Car reliability rankings are released by consumer publications and industry organizations every year.

These rankings, which are based on detailed research and vehicle owner feedback, provide a strong indicator of how much money you’re likely to spend on repairs — a key factor in determining what your overall ownership costs will be.

Most importantly, car reliability ratings can help you sort through the purchase options and make a more informed buying decision.

Current reliability ratings

There are two main reliability reports in the auto industry: the Consumer Reports annual auto reliability brand rankings and J.D. Power’s U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study.

Consumer Reports

The Consumer Reports annual auto reliability brand ranking is designed to show how well vehicles hold up over time while also providing information about the odds that an owner may be impacted by problems or required repairs.

The yearly ranking includes a predicted reliability score for each vehicle, which is calculated on a scale from zero to 100 points. The average vehicle rating in the annual report generally falls between 41 and 60 points. For a manufacturer to be ranked at all, Consumer Reports must have survey data for two or more models.

The most recent ranking issued by Consumer Reports from November 2022 had Asian car makers at the head of the pack by a significant margin. Japanese and Korean car makers held seven of the top 10 spots.

The top five most reliable brands in the 2023 Consumer Reports ranking are:

  1. Toyota
  2. Lexus
  3. BMW
  4. Mazda
  5. Honda

When ranked by car type alone, hybrids topped the list, followed by sports cars, hybrid SUVs, and midsize/large cars. Full-sized pickups, EVs, and large SUVs were at the bottom of the list.

J.D. Power

Now in its 34th year, J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study measures problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles.

The evaluation covers problem symptoms in an extensive list of categories.

  • Exterior
  • Driving experience
  • Features, controls and displays (FCD)
  • Driving assistance
  • Infotainment
  • Seats
  • Climate
  • Interior
  • Powertrain

The J.D. Power study was recently redesigned to encompass all of the features and technology that have become available in modern vehicles. It now covers a few new problem areas and provides new insight into customer expectations regarding deterioration, vehicle appeal and software updates.

The resigned J.D. Power’s survey also measures if customers are satisfied with how their vehicles withstood the test of time in terms of deterioration and appeal. Additionally, it looks at how a vehicle’s technology features are performing three years after purchase.

The published report provides a vehicle dependability score that’s based on the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles — or PP100. Based on this measurement system, the five most reliable car brands in the 2023 report are:

  1. Lexus
  2. Genesis
  3. Kia
  4. Buick
  5. Chevrolet

Don’t skip checking safety ratings

To get a complete picture of a car’s reliability and safety, check out the vehicle safety rankings published annually by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent, nonprofit scientific and education organization.

The IIHS’s mission is to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage caused by car crashes. As part of that effort, it conducts and publishes research on vehicle safety.

Each year the organization announces its Top Safety Pick — the vehicles that perform best in evaluations. The Top Safety Pick has been issued since the 2006 model year. The IIHS has also been publishing Top Safety Pick+ awards since 2013.

Both awards aim to identify the best vehicle choices annually for safety within various size categories including small, midsize, midsize luxury, large, large luxury, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, midsize luxury SUVs, large SUVs, minivans and small and large pickup trucks.

Some of the vehicles that receive either a Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick award in 2023 include:

    • Honda Civic hatchback and sedan
    • Acura Integra sedan
    • Mazda hatchback and sedan
    • Toyota Corolla hatchback and sedan
    • Honda Accord sedan
    • Hyundai Sonata sedan
    • Subaru Legacy sedan
    • Subaru Outback wagon
    • Toyota Camry sedan
    • BMW X1
    • Honda CR-V
    • Honda HR-V
    • Lexus UX
    • Subaru Solterra
    • Ford Explorer
    • Honda Pilot
    • Hyundai Palisade
    • Kia Telluride
    • Nissan Pathfinder

The bottom line

Buying a car is a significant expense — both upfront and during the subsequent years of ownership. Doing your research before making such a purchase is an important step. Spend time investigating reliability rankings from reputable organizations in order to save yourself money and avoid needless repair-related headaches over the long run.