Marissa Hayes is a technical editor and contributing writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and she was the editor of the literary magazine, The Bluestone Review.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2022

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The Short of It

  • Reliability in cars can be hard to define, but it essentially comes down to how often a car will need mechanical repairs to keep it driving
  • Today, the most reliable cars include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and the Lexus NX
  • For used cars, the most reliable cars include vehicles by Honda, Toyota, Buick, and Subaru

When it comes to buying cars, reliability is one of the top characteristics most drivers look for. But, what is the most reliable car?

While there is not a single car that takes the title of most reliable car ever, there are several options for reliability that fit just about any budget. From new models to used cars, it is easy to find a vehicle that will keep you out of the mechanic’s shop with a bit of research.

There are plenty of other reasons to buy a reliable car as well. From more affordable auto insurance coverage to peace of mind knowing your car is safe, reliability is an integral aspect of car shopping.

Aside from saving you on repairs, the most reliable cars of all time can also help save you money on your auto insurance. If you want to see what insurance rates might look like for you, enter your ZIP code into our free tool today.

How to Find a Car That’s Built for Reliability

Everyone has priorities when it comes to buying a car. Some drivers want the most powerful engine or a design that will help them stand out. Others might look for cars that can give them a discount on their auto insurance.

One of the most common characteristics that is important to drivers is the reliability of a vehicle. A reliable car can save you thousands of dollars in car repairs. And that is not to mention the headaches you can save yourself by having a car that does not break down.

When you want to find a reliable car, an excellent place to start is with the most reliable car brands. Some of the most reliable car brands include:

  • Toyota
  • Mazda
  • Lexus
  • Buick
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Subaru

If you want more help finding a reliable car, you can try the following tips.

  • Check J.D. Power. J.D. Power keeps detailed information about the reliability of cars. The better the score, the more likely the car stays out of the shop.
  • Read car forums. People like to talk about their vehicles, especially when cars are a hobby. You can get a sense of what people really think about any car you might buy.
  • Keep a less-is-more mentality. Luxury cars have a lot of cool features, but a general rule of thumb is more parts mean more chances of something breaking.

When reliability is important to you, the best thing you can do is research any potential car you are thinking of buying.

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The Best 10 Cars in History for Reliability

Today’s cars rely a lot more on computer chips than they did even a decade ago. Not only do you have the normal wear and tear that comes with driving, but you now have to worry about all those sensitive computer components breaking, too.

The good news is that there are plenty of affordable, reliable options on the market today. If you are looking for the best reliable cars, check out the highest-rated vehicles for reliability below.

Honda Civic

While it does not command the same sales as rival Toyota, Honda is a leading manufacturer of cars and motorcycles the world over. The overall reliability of Honda as a brand creates a lot of happy customers.

The Civic is Honda’s practical compact car that comes in either sedan or hatchback form. While it is not the most exciting car to drive, owners love that they rarely have to bring their car to the mechanic shop. Statistically, Civics need repairs less often than the national average for compact cars.

What else do drivers love about the Civic? Its excellent fuel economy. Today’s Civics get about 33 MPG in city and 42 on highways, but even used Hondas report good economy. In the 90s, the Civic reported about 32 MPG on average.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V is enjoying a surge in popularity among American drivers and claimed the fifth spot in the most cars sold.

Reliability can be hard to quantify, but an easy way to judge a vehicle is by what owners say about it. CR-V drivers generally report satisfaction with their CR-Vs, stating that they do not need repairs very often.

Aside from the reliability, the CR-V has a great reputation for being a family car. With plenty of cargo space and room for passengers, the CR-V can get your entire family wherever they need to be.

Toyota Corolla

While the Camry is the most famous Toyota for reliability (more on that model later), the Corolla is just as reliable. It might be considered a plain car, but there is no denying its fuel economy, affordability, and reliability.

If flashy rides are important to you, you will need to go elsewhere. But, if you want a reliable car that will run for years to come, the Corolla might be the right option for you.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

When you think of a convertible, the word “reliable” probably is not one of the first characteristics you think of. Most people buy convertibles for their fun factor. Gas mileage, reliability, and value are not usually at the top of the list for consideration.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most reliable cars on the market and was named the most reliable car in 2020. Its sturdy build and well-built engine have kept the MX-5 out of the mechanic shop for many of its owners.

Lexus NX

Toyota owns Lexus, so there is no wonder that most Lexus models are considered reliable cars. As a luxury car, repairs will be more expensive than the average car. However, reports state that drivers spend nearly $10,000 less in the first decade of ownership than the national average.

The NX has a lot of technology that drivers enjoy, including infotainment options and extra security features.

The Best Years in History to Buy a Car Based on Usability and Durability

Looking for a used car but want to make sure it’s as reliable as it can get? While you should always do a thorough inspection of a used car (preferably with a certified mechanic, if it is possible), here are the top most reliable used cars in history.

Honda Accord (1976 to present)

The Honda Accord is everywhere, and while it might not be the most unique ride, it is perfect for people looking for reliability. The Accord has earned top ranks for reliability for years and still does today.

While current trends show Mazda, Lexus, and Toyota are outperforming the Accord, it is a safe bet that Honda will always be in the top 10 most reliable cars.

Buick Roadmaster Estate (1991 to 1996)

The Buick Roadmaster Estate is a large station wagon that people never stopped enjoying. With plentiful parts on the market, relatively good fuel economy (considering its weight), and space for the entire family, the Roadmaster Estate is a good option if you are looking for something big.

Geo Prizm (1984 to 2010)

The Geo Prizm is not the most well-known car, but the engine inside is. The Prizm is a clone of the Toyota Corolla.

Built in a California factory as the first Toyota assembled on American soil, the Prizm went through a host of changes before they closed up shop in 2010. No one can quite explain it, but Prizms seem to run for decades with minimal work. With solid gas mileage, the Prizm is an excellent used car.

VW Van (1950 to 1992)

Aside from being reliable, the VW Van is a cultural icon. It is hard not to think of the counterculture movement whenever you see a VW Van on the road.

VW Vans keep running even when it looks like they should not. With a wealth of parts on the market and plenty of affordable used options, you can probably find a VW Van without too much effort.

Subaru Wagons (1990 to present)

Subaru wagons are popular choices for the nature-inclined drive, but they can be hit-or-miss for reliability. Some models have serious mechanical issues, but others seem to last decades.

Consumer Reports notes that the 2005 Impreza is one of Subaru’s most reliable models. Meanwhile, the Crosstrek is one of Subaru’s most reliable modern models.

Toyota Camry (1992 to present)

No list of reliable cars is complete without the Camry. The Camry is one of the best-selling vehicles in America, and it has topped the sedan market for years.

Older Camry’s tend to keep driving way past when their owners expected to need a new car. It is not unusual to see a Camry with 200,000 or 300,000 miles with a minor repair history.

Ford Escort (1991 to 2002)

The Ford Escort might be less exciting than other rides, but there is no denying its reputation for reliability.

The reliability of the Escort is comparable to the Camry but usually sells for a fraction of the price. Keep in mind that the 1981-1990 models are the first iteration of the Escort and do not share the second generation’s reliability.

Find the Most Reliable Car for You

While reliability is hard to define, it is not hard to find a car that will keep you driving year after year. If reliability is at the top of your wish list in a car, use the vehicles above to get an idea of where to start.

After you have picked one of the most reliable cars of all time, your next step should be to compare insurance quotes from as many companies as possible. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what quotes might look like for you.