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JD Power UK best large family car

Vauxhall Insignia

Overall dependability 3/5

The Vauxhall Insignia is the most reliable large family car for the second year in a row, ahead of not just the Ford Mondeo, but the BMW 3 Series Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 as well (there were not enough responses to include Lexus, which normally performs well in reliability rankings). 

But before passing on that extended warranty, take note that the Insignia's victory, with an overall mark of just three, reflects the relatively poor performance of cars in this segment. Despite being the best in class, it scored just three for engine and gearbox reliability, and the same score for interior features and accessories - including electrics and the ventilation system. The car's highest score came in the body and interior category, which covers squeaks, rattles and wind noise. At the bottom, the Audi A4 and A5, as well as the BMW 3 and 4 Series scored just two.
Read the Vauxhall Insignia buying guide

Also highly rated Volkswagen Passat (3pts), Mercedes C-Class (2.5pts), Ford Mondeo (2.5pts)
Worst rated Audi A4 (2pts), BMW 3 Series (2pts), BMW 4 Series (2pts), Audi A5 (2pts)

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JD Power UK best family SUV

Kia Sportage

Overall dependability 5/5

Increasing numbers of families are swapping their hatchbacks for taller crossover cars, which offer similar fuel economy and performance with a higher driving position. They are also known as family SUVs (sport utility vehicles).

Competition amongst manufacturers is intense, including when it comes to reliability; three cars were ranked five out of five for dependability, are when the fine details were taken into account, the Kia Sportage came out on top. This popular and spacious crossover won full marks for the low number of complaints over squeaks and rattles, and dropped just half a mark over engine and gearbox complaints. Electrical and ventilation problems were more common, and the Sportage only scored four in this area, but this didn't affect its overall maximum score.
Read the Kia Sportage buying guide

Also highly rated Hyundai Tucson (5pts) Volkswagen Tiguan (5pts)
Worst rated Audi Q3 (2pts), Audi Q5 (2pts)

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JD Power UK best small people carrier

Vauxhall Meriva

Overall dependability 5/5

The second top-ranking Vauxhall is the Meriva, which has just been replaced by the new Vauxhall Crossland X. But the outstanding reliability of the car makes it a great used choice. There were so few complaints about electrical issues, as well as rattles and squeaks, that it was awarded full marks in both of these categories. Engines and gearboxes were less rock solid, but the Meriva still scored 3.5 out of five in this area, and this didn't affect its overall maximum score.

Also highly rated Ford B-Max (5pts)
Worst rated Honda Jazz (3pts), Nissan Note (3pts)

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JD Power UK best large and luxury car

Jaguar XF

Overall dependability 3.5/5

The Jaguar XF is the stand-out winner of this group, a full mark ahead of the overall score for the other in this category, and even further ahead when it comes to the frequency of major problems. The comfortable and nimble car scored highest when it came to engine and gearbox reliability, as well as electrical issues, with a mark of 4.5 out of five in both areas. It only fell back with a score of three out of five for squeaks and rattles, which might be annoying but are often cheaper to fix.

The limited number of respondents means that there were only four cars ranked in this category (all of which are shown below). The Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6 scored just two out of five for engine and gearbox reliability, although the Mercedes had a higher overall score. Not included in the survey are the Lexus GS or the Volvo S90, plus larger cars including the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class.
Read the Jaguar XF buying guide

Also highly rated Mercedes E-Class (3.5pts), BMW 5 Series (3.5pts)
Worst rated Audi A6 (2pts)

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