How do you rate the most reliable cars on the road? If you're Consumer Reports, you do it by surveying your members. That's how the publication got data on 420,000 vehicles from model years 2000 to 2019, with members reporting problems in up to 17 trouble areas like engine, transmission, in-car electronics, and other repair areas. They analyze when vehicles have been redesigned and when they're the same as years past, and use that data to predict how reliable they believe this year's vehicle will be.
This is the list of brands that scored highest for reliability in the survey. The brands that Consumer Reports members say should deliver the most reliable ownership experience for their buyers.
At the bottom of the top 10 is a brand that is up five spots this year. That's Mini, the maker of what were once small cars that have grown significantly. While in years past Mini scored far lower down the list, their latest Cooper has scored above average. The Cooper Countryman, though, scored below average, in part due to reported issues with the fuel system and body integrity, as well as poor showings last year in the suspension, brakes, and with body integrity.
Ninth on the list was Kia, with a score of 62, which is somewhat of a surprise given the company's shared parts bin with Hyundai, but there are certainly differences between the two. Kia's latest big crossover, the Telluride, gets an above-average prediction, though CR points out that since it is so new, that's based on limited data. The Cadenza, Kia's largest sedan, has seen its predicted reliability improve over the last time it got a rating, but limited sales of the vehicle mean limited responses, so you'll see it on the list in just three of the seven years since the Cadenza was introduced.
The top-scoring domestic model on the list was Dodge, up a somewhat shocking 13 places over last year and scoring a 63 for reliability. All of its vehicles, including the Canadian-built Charger and Challenger as well as the Grand Caravan scored average or better. With the exception, that is, of the Durango. Reported issues with body hardware, in-car electronics, and minor transmission issues all contributed to that one scoring below average.
Subaru was down five spots this year to seventh, thanks to the new Ascent and Forester crossovers both scoring as just average. That's due to problems reported with the infotainment system display screen going black, and radio and music interface issues. The Crosstrek and the Impreza it's based on, both new models, scored above average reliability predictions. Subaru's best model, though, was maybe its most interesting. The rear-drive BRZ sports coupe that is also the company's oldest model.
Unsurprisingly, right below Genesis on the list was parent company Hyundai. In fact, they traded spots this year over last year and were still close with scores of 71 and 69 respectively. The Kona compact crossover got the highest score for the brand, with what CR called well-above-average predicted reliability. The Tuscon was Hyundai's lowest scorer, though it did improve to average when the 1.6L engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that accompanied it went away.
Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis saw its fortunes climb one spot this year to fifth. With a line of just three vehicles currently, they all need to be good or you can see yourself quickly falling down the scoreboard. The best from Genesis was its smaller G70 sedan, and the lowest predicted reliability went to the G90. The G90 suffered suspension and engine cooling issues, according to the survey, as well as with the in-car electronics. The G90 is getting a refresh this year, which may help fix some of those issues, and all Genesis models were rated average or better.
While you might not expect a high-performance brand to finish so high on the list, Porsche improved five spots from last year's survey to score fourth this year. The company's Cayenne crossover was the most reliable, with the 911 also putting in an impressive performance. The company's least reliable were the Macan compact crossover and the 718 Boxster and Cayman sports cars. The Macan has shown improvement since it was first launched, but on this year's survey, a poor showing in the brakes category helped to lower its score overall.
Toyota is in third spot on the list, losing the first place they held last year, also scoring 77. Most impressive here for Toyota is that their most reliable model is a brand new one, the Corolla Hatchback. The brand's least reliable model is the C-HR, which comes as a bit of a surprise for the now three-year-old model, but it's scored poorly on past surveys for areas including the engine, electrical system, and power equipment.
In second spot is Mazda, with a score of 77. That puts the brand up two spots from last year, and is impressive for a brand that is quickly shifting its entire focus from being a lower-priced vehicle aimed at drivers to one that's quickly becoming more premium than its competitors with interiors tops in class. Not that Mazda's forgotten about drivers, of course, and their MX-5 is not just their highest-ranked model for reliability, it's the highest of the entire survey. Lowest-ranked for Mazda is the 3, which comes as less of a surprise since it's an all-new model.
Top of the list this year was Lexus, and that's up two spots from last year for the perennially high-scoring brand. Their average predicted reliability score was 91 for the full Lexus line, with the most reliable model the compact IS sedan and the least reliable the full-size LS. The luxury brand often makes changes that are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and that conservative approach to design and engineering can help avoid the sudden problems that lead to lower reliability scores.