What are the most reliable cars on the road? The basic rule is: Buy Japanese. In the most recent survey of drivers’ experiences by top US group consumerreports.org, Japanese manufacturers scooped the top SIX places in the list. And one manufacture was head and shoulders above the rest: Toyota Motor Corporation. Their three brands, Scion, Toyota and Lexus, took the top three top spots, and the Toyota Prius C took the overall award for the most reliable car in the world. Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Acura came next, before the first entry from a non-Japanese manufacturer — German firm Audi. In a list of the most reliable cars on the road in 2013 compiled by leading information firm JD Power and Associates, Japanese firms also dominated — and again Toyota took the most titles. The best-ranked US firm was General Motors, with the full list as follows:
Most reliable cars: The overall winner
Toyota Prius C
The Toyota Prius C came top in the huge survey carried out by the experts at consumerreports.org to find the world’s most reliable cars. It is also one of the most economical cars on the road. The Prius C hatchback is cheaper than the normal Prius and is targeted at people living in urban areas who are conscious of their pocket as well as the environment. It’s designed to be used mainly in cities and does an average 53mpg in urban areas, while still managing 46mpg on the highway. Prices start at $19,080. The Prius C is only available in North America, Japan (where it is known as the Aqua), and Australia and New Zealand. It is not available in Europe, but its replacement is the Toyota Yaris Hybrid has the same powertrain. You can watch a brilliant review of the Toyota Prius C by the super-knowledgeable guys at autoguide.com here:
Most reliable cars: By category
Compact car: Toyota Prius
The Prius was the pioneer when it comes to environmentally-friendly vehicles. It was the first mass-produced hybrid automobile and first hit dealerships in 1997. More than 15 years on and the Prius is still going strong with around three million sold around the world. Its state-of-the-art technology means it remains one of the most reliable cars on the road, so you can be safe in the knowledge you’re unlikely to break down…while saving the planet at the same time. The Prius family also includes the Prius C hatchback, above, as well as a Plug-in Hybrid version, and the Prius V which has more space inside than the normal Prius. Prices start at $24,200 for the normal Prius (which does an average 50mpg), $32,000 for the Plug-in Hybrid (which does the equivalent of 95mpg when in electric mode and 50mpg as a hybrid) and $26,650 for the V (which does an average 42mpg).
Compact Crossover SUV: Toyota Rav4
Toyota takes its second top spot in our list with the Rav4. The Rav4, renowned as another of the most reliable cars in the world, was first made in 1994 and was designed to offer all the features of a normal SUV while maintaining the fuel economy and handling of a compact car. The fourth generation of the Rav4 includes 2.0liter and 2.5liter petrol and 2.0liter and 2.2liter turbodiesel versions. Not all are available in all countries. They vary greatly in fuel economy. Prices start at $23,300.
Compact Multi Purpose Vehicle: Scion xB
It’s not called a Toyota, but Scion is one of the Japanese firm’s three brands so is the same thing really. It was designed specifically for the US market and began the trend for boxy-looking city cars (think the Land Rover LR4/Discovery 4). It was first produced in 2003, with a second generation of the vehicle launched in 2007. The latest version has a 2.4liter 158hp engine, with the US model having an estimated fuel economy of 22mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. It was rated as one of the top safest vehicles under $25,000 in 2008. Prices start at $17,555.
Compact Premium Sporty Car: Nissan Z
Phew, something that’s not a Toyota! It’s still Japanese though (well, mostly, as French firm Renault bought 44 per cent of Nissan in 1999) and is known to be extremely reliable for a car that’s so sporty. The Nissan Z has been around for years, but the latest two models are the ones that features on this list. The Nissan 350Z was released in 2002 and the 370Z in 2008. The 370Z on sale today features a 3.7liter V6 engine producing 332hp. It can do 0-60mph (0-97kph) in around 5.1 seconds. Prices start at $33,120 for the coupe version and $41,470 for the convertible.
Compact Sporty Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Yup, yet ANOTHER Japanese car, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is a two-seater roadster now in its third incarnation. It has a 2.0liter 4-cylinder engine producing up to 167horsepower. Drivers can buy both a retractable hard-top version and a soft top. It can do 0-60mph (0-97kph) in around 6.5 seconds. It has long been known as one of the most reliable cars for people looking for something sporty yet not too heavy on the pocket. Prices start at $23,720 in the US.
Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES 350
The Lexus ES 350 is a four-door sedan. It is the sixth generation of the Lexus ES. It has a 3.5liter V6 engine producing an impressive 268 horsepower. It includes TEN airbags, and has an average fuel economy of 24mpg when combining urban and highway travel. An ES 300H hybrid version of the ES is now also available and boasts similar levels of reliability as well as doing 40mpg, making it far more efficient on the road. As you probably already guessed, Lexus is owned by Toyota. Prices for the ES350 start at $36,370 and $39,250 for the ES 300H.
Entry Premium Crossover: Acura RDX
Acura is the luxury car brand of automobile giant Honda (yup, you guessed it…Japanese). The RDX, which took over from the MDX in 2006, is a five-door SUV. The second generation of the car, released in January 2012, features a 3.5liter V6 engine with fuel consumption of 23mpg (20mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway) for the 2WD version and 22mpg (19mpg in the city and 27mpg on the highway) for the AWD version. Acuras are notoriously reliable cars. Prices start at $34,520.
Large Car: Toyota Avalon
This spot used to be held by the Buick Lucerne, which would have making it the first US car on our list, but the Lucerne is not made any more. Therefore the top spot in this category has to go to the second best-rated vehicle in JD Power’s most recent survey which is, unsurprisingly, another Toyota — the Avalon. The Avalon is extremely roomy, features a powerful 3.5liter V6 engine producing 268hp and does an average 25mpg. Prices start at $30,990.
Large Crossover SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe
Finally…an American car! As a full-size SUV, it doesn’t get better than the Chevrolet Tahoe — which outperforms its Asian rivals when it comes to reliability. The normal Tahoe features a 5.3liter V8 engine producing 15mpg in the city and 21mpg on the highway. There is also a hybrid version, the world’s first full-size hybrid SUV, which does 20mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway. The normal Tahoe (prices start at $40,405) can seat nine people, and the hybrid (prices start at $53,620) can seat eight people.
Large Pick-up: GMC Sierra HD
Goodness, who would have thought. ANOTHER American car. Like the Tahoe above, the Sierra is in a class of vehicle that is only really made for North America so it’s probably unsurprising. But if you want a large pick-up, the GMC Sierra is the one to have if you want reliability coupled with performance. Also made by General Motors, the Sierra features a 3.5liter V8 engine producing 355hp. It’s not the most environmentally-friendly car in the world, but beats its class rivals by doing 16mpg in the city and 23mpg on the highway. Prices start at $32,215
Midsize Car: Hyundai Sonata
Back to Asia, and we have the Korean-made Hyundai Sonata, or the i45 as it’s known in the Australian and New Zealand markets. A four-door sedan, the North American version of the car features either a 198horsepower 2.4liter GDI engine or a 274horsepower 2.0liter twin-turbo four-cylinder engine. Drivers report very few issues with reliability, and the latest model was given a Top Safety Pick award for safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It was also one of just six vehicles that received the highest five-star rating in tests by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From $21,195.
Midsize Crossover SUV: Honda Crosstour
The Honda crosstour comes with either a 2.4liter inline-four or a 3.5liter V6 engine and drivers have the choice of front-wheel or four-wheel drive models. It was updated in 2013 to give it a fresher, more modern look. Fuel economy was also improved to an estimated 23mpg for combined urban and highway driving for the front-wheel drive version and 22mpg for the all-wheel drive version. Prices start at $27,230 for the basic two-wheel drive EX version, with the four-wheel drive EX-L V6 version starting at $37,090.
Midsize Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
This award was held by the Ford Ranger, which has since been discontinued. The other top-rated midsize pickup in JD Power’s most recent survey of the world’s most reliable cars, the Ram Dakota, is also no longer made. The award therefore goes to the next best-rated vehicle, the Honda Ridgeline. The Ridgeline was first released in 2005, and won Motor Trend‘s Truck of the Year in 2006. It features a 3.5liter V6 engine with five-speed automatic transmission. Prices start at $29,450. Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award in 2013 was the the Ram 1500.
Midsize Premium Car: Audi A6
The Audi A6 is now in its fourth generation, after first being produced twenty years ago in 1994. Over the years it has become known as a particularly dependable, and is now classed as one of the most reliable cars in the world. The latest North American version of the A6 has a 3.0liter supercharged V6 engine producing 306horsepower. There is also an entry-level front-wheel drive 2.0liter version. The European models include a 2.8liter V6 producing 204horsepower and a 3.0liter supercharged engine — as well as three diesel engines. Prices start at $42,200 in the US.
Midsize Premium Crossover SUV: Lexus RX
There are several different versions of the Lexus RX. The RX 350 has a 3.5liter V6 engine producing 270 horsepower, and does an average 21mpg. Prices start at $39,660. Meanwhile, an F Sport version, which costs from $47,350, features the same specs as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission and enhanced features. The RX 450H is a hybrid model which produces an increased 30mpg and starts at $46,310. The Lexus RX has been the best-selling luxury SUV in the States ever since it was first introduced.
Midsize Sporty: Chevrolet Camaro
The Camaro has been around in various guises since the 60s. The latest version, its fifth incarnation, began production in 2009 and originally included three different versions: the LS, LT and SS. The LS and LT have a 3.6liter V6 engine producing 323horsepower (312hp before 2012), while the SS has a 6.2liter V8 producing 426horsepower. Since 2012 there has also been a ZL1 version with a supercharged engine producing 580hp, making it the most powerful Camaro to date. Both the normal Camaro and the ZL1 are available in coupe and convertible versions. The normal camaro does around 30mpg on the highway and the ZL1 does around 19mpg. Prices start at $23,345.
Midsize Van: Toyota Sienna
Yup, another Toyota. The Sienna seats up to eight people so is ideal for large families and car-pooling. In 2010 the car received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It comes with a 3.5liter V6 engine producing 266horsepower and is the only car in its class to boast all-wheel drive. The Sienna does an average 18mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway. Prices start at $26,585.
Sub Compact Car: Scion xD
The Scion XD (yup, you remembered correctly…Scion is made by Toyota) is a 5-door hatchback with a 1.8liter 128hp engine. It was first released in the US in 2007 and in Canada in 2011, and has earned a reputation for reliability. It does around 27mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway. Prices start at $16,500 for the manual version and $17,300 for the automatic.
Most reliable cars: A Summary
The world of cars is constantly changing, and this list will be updated as new models come on the market. But for now the cars above are the most reliable ones on the road that are currently being produced. American firms are slowly gaining ground on the Asian manufacturers when it comes to making reliable cars, but as the list above shows: In many cases the Japanese still reign supreme.