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The Most Reliable Cars On The Road Today

7 minute read

By Devon Taylor

If you ask the average driver what they’re looking for in a car, reliability will rank among the top answers. Automotive experts usually define reliability as a vehicle that rarely if ever suffers an unexpected breakdown. With a reliable car, things probably won’t go wrong if you’re diligent about routine maintenance and proper care.

At the same time, reliability means different things to different people. Some drivers want cars that are statistically unlikely to break down. For others, low maintenance and repair costs are the most important consideration. This review looks at top-performing vehicles in multiple reliability categories to help guide your vehicle search.

The Three Most Reliable Car Brands

J.D. Power & Associates is one of the world’s most trusted consumer information companies. The firm is especially well-known for its annual car reviews and rankings. These rankings cover many different categories, including reliability. Its 2022 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study serves as the source for this roundup of the three most reliable car brands.

According to J.D. Power & Associates, mass-market vehicles have a major dependability advantage. In the firm’s view, premium brands are more likely to need repairs in part because they incorporate more precision technology. The three automakers that topped J.D. Power’s 2022 list of the most reliable car brands are all affordable mass-market options.



J.D. Power’s 2022 dependability brand rankings considered the number of problems reported per 100 vehicle owners surveyed. Mass-market brands averaged 190 problems per 100 vehicles and premium brands averaged 204 problems per 100 vehicles. Kia topped all brands covered in the 2022 survey with just 145 problems per 100 vehicles. This means that Kias are, on average, about 23.7% more reliable than the average car.

Kia is a South Korean automaker that has become one of the world’s most popular mass-market vehicle brands. Its leading models include multiple SUVs and multipurpose vehicles such as the Sorento, Sportage, and Carnival. The company also produces several acclaimed compact models for city driving, such as the Rio and Picanto.

Source: Kia


This iconic General Motors brand has made a major comeback in recent years. The turnaround began in the mid-2010s, when Buick pursued a strategy designed to boost the brand’s appeal to younger buyers. GM focused on improving Buick’s quality and boosting its customer service profile. Buyers soon followed, and their recent accolades have made Buick one of the automotive industry’s great recent turnaround stories.

Buick finished second on J.D. Power’s 2022 list of the most reliable car brands. Surveyed vehicle owners reported just 147 problems per 100 vehicles – 22.7% better than average. Their ranked finish outperformed prestigious automakers including Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus.

Source: Buick


Hyundai rounds out the list of J.D. Power’s three most reliable car brands of 2022 with another South Korean entry. The company traces its activity in the North American market back to 1986, when it debuted. That year, Hyundai set a record by selling more than 168,800 cars to buyers in the United States. The robust figure marked an all-time high for an import automaker’s first year in the U.S. market.

J.D. Power ranked Hyundai third, just behind Buick with 148 problems per 100 vehicles (22.1% better than average). Honorable mentions include Genesis (155 problems per 100 vehicles), Toyota (158), and Lexus (159).

Source: Hyundai

Three Cars With Low Ownership Costs

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a popular publisher of automotive research and valuation information. Founded in 1926, it is one of the oldest consumer research companies in the United States. KBB tracks cost and value information across a long list of precision metrics. This section considers three vehicles identified by KBB as having the lowest average five-year ownership costs.

KBB analyzes ownership costs across all vehicle classes, including everything from compacts to full-size luxury SUVs. These models featured here all appeared in KBB’s 2021 list of the most affordable vehicles to own. The featured vehicles represent the top finishers in three common classes including compact cars, mid-size cars, and compact SUVs.


Compact Car: Hyundai Elantra

The 2021 edition of the Hyundai Elantra won accolades as the North American Car of the Year. Key features of this affordable compact include innovative on-board technologies and outstanding value.

Hyundai refreshed the Elantra line for 2021 and the model’s 2022 version is mostly unchanged. This has inspired rave reviews from a long list of prestigious and authoritative automotive publications including Car and Driver. The base model road-tested by Car and Driver clocks in with a very attractive price that comes in under $21,000. All in all, Hyundai offers the highly reliable 2022 Elantra in six different trim packages.

Source: Hyundai

Mid-Size Car: Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat has earned praise for its roomy interior, comfortable driving profile, and long list of standard features. KBB projects the 2021 version of the Passat will carry a five-year ownership cost of about $36,370. This is far below average. The American Automobile Association (AAA) puts the typical annual cost of vehicle ownership at approximately $9,280. Over five years, KBB projections have the Passat coming in more than 27% lower than the average vehicle.

If you’re interested in becoming the owner of a new Passat, it might be wise to get the ball rolling. Volkswagen plans to discontinue the Passat after the 2022 model year.

Source: Volkswagen

Compact SUV: Subaru Forester

Subaru’s Forester ranks among the automotive world’s most popular compact SUVs. The Japanese automaker operates in a branded niche focused on delivering sturdy, fuel-efficient, and dependable products. Subaru’s reputation for excellent reliability extends to practically all its models. However, the Forester stands out for its best-in-class five-year ownership costs.

KBB expects the typical Forester owner to spend about $7,289 per year on vehicle costs. That’s about 21.5% less than the AAA average for all vehicles. Its favorable maintenance profile includes a particularly reliable engine and vehicle cooling system. The Forester’s overall reliability score has also been trending higher for the past several model years.Source

Source: Subaru

Three Favorite Car Brands from Driver Satisfaction Surveys

In late 2021, the results of an authoritative research survey querying car owners on the question of reliability were published. The survey included more than 300,000 respondents. All participants were the owners of vehicles released between the 2000-2021 model years. The survey covered 144 different car models produced by 28 major international automakers.

More specifically, the survey methodology analyzed data about vehicle problems experienced by owners during the previous 12 months. Analysts used those reports to model predictions for the 2022 model year and beyond. They identified the following three car brands as the most reliable based on owner-submitted data:



Lexus is the luxury brand produced by the wildly popular Japanese automaker Toyota. Historically, Toyota has been a very strong performer on this annual reliability survey. Toyota and its subsidiary brands have topped this list 15 times in the past 16 years, counting backwards from 2021.

Expert reviews of the world’s most reliable car brands consistently place Lexus at or near the top. In a 2021 press release, Lexus emphasized a particularly impressive reliability statistic generated through third-party analysis. It found that Lexus vehicles aged up to five years have a collective reliability rating of 98.7%. Owners rarely report trouble and when trouble does happen, Lexus often shoulders the repair costs.

Source: Lexus


Mazda slipped to second place in the comprehensive 2021 brand reliability survey after topping it in 2020. Despite the modest slide, Mazda still sports one of the automotive industry’s most impressive dependability track records. It consistently performs well on general lists of the most reliable car brands in the world.

On the whole, Mazda fares particularly well for reliability for the strong long-term performance of its engine and transmission. These systems tend to be among the most expensive to repair, making Mazda a savvy move for budget-conscious car buyers. The only areas that show a tiny bit of vulnerability are Mazda’s axle and suspension systems.

Source: Mazda


In 2021, Toyota topped the list of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers. The Japanese automaker brought in $275 billion in revenues in 2020, reclaiming top spot after ceding it the previous year. Toyota also led all auto manufacturers in 2018. Industry observers estimate that Toyota sold about 9.5 million vehicles in 2020.

Toyota’s reputation for premium dependability is a major driver of its success. Multiple popular Toyota models including the Corolla, Camry, and RAV4 all have outstanding reliability ratings. The company’s third-place finish in this comprehensive annual survey means that Toyota brands took two of the top three places in 2021.


Devon Taylor

Managing Editor

Devon is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's simultaneously trying to build college funds and plan for an eventual retirement. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, running, camping with his family, and playing video games.



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