Whether you’re shopping for a new or used car, reliability is a top priority for many. But what is a reliable car? Typically, it holds up well over time and has lower odds of having issues or needing repair. A reliable car means you will get more bang for your buck.
Finding a vehicle that fits the bill is especially important as monthly financing for new and used vehicles averages at $729 and $528, respectively, according to the data from Experian’s second-quarter State of Automotive Finance Market report. While cars with the least problems may not be the cheapest, you will spend less throughout ownership.
If you’re looking for good, reliable cars, it’s important to do some research before you buy.
9 of the most reliable cars
It can take hours to research each make and model to find good, reliable cars. Fortunately, industry experts have done much of the work for you.
J.D. Power breaks down the most reliable models in its 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study based on 184 specific problems that can plague vehicle owners. While their picks were based on surveying owners of 2020 models on how those cars have performed over three years of ownership, we’ve listed features from the latest models below. Features will vary depending on trim level.
Here are nine cars for your consideration with the fewest problems.
1. Kia Forte (Top-rated compact car)
For city dwellers or those looking for a smaller option, the Forte takes the prize for its large cabin and advanced features, even with its accessible price point. Its fuel economy also makes the Forte a great option for gas-conscious drivers.
Seamless 8-inch infotainment screen
Competitive fuel economy
Remote keyless entry
Long-term warranty available
Hands-free Bluetooth with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
2. Kia K5 (Top-rated midsize car)
A size upgrade from the Forte, the K5 (formerly the Optima) boasts a large interior with integrated technology for easy handling. With five trims available, drivers can seek an option that fits their budget and needs best.
Rear parking sensors
Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integrated, six speakers
Remote start option
Standard emergency braking
Standard lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning
3. Toyota C-HR (Top-rated small SUV)
Tying with the Lexus RX for the most reliable model overall, the C-HR has a sleek exterior and smooth ride. The latest model was released in 2022 before being discontinued and boasts stand driver-assist technology and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. And even with the small SUV size, the folding rear seats offer a larger-than-usual spot for cargo.
Dual-zone climate control
Sporty and upscale interior design
Standard lane-assist and departure
4.2-inch speed gauge display
8-inch infotainment touchscreen
4. Kia Sportage (Top-rated compact SUV)
Despite its size, the Sportage boasts a roomy five-seat interior and handsome exterior. Recent models offer a few trims with the option to add a large sunroof and LED cabin lighting. The size makes it a great option for a family that needs space but prefers easy handling.
Roomy interior for vehicle type
8-inch touchscreen infotainment system (on LX trim)
Classy exterior design
39.6 cubic feet of cargo room
5. Chevrolet Blazer (Top-rated midsize SUV)
While a bit pricier than its competitors, the Blazer offers a sporty and sleek exterior design matched with easy handling. The newest trim models offer a range of extra paint colors, including copper bronze, radiant red and fountain blue.
10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen
Wireless charging pad
Spacious five-seat configuration
Six-speaker audio system
6. Chevrolet Tahoe (Top-rated large SUV)
This classic SUV boasts agility for its large size and a range of trims. While add-ons can leave the vehicle near a luxury price point, the all-terrain Z71 model is great for drivers living in storm-prone areas.
Wi-Fi hotspot, voice recognition
Standard driver assist features
6.2-liter V8 engine
7. Toyota Sienna (Top-rated minivan)
Placing high for its second year, the Sienna has excellent fuel economy for its class, thanks to its fully redesigned hybrid engine. And its roomy, upscale interior makes it an obvious choice for a large family.
9-inch touch-screen infotainment system
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa and Wi-Fi hotspot
Six-speaker stereo with satellite radio
33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind third-row seats
Eight seats in standard models
8. Toyota Tacoma (Top-rated midsize pickup)
A favorite of many, the Tacoma offers the capabilities of a truck coupled with easy handling. New models offer a few new trim levels with sleek exteriors and available six-speed manual transmission paired with the V6 engine.
6,800-pound towing capacity
Android auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa
8-inch touchscreen infotainment display
9. GMC Sierra (Top-rated large light-duty pickup)
With its capable handling and off-road upgrades, the classic pickup is great for towing, hauling or just getting from point A to point B. The 2023 model boasts advanced technology packages and a clean exterior design.
Large truck bed
10-speed shiftable automatic transmission
13,300-pound towing capacity
Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and speed-sensitive volume control
Additional car costs
Regardless of which model you choose to buy, additional vehicle costs are bound to come up. It is important to consider these when determining which vehicle you can afford.
The average cost of car maintenance
Keeping up with vehicle maintenance is key to maximizing the reliability of your vehicle and saving money. If you don’t keep up with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, your car or truck may not last as long as it should.
The average cost to maintain a vehicle depends on the make and model. But it is important to note that new cars won’t need much maintenance outside the basics, such as oil changes and tire rotations. As a vehicle gets older, you can expect to pay more to keep it running smoothly.
Understanding cost to own
It’s common for car buyers to focus on the sales price when deciding whether they’re getting a good deal. But the cost of owning a car goes far beyond that upfront expense. Along with maintenance, there are several other factors to consider.
Those elements include:
Finance charges, including interest and fees
Taxes and fees
Many industry experts make it possible to compare vehicles by showing how much they cost over five years. The most reliable cars typically have a lower cost because they don’t require as much maintenance and repairs.
Kelley Blue Book provides data about vehicle values and the five-year cost of owning specific models. Use the data or a calculator from another company in the industry to get an idea of a car’s reliability.
Determining which vehicle is right for you is based on more than vehicle reliability. Consider your lifestyle and needs before you shop to ensure you drive away happy and with a long-lasting vehicle. If you plan to finance your new set of wheels, be sure to apply for loan preapproval and compare rates from different lenders.