Most reliable cars 2020

Japanese and South Korean cars least likely to let you down; there's a Peugeot among the most reliable cars too

BuyaCar team
Jan 30, 2020

If a car needs to be anything, it needs to be reliable. You're spending a lot of money on that lump of metal, so the last thing you need is for it to let you down in a cloud of smoke on the side of the motorway. We understand that, so we're here to help you choose a car that's going to be dependable.

Now, the car industry is just as susceptible to prejudice and stereotypes as any other, but most, if not all of those prehistoric judgements are now no longer valid. Where French cars may have struggled with electrical issues in the past, that is now rarely the case. Italian cars might well have been hideously unreliable in years gone by, we'll admit, and while they still don't quite have the solidity of their German competitors, their reliability is much improved.

Of course, Japanese cars have always been considered the pace setters in terms of reliability, but their domination is now well and truly under threat.

While this top 10 list is still largely made up of Japanese entrants, Kia, Peugeot and Skoda have all fought their way into the picture. So before you set your search parameters to 'Japanese' have a look first at what other reliable cars you could be missing out on - you might just be glad you did.

These results are taken from the Auto Express Driver Power survey, painstakingly completed by our sister site. Other notable mentions that didn't quite make the top ten include the Dacia Sandero and the Fiat 500X - we told you the Italians had improved!

Most reliable cars 2020

1. Lexus NX (2015-present)

Used Lexus NX deals from £17,490
Monthly finance from £284
Reliability score 96.25%

For years, Lexus has shown that it's possible to have a high-tech car that's crammed with gadgets and powered by a complicated hybrid system, but still delivers class-leading reliability.

The car's quality helped to push it to the top of the rankings, as did the relatively low rate of faults. Fewer than 7% of owners reported any sort of problem and braking issues were most common among those that did.

The Lexus NX is only available as a petrol or hybrid car. On motorways, the NX seems to glide along, but can feel bumpy at lower speeds. On the upside, it’s a striking-looking car with high levels of standard equipment The interior is roomy, too, although rear headroom is tight, and the boot is on the small side but does have a flat floor when the seats are folded.

LEXUS NX BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Kia Sorento (2014-present)

Used Kia Sorento deals from £13,244
Monthly finance from £232
Reliability score 96.08%

A seven-seat car like the Kia Sorento doesn’t always get an easy life. You might find packed with children on the school run or regularly used as a small van, with the seats folded down. That makes the Sorento’s second place even more impressive.

Although buyers aren’t likely to need it, the Sorento comes with a seven year warranty, limited to 100,000 miles, as with all Kia’s. It’s the longest guarantee in the industry.

Owners are impressed with the quality of this modern Kia, which has been slightly improved in an updated version of the car that went on sale earlier this year. Despite the car's high ranking, the Sorento isn't flawless - almost a quarter of owners mentioned gremlins with electrics.

KIA SORENTO BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota Prius (2015-present)

Used Toyota Prius deals from £15,969
Monthly finance from £228
Reliability score 95.93%

The latest generation of the Toyota Prius isn't just the world's best-known hybrid car, it's also an extremely good family car on its own merit, which shouldn't simply be left to minicab drivers.

The hybrid combines a petrol engine with an electric motor, which can recover energy normally lost during braking. This is re-used to power the car at slow speeds or to provide an extra boost while accelerating. Owners rate the car's impressive fuel econonmy in real-world driving and its low rate of issues: just over 6 percent of owners reported problems and the most common involved paint and exterior trim panels.

TOYOTA PRIUS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda MX-5 (2015-present)

Used Mazda MX-5 deals from £10,969
Monthly finance from £167
Reliability score 95.82%

Wildly fun and yet eminently sensible: the light and nimble Mazda MX-5 can dart down country roads like few other cars thanks to its responsive, direct steering and high-revving engine.

And unlike a traditional sports car, you can virtually guarantee that the MX-5 will start on demand and get you to your destination without spluttering to a halt. The car's reliability is exceptionally good, with fewer than ten percent of owners reporting problems - the most common of which were electrical.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Peugeot 3008 (2016-present)

Used Peugeot 3008 deals from £15,000
Monthly finance from £205
Reliability score 95.22%

Yes, a Peugeot really is one of the most reliable cars in Britain and it's also the most reliable non-Japanese or South Korean car. That's some achievement for the French company which was renowned for poor quality until recently.

The company moved upmarket with the 3008 crossover (combining all the comfort and fuel economy of a hatchback with the higher driving position of an off-road vehicle), introducing a dual-screen dashboard, striking design and a high-quality interior with soft plastic and cool metal surfaces. It's paid off enormously, with buyers ranking it the very best car to own in Britain.

It didn't quite make it to the top spot in the reliability table, which is partly due to the 11% of owners that reported some kind of problem - most commonly electrical - but the 3008 outperforms all rival family crossovers.

PEUGEOT 3008 BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Honda CR-V (2012-present)

Used Honda CR-V deals from £8,500
Monthly finance from £159
Reliability score 95.16%

The Honda CR-V is being replaced with a new model this year but the outgoing version is still upholding the company’s reputation for strong reliability.

Owners liked the Honda's spaciousness and also rated its lack of faults: only one in ten cars had a problem and the most common issue was once again electrics, which might irritating, but isn't always serious.

As the car comes to the end of its life, there are increasingly good deals on new and nearly new models, particularly considering its size and practicality.

HONDA CR-V BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Mazda CX-5 (2017-present)

Used Mazda CX-5 deals from £17,900
Monthly finance from £255
Reliability score 95.15%

The second Mazda in this list has won praise for the nimble, car-like way that it drives and for its efficiency. The CX-5 is also one of the most reliable cars on the market, with few serious issues (electrics and brakes being the most commomn complaints) and plenty of praise for its high-quality interior.

It's a step up from the excellent CX-5 that it replaced last year, although that car still remains a good used buy.

MAZDA CX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Toyota Verso (2009-present)

Used Toyota Verso deals from £9,109
Monthly finance from £155
Reliability score 95.10%

Almost a decade old and still showing younger rivals how it's done, the Toyota Verso might not win any awards for style or technology, but you can certainly depend on it.

Owners like the car's spacious and practical interior -which is available with seven seats - as well as its comfortable ride and low running costs. A small proportion of owners - 14% - experienced issues, with gearbox complaints most common, but they didn't dent its reliability score too much.

=9. Skoda Octavia (2013-present)

Used Skoda Octavia deals from £7,799
Monthly finance from £136
Reliability score 94.55%

Skoda started off as a Czech company but it's now part of the Volkswagen Group, which makes the Octavia the lone standard-bearer of German engineering in this year's ten most reliable cars list.

Fewer than one in ten owners reported any issues and of those, gearbox problems were the biggest cause of complaint. The quality of the car's interior and its vast interior space far outweighed any downsides, according to owners. The car was updated last year with a new four-headlight design, shown above, and some interior technology improvements. They didn't make much of a difference to the car, though, so any car from the current generation makes a good choice.

SKODA OCTAVIA BUYERS' GUIDE

=9. Lexus CT (2011-present)

Used Lexus CT deals from £11,290
Monthly finance from £186
Reliability score 94.55%

Just 5% of owners of Lexus’s compact five-door hatchback reported having a problem with their car, which is among the lowest in this year’s survey.

it’s effectively a more luxurious version of the Toyota Prius (Lexus is Toyota’s premium brand), with the same hybrid technology that brings excellent fuel economy if you’re driving in town.

Aside from reliability, the CT does have some drawbacks. It’s rather old now and it has less interior space than more alternative family hatchbacks. The ride is rather firm, too, and the dashboard, while being well-made, looks fussy and old-fashioned.

LEXUS CT BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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