Which Older Car Is Most Reliable?

Thu 17th Jun 2021

Engine reliability can be a big issue for those considering buying an older vehicle, with newer supposedly more reliable, but for those willing to look around, there are some great options when it comes to picking a brand that holds up in latter years.

A new survey from What Car? has looked at the opinions of some 13,000 car owners, all of whom have a car that is between six and 20 years old, an age range where vehicles generally fall into a more affordable bracket.

The extensive research asked the owners if anything had gone wrong with their vehicle in the last 12 months, rating problems such as air-con, brakes, engine, gearbox and even infotainment to get a final reliability rating based on the cost to repair and how long it took to fix.

The data looked at 175 models from 31 brands and found that Lexus was the most reliable brand for so-called ‘older’ vehicles.

“The fact that most Lexus models are hybrids, and therefore more complex than conventionally-engined cars, makes its extremely high level of dependability even more impressive,” said the What Car? report. “The CT (2011-present) is the second highest scoring model in the electric/hybrid class with 98.0%, and the IS (2013-present) is right behind it with 97.6%.”

Lexus’s overall reliability rating put it top of the list by some margin. Kia came second with a rating of 92.7%, followed by Toyota (92.2%), Suzuki (91.9%) and Honda (91.6) - which is pretty much a slam dunk for Far Eastern car brands.

Of the European car brands, SEAT is the number one, scoring 90.7%, with What Car? Saying: “The Seat Leon (2013-2020) is not only an affordable used buy, it's also an extremely reliable option, especially if you get a diesel-engined model. It gained a 98.7% rating and owners said the only problem area was the braking system. The smaller Ibiza (2008-2017) isn't as robust, but a score of 82.0% for such an old model is still impressive.”