Top 12 Most Reliable Cars: Comparisons, Photos, and More

October 17th, 2023 by

There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re shopping for a new-to-you car. Factors such as your budget, vehicle history, mileage, and safety features all play a part in helping you narrow down your options. While these are all important considerations, you need to be sure that you can rely on the car you choose — which is why one of the most crucial aspects is reliability.

And when it comes to reliability, not all vehicles are created equal. That’s why we put together the following roundup of the most reliable cars — to help you find one you can depend on to get you where you need to go. Read on to see which makes and models made the list.

What Makes a Car Reliable?

When you purchase a car — especially a used car — you want to be sure that it can be relied on to run properly without encountering unexpected problems or issues. The more prone a vehicle is to experiencing breakdowns or other malfunctions, the more unreliable it is.

For pre-owned cars, some factors that affect reliability include:

  • Whether the previous owner (or owners) regularly brought the vehicle in for routine maintenance
  • What their driving habits were like (how many miles did they drive the car? Over how long a period?)
  • Whether the car has a problematic history

When considering a specific vehicle, always ask to see a copy of the CARFAX report. If it reveals that the car has been in the shop for more than normal maintenance and tuneups, it may be unreliable.

The 12 Most Reliable Cars

Another contributing factor in determining car reliability is the manufacturer and model — some have a better reputation for being a dependable choice than others. To help with your search, the following list (organized alphabetically) includes our 12 picks for the most reliable makes and models.

1. Chevrolet Malibu

silver chevy malibu

This midsize sedan is a no-frills choice that’s a great option for families looking for a vehicle in this class thanks to its consistent reliability ratings, safety features, and longevity. On average, Malibus tend to visit the mechanic for unscheduled maintenance less frequently than other vehicles, with the cost of repairs hovering around $532 annually. Overall, this model earns a 4/5 reliability rating from RepairPal.

2. Honda Accord

red honda accord

Over the years, Honda has become a manufacturer that’s synonymous with excellence in engineering. The Accord is just one of the company’s many models that benefit from this commitment to quality, with many of these vehicles reaching the 200,000-mile mark when properly cared for. With a 4.5/5 reliability rating, the Accord is an excellent choice if dependability is at the top of your list. Furthermore, its annual repair costs and frequency of repairs are both below the average for all cars.

3. Honda Civic

2014 Honda Civic Exterior

The second of three Honda entries on this list, the Civic is another model that earns top marks for reliability. Not only is it one of the most consistently dependable cars on the market, it’s also relatively inexpensive to maintain. Its annual repair costs average just $368, compared to $652 for all cars. Like its cousin, the Accord, the Honda Civic earns a 4.5/5 reliability rating.

4. Honda CR-V

silver honda crv

Rounding out the Honda contingent is the maker’s ever-popular crossover — the CR-V. This compact SUV commonly tops “best of” lists for its class thanks to its robust safety features, performance, and well-rounded design. It also commonly outranks much of the competition when it comes to reliability. The reasons why are many — including below average cost of repairs, relatively few unexpected trips to the repair shop, and low chances that those repairs are a result of a major issue. That’s why this car earns a 4.5/5 reliability rating.

5. Hyundai Elantra

picture of hyundai elantra 2021 silver exterior for sale in Hooksett New Hampshire

When it comes to longevity, the Hyundai Elantra is one to beat. Just look at the story of Farrah Haines, who drove her 2013 model one million miles within a five-year span. Though this type of mileage is far from typical, it’s a testament to the Elantra’s durability. What’s more, RepairPal gives this compact sedan a reliability rating of 4.5/5, placing it 8th out of 36 other vehicles in its class. Other noteworthy numbers include its comparatively low cost of repairs ($452 annually vs. $526 for all compacts) and fewer unscheduled repairs than average.

6. Kia Optima

While many Optima owners choose this midsize sedan for its range of engine options and stylish looks, it’s also a good option for reliability-conscious buyers. When regularly serviced, these vehicles can easily reach 100,000 miles and beyond. In general, the Optima receives high marks for dependability — earning a 4/5 rating from RepairPal. However, if you’re considering model years 2011–2016, it’s best to proceed with caution, as some of these vehicles have been reported to suffer from an engine issue that causes excessive wear on the bearings.

7. Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

In addition to its dependability (the Sportage is rated a 4/5 for reliability, ranking 6th of 26 compact SUVs), this crossover is commonly praised for its turbo-charged engine, upscale cabin, and smooth ride. Other positives include an average annual repair cost that’s $190 less than all other vehicles and a low probability that those repairs will be a result of a serious problem (11%).

8. Mazda 3

grey mazda 3

If there’s anything that Mazda does well, it’s offering an upscale product for a more affordable price — and the sporty Mazda 3 is proof. This popular compact car comes in both sedan and hatchback options, and upper trim levels offer a turbo engine, all-wheel drive, leather interior, and more. In addition to its premium features, the Mazda 3 gets a 4/5 rating for reliability, as well as lower-than-average repair costs and annual shop visit frequency.

9. Subaru Outback

2022 Outback

Practicality is the name of the game when it comes to the Subaru Outback. For those who choose one of these midsize SUVs, the deciding factors include the ample cargo space, ability to take it off-road (though not to the same extent as some other competitors), and abundance of tech features. Its dependability is an added bonus. With a 3.5/5 reliability rating, $607 average repair cost (compared to $652 for all vehicles), and less-than average frequency of repair shop visits, the Outback is a decent choice for buyers looking for a durable car.

10. Toyota Camry

picture of toyota camry 2021 white exterior for sale in Hooksett New Hampshire

In terms of reliability, the Toyota Camry is one of the most dependable midsize cars on the market. Its rating of 4/5, comparatively low repair costs (an average of $388 annually vs. $526 for its class), and infrequent mechanic visits for unplanned fixes are enough to place the Camry third out of 24 midsize sedans. Other features that make this model a popular choice include its fuel efficiency, spacious interior, and smooth ride.

11. Toyota Corolla

Seemingly designed with safety and reliability in mind, the Toyota Corolla is one of the top entries on this list. This is evident in its reliability rating ( it receives a 4.5/5 from RepairPal), its affordable repair cost of $362 annually, and the slim likelihood that an unexpected trip to the shop is the result of a severe problem (just 7% compared to 12% across all vehicles). As far as safety features are concerned, base trims come standard with a lane departure warning accident system, pre- and post-collision safety systems, lane keep assist, and stability and traction control.

12. Toyota Prius

silver toyota pruis

There’s a lot to recommend with the Prius — its hybrid engine provides excellent fuel efficiency, it consistently earns high safety marks, and the vehicle has optimal resale value (only depreciating by 17% over five years on average). This midsize car is also valued for its dependability, with RepairPal giving it an overall rating of 4/5. Additionally, the Prius puts up good numbers for its average annual repair cost: $408, which is $244 less than the average for all vehicles.

Comparing the Most Reliable Cars

Need a comparison that’s a little easier to digest? Check out how all 12 cars stack up head-to-head in the following chart. Before you do, it’s important to keep in mind that no cars are perfect — even the ones on this list have been known to have issues (noted below). Ensuring that you bring your car in for routine maintenance can help prevent common problems.

Car Model Years to Look for Model Years to Avoid Average Annual Repair Cost Most Common Issues Reliability Score
Chevrolet Malibu 2006, 2008, 2010–2015, 2017–2019, 2021 2001–2005, 2007, 2009, 2016, 2020 $532 Delayed acceleration, fuel pump failure, power steering problems 4/5
Honda Accord 2004–2007, 2010–2011, 2014–2017, 2019, 2021 2001–2003, 2008–2009, 2012–2013, 2018 $400 Electrical issues, high oil consumption, premature brake wear 4.5/5
Honda Civic 2012–2015, 2020–2022 2001, 2003–2006, 2009, 2011 $368 Problems with emissions system, weak A/C, spotty Bluetooth connectivity, premature brake wear 4.5/5


2005–2006, 2008–2010, 2013, 2015–2016, 2018–2021 2001–2004, 2007, 2011–2012, 2014, 2017 $407 A/C problems, sticking door locks, engine issues, stability control complications 4.5/5
Hyundai Elantra 2008, 2018, 2020 2009–2010, 2012–2013, 2017 $452 Faulty airbags, poor coil springs, brake booster issues 4.5/5
Kia Optima 2010, 2017–2019, 2020 2011–2016 $471 Faulty door latches, fuel hose leaks, engine seizing, stiff steering 4/5
Kia Sportage 2010, 2015–2016, 2018–2019, 2020 2011–2014, 2017 $462 Faulty exterior features, HVAC defects, engine failure, transmission trouble 4/5
Mazda 3 2005–2009, 2015–2020 2004, 2010–2014 $433 Infotainment system glitches, brake issues, malfunctioning lighting system 4/5
Subaru Outback 2014, 2016–2019, 2021 2001–2013, 2015, 2020 $607 Oil leaks, cooling system issues, failed oxygen sensors, faulty airbags, weak windshield 3.5/5
Toyota Camry 2008–2009, 2012–2019, 2020–2021 2001–2007, 2010–2011 $388 Heat and A/C issues, malfunctioning door locks, high oil consumption, torque converter failure 4/5
Toyota Corolla 2010–2019, 2021 2000–2002, 2005–2006, 2009 $362 High oil consumption, engine can be slow to start, steering drift, airbag failure 4.5/5
Toyota Prius 2004–2006, 2008–2009, 2011, 2013–2016, 2019–2021 2001–2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017–2018 $408 Cracked windshields, high oil consumption, engine problems 4/5

Choosing the Right Reliable Car for You

When deciding on your next car, reliability isn’t the only factor to consider. There are many other reasons why buyers gravitate toward certain makes and models. To make sure you’re finding the right balance between desired features and dependability, try following these tips:

  • Research the different vehicles you’re interested in. This way you’ll have all the information you need when it comes time to narrow down your options.
  • Find a good balance between reliability rating and other features that are important to you. Even if a car is the most reliable option on the market, you won’t be completely happy with it if it doesn’t have the other qualities you’re looking for.
  • Read owner testimonials. There’s nothing quite as valuable as first-hand accounts from others who’ve spent time driving the kind of car you’re considering.
  • Talk to a trusted mechanic. Similarly, your mechanic works on hundreds of cars every year, so you can be sure they’ll notice which cars tend to enter their shops the most frequently.


  • What makes a car reliable?A car is considered reliable if you can depend on it to function properly, without needing many visits to the repair shop — outside of routine tuneups. Factors that contribute to vehicle reliability include make and model, how the car was driven by previous owners (if used), its service history, etc.
  • What is the most reliable car?While there is no one car that’s considered the most reliable, many manufacturers — such as Chevrolet, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota — have earned a reputation for making quality vehicles.
  • What car will last the longest?All well-made cars have the potential to run reliably for over 100,000 miles, with some lasting for 200,000 miles and beyond. In order to achieve this kind of longevity, it’s crucial to regularly bring your vehicle in for maintenance.
  • How do I choose a reliable car?Choosing a reliable vehicle doesn’t have to be difficult. As you’re narrowing down your options, be sure to thoroughly research each car you’re interested in, paying close attention to reliability ratings, owner testimonials, and any recent recalls.
  • Which is more reliable, a new or used car?Both new and used cars can be reliable options. New cars are clean slates when it comes to owner history, so they’re typically considered a safer bet. But while that may be the case, it doesn’t mean that choosing a used car presents a high risk. If a pre-owned car has been taken care of properly, then it can be just as reliable as a new vehicle.

Find Your Next Reliable Vehicle at Merchants Auto

If you’re looking to bring home one of the vehicles on this list— or any other kind of car or truck — Merchants Auto is a great place to start! We are the largest pre-owned dealership in New Hampshire and have been in operation for more than 60 years.

The inventory on our 26-acre lot is always changing. We have hundreds of vehicles to choose from with more than 30 different makes — including dozens of styles such as hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, pickups, sports cars, fuel-efficient models, compact cars, and work vans.

We strive to save our customers time and money, and our ultimate goal is to provide an enjoyable and hassle-free car buying experience.

Ready to get started? Browse our inventory online or stop by our Hooksett, New Hampshire showroom today.

Posted in Models, Used Cars